Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Making room for community

The Waterloo Action Plan includes the following action point (2.7): “to make better use of existing community infrastructure and its availability and use for community outcomes. For example, reinvigorate community rooms and common areas and public spaces to bring community together.”

Getting community rooms open after Covid has proven far from simple, and this action is dragging on. 

In late May, access to community rooms became a major issue and lobbying was strong when the public housing community got together at the Redfern & Waterloo Volunteer Awards. Homes NSW had written to some existing users of community rooms telling them they were unauthorised persons and had unauthorised access to community rooms. The letter provided seven days’ notice for rekeying the locks and removing any items in the rooms not belonging to Homes NSW.

One group impacted were users of the Marton room which has several large commercial fridges that are used for food distribution. They quickly started an online petition and within the seven days claimed victory, posting a picture of senior Homes NSW people when they were allowed to continue to use the room. Favour assists neighbours with essential groceries.

A Favour representative said: “We have regained access to the room and are continuing our free food distribution, thanks again to all our supporters!”

There are lots of long-term usage arrangements for Homes NSW facilities around the estate, but not a great corporate memory within government regarding the particulars. Hopefully, Homes NSW, which has carriage of the action to get community facilities open, can ensure not only that closed rooms can be accessed in the near future but also that those already in use remain open, while it updates its records and reviews community room uses.

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