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Fitzroy's Connie Benn Centre to become Council facility
09 July 2013
Yarra Council is set to assume responsibility for the management of the new Connie Benn Centre, opening up opportunities for residents to access more council and community services in Fitzroy.
The three initial partners in the construction of the Connie Benn Centre – Council, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Lentara UnitingCare – have agreed that the best way to manage the facility into the future is to have a single agency responsible for the facility.
To enable this to occur, Council will pay just over $1.5 million to the two departing partners over a two year period. This amount is equivalent to the capital contributions both partners made towards the physical development of the building.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence will remain on the Board and continue as a significant service partner within the Centre. Lentara UnitingCare will depart the joint venture to focus on family and children’s service operations in the North West metropolitan region.
Yarra Mayor, Cr Jackie Fristacky said Council was excited about the new arrangement which would benefit all Yarra residents, particularly children and families living on the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate.
“Council has significant experience in delivering quality family, youth and children’s services; so we are thrilled to have the opportunity to assume responsibility for this state of the art community hub,” she said.
“A range of integrated family and children’s services currently operate from the building - including playgroups and a breakfast club. Council will continue to work towards the original vision for the Connie Benn Centre in partnership with local agencies to deliver a greater range of activities and services.
“In particular, we aim to relocate the Atherton Gardens kindergarten program and maternal and child health services to the Centre in October this year and begin operating a child care service there from January 2014.
“We think families will love the new modern hub facilities and easy access to other supporting family and children’s services.
Other services to operate from the centre will include a refugee child outreach support program, children’s health support programs, playgroups, parent groups, school-parent education workshops and consulting rooms for visiting paediatric and other specialists.
Cr Fristacky said a Council operated facility meant that the community would be able to readily access meeting rooms and event spaces.
“We are also considering introducing a dedicated customer service centre which would be a great bonus for Fitzroy residents.”
Council is proposing to fund the new arrangement through operating income and by temporarily drawing down from the Community Infrastructure Fund with an aim to replenish this fund from future revenue streams. A revision to the Council Budget will be placed on exhibition, and publicly advertised in July / August 2013 to reflect the changes required.
Background on the Connie Benn Centre
The Connie Benn Centre opened in late 2012 on the ground floor of 150 Brunswick Street.
It was established to offer family and children’s services via a partnership between Council, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Lentara UnitingCare.
The partnership jointly contributed $2.5 million, with an additional $3.3 million provided by the State and Federal governments.
Further informationCraig Kenny
Director – Community Programs
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