Page 168 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 9 February 2022

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These are just a few of the great things happening in the community buildings managed by ACT Property Group. There is also the Volunteering ACT hub in the Griffin Centre in the city, providing a space where Canberrans can get information about services, find volunteering opportunities and connect with community. The Weston Community Hub supports a range of advocacy groups that work tirelessly to support and advocate for us. I could go on and on. All of these places and spaces enable our community members to come together, to support each other and strengthen our bonds. But they are more than just a place. It is no secret that our community here in Canberra has been growing, and I often talk about my own electorate of Yerrabi and the rapid population growth and change that we have seen in recent years. To put it in perspective, I grew up in my electorate. At the start of my 40 years, only three of its suburbs existed in a region that has now well over 19,000 families—71,000 people.

We have seen growth and change in other parts of Canberra too, and in line with the population growth and change, our community has also grown and changed. It is time to take a good look at the places and spaces we provide for our community to come together so that we make sure we are providing the best support we can. For this reason, I am very glad to bring this motion today, calling for these places and spaces to be renewed and grown.

I understand that the minister has already been looking at the portfolio and undertaking an assessment of the current building stock and its condition. I applaud this work and call on him to take it further, to use this initial work to identify unmet needs and new opportunities, to go beyond asset management and start looking at what unmet or new needs we have, how we can best meet these across our city and where we need to place them, and to look at what needs we already meet and whether the facilities we are providing are still fit for purpose.

In undertaking this work, I call on the minister and ACT government to also commit to improving the quality of the facilities, growing the current land and floor space and keeping the former schools, where so many of our community hubs are located, in action. In looking to renewal and growth, I call on the minister and the ACT government to work with the community sector and community groups to shape any plan and, most importantly, to identify new and innovative ways, through demonstration projects, that we can shape the places and spaces that shape our community.

One option I would like to put on the table is a specific focus on Gungahlin and the provision of office space for community service providers. Throughout my time as the Member for Yerrabi, I have consistently heard from our community sector partners about how difficult it is for them to find office accommodation and spaces to run their programs and services that is accessible and affordable in the Gungahlin region. ACT Labor has committed to constructing a community centre in the Gungahlin town centre and the ACT government has committed funding in the most recent budget to progressing the design. I am confident that this community centre will go a long way to providing the place and space that our service providers need as they seek to support our community.

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