Page 308 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 1991

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O'Connor Creative Playgroup

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, yesterday Mr Moore asked me a question about the closure of the O'Connor Baby Health Centre and the concerns of the members of the creative playgroup that meets at the O'Connor Baby Health Centre. He quoted an assurance that I had given in the Assembly last year that that group would not be asked to vacate the building until alternative accommodation had been found for it. He said that, in fact, the group had been in the position of being forced to leave the O'Connor Baby Health Centre before such alternative accommodation had been found for it.

I can indicate today that I have met with a representative of the O'Connor playgroup, and I have discussed with that person, a Ms Judy Gault, the concerns of her group. I have also met with officers of my department who have been dealing with Ms Gault about that matter. I am informed by both sides that negotiations have been taking place between staff from the ACT Board of Health and the creative playgroup since the baby health clinic closed on 31 January. It is proposed that Mental Health Services will be using the premises for community based programs - programs which are quite apposite to the area in which that particular centre is located.

The playgroup was invited by Mental Health Services to continue using part of the building and the yard for its activities. The playgroup asked permission to erect a shed in the yard in which to store its equipment, and it was encouraged to do this. It was the understanding of my staff that the playgroup was happy to continue operating from the baby health centre under these arrangements, with a review of this agreement at the end of three months.

That remains the situation, Mr Speaker. In other words, that group is very welcome to stay in the O'Connor Baby Health Centre for the time being, and the undertaking that I gave last year concerning the finding of alternative accommodation for it, should it be required to move, stands. At the two meetings that were held between the playgroup and the department, suggestions of other accommodation within the O'Connor area were raised, and the playgroup indicated, as indeed did Ms Gault today, that the group was actively pursuing alternative locations for itself, should the location that it is presently occupying in O'Connor be unsatisfactory. It expected to be able to discover such a place for itself in the near future. At the meeting it was explained that necessary building renovations would be commenced shortly. The roof is leaking and other fairly important pieces of renovation, such as that, need to be done. New staff would not move in until the renovations were completed, in one or two months' time. At that time, playgroup equipment would need to be stored elsewhere. No mention was made of a two-week deadline for moving equipment out of the building.

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