A First Nations support service in New South Wales faces eviction and an uncertain future after being told by the state government it will have to leave its long-term premises.
For almost 30 years The Aboriginal Cultural Resource Centre has operated out of a small cottage on the site of a former facility for children of the Stolen Generations and the intellectually handicapped in the Blue Mountains town of Katoomba.
The centre provides a range of crucial services to around four to six hundred people in the region.
The NSW government says its not willing not willing to pay for upgrades after the staff were told the building doesn’t comply with bushfire safety regulations and accessibility.
However, local mayor Mark Greenhill says the building has been neglected by the government and allowed to become rundown.
Chair of the ACRC board, Bernadette O’Bryan, says shutting down the centre goes against the principles of the Closing the Gap Agreement.
“The government funds us to prevent – that’s literally what their funding is, it’s an early intervention funding. So they want to prevent issues happening to kids but they’re pulling way the property that we’re doing [that from].”
If it’s evicted the service, along with a handful of other non-profit organisations that share the building, will face the difficult task of finding affordable property in the Blue Mountains.
“It would put us so far back…our organisation was built on this property – it was built with this structure.”
Ms O’Bryan says the organisation doesn’t plan to leave without fighting the decision.
“I get the feeling that they were hoping we would just walk away but none of us are prepared to do that and we’re happy to fight this as far as we can take it.”
Trish Doyle MP is the Member for the Blue Mountains and has had a long involvement with the ACRC.
Ms Doyle said she had spoken to the Minister for Families and Communities, Natasha Maclaren Jones, and had invited her to come and meet with the ACRC at Clairvaux house.
Ms Doyle said the minister had accepted her invitation and would be coming to the area in the coming weeks.