Tertiary education, the arts, new enterprises, health and community services will all be housed under the same roof with the redevelopment of the old Byron Bay Hospital site.
In collaboration with the community, and engaging partners including a local University, arts and community organisations, Social Futures aims to create a vibrant centre. The aim is to connect Byron Shire residents to the services, facilities, and education they need.
Social Futures CEO, Tony Davies, said the organization is honoured by the appointment and is looking forward to working with the community and Council to bring the vision to life.
“Byron needs this now more than ever. We have seen homelessness hit unprecedented levels in the Shire, and COVID has created some real issues for people across Byron. At the same time, rents have gone through the roof, driving community, cultural and arts services out of town.”
“We see a real need to bring services and community together in a hub like this.
People have worked hard to ensure that this vital community resource remains in community hands. We recognise this contribution which must be valued in all stages of the redevelopment and ongoing management,” Mr Davies said.
“To ensure this is a venture that is stewarded by the community itself, we will invite community members to join an advisory committee to guide the development and management of the site.
“The Centre will be fully accessible for people with a disability and also a sustainable asset for the community thanks to a tiered rental system where anchor tenants – larger organisations, such as a university – support more affordable rents for local and smaller groups and zero-rent for start-up community groups. Any profits generated by the site will be invested back into local community projects and groups.
“We see the Centre as a place of connection where individuals, community groups, charities and other organisations can collaborate and build something bigger than the sum of the parts.
“This is where locals will access services they have been without, or have needed to travel to access, for so long. A space for community events, activities and connection, right in the heart of town.”
“We also envisage that it will be a source of employment for local people, both for jobs in the Centre, and buying from local suppliers and businesses.”
“We want this centre-for-purpose to be a thriving, buzzing facility which will give back to Byron.” Mr Davies said.
About Social Futures
Social Futures is a community service organisation based in Northern NSW with more than 40 years’ experience as a regional leader, advocating with the regional and remote communities we work in; working in partnership with others; and providing services that promote inclusion, fairness, and social justice. Social Futures currently delivers 12 programs and services into the Byron Shire including programs addressing housing and homelessness, disability, employment, health, and wellbeing. Our housing service, Connecting Home, is physically located in Byron Bay.
Each year, we provide vital support to hundreds of community members who live the Byron Shire. This includes: Case management support for 250 people affected by or at risk of homelessness; Assisting 260 people with disability and their families to access support through the NDIS, and over 100 other people with disability and their families to access informal supports; Support to over 50 families; and a range of programs and support for young people to assist them to access work, study and mental health services.