This week marks a full year since the Sydney College of the Arts vacated the Kirkbride building at Callan Park.
While the building has been vacant the good news is that there have been significant, urgent repairs and maintenance including roof and sandstone work with an expenditure in excess of $2 million.
Frequent visitors to the site will also know that security facilities have been improved and there is now someone on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Meanwhile, the government has been running an Expression of Interest program to find a new tenant.
Kirkbride is a superb site and there has been significant interest from universities and non-government organisations despite the delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
I am backing a bid by We Help Ourselves – an organisation that already runs residential rehabilitation services in Callan Park – to use Kirkbride for a new NGO hub incorporating up to 20 not-for-profit organisations who work in the mental health, wellness and community sectors.
The moral heart of Callan Park has always been mental health and wellness and this is a once in a generation opportunity to enliven this magnificent heritage precinct to benefit our community.
Of course the new tenant will have to comply with the Callan Park Act which protects the site from development, commercialisation and potential sell-offs. This is especially important as lobbyists, including former Labor Planning Minister Frank Sartor, were inspecting Kirkbride on behalf of businesses that don't comply with the Act.
We will keep the pressure on the government to make sure we get a tenant into Kirkbride who can maintain and preserve the building into the future and ensure a strong community benefit.
Tuesday, 18 May 2021