Christine MacDonald has worked for Riverview Neighbourhood Centre for 11 years since it moved into its home.
Christine MacDonald has worked for Riverview Neighbourhood Centre for 11 years since it moved into its home. Cordell Richardson

Neighbourhood centre booted from its home

A CORNERSTONE of the Riverview community will go by the wayside if council stand by its decision to replace management of a local centre.

The managing incorporation of the centre, Riverview Neighbourhood House Inc, lost the management rights to the community centre and is being asked to handover vacant possession by June 30.

The community group has also applied for a three-month extension, until September 30, which was rejected by council.

Today centre volunteers will hold a sit-in at Ipswich City Council and appeal their case to interim administrator Greg Chemello.

Centre co-ordinator Christine MacDonald said she was devastated.

"For me it was a joy coming to work here every day," she said.

"Emotionally I'm going to need a really good holiday after this.

"This is affecting lives. It's affecting the day-to-day lives of everybody.

"The workers, the community - the church group has been here for over 20 years."

Ms MacDonald said the centre had to undo $200,000 worth of internal work and were only asked to leave on May 21 when a decision had been reached earlier in April.

In the expressions of interest process to renew their rights to the centre is a complicated bureaucratic process, which Ms MacDonald believes the new managers of the centre, Challenge Employment and Training outsourced.

Being a not-for-profit organisation Ms MacDonald said they didn't have the funds to go with "grunt writers" as she called them.

"Challenge had a far superior application to us... we also pulled up the community policies from council and we aligned everything with that," she said.

Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller will be joining the community group in their sit in tomorrow.

"Riverview Neighbourhood House (Inc.) is run by volunteers, it gets just over $100,000 to operate, so nothing in the scheme of things," she said.

"They put in the application to the best of their ability hoping that the council would understand how vital their service is to the Dinmore and Riverview communities.

"It appears to me that it was a desk top evaluation by bureaucrats in Ipswich City council and the result is that letter."

However Ipswich City Council CEO David Farmer said the council was listening to community feedback and would review its approach to management of the Riverview Community Centre.

"I've received feedback from the community over the past week which leads me to believe a review of the management contract is the right thing to do," he said.

"Some decisions have been made in good faith, but these community centres belong to the people of the city and need to be a place people feel comfortable being part of.

"Council doesn't charge rent on community centres. Our primary concern is that the facilities must be managed to provide the local community with valued and wonderful opportunities to be involved in a range of activities and programs."

The review is expected to be completed within two weeks.

To join the sit-in, head to 50 South St, Ipswich at 9am.