Inner West Councillors are revisiting plans for a Pride Centre to be established at Newtown Town Hall after the project remained untouched for over a year. The concept for an Inner West Pride centre was originally brought forward over five years ago in 2017, however efforts to institute the centre stalled when a search for expressions of interest in administering the centre found no “successful tender”.
A motion for the Inner West Council to “reaffirm its commitment to establishing” the Pride Centre are being tabled at a council meeting on June 14 by Councillors Mat Howard and Liz Atkins, who also propose to be a part of an advising sub-committee, along with Deputy Mayor Jess D’Arienzo.
At the meeting, the councillors unanimously recommitted and agreed to escalate the planning for the Pride Centre. “We’re a step closer to making this longstanding project a reality,” Cr Howard said in a post on social media. “There is so much excitement and need in the LGBTIQ community for the centre and after years of diligent planning from staff and work from volunteers, we’re putting the pedal to the metal.”
The councillor said that he along with deputy mayor D’Arienzo, councillor Atkins, community leaders and members of the Inner West Rainbow Community would work to “review the steps taken so far, conduct a scoping study to really set out the vision for the Pride Centre and to decide on a model that will see this project realised as soon as possible, in a way that makes it sustainable for the future.”
Cr Howard said to City Hub that “[with] World Pride around the corner, now is the right time for council to reaffirm its commitment to the Pride Centre and to really elevate planning for it”.
“There is so much excitement, enthusiasm and need for an Inner West Pride Centre in the LGBTIQ community.”
Councillor Mat Howard at the trans and gender diverse swim night organised by Inner West Council. Photo: Facebook
Cr Howard said that he is bringing the Pride Centre back into the agenda for the council to “reaffirm our commitment to it early in the term of the new council.”
Previous expression of interest to operate centre struck down, no suitable organisation found
This affirmation follows a string of setbacks for the Pride Centre in the previous council term, as attempts to establish the centre were brought to a halt in May of 2021, when only one LGBTQI organisation reached out in an ‘expression of interest’ to operate the centre. The House of Pride and Empowerment organisation was deemed unsuitable by a selection panel, and movement on the centre has remained stagnant since then.
Public feedback on the idea for the centre at the time was positive, with 87% of survey respondents saying that it was important for a Pride Centre to be established in the Inner West. As noted in the newest motion, current census data reveals that the Inner West is home to some of the highest concentrations of LGBTQI people in Australia.
Relocation of Newtown Neighborhood Centre assisted by council
Establishing the Pride Centre in its planned location at the Newtown Town Hall also means relocating the Newtown Neighborhood Centre (NNC), a non-for-profit organisation that currently occupies the space.
Cr Howard says that the council has been working closely to “assist the Newtown Neighborhood Centre in their plans to relocate to the Tom Foster Centre”, which is the intended location for the NCC to move to.
He added that the council has been with in collaboration with the “NNC, the local rainbow community and Council’s LGBTIQ Advisory Committee, to further develop the scope of plans for the Pride Centre at Newtown Town Hall”.
Cr Howard said that the purpose of the Pride Centre will be to “recognise the importance of the LGBTIQ community in the Inner West and give them a place to connect, socialise and organize”.