The IWC’s staff members for the North Burnett. Front (left to right): Clem Shadford, Kim Schifferius, Cynthia George. Back (left to right): Jenni Toogood, Janette Young. Picture: Julian Lehnert
The IWC’s staff members for the North Burnett. Front (left to right): Clem Shadford, Kim Schifferius, Cynthia George. Back (left to right): Jenni Toogood, Janette Young. Picture: Julian Lehnert

A healthy, welcome return

WHEN Gayndah’s YMCA shut its doors in November 2016, residents lost crucial facilities, a place to exercise and a community touchstone – but a local charity is now working to restore these services to the town.

The Indigenous Wellbeing Centre (IWC Ltd) welcomed North Burnett residents to the grounds of the former YMCA building on Fielding Street this Monday to display construction plans, answer questions and celebrate the revival of Gayndah’s health and fitness centre.

Current plans for the facility include a complete teardown of the existing structures on the property save for the stadium at the rear, which will then be replaced with a purpose-built centre housing disability-friendly clinical-, meeting- and changing rooms.

The stadium at the back will be refurbished and overhauled with the addition of a gymnasium and will be accessible to residents even after hours.

The construction efforts are self-funded and will set the IWC back $2.43 million.

A similar facility already exists in Bundaberg; the charity’s communications manager Janette Young explains that the Gayndah project comes as a result of the success of the previous venture as well as the North Burnett’s need for health and fitness facilities.

“The sports stadium has been desperately missed,” Ms Young said.

“[In 2016] I was at the sports grounds, and I was talking to some people and they went ‘this is a disaster – the sports stadium has closed, and we use that all the time’. So, we started the ball rolling.

The IWC plans to demolish and rebuild the office rooms at the front of the property while renovating the stadium and gymnasium facilities at the back. Picture: Julian Lehnert
The IWC plans to demolish and rebuild the office rooms at the front of the property while renovating the stadium and gymnasium facilities at the back. Picture: Julian Lehnert

IWC started negotiations to acquire the YMCA site in 2017 and has declared that the renovations and construction will be completed in early 2021.

“[The Centre] is aimed at everybody, so that people can come along to a safe, comfortable environment where they can get fit and healthy,” Ms Young said.

“Ultimately, it will be a major boon because we’ll have a stand-alone sports stadium that will be used for a multitude of purposes – not just sports, but also (…) what the community tells us that they really want.”

“This is really a major first for the region in that it is a purpose-built clinical community facility which is there for everybody,” she said.

The charity hopes to house health and fitness classes, consultations and services ranging from midwifery- and diabetes education to dietitian sessions at the Gayndah facility upon its construction.

“We’re hoping that some of the specialist services that come to our Bundaberg complex will be able to come to this complex, which means no two-and-a-half-hour trip each way,” Ms Young said.

“The services enjoy working with IWC because we work with a very holistic model.”

“When we work with a client or community, we don’t just look at a single person in one aspect, but we look at the whole person,” the IWC’s communications manager explained.

The IWC centre will provide disability-friendly access and plenty of space for local communities. Picture: supplied
The IWC centre will provide disability-friendly access and plenty of space for local communities. Picture: supplied

Ms Young said that Gayndah and the rest of the North Burnett have received news of the development with excitement; she hopes that community feedback will drive both the construction and the operation of the new facilities.

“At the end of the day, people on the ground know what they really need,” she said.

“We’re here to support people into empowerment around their health and wellbeing. It’s an important project; I think it’s one that’s been really welcomed by the community and we’ve had such positive feedback.”

“Social Inclusion is a really, really important thing – it’s one of those things you almost can’t put a price on.”

Residents are welcome to contact the charity with questions, suggestions and expressions of interest over the coming months; the IWC, Ms Young assured, will gladly receive the community’s feedback.

“We’ll be here for the long haul.”

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