Authorised by K Carra for The Greens, Brisbane - AN 2020/0139

A NEIGHBOURHOOD CENTRE FOR EVERY SUBURB

 

VISION

Imagine a city where everyone has access to communal spaces like neighbourhood centres and 24-hr libraries. We want more accessible, exciting creative spaces for our city, where everyone can learn, connect and relax for free.  Our vision is a neighbourhood centre or modern library for every suburb - not just repositories of books, but flexible, world-class facilities that provide a range of services to the community, facilitating knowledge and resource sharing, and building community power and cohesion.

 

THE PROBLEM

Right now in Brisbane, a lack of Council investment has left multiple suburbs without a library or neighbourhood centre. Library usage, in some areas, is increasing, particularly in areas that have had huge injections of funding. In other, neglected suburbs, usage is falling, not due to a lack of demand, but because existing facilities don’t match the needs and expectations of residents. Restrictive opening hours and limited space, resources or services make libraries less useful and accessible, and outside the inner city, they’re often too far from where people live. 

 

Local groups and individuals need more spaces to gather, learn, work, study and engage in their community. The LNP Council has failed to meet their own mission for our libraries:

“...vibrant community hubs where people easily learn in a rich exchange of experience and ideas, connect with each other and the world in discussion and debate. A place where people relax on their own with a book, study, use technologies to informally create and distribute their own material and share information and activities. Visitors to libraries will be able to connect to their local community while engaging with the world through digital technologies.”

OUR SOLUTION

The Greens will invest $238 million over the next four years to build and enhance new and existing neighbourhood centres in Brisbane. We will deliver over 24 new neighbourhood centres over four years in Brisbane, so that every suburb has access to a world-class public centre for work, study, leisure and community connection.

 

Acknowledging that one size does not fit all, visions for neighbourhood centres and libraries will be developed in consultation with the local community. This will allow different communities to create a space that caters to their particular needs, whether it be more community meeting spaces, performance venues or recording facilities, tool libraries, technological facilities or recycling, upcycling and repair spaces.

 

To reflect modern work and family life patterns, we will increase operational hours for libraries and community centres. Our goal is to deliver genuinely accessible and attractive alternatives to our limited set of existing social venues - the local pub shouldn’t be the only option to connect with your neighbours on a Friday night. 

 

KEY FACTS

The social and economic evidence supports more well-resourced and flexible libraries and neighbourhood centres:

  • For every $1 invested into libraries and community centres the estimated return is between $2.30 and $4.30.

  • Libraries have been shown to improve the wellbeing of communities through social cohesion and mental health benefits.

  • Reserve bank recommendations suggest infrastructure investment is desirable.

  • Libraries are safe refuges for homeless and disadvantaged people.

  • Many library meeting spaces are frequently booked out.

  • Only 20% of library users make single destination trips.

  • 80% of users visit libraries as part of a chain or multi-destination trip. 

  • More people are visiting public libraries.

  • Funding of libraries has a direct correlation to use, especially where there is an increase in internet connected devices.

  • There are 33 BCC libraries in Brisbane servicing the 189 suburbs of our city.

THE BENEFITS

Our plan would create more spaces for community involvement particularly for residents vulnerable to isolation and mental health issues, including elderly folks and residents in financial stress. 

 

For every $100 invested into libraries and community centres, the estimated return is between $230 and $430, through increased literacy, greater mental health and employment, and more spaces for business and recreational activities.

More flexible and accessible neighbourhood centres and libraries will:

  • allow people to be involved in a wide range of learning, social and physical activities for free or at very low cost

  • promote democratic engagement, community cohesion and social inclusion, particularly for people with health or financial barriers

  • provide more opportunities for direct employment

  • deliver more opportunities for volunteering, skill development and pathways to education, training, and employment 

  • improve employment and wage outcomes, critical for participation in the labour market, by improving literacy and numeracy

  • support access to meeting spaces, information, secure internet and more for sole traders, small businesses, social enterprises and not for profit and community groups

  • allow residents to access informal childcare and crèche services 

  • provide safe refuges for homeless and underserved populations

  • boost local economies by providing more opportunities for weekend/evening activity

  • create more support and learning spaces for migrant communities such as English language discussion classes.

 

COSTING

We can build six or more new neighbourhood centres or libraries per year and expand existing facilities to improve opening hours and deliver additional services, at a total cost of $238.7 million over four years. 

 

This allocates $7 million per Council ward to realise their vision for the ideal centre/s and $900,000 per year in operating costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

  • Constructions costs - 6 centres per year for first 2 years, 7 per year for last 2 years ($7,000,000 per centre). 

  • Operational costs - current average of approximately $800,000 per year increased to $900,000 per year to account for additional hours and expanded services.

  • Figures were formulated by averaging existing constructed libraries including recent Council builds and the Australian Libraries studies on costings.