By Derek Schlennstedt
Dandenong Ranges residents will now have access to essential community health services after the much-anticipated Belgrave Community Hub opened its doors on 21 April.
The $9.67 million hub has been built to respond to the high demand for allied health, family and children services and dental services in the area.
In addition, the hub provides purpose-built accommodation for visiting specialist services, including mental health, public dental and family violence services.
Funding for the project has seen a union of all government levels.
The project was jointly funded by the Australian Government ($3,835,000), the Victorian Government ($1,723,000), Yarra Ranges Council ($3,865,000) and Inspiro ($250,000).
Federal Member for La Trobe, Jason Wood – who opened the hub alongside Monbulk MP James Merlino, Yarra Ranges Cr Mike Clarke and Mayor Len Cox – said the new building was a welcome replacement for its ageing predecessor.
“This project constructed a two-storey, multi-purpose health building with an open plan office hosting 27 work stations, two kitchens and a car park with capacity for 50 cars; great for the community and council’s needs,” Mr Wood said.
Member for Monbulk James Merlino echoed Mr Wood’s comments noting the importance of the project to the wider community.“This is an important project for our community and I am glad to see it finally completed,”Mr Merlino said.
“This project will improve community connections, enhances services, and provides greater opportunities in our local community.”
Victorian Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, said the hub would also cater for those in
need, with shower and laundry facilities open for public use.
“This new health hub will improve community access to quality and affordable health services which
we expect will improve health outcomes in the region,” Ms Pulford said.
Other groups may also use the site and Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service (DRERS) has since permanently moved into the lower building.
The facility also provides rooms for the community to hire.
The community is free to visit and chat to an Inspiro Health Services staff member between Tuesday and Thursday.
A natural play space can also be found behind the hub, while a community garden with numerous plots will soon be available for community use via an expression of interest process.
Council Director of Social and Economic Development, Ali Wastie, said she was thrilled to see the hub open.
Ms Wastie acknowledged the incredible support the project had received.
“We are thrilled to see this project complete and ready for the community to use,” Ms Wastie said.
“The hub is an important partnership between Council and Inspiro, who is managing the facility.
“We would like to acknowledge the continued support from Federal Member for La Trobe, Jason Wood, and Deputy Premier and State Member for Monbulk, James Merlino.”
Inspiro is allowing council to use their land at 1622-1624 Burwood Highway for the car park at no cost to council.
Inspiro will cover 50 per cent of the running costs, estimated around $120,000 annually.