Hub’s home is history

Uncertain future: Mid Gippsland Family History Society Inc President Dawn Cowley is concerned the group won't have a place to go once they are forced to vacate the Moe Community Groups Hub next month. photograph tom gannon


THE Moe Community Groups Hub is preparing to be dismantled to make way for new tenants, but groups that call the venue home are fearful they won’t have a place to go.

Gippsland Employment Skills Training (GEST) has already moved to a new site in Morwell and the end of the road appears to be fast approaching for the smaller community groups currently operating out of the building.

The Express understands the Department of Education will be moving into former Moe Library building on Kirk Street.

The Mid Gippsland Family History Society, who have been in existence for 40 years with 27 of those spent at building, are becoming increasingly worried about their options when they are officially told to vacate.

“I’m angry about the whole situation because Moe is losing a community hub, something that was a real buzz and was successful,” Mid Gippsland Family History Society president Dawn Cowley said.

“Now all of a sudden we’ve been told it’s being leased, they’ve pulled the pin on it being a community group hub and my concern is what happens to the groups who are there.”

Gone without a trace: The space GEST once called home is now empty with few remnants left behind. photograph tom gannon

Ms Cowley said after reaching out to council a number of times she was told by a community liaison manager the new tenants would be moving in on August 20, five weeks from now.

“The fact that we’ve been given virtually no time, I was told the new tenants would be moving in on the 20th of August which gives us no time to do anything, we’re an older group and we’ve been left floating, we don’t know what to do.”

Latrobe City Council told The Express it could not give a timeframe of when the groups would need to be out by.

They did however say they would be working with the community groups to find new locations.

“GEST is relocating and council is working with the community groups that occupy the buildings to consider options for them, as council considers options for the buildings that make up the hub,” a council spokesperson said.

Ms Cowley claims she has been given three options for relocation but said they aren’t suitable to house the extensive collection the group currently holds.

“The suggestions given have been tried and tested are just not suitable for our group,” she said.

Moving out: Mid Gippsland Family History Society president Dawn Cowley inside the former Moe Community Groups Hub. photograph tom gannon

She said the group had decided at a recent meeting that they would need to reduce their current collection if they are not given more time to move.

“We’ve got nowhere to go, lots of equipment to move, about seven or eight filing cabinets, computers, prints, photocopiers, we’ve got a big collection of books and materials as well,” she said.

“We had a meeting to discuss how we are going to tackle this and we’ve decided we are going to try and cull some of our collection because we realise we aren’t going to get what we want and need in space.

“It’s terrible, its stuff we’ve accumulated over a period of 40 years and its valuable stuff, its people’s family history and records that allow people to research their family history.”

With elderly volunteers well in to their 80s and 90s, Ms Cowley fears losing the group if they cannot find a suitable location will be detrimental to the wellbeing of volunteers.

“Our members are quite elderly and it’s good for their mental wellbeing, they come in every week and help people do their family history and it gives them social contacts, so it’s a very sad situation to be honest,” she said.

“I’m really angry at the way it’s been done because I feel we deserve a little bit more respect than just not being officially told.”

Ms Cowley also believes the dismantling of the Hub will be a great loss to the Moe community.

“Moe will be losing some vibrancy,” she said.

“Not just our group but the whole hub idea was giving Moe a bit more oomph because we miss out on a lot of stuff and I just feel it’s a real slap in the face for Moe having this taken from them, in the end it’s Moe that suffers.”

Ms Cowley is appealing to the public for suggestions of more suitable locations for the group, she can be phoned on 0403 611 730.