Finding a Home

The Auburn Youth Resource Centre held much promise and potential to service the needs of the community, but to do so it required a physical base from which to operate. Finding a premises for the centre proved difficult.

With a rent allowance of only $80 per week, founder Michelle Burgemeister spent months lobbying Auburn MP Peter Cox, the Council and the business community with little success. “There appears to be a lot of red tape and waiting involved”, she said [1]. Meanwhile Grant Howard, youth worker at Lidcombe Salvation Army Youth Centre, was also struggling to find a space big enough to run activities for neighbouring Lidcombe youth, and to secure funding for a salaried youth worker [2].

Despite not having a physical base to work from, the Auburn Youth Resource Centre was already in operation. The Youth Entertainment Crew was formed in January 1986 and was a joint initiative between the Auburn Youth Resource Centre and the Lidcombe Salvation Army Youth Centre.

Michelle finally found a home for the AYRC in the heart of Auburn, on the corner of Station road and Rawson street. The official opening was on the 8th of October 1986[3].

Over the next thirty years, the Auburn Youth Resource Centre would undergo several changes in location. Its survival throughout these moves attests to its place within the Auburn community. In providing essential and valuable services to local youth, the AYRC may not have been able to maintain one physical base, but certainly remained a permanent fixture in the community.

In 1987, the AYRC secured council approval for a new home – a disused milk bar at 57 Alice street, near the corner of Normanby road and Mr W. Day’s long running butchery[4]. The former shop space would be used as a reception area, and back dwellings would be used for counselling sessions, group study and recreational activities, according to Chief Town Planner Norm Herfurth[5]. A big opening was held in September. The ceremony took on a party atmosphere following a performance by the band from St Johns Girls, and those who attended continued to dance to taped music of all sorts – from Arabic to rap to traditional Turkish saz[6]. Michelle passed on the baton to three new workers at AYRC: Melih Baran, Eliza Chidiac, and Mehri Ferdousian.

 

The crowd enjoying the band's performance at Auburn Youth Resource Centre's opening in 1987. Photo found in Auburn Review, 30th September 1987, p. 2.
The crowd enjoying the band’s performance at Auburn Youth Resource Centre’s opening in 1987. Photo found in Auburn Review, 30th September 1987, p. 2.

 

Lisa Anlezark from the Youth Entertainment Crew introduces the band. Also pictured: Nicole Waked, Jacky Chaloub, and Louise Wickman. Photo courtesy of Auburn Review, 30th September 1987, p. 2.
Lisa Anlezark from the Youth Entertainment Crew introduces the band. Also pictured: Nicole Waked, Jacky Chaloub, and Louise Wickman. Photo courtesy of Auburn Review, 30th September 1987, p. 2.

By January 1990, AYRC had moved to 1 Harrow road. Three years later it moved again. A notice for a HSC tutoring program noted that AYRC was located on 26 Mary street [7]. The move was officially proclaimed in the local papers almost a month later, and an open day was held on April 23rd 1993 [8]. During this time, the centre underwent some major changes. It employed five full-time staff who were focused on ‘providing information, referral and structured educational, recreational and leisure programs for 12-18 year olds’[9]. In 1994, the Auburn Youth Resource Centre changed its name to the Auburn Youth Centre. Al Bingham was also the new co-ordinator of the AYC. The centre also bought an air hockey table, which was ‘perhaps the most exciting change’[10]

Photograph found in Auburn Review, 23rd November 1994, p. 2.
Photograph found in Auburn Review, 23rd November 1994, p. 2.

By 1999, it had moved to 47B Harrow Road, the site of the old fire station, where it remained for eight years.

Auburn Youth Centre at 47B Harrow road, the site of the old Fire Station, in 2001. Photograph found in Auburn Review, 24th January 2001, p. 3.
Auburn Youth Centre at 47B Harrow road, the site of the old Fire Station, in 2001. Photograph found in Auburn Review, 24th January 2001, p. 3.

 

Photograph of Auburn Youth Centre at old Fire Station Premises. Photograph found in Auburn Youth Centre AGM Report, 2005-2006, p. 5.
Photograph of Auburn Youth Centre at old Fire Station Premises. Photograph found in Auburn Youth Centre AGM Report, 2005-2006, p. 5.

In December 2007, Auburn Youth Centre would move to 17 Mary Street, which was somewhat smaller than the Old Fire station, and was described by executive officer Sam Barrett as a ‘renovator’s dream!’[11]

In 2004, the Auburn Youth Centre, in collaboration with similarly aligned organisations Inner West Skills Centre, Auburn Diversity Service, and Auburn Council, made the move to Wyatt Park, a developing youth precinct. Martin Leslie, Chairperson on the Auburn Youth Centre Board of Directors was pleased to announce that “partnering with the aforementioned naturally aligned organisations has given us an unprecedented opportunity to help foster and support the development of Auburn’s youth in a fully collaborative environment, lending off each other’s skill sets and expertise to provide a ‘one stop’ hub” [12]. The upgrade in facilities offered huge potential for the expansion of programs and appeal to a broader demographic.

Auburn Youth Centre's home since 2014 in Wyatt Park
Auburn Youth Centre’s home since 2014, in Wyatt Park.

 

[1] Auburn Review, April 9, 1986, p. 1.

[2] Auburn Review, April 30, 1986, p. 3.

[3] Auburn Review, October 1, 1986, p. 2.

[4] Auburn Review, May 27, 1987, p. 18.

[5] Auburn Review, May 20, 1987, p. 3.

[6] Auburn Review, September 30, 1987, p. 2.

[7] Auburn Review, March 31, 1993, p. 5.

[8] Auburn Review, April 21, 1993, p. 1.

[9] Auburn Review, April 21, 1993, p. 3.

[10] Auburn Review, November 23, 1994, p. 2.

[11] Auburn Youth Centre Annual Report, 2007-2008, pp. 4-5.

[12] Auburn Youth Centre Annual Report, 2013-2014, p. 4.