Community focus | PCYC Walgett
A catalyst project for regional communities in the NSW Central West, putting youth empowerment and community engagement first.
Opened in December 2021 in Central West New South Wales, PCYC Walgett is a joint initiative between PCYC NSW, the State Government and Walgett Shire Council.
The purpose-designed centre replaces an ageing sports facility less than a tenth its size. Since opening in December 2021, its membership increased from 230 to over 822 and counting – nearly 50% of the town’s population.
Designed for place
Responding to its location, climate and community needs, the building is an exemplar of triple-bottom-line sustainability (social, economic, environmental), producing its own power and water, employing locals in construction and operations, and attracting new visitors and members from surrounding regional townships.
Simplicity of construction underpins the design of the 1,845 m² building. Under its skillion roof is a 600m² indoor sports, a multi-purpose activity space for gymnastics, tumbling and bouldering, a full gymnasium and youth hub, along with offices, Police and community rooms. The design model is replicable across different sites and allows for localisation in collaboration with community.
The building orientation and plan locates the community amenities and rooms towards the urban main street frontage under, with the more active sports spaces opening up under a high raked roof, facing the town’s existing outdoor oval and netball courts, thereby creating a wider sports precinct inclusive of current community assets.
For safety and solar orientation, the building has a glazed façade to the street and uses glass or mesh walls internally for complete visual access between and through the spaces.
Innovative sustainable design has reduced both construction and operational emissions and consumption. The centre is equipped with solar power generation, mixed-mode ventilation, rainwater harvesting and a dehumidifying evaporative cooling system for the sports hall that uses 77% less energy than conventional air conditioning.
Construction of the Club supported the area economically and strengthened community connections, employing local tradespeople and apprentices, and using regional materials suppliers. Almost 10% of the total construction budget was allocated towards Indigenous suppliers, manufacturers, tradespeople and labourers. These included: demolition experts, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, concreters and materials suppliers. On completion, students from Walgett Community College and girls’ dance group were involved in planting native gardens around the building – just before the rains came.
Since the Club opened in December 2021, 2 additional full-time equivalent (FTE) and 3 new staff have been employed in operations, with 95% of employees and volunteers working in the Club identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
“Nothing like this existed anywhere in the region, and it’s already had such a positive impact. It’s helping PCYC expand its transformational programs, and helping communities build resilience,” says AJC Director John Whittingham, who is working closely with PCYC on the rollout of its new centres across NSW.
The centre has allowed PCYC to expand its vital youth work, and open up opportunities to introduce new activities, sports and allied health services, which were previously unavailable in the community and region.
After only four months of operation, PCYC Walgett saw encouraging signs of the Club connecting with its community. There are obvious new contact points such as the Kinder Gym pre-school services that are now available at the Club (where previously they were not), plus adults and seniors’ offerings which previously were unavailable.
According to Kasey Freckleton, PCYC Major Capital Program Co-ordinator: “Engagement with community and local business has dramatically changed through the use of our new meeting and training spaces. PCYC has moved from a support organisation to a support, host, facilitation organisation, supporting the community as a whole, as well as the wider region.”
With these new facilities, PCYC has moved from a support organisation to a support, host, facilitation organisation, supporting the community as a whole.
Kasey Freckleton, PCYC Major Capital Program Co-ordinator