(10am, Wednesday 5 June 2013, Elizabeth & Allen Street, Waterloo)
Thank you, Shane, and hello, everyone. Welcome to WEAVE. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.
I believe after this complex was opened by the City last year, many of you were curious, asking, "What is that weird building?" Those of you who are already WEAVE supporters will probably know.
For the others, I'd like to tell you that it's a home for WEAVE, and a base for the really wonderful programs the organisation runs for young people in this community.
WEAVE's name is the acronym for what it does: Working to Educate, Advocate, Voice and Empower.
It does this in many ways: through mentoring, training, counselling, providing advice on substance abuse and on job training and housing. It runs an art program which reaches out to people with issues around mental health, substance abuse, poverty and homelessness.
It gives people avenues for self-expression, a chance to discover their own creativity, and opportunities to build their confidence. It gives them healthy alternatives and compassionate support.
It's been doing this since 1974 and it's been established here since late July of last year. In that time, it has helped over 1200 local young people in one way or another.
The building itself, designed by Huw Turner, was partially funded by a $2 million grant from the Federal Government. It's a unique structure, with its crown canopy slowly becoming wreathed in vines which will help insulate the rooms underneath.
The green canopy also shields the barbecue on the roof which is the venue for the very popular Cool Kids Club cooking sessions. I believe there will also be a permaculture garden established there soon.
The whole building is environmentally sustainable, using energy-efficient materials throughout and including low-energy lighting, thermal heating and cooling, and natural ventilation.
There are tanks to collect rainwater and many of the materials used in the building are recycled: the old slate roof tiles became pebbles for the garden and the timber pavers in the internal courtyard were once railway sleepers made from one of Australia's first ironwood plantations back in the 1930s.
The centre also supports a nurse who is here every Tuesday offering free health checks and advice, and it's home to a Healing Circle for Aboriginal community members to tell their stories, for them to be heard, and also acknowledged and supported.
It does a fabulous job and I hope, knowing that, you will in turn give WEAVE your support, so that we can build a stronger, healthier, happier and more cohesive community.