I was speaking with the Greater Hume mayor recently and he said the only hall that would be remaining in his shire soon might be the Gerogery Hall because CWA help with the maintenance.
It got me thinking about the use of halls and community facilities across regional NSW and how registered clubs have taken their place as the community meeting space in many areas.
Some places have taken on the restoration of their hall but others have had to put resources into other areas.
For a while after our conversation, I wondered if selling off community halls is the best option.
On one hand, the financial gain from such sales could potentially be directed toward other community initiatives or projects.
Yet, as I reflect on the history and cultural significance these halls represent, I do experience a sense of loss.
These halls have stood as silent witnesses to generations of weddings, birthdays, meetings, and celebrations.
They are living testaments to our resilience, unity, and the strength of rural communities. By selling them off, are we not selling a part of our identity?
The preservation of community halls requires dedication, resources, and volunteers. Are there enough passionate individuals committed to the upkeep of these historical gems?
In some cases, relying solely on local councils might result in their gradual decay due to competing priorities and limited funds.
This predicament necessitates a collaborative effort between community members, local authorities, and heritage organisations.
These spaces are not only bricks and mortar but living embodiments of our shared history and values.
I also wonder what place the changing dynamics of our regional communities have on these decisions.
Have farms become larger, resulting in fewer residents in these areas?
Have modern lifestyles altered the demand for such communal spaces?
The abandoned halls and churches that dot the countryside tell tales of a bygone era, leaving us to reflect on the stories they hold.
Yet, we should not let nostalgia cause us to ignore the present needs of our communities.
In the case of CWA of NSW, our meeting rooms play a pivotal role in empowering women in regional areas.
They serve as spaces for women to express their opinions, develop leadership skills, and engage in civic activities.
With funding from Women NSW, CWA of NSW is transforming four of our rooms at Canowindra, Dorrigo, Walgett, and Trangie to create co-working spaces intended to provide a resource that will bring community together to further enhance opportunities for economic involvement and development.
It's evident that there's no one-size-fits-all answer.
What's important is recognising the complex and varied perspectives around these community assets.
While some might see them as liabilities, others recognise them as invaluable resources that promote interaction and participation.
Ultimately, it's up to all of us to collaborate as a community - whether that entails revitalising interest in these spaces or reimagining them as adaptable locations for workshops, markets, and cultural gatherings - to utilise these spaces that align with the changing preferences of our diverse communities.
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