Riverwood Community Centre History
Riverwood Community Centre has evolved over the past 40 years from a small neighbourhood centre into one of the largest community centres in the Canterbury Bankstown and Georges River areas, delivering a broad range of services. The Centre has never shied away from its support for the local community. The redevelopment of the Riverwood Estate and proposals for significant redevelopment across the suburb are the latest challenges facing the Centre. As the local community centre, we are focussed on supporting the local community to identify their concerns and ensure that they are heard.
RCC has always been an organisation with the capacity to assess its context and respond creatively to change.
In 1973 some residents of Riverwood came together to discuss the needs of their community.
The meeting place was at Riverwood Public School. There they formed themselves in to a group call “voices of Riverwood’ with Dick Jordan as the Chairperson. Their aim was to have a building in Riverwood where the community could hold a range of activities. They wrote a constitution and then approached the Federal Labor Government for funds to build a centre. This was the group’s first objective for the area.
The group had by this time gained the support of the Riverwood Rotary Clun and the Canterbury City Council. The planning and Environment Commission and the Department of Housing were then approached by the group about obtaining a suitable site for erecting the complex.
In 1976 a grant of $67,000 was received under the Australian Assistance Plan (in fact, it was the last ever grant through the AAP) to help the ‘Voices of Riverwood’ establish a Neighbourhood Centre.
The Voices of Riverwood started to negotiate with Canterbury City Council for use of land at the corner of Belmore Road and Washington Avenue to build the centre.
Although it looked promising in the beginning, there were difficulties. Eventually the ‘Voices of Riverwood’ purchased a house at 198 Belmore Road North, Riverwood and started providing services from there.
The Centre was officially opened in September 1977 by the Minister for Youth and Community Services, Mr Rex Jackson. It was staffed entirely by volunteers and offered Community Aid type programs in the form of information and referral. Slowly, a number of different groups began to develop in the community and to use the Centre e.g. Riverwood Child Care Group, Youth Group etc.
In December 1979 the Centre’s first employee began work. The Centre began to develop activities and programs to meet needs in the local neighbourhood.
In 1981 Canterbury City Council began construction on a purpose built Centre for Riverwood.
Mayor Moss officially opened this building in 1983.
In 1993 major extensions to the Centre including a Sports Hall and amenities were completed by Canterbury Council with funds received from the Commonwealth government under the local Capital Works Program.
Mr. Daryl Melham MP member for Banks and his worship the Mayor of Canterbury City Council John Gorrie officially opened this extension on 21st December 1994.
In 1999 the Riverwood Community Centre celebrated 25 years of serving the Community.
The Centre undertook its first Department of Housing Lawn and Cleaning contract on the Riverwood Housing Estate to provide tenant employment at the local community level.
In 2002 after many years of waiting, work on Riverwood Peace Park began.
The Department of Housing under the Community Renewal Scheme generously landscaped the park, including a BBQ and kids bike track. The EAB chose bright watermelon pink fencing around the park and lobbied to have the park officially named Riverwood Peace Park, in recognition of when the Army hospital was there. 700 tiles were individually made by tenants at the Casula Powerhouse Museum, and individually painted and handcrafted by people who have a past and present connection to Riverwood. Local residents were involved in the design of the park and their involvement has continued.
In 2004 the Riverwood Community Centre had its 30 year anniversary.
It employed 62 workers, managed a budget of over a million dollars and provided a full range of services for people in the community. Approximately 2500 people used the Centre on a weekly basis.
The Punchbowl Community Centre was officially opened on Saturday the 27th June 2009. In September 2009 the Riverwood Community Centre was awarded the tender from Canterbury City Council for the management of the newly built Punchbowl Multi Purpose Community Centre. The new Centre was built on the site of the former Senior Citizens Centre, as a place for seniors to meet and run activities for their groups and now due to the expansion this centre is also available for the whole community. There are 3 meeting rooms, a hall, kitchen and the centre has ample parking.
In 2014 the Riverwood Community Centre celebrated its 40 year anniversary.
Approximately 1500-2000 people used the Centre on a weekly Basis.
Fast forward to today and Riverwood Community Centre is a thriving organisation offering more services than it ever has before, with a host of bi-lingual staff speaking English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic and Greek to further accommodate the needs of the community. RCC is a well known staple not only in the Riverwood Community, but in the broader Canterbury-Bankstown area. A vibrant and bustling service provider with a myriad of different programs and exciting events happening all year round, no matter who you are there is something for you at Riverwood Community Centre!