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  • Apr 16, 2013
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Broken Hill Skillshare lives on

The former Broken Hill Skills Centre will continue to work for youth and unemployed people in Broken Hill through the donation of its assets to the Broken Hill Community Foundation.

Apart from monies being made available for business development – through additional interest generated by the Foundation’s increased Capital Fund – an amount will be reserved each year as grants for individuals to increase their ‘employability’.

A Foundation Board meeting in Broken Hill last week resolved to formally acknowledge Broken Hill Skillshare as a Gold Friend of the Foundation, but also to ensure its generous donation of assets is remembered every year through a perpetual grant.

Foundation Chair Vince Gauci said details of the new grant pool had yet to be finalised and would be announced later this year.

“The donation from the Broken Hill Skills Centre is always one which generates mixed feelings among Board members. We are, of course, very excited at the substantial contribution the Skills Centre has made to the Foundation – through two properties and cash – but we’re also mindful of the fantastic work this organisation did in the local community over more than three decades, training almost 15,000 local people, and we want to ensure that the memory of that work is sustained.” Mr Gauci said.

Work has begun on setting guidelines and preparing application documents for the new grant which will be pitched at training or skills development for unemployed or under-employed people – rather than university education for high-achievers.

Mr Gauci said the new grant will commemorate the ‘Skillshare’ name.

“The organisation went through many transitions after its formation as CYSS in 1982, including the final name of Broken Hill Skills Centre. However, from 1989 to 1997 it was known as ‘Skillshare’ and it is this name that is likely to be dearest to the hearts of local people – simply because of the outstanding number of young people it helped during that time – so it’s that name we’d like to ensure is remembered in Broken Hill each year when the grant is offered,” Mr Gauci said.

An average of more than 800 people undertook training with Skillshare each year during that eight-year period. It is also the era that built the McGillivray Drive Industrial Complex, which is one of the assets donated to the Foundation when the Skills Centre closed its doors in June last year.

“At the moment we have the McGillivray Drive complex under lease to Jenmar Australia and it is being used for the manufacture and supply of ground control products for the mining industry, so it remains a valuable piece of infrastructure for Broken Hill to this day. The other property in Oxide Street is currently on the market for sale or lease,” Mr Gauci said. 

“The Oxide Street building has also played a part in Broken Hill’s history and it would be wonderful to see it again being put to good use either as a commercial site or as a unique residence,” he said.

Although the handover of the two buildings took place some months ago, the official new title deeds were only tabled at the Foundation’s March meeting. Apart from the properties, the Broken Hill Skills Centre donated $74,500 in cash to the Foundation when activities were wound up in June 2012. At the time, Centre Manager Pam Clarke said the closure became inevitable despite a sustained effort at keeping the doors open – which ultimately could not continue when the organisation was unable to compete with larger entities for Government contracts to deliver services.

Ms Clarke said at the time that the Broken Hill Community Foundation had been identified as the most appropriate local organisation to receive the bulk of the organisation’s assets because of its work toward the sustainability of Broken Hill and the confidence committee members had in the professionalism, integrity and commitment of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.