By Aleksandra Bliszczyk
Construction on the Mernda Social Support Services Facility has begun, with the centre for elderly people set to open in September 2022.
The facility will provide a safe space for seniors who may need physical assistance or are living with a disability, memory loss or limited mobility to socialise and participate in activities.
Amid the chaotic energy of school pick-up at Mernda Primary School and Mernda Villages Kindergarten on Thursday, Doreen Seniors Club members gathered to watch the sod turn at what will be a new facility for seniors.
With three activity rooms, the centre will offer a range of programs and classes to help users improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing.
The facility, which will also be powered by solar panels and include a rainwater system, will be at Mernda Village, encircled by two early learning centres and Mernda Primary School.
City of Whittlesea administrator Peita Duncan said bringing seniors and children together in one space would animate the new facility.
“The kids are screaming on the other side, which just lifts the tempo,” she said.
Ms Duncan was joined by State Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green and City of Whittlesea director of planning and development Justin O’Meara to turn the sod on Thursday, marking the commencement of construction.
Ms Green said the facility’s location, with close proximity to bus routes and between schools and the adjacent shopping precinct, would add convenience.
“We’re going to have that great connection from the get-go, and I think having all our family service together … just makes it easier for families,” she said.
The project was jointly funded by the City of Whittlesea and the 2020-21 round of the State Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund, each contributing $1.24 million.
Ms Green said the fund had provided ‘crucial community infrastructure’ in one of the state’s fastest-growing areas.
“When I was first elected in 2002, there were 1200 people on the electoral role in Doreen and Mernda, and now we have about 50,000, so we need a purpose-built facility,” she said.
“It will be a place where older people can get care, but also it’ll be about ideas [and] friendship.”