The Filipino Community Council of Victoria (FCCVI), headed by its president Marlon De Leon, has announced the purchase of a new property in the inner western suburb of Brooklyn in Melbourne. The building will be named the ‘Filipino Hub’, a community centre for the Filipino community in Victoria. The centre was officially turned over to FCCVI with some Executive Committee (Execom) members leading the simple ceremony on 14 May 2020.
This is five months after the Execom’s unanimous decision to locate a suitable property to facilitate FCCVI’s planned service expansion.
The property will be fitted out and is hoped to be completed by November as a fully-functional community centre.
FCCVI has engaged a group of architects to organise and manage a development plan to ensure lasting usability and functionality of the space for the community.
Centre includes a large hall with ample parking available
The main hall of the Filipino Hub, located at 10/463A Somerville Road, Brooklyn, has a floor area of 487sqm. The double story office area will be the location of the FCCVI head office, and has a floor area of 221sqm.
The property includes four outdoor carparks, and four car garage spaces, plus ample parking around the area.
De Leon mentioned that the Execom envisions that the interior of the hall will be Filipino themed, providing a strong sense of Filipino culture. This large project with the fit-outs should be complete in time for this coming Christmas.
During the coronavirus lockdown period, De Leon and his team worked to search for a suitable building that the Filipino community in Victoria can be proud of.
In a phone interview with The Philippine Times, De Leon mentioned that the Filipino Hub is located within minutes from the Western Ring Road, 5km from the Sunshine town centre, 5km from Footscray, and 3km from Altona North.
FCCVI services around 150 Filipino senior citizens who attend social support programs and receive in-home support, catering to several suburbs in Melbourne.
The new Filipino Hub will include a hall space with capacity to cater to a crowd of up to 300 people, allowing for larger social gatherings, which includes functions after hours, once the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
A good deal sealed
Although De Leon did not mention the purchase price of the property, he did disclose that it was purchased with a 30% deposit, and the remaining 70% financed. Monthly loan repayments are similar to the amount at the previous lease arrangements in Footscray. “It will protect FCCVI from financial pressure,” stated De Leon, adding that FCCVI will eventually use this property as collateral to purchase additional community centres in the future.
“The general objective was to avoid paying rent and get away from renting over $40,000 per year,” De Leon said.
Building fit outs will commence in the coming days, with office staff to move in from 18 May. De Leon stated that FCCVI was able to attain grants which will go towards heating, cooling and solar panels. A further announcement regarding the grant will be made once announced by the funding body.
Furnishings such as tables and chairs will be provided through funding being arranged by Jim Williamson, Chairperson of Lead West. LeadWest is an advisory committee to the six local government councils of Melbourne’s western region.
Signage will be installed within the next two weeks.
FCCVI becomes an NDIS Provider
De Leon has also announced that FCCVI became a registered provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in April. This allows FCCVI to offer disability care in line with the quality and safety standards of the NDIS.
FCCVI is hoping to recruit additional staff in the coming weeks to commence its disability service, subject to the easing of restrictions of the coronavirus.
De Leon stated that the NDIS accreditation will double the workforce of FCCVI.
FCCVI’s move from Philippine House in Footscray
In 2019, FCCVI developed concerns over the adequacy of its previous venue at the Philippine House at Cowper Street, Footscray as a location to deliver its services to the Filipino community. De Leon mentioned that safety issues, as well as space constraints in the old Philippine House were ongoing issues which led to their desire to someday relocate.
De Leon stated that the Execom voted unanimously the intentions of purchasing a property that FCCVI could own and run to offer its expanding services to the community.
Since 1993, FCCVI has based its office and services at the former location, now called ‘PAFI House’. FCCVI left the site on 10 March 2020 over a payment dispute with the Philippine Australian Foundation Inc (PAFI).
FCCVI made the outstanding payment to PAFI and vacated the offices after the Execom decision was made. FCCVI transitioned quickly to a temporary office in Footscray to ensure that existing services to the elderly were unaffected. De Leon noted that since he took over as president in 2019, he and his team have worked tirelessly to improve its processes to boost FCCVI’s relationship with government funding bodies. This is to provide improved and expanded services in the future.
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