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The Settlement in great shape

DARLINGTON: Since 1926 The Sydney University Settlement has provided services to the community from its centre at Edward Street in a building that was originally a 19th-century dance hall.

Kristina Touma and Peter Marix-Evans, CEO of Shape Group. Photo: Supplied

The Property Industry Foundation, which has an ongoing relationship with The Settlement, introduced Peter Marix-Evans, the CEO of Shape, a commercial building fitout company, to Kristina Touma, The Settlement manager, in December last year when Shape was looking for projects as part of the company’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

It took about three months of planning so that a pro-bono refurbishment of parts of the centre could be done in a day.

In early June, over 30 staff and subcontractors from Shape arrived at the centre to make modifications to improve the delivery of educational programs and lift engagement among the children, young adults and families who use facilities at The Settlement.

The upgraded garden area will continue to provide vegetables for cooking classes. Multiple loads were taken to the tip from the yard storage sheds so that it will now be easy to access the centre’s bikes and sport equipment. Improvements to the back upper floor included new furnishings and the creation of a multi-use meeting space with its own kitchen facilities.

Ms Touma was delighted. “We now have a brand new kitchenette with lockable storage,” she said. “That way we can have all our program supplies here, but still be able to open it up for the rest of the community, for local organisations to come and use the space.

“One of the great things is that the whole of the [meeting place] wall is a painted ‘whiteboard’. There were some horrified faces when one of the kids started drawing on the wall and then he just rubbed it all off!”

Mr Marix-Evans noted the many benefits for Shape staff. “The relationships we made on the day were really important,” he said. “Aunty Ali was there and she was so hilarious, telling us so many stories. The vibe was so good, our staff had so much fun and they are still talking about it in the office.”

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