THERE are a range of new possibilities for Lithgow with the re-opening of the Western Sydney University (WSU) Lithgow campus now known as Maldhan Ngurr Ngurra - Lithgow Transformation Hub.
The name of the new hub was announced on Thursday, April 29 with a seminar to celebrate WSU's partnership with Lithgow community organisations and businesses.
Special guests including Wiradjuri elder Aunty Helen Riley, Lithgow mayor Ray Thompson and Member for Calare and Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education Andrew Gee were invited to welcome the new phase for the facility.
Aunty Helen delivered a 'Welcome to Country' and said she was very proud to have Indigenous language incorporated in the name of the Hub.
"Maldhan Ngurr Ngurra means 'Workmanship together, side by side' and was the name of a program my daughter used with National Parks," she said.
The Hub situated in the historic Charles Hoskins Memorial Institute building was used by WSU between 2014-2018, as a teaching facility for the college's Diploma of Nursing programs.
Following its closure, the University consulted a wide range of community stakeholders and held workshops to consider options for the use of the site and that's when the idea of the Hub was formed.
Associate Professor Louise Crabtree-Hayes, Prinicpal Research Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University said the first workshop was held in May 2019.
"We had about 50 or 60 people in the room in our two-day workshop and we only kept it at that because we had no more chairs, then we had some smaller ones and ongoing stakeholder discussions over time," she said.
She said COVID-19, fires and floods had slowed things down but she was excited to make a comeback.
"Everything that was discussed in the workshops has only intensified since then, and the increase in the interest has been fantastic, it's so exciting to be here," she said.
Professor Crabtree-Hayes said the Hub will be used as an open, shared space where the communities of Lithgow can come together.
"We envisage a space where local students can come to use our state-of-the-art technology or Wi-Fi, or find a co-working or study space, while professionals and business-owners can use the Hub for their conferences, gatherings, meetings, events, residencies, exhibitions or pop-up labs," she said.
Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Barney Glover AO said the Hub was a place for partnership, creativity and success.
"The Hub creates a mixed site where cultural, educational, community, entrepreneurial and commercial activities share the space," he said.
"It is a great facility for Lithgow, it is great for our University."
Professor Glover said he looked forward to working with the community and was excited to have a re-imagined future for WSU in Lithgow.
"These next three years will be a wonderful transition towards our future, I'm sure we're here for the long term, this is a great place and we look forward to being with you for many years to come," he said.
He acknowledged the close collaboration between the University and its stakeholders.
"....Lithgow City Council and LandCom in getting to this point in addition to the critical interests and contributions from the Mingaan Aboriginal Corporation, ACM, Lithgow schools and community organisations and local businesses small and large.
"Including the business chamber, Thales, Wolgan, EnergyAustralia, Centennial and Ferrero," Professor Glover said.
He was also grateful to the Wiradjuri elders for their generosity in naming the Hub.
Mr Gee said it was vital for Lithgow to have the facility, being the gateway to the Central West.
"I think that's very important that the university has decided to continue its association with Lithgow and have this new space where students can come and study.
"It is an important contribution to bridging that great divide that still exists in so many areas between the city and the country," he said.
He congratulated WSU for providing Lithgow with a Hub of life-long learning and educational opportunities.
"I'd like to congratulate all of the partners who have been involved in bringing this all together, it really is a collaboration of all those organisations and the broader community and I know that it will be an example for the region and the rest of the country of working together, side by side," he said.
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