Social justice hub planned in Karratha

Alicia PereraPilbara News
PCLS chief executive Nanette Williams, centre, and staff Flordeliza Larrazabal and Jana Francis with schematic designs for the planned Community Justice Centre.
Camera IconPCLS chief executive Nanette Williams, centre, and staff Flordeliza Larrazabal and Jana Francis with schematic designs for the planned Community Justice Centre. Credit: Alicia Perera

A social justice hub believed to be the first of its kind in WA is being planned for the Karratha city centre.

The Pilbara Community Legal Service is in the process of developing the region’s first Community Justice Centre, a new building strategically designed to house at least 14 local social service organisations under one roof.

PCLS chief executive Nanette Williams said a place which served as a “one-stop-shop” for people to have their social, mental, and emotional issues addressed was a long-term dream of hers that was finally being put into motion.

“I just have this vision that anyone can walk in the door and something has happened to change their life, and we can find a way of helping them,” she said.

“When something happens in your life, that you’re not expecting — you’re rendered unemployed all of a sudden and you can’t pay the mortgage, you can’t pay your bills, or there’s a sudden relationship breakdown and there’s children involved... (people) become overwhelmed, they can’t really see the wood for the trees. They kind of think ‘where do I start?’

“You’ve got a building where health issues are dealt with holistically. You’ve got a shopping centre where you can do all your shopping in one place. But we haven’t got a justice centre. We haven’t got anywhere you can go when you’re in need, when you’ve got a problem that you want help to solve.”

“So let’s have this building that can be part of this cultural community service precinct… right here in the town centre.”

PCLS has so far bought the existing building and land at the old Avis site on Balmoral Road, developed schematic designs and artist’s impressions of the new building and established a building management committee.

They are in the process of securing funding for site works.

Mrs Williams said there was a society-wide move towards a more integrated approach to social justice issues but she did not know of a whole building dedicated to it anywhere else.

“I know community legal centres for a long time, almost 30 years, have been looking at this way of delivering services,” she said. “(But) although it’s been looked at, it’s not been done,” she said.

“Karratha can be a leader in this field — promoting innovation in the delivery of social and community services, bringing benefits to the people of the Pilbara.”

Centre project manager Terry Rogers said having worked with PCLS for the past 10 years, he saw this project as a natural development of its growth over that time.

“We’ve had to extend offices, we’ve had to partition off the offices, halve them in size, refurbish the old butcher shop out at Roebourne (to create the PCLS Roebourne office), so it’s been an amazing process,” he said.

“So it’s no surprise that it’s grown into something now because that’s the way it’s always been.”

“They’ve just had to grow with the need.”

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