Sun sets on Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living after 17 years

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The Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living (MCSL) at Mt Annan is set to close when funding from Campbelltown Council runs out before Christmas.

Letters of support from local state and federal MPs urging council to reconsider its decision to end its $150,000 annual sponsorship did not receive any backing at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The decision to withdraw funding permanently was made in May.

Neither the representations from the MPs nor an online petition signed by almost 900 people swayed councillors on Tuesday night.

Campbelltown City council has been financially supporting MCSL since 2010.

Helen Byfield-Fleming, the centre coordinator, says withdrawing the funding has dire consequences on MCSL, Narellan Men’s Shed and the Macarthur Beekeepers.

“We can continue operating until September than we may have to close our gates,’’ she said.

In making the decision to cut its $150,000 annual funding, Campbelltown Council said it was not getting value for money from MCSL.

It pointed out that while MCSL is located within the Camden local government area, that council only provides $30,000 in funding.

Wollondilly Shire Council axed its funding of $20,000 in the 2020-21 financial year.

Keeping chickens workshops were held at MCSL earlier this year.

A report to Campbelltown Council in May gave reasons why it should withdraw its sponsorship.

It said Campbelltown residents make up less than half of total users of the centre.

Also, not counting casual visitors, Campbelltown’s cost per workshop participant is estimated to be approximately $560.

It is difficult for Campbelltown residents to access the centre via public transport and the centre is in the Camden LGA, the report said.

“Campbelltown City Council currently has no direct board representation, resulting in the centre having no accountability to Campbelltown City Council.’’

MCSL, which opened in 2007, “aspires to be a world-class education facility and model for the promotion of sustainable technology and living practices in homes, urban precincts, and businesses.”

Children learning about bees.

In the most current statements submitted to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, MCSL describes its community objectives as:

• encouraging the community to adopt sustainable lifestyle choices to make a positive difference to the environmental sustainability of the Macarthur region and beyond.

• providing an attractive place of environmental excellence where visitors will see sustainability in action, have access to experts and a range of opportunities to develop their own knowledge, interests and understanding.

• MCSL pursues this mission through community education workshops, school excursions, preschool programs, sustainable barista training, tours, venue hire and a Return and Earn kiosk.

 • MCSL delivers demonstrations of sustainable technologies including a solar system and battery storage, wind turbine, electric vehicle charging stations, water tanks, root zones systems for processing sewerage onsite and hydro panels to produce safe drinking water from the sun.

During the 2022-23 financial year, MCSL welcomed 17,500 visitors (venue hire, excursions, tours, casual visits, workshops, EV charging and Return and Earn deposits), registered 10,170 volunteer hours, facilitated 76 workshops and 23 excursions, 82 sessions of the Little Explorers preschool programs, with 30 per cent of participants from Campbelltown.

It is estimated that approximately 40-50 per cent of visitors to the centre live in the Campbelltown LGA.

1 thought on “Sun sets on Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living after 17 years”

  1. This is sad but as the building is there why not have a call in hub for domestic violence people. Mayor Ashleigh Cagney held a Women’s round table on Thursday and the overall agreement was to have a Macarthur hub to cater for all the wonderful teams who can show what their organisations do to assist domestic violence sufferers.

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