Community assistance needed for “fit-out” for Bellingen Youth Orchestra buildings


Over the past two and a half years our Community has passionately demonstrated a commitment to retain health services at Bellingen Hospital and improve its environs.  You have spoken and written publicly, marched in protest, donated generously & commenced restoring the gardens.  These actions have been noticed by senior executives within the health service.  An intelligent, respectful relationship has developed between our community & Health especially since the new Mid North Coast Local Health District was established under the leadership of the CEO – Mr. Stewart Dowrick.

When the new 14 sub-acute ward was in its early stages of planning, the preferred site would require the removal of two demountable transportable buildings.  An idea was suggested that the Bellingen Youth Orchestra would benefit from their use at the local schools where the students are taught.  The Dept. of Health embraced this idea as it could assist in managing what was a very tight budget to deliver the new health service at Bellingen Hospital.

Various discussions & meetings occurred to consider the feasibility of this idea.

It all made such good sense & as Dr Cheney stated “This is a Win, Win, for all parties – the Community, the Orchestra & Health”.

Due to the highly specialised task of re-locating these buildings a quote was sought.  It came in at $20,000 & unfortunately there was no community money to cover that unexpected cost.  What was to come of this extraordinary opportunity to provide additional teaching rooms for our highly talented young musicians?

And you may ask why the schools need more buildings for their music students. Following are two teacher’s response.

ANN PHELAN (Music Teacher & Conductor/Leader of the Bellingen Youth Orchestra)

‘Music Teachers at Bellingen High and Primary Schools are often seen teaching under trees, along walkways and in store rooms. This is due to the drastic shortage of spaces and the high demand for tuition. Bellingen has long been renowned for its outstanding music program which has brought kudos to the town, the schools, families and students involved. The solution to this problem will be alleviated by the two portable hospital buildings that will provide the much needed teaching spaces in our schools.’

ELIZABETH SCOTT (Primary Music specialist)

‘Having a youth orchestra in our tiny town of Bellingen is amazing. It reflects the quality teaching that supports children in their early years of education. At Bellingen Public School there are ten peripatetic teachers that instruct instrument learning in the fields of percussion, brass, woodwind, keyboard, guitar, violin, cello, and double bass. With over 100 children presently receiving lessons on these instruments, the areas within the school are limited and the prospect of receiving a building from the hospital to house this learning is wonderful. We are one of the feeder schools for the Youth Orchestra and students reaching a high standard of playing are encouraged to join before their Primary School education is complete.’

The NSW Dept. of Health is currently undertaking the necessary paper work to transfer the ownership to the Dept. of Education and Communities for use at Bellingen schools.  As a goodwill gesture due to the community’s level of interest & commitment to our local hospital they have also offered to approach the appropriate health department with a suggestion that these buildings are disconnected & transported at no cost to our community, musicians or the Dept. of Education.  We are very grateful of this offer which clearly demonstrates the ‘partnership’ that has developed.  Thank you to all parties involved in this initiative.

Once the buildings are sited they will require a suitable fit-out & the communities assistance will be required to step up to that request.  This is another good news story for our community.  Please contact Liz Scott (6655 0505) or Ann Phelan (6655 9286) to offer your assistance.