Saving small halls: council offers lifeline

WHEN personal carer Jacky Roth heard North Burnett Regional Council’s Small Halls Funding Program had finally been adopted, she shrieked with delight.

“You beauty, how wonderful,” she said.

“We’re so excited.”

The secretary of Mungungo School of Arts, which operates Mungungo Hall, north of Monto, said the hall is in the final stages of restumping and needs a small investment to get it over the line.

Mungungo School of Arts secretary Jacky Roth with partner Warren, who is also involved with Mungungo Hall.
Mungungo School of Arts secretary Jacky Roth with partner Warren, who is also involved with Mungungo Hall.

The program, which has a $20,000 annual budget, will allow 10 small halls across the region to apply for grants of up to $5000 for infrastructure and maintenance projects, and equipment that supports the halls’ management committees.

Ms Roth said Mungungo Hall still sees regular action.

“Every second weekend is booked,” she said, with indoor bowls and old-time dances held regularly.

Ms Roth said small halls such as Mungungo are not “white elephants … they’re really still needed”.

“They’re still a meeting place to provide a bit of relief from farm and work life,” she said.

She sees small halls as being historical sites which can tell the story of areas which are less prominent than they once were.

Mungungo Hall celebrated its 90th birthday earlier this year, where Ms Roth collected accounts of the hall, photographs and other historical artefacts.

Mungungo Hall.
Mungungo Hall.

A report presented to council at its October 30 meeting said small halls are “key hubs that form part of the social fabric of the local community”.

“They are a space where people can come together, socialise, hold events and provide support for one another,” the report said.

An inspection of all small halls in the North Burnett was made in June to assess the capacity of volunteer management capacities and the state of infrastructure, and to identify future projects and safety concerns.

Issues identified include the need for additional safety signage and equipment, access for all abilities, and the onerous cost of insurance for committees.

Aside from the grants, the program also proposes additional support for small halls:

  • Council Workplace Health and Safety team partnering with volunteer hall management committees to provide evacuation diagrams, exit signage and fire extinguishers/blankets in each eligible hall by the end of June 2020, funded under allocated small halls budget.
  • Fire extinguishers to be inspected as part of council’s half-yearly fire extinguisher checks (hall committees to work collaboratively with council to have the extinguishers available for inspection), funded under small halls budget.

The report said council has begun investigating ways to assist the committees with “onerous” costs associated with building, contents and public liability insurance.

“This area needs more discussion and investigation to build a proposal for council to consider in the future,” it said.

The halls eligible for funding are:

  • Abercorn Hall
  • Beeron Road Country Club
  • Coalstoun Lakes and District Soldiers Memorial Hall
  • Dallarnil Hall
  • Degilbo Hall
  • Kalpowar Hall
  • Monogorilby Hall
  • Mulgildie Hall
  • Mungungo Hall
  • Woowoonga Hall

Bancroft Hall is ineligible as it is in the process of being sold to private owners.

The program will be first opened to Kalpowar and Mungungo, as they have previously identified projects which require support, before the funding is made available to all committees.

On November 29, Kalpowar is hosting a music performance as part of the Festival of Small Halls Australia’s ‘Summer Tour 2019’.

Kalpowar Hall at last year’s Festival of Small Halls Australia.
Kalpowar Hall at last year’s Festival of Small Halls Australia.

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