Archived News Item

Former Grafton College Building To Continue To Be A Place of Service

Gurehlgam manager Kenn Payne with Gurehlgam chairwoman Julie Perkins at the front of the office building in Victoria St, Grafton


The former Catherine McAuley College building in Victoria Street, Grafton, will continue to be a centre for service, with the sale of the building formerly owned by the Institute to Gurehlgam, an Aboriginal community organisation in Northern New South Wales.


In a column in the Daily Examiner newspaper, Janelle Brown of Gurehlgam said the organisation has been renting the building, since its inception in 2007 and were successful on their third application to the Indigenous Land Corporation, that ““assists indigenous people with the acquisition and management of land so they can achieve economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits”.


Gurehlgam will continue to occupy a portion of the old school building where its head office and its services the Youth Empowerment Program, the Clarence Valley Aboriginal Healing Centre and its homeless service are located. (It also has two other services located off-site being the Many Rivers Family Violence Prevention Unit at Kempsey and the Yarrawarra Cultural Centre at Corindi). The remaining office space is subleased to community organisations including: the NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Service, Northern NSW Aboriginal Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, Grafton Warina Women’s Refuge (in partnership with Women’s Refuge), the Buttery and Momentum Collective (formerly Ontrack Community Programs service).


“Throughout the (sale) process the Sisters of Mercy remained very supportive and patient. For over the years the Sisters had become our partners in helping to create our vibrant and vital Aboriginal community centre”, Janelle Brown said.


The building was part of the former St Mary’s College (now McAuley Catholic College), which was opened in 1913. The late M. Phillip Sullivan RSM (1921-2007), was one of the driving forces behind the building, which when it opened in the 1960s included a state of the art science block. The building took on a new life, a few years after McAuley Catholic College moved to its new campus in Clarenza in 2004.


Institute Leader, Eveline Crotty RSM said they Institute was pleased the building will continue to be used to serve the local community.


“This site has a long history of community service, first in education and for more than a decade as a hub for services to the local community, particularly the indigenous community.


“We are very pleased it will continued to be a place of opportunity and empowerment in the lives of so many people in Grafton area,” she said.


The transfer of ownership of this building, follows the sale last year of another Mercy building – the former Grafton Convent – to Mackillop Family Services, a co-sponsored ministry of the Institute.


Messages to: Institute Communication