It’s official: Sydney’s gay and lesbian community is moving out west.

New Mardi Gras is moving to new premises on Trafalgar Street, Petersham, while Twenty10 and the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service are set to co-locate in the old Lesbian Space Project building on Bedford Street, Newtown, as early as August.

They join other gay and lesbian community organisations already in the inner west, including the Metropolitan Community Church in Petersham, and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, which moved to new premises on King Street, Newtown, last November.

Pride is also looking at the option of re-locating to the inner west.

Pride is looking at its accommodation needs as we are locked into an extremely expensive lease in Surry Hills, Pride co-president Lou-Anne Lind told Sydney Star Observer. I understand why organisations are moving to the west, because it’s a lot cheaper. Instead of pouring money into community services, money is going into rent and overheads. Pride is a good example of that.

A community consultation process Pride undertook in May and June showed that, although there was a strong need for a community centre, there was no sense that it had to be in Surry Hills, Lind said.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Steph Sands told the Star that the new headquarters for New Mardi Gras (which is currently being refurbished) includes workshop space, office areas and meeting rooms.

It’s a really great space, she said. We want to make it feel as much of a home as Erskineville was. We want to see it used by the community, and not just around Mardi Gras and Sleaze Ball time.

Sands stressed the accessibility of the new building, which sits opposite Peter-sham train station.

Accessibility was also a key factor in finding a new home for Twenty10, which has been required to vacate its Glebe base by its state government landlord.

Twenty10 chose not to look for new premises in the Darlinghurst area, which is known for its street violence, the organisation’s executive officer Sally Abrahams told the Star. The new building was handy to Twenty10’s properties and easy for clients to access, she said.

Abrahams said Twenty10 and the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service had a close partnership but stressed that the co-location was not a merger.

The new building offers completely separate offices and access, she said. We can maintain our own identities while sharing some space. The building, which is also being refurbished, should be ready for its new tenants in August.

The executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Don Baxter, told the Star that the organisation decided to move from its former location on Wentworth Avenue in Surry Hills after negotiating a very good deal with South Sydney Council (which owns the building at 222 King Street where AFAO is now housed).

The new location kept AFAO close to the centre of the epidemic and was ultimately preferable to Wentworth Avenue, Baxter said.

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