Council pledges to find a home for the Fishermen’s Bend Gymnastics Club
The City of Port Phillip has thrown its support behind the Fishermen’s Bend Gymnastics Club (FBGC), saying it will embark on a wide-ranging search to find its members a permanent home.
The not-for-profit club has existed in the community for 70 years and is the only dedicated gymnastics club in the City of Port Phillip, providing a platform for young gymnasts to chase their dreams.
But with the club having to move several times in recent years amid skyrocketing rents and with its lease due to end in 2025 at its current Port Melbourne warehouse that’s earmarked to be turned into apartment buildings, members are worried about their future.
They are now urgently seeking to lock in a long-term venue to ensure the longevity of the much-loved club, which prides itself on its inclusiveness and accessibility, as well as the way it offers subsidised fees and classes for marginalised, vulnerable, and disadvantaged children.
In October, the club lodged a 1350-signature petition with the City of Port Phillip, which called on the council and state government to co-fund a space and invest in facilities for its members.
In response, councillors voted unanimously at their November 15 meeting to undertake a feasibility study, which “will provide a clear understanding of the opportunities to support the FBGC” at a cost of $120,000 to council, which has given itself eight months to prepare a business case.
“The project would include consideration of an extension to Fishermans Bend Community Centre and look at other potential sites across the municipality, particularly focusing on Fishermans Bend,” a council report said.
“If a new site was found funding for the project would need to be considered through future budget processes.”
Club committee member Mandy Moore expressed her gratitude for the council’s help, saying it would be “such welcome news for us to be at any venue”.
“Hopefully they decide on a long-term home for us; something that will take us through for decades to come,” she said, adding their ideal space would be 1000 square metres or bigger.
Ms Moore said the club had continued to grow in membership numbers, with their current location being a commercially owned warehouse in Salmon St, with FBGG subletting a section to the Port Phillip Community Group to help the club stay afloat. The council is subsidising the rent paid by the Port Phillip Community Group.
According to the council, there is a continual challenge for the council to provide opportunities for participation growth across many sports with “sports grounds are at, or over capacity”.
Mayor Healther Cunsolo said the FBGC was a “fantastic community organisation” that “brings many people through its doors”, and fully supported their search to find a permanent home.
She said many vertical towers were going up in Fishermans Bend – an industrial precinct in South Melbourne and Port Melbourne with plans to build schools, parks, roads, and public transport – and suggested there may be “the ability to insert a level of something other than residential or a grocery store, perhaps maybe a gymnastics facility”.
Cr Marcus Pearl said, “the community benefit they provide is substantial, the value they provide their members goes well beyond their doors, and this is a good first step in starting to work out a long-term future for them”.
Ms Moore said if any generous organisation or private owner had a space available that their club could use they would be grateful for the opportunity to have a discussion.
Caption: Members of Fishermen's Bend Gymnastics Club hope to find a permanent home. Photo: Ajay Viswanath.