Secretary of the
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts
It is now some four months since I became Secretary, so I thought I would update you on what’s been happening at SMSA and our prospects for the future.
COVID-19 has certainly impacted us as it has most Australians. Effective early April, the Government imposed the new Code which effectively meant tenants could not be evicted and, in addition, could have their rent substantially reduced with a portion completely waived. This has had significant consequences for SMSA as our revenue is dependent on rent recovery. Some of our tenants’ own revenue has been reduced to zero which will inevitably force them to review their medium term prospects for continuing their business. This situation, as you would appreciate, is widespread across Australia as we all come to grips with the impact COVID-19.
The more recent recurrence of the COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria has reminded us of the importance of personal hygiene and safe distancing and the Board is especially conscious of the vulnerability of many of our members. As a consequence, when we decided to open up the library for limited access and browsing, we thought we were on the path to a more widespread opening up of business activity and adjusted accordingly.
Regrettably, this was short-lived and we have decided in the interest of all members to revert to the Click & Collect program and extend our opening hours to five days a week between 9:30am and 2:00pm. We appreciate many of you will be anxious to return books and may feel concerned about holding onto books that have become overdue. Please rest assured that we understand the unique circumstances we have before us and you may return these books when convenient. Your health and that of our staff are our primary concern,
Whilst the organisation is operating on restricted hours and capacity it has been a good time to progress with our building projects.
On another note, I know that many members come to SMSA via public transport. In fact, one of the features of SMSA is its proximity to excellent public transport. However, in recent discussions with the new parking operator of the Meriton building across the street from SMSA (First Parking), we are now advised that a $10 flat rate per day parking is available 24/7. Parking after 4:00pm (night rate) is just $5 flat rate and there is also a $5 flat rate all weekend. Given the COVID-19 situation, members may prefer to avail themselves of this convenient parking as opposed to taking public transport when visiting SMSA.
I am aware many of you are not able to be contacted via email. This could be as a result of your personal choice or the fact that you are not as yet familiar with email or IT generally. We are living in an increasing digital age and not knowing how to operate a computer or a smart phone will increasing become a disadvantage. This doesn’t just apply to not being able to use Government services or buying goods and services, it also severely limits the ability to source information or entertainment options. For instance, inability to trace ancestors and prepare detailed family trees or produce memorable photo books. Importantly, not being able to contact distant family members via a video call.
SMSA, in collaboration with Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association (ASCCA), can assist. They are conveniently located in our building and are particularly skilled in helping older people not familiar with modern information technology becoming computer literate, at your own pace in a friendly, fun and non-threatening environment.Please give me a call on 9262-7300 and leave your contact details and I’ll be in touch with further details as to available dates.
Many of you will be saddened to learn that Melanie Ryan, our Program and Communications Manager, has resigned effective 13th August to pursue new opportunities. Melanie has been with SMSA for eleven years and has been an important staff member and initiator of our programs and events over these many years. I am sure you will join me and the Board in wishing her every success in the future.
Finally, I would like personally to thank members for their patience in these difficult times, particularly for the many of you who have depended on much greater access to our library. We can only hope that this virus will very soon be under control once again as we thought we had and we can then once again provide members with increased access.ovide members with increased access.