MANNA INC may move to an indoor home after 11 years of serving meals to people in Weld Square park.
Since 2008 Vincent council has given Manna yearly licenses to operate, sometimes under pressure from nearby businesses and residents who claim the service contributes to trouble at the square and want it kicked out.
Previous attempts to find a new venue haven’t turned up anything, but with the McGowan government about to plough millions into a Tranby House upgrade, Manna is in talks with UnitingCare West and Vincent council about possibly relocating there.
In July Vincent council gave an $85,000 grant to UCW to hire an outreach worker for Weld Square for five days a week to link needy people to services.
A council report says the worker will stay if Manna moves: “Any relocation of Manna’s meal service at Weld Square is unlikely to resolve the need for outreach services in this area, given the large number of support services located within close proximity to Weld Square, and its long history as a meeting place for Aboriginal people in particular.”
Once a fertile wetland and meeting site, Weld Square borders the curfew line which Aboriginal people weren’t allowed to cross without permission from 1927 to 1957 so it continued to be a popular meeting spot.
by DAVID BELL