The Okines Community House Inc. has been in the making and evolving since the mid 1990s.
A huge effort over a long period of time from some very dedicated and committed community members (some of whom are still on our management committee) culminated in a Have Your Say forum in July 1997 where the need for a community centre became more apparent to the wider community. Following another community forum in 1998 the Okines Community House Action Group was formed and became an incorporated body later that year. After much lobbying and through a need promoted through the Midway Point Neighbourhood Centre, funding for operational and administrative purposes was realised in 2000 through the Department of Health and Human Services. Our courses were run from the St. Johns Ambulance building and Sandcastles Childcare Centre, both community based venues but with restricted availability and use.
After failing to meet planning approval to establish a centre opposite the Dodges Ferry shops, the Okines Community House Inc. entered into a partnership with the Dodges Ferry Football Club to run programs and have office space at the clubrooms. A working partnership was developed and an old storage room was partly refurbished to accommodate our coordinator. Although this was a positive partnership that enabled our organisation to become established in our community it still did not meet the needs of our community or our community house framework.
In 2004 we approached the Salvation Army to see if we could operate from one of their rooms and use their hall for activities. A partnership was made in May 2004 and we were based there until mid 2011 when changing circumstances meant the Salvation Army required the space once more.
When the Little Possums building became available for rent we gladly moved in for the remaining 6 months of 2011. It was the first time that we had a ‘community house’ feel because we were in a warm, friendly, inviting ‘house’ with a fantastic view to boot.
All this time we had been working to secure funding so we could build our own purpose built building.
- In 2002 we had the first of many drawings done. We visited a number of kit homes offices and kit homes buildings
- In 2003 we applied through the Tasmanian Community Fund but were unsuccessful
- In 2004 we secured a grant through Housing Tasmania for $150,000
- In 2005 the first draft lease of land was made through Sorell Council
- In Nov 2006 our application for development was approved
We searched for house plans but realised that $150,000 wasn’t going to build us a very big or workable community centre, so we started looking for more money to complement our first grant.
We applied for grants through the Tasmanian Community Fund and Regional Partners but both were unsuccessful.
We stepped up our lobbying with politicians.
- In September 2008 we received another $150,000 through the Dept Health and Human Services (Housing)
- In April 2009 we submitted our final plans to Sorell Council
- In December 2011 our Community House was finally built at 540 Old Forcett Road, Dodges Ferry and a new chapter begins.
Why Are We Called Okines?
Have you ever wondered why we are called Okines Community House? The name Okines is synonymous with the area where the community house is being built. It shares its origins in the name of the beach located nearby and the farming property on the foreshore, first known as “Lagoon Farm” homestead when owned by Ralph Dodge in the 1800s, which later came to be known as Okines House after being acquired by Ernest John Okines in the 1900s.
Okines first received funding to build the house in 2004. Since then, there have been numerous occasions when it appeared the house was going to become a reality only to have another obstacle present itself. We hope that this house will be a much loved and well utilised asset to our community in testament to the many years dedicated towards achieving this shared vision.