The Queer* Department of ANUSA has moved to a large two-story house on Liversidge Street, completing their relocation from their old and significantly smaller office under the Moran Building by October 7.
The building, across from University House and approximately a fifteen minute walk from Union Court, contains multiple study rooms, bathrooms, a living room, office space, a functional kitchen and a yard. Prior to the Department’s tenancy, the house served as postgraduate family accommodation and an administrative building. It was renovated at an approximate cost of $50,000.
Kat Reed, current Queer* Officer, believed that with the new space they would be able to “make sure people feel comfortable” given that the increased room would allow people to find time for themselves and study. Reed also highlighted issues with the lack of space in the previous office, which was especially problematic for Department members with social anxiety, and was “not conducive for an inclusive atmosphere.”
“We’re really looking to grow the department in terms of the people involved and foster that community. I think this space provides us with a lot more opportunities to grow,” Reed said.
On the future of the house, Reed stated, “What I think will happen is that people will spend more time here because it is a bit of a distance [from the centre of ANU], like coming here specifically to study or socialise. I think that will mean that people will be a lot more committed… people will be willing to pitch in more and have that community atmosphere and to care more about the general workings of the Department.”
When asked about attempts from within the Department to block the relocation due to accessibility concerns, Reed stated that they were “legitimate concerns” and “should be addressed.”
Reed cited concerns surrounding the distance between the house and Union Court, which would be potentially unsafe, particularly due to the lighting conditions around the house and the uncertain security situation in the area.
Despite considering possible resolutions, Reed said that “unfortunately the University had, at this point, spent a lot of money [on the house] and we were at a position where our current space was going to be given back to Facilities & Services anyway – we would be without a space.”
“We decided to move and try and make the most of it. We passed a motion to petition the Facilities & Services for better lighting and support in terms of UniSafe buses and security, and to see if in the future we could have our ideal space in Union Court to address those safety concerns.”
Reed nevertheless stated that this could change depending on how the Department acquainted themselves with the space, and also highlighted that Department events were being held earlier in the day with walk-overs from Union Court to address these safety concerns.
Ultimately, Reed was pleased with the new location. “I think people are feeling a lot freer and more relaxed,” despite the accessibility issues.
“I think it really marks a new era for us, because we’ve had the old space for ten years. I think this marks the beginning of a bigger, more community vibe for the Department, instead of feeling really disenfranchised and having to move around campus to find our own spaces.”
“I think it also marks a huge step forward for the University in recognising that Queer people need a safe space to go.”