Dandenong, February 3: The talk of having an Indian centre for the Indian community based in Victoria has been there – for ages. All Indian community gatherings would entail a discussion about it. There were plans, grand plans, then downsized plans after reality checks and then some more plans. It almost became a topic which was worthy of discussion at every possible opportunity, with every politicians, but seemed like one to which the community had psychologically resigned to accept as unrealisable.

Lots of prominent Indian Australians put in their best efforts, but kept hitting hurdles one way or the other. Some even offered interest free loans along the way, but that was perhaps not enough. Some gave up hope and some turned cynical and sceptical. And many gave up hope all together.

But, as The Hon. Alan Tudge said on the day, Vasan Srinivasan’s persistence was something – working relentlessly for it. It was something which the system could not swallow. Ably assisted by a small group of people whose commitment stood out as much, they were pleased to invite the community to Museum India in Dandenong today to launch the planning permits approved by the City of Greater Dandenong Council for Australia’s first ethno-specific Indian community Aged Care, approved for 108 beds.

With the planning permit issued, the design development has commenced which will add all the structural and aesthetic components, relevant and meaningful to the Indian community. It will take 6-8 months to complete. Once that is done, the Building permit application will be moved and a final tick off by the council will be required before the building work can commence. Once the building permits are granted by the council, the tender process will be opened for the building contractors to make their bids to secure the business of building the facility.

The facility will be a five story building with underground parking. The ground floor will contain a reception, a small dining area/restaurant, a commercial kitchen, café and large meeting/display areas for a possible museum or gallery.

Each additional floor will accommodate resident rooms which will all be single room with ensuite bathrooms set in a household configuration of 10-12 rooms in each. Each household will share a kitchen, dining area and lounge area. We will have a number of larger shareable family rooms on each floor to accommodate couples.

As the site shares a common boundary with a fabulous park, the designers have been able to ensure that maximum light will enter the building. Elsewhere open courtyards and balconies allow residents and families to enjoy the outside.

The group has consulted a lot of Indian Elders and spokespersons for the design which incorporates features relevant to supplying an enriching and culturally appropriate environment for the Indian elderly community to live a life that’s worth living.

A select gathering of about 200 people braved the heat and attended the release of planning permits for the facility. Gracing the occasion included the Hon. Alan Tudge, minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, the Hon. Neil Angus, Vic Shadow minister for Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Matt Fregan, MLA for Mount Waverley, Cr Roz Blades, Mayor of City of Greater Dandenong and Ms Petra Neeleman, Executive Director of the group who are building the five story Indian facility.

Mr Param Jaswal, a prominent businessman and president of FIMO felicitated the chief guest, the Hon. Alan Tudge.

Speaker after speaker praised the efforts of the group led by Vasan and their unyielding persistence to come this far. The facility, as is the pace of progress, seems to be just over 12 months away, if not sooner.

– K. Dev with DM


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