Sense of community at risk

THE City of Glenorchy is at risk of losing a number of important community hubs if electronic gaming machines are phased out in pubs and clubs, Elwick Hotel licensee and manager Sarah O’Keefe says.

Ms O’Keefe does not see a future for her hotel without gaming machines, which contribute a large part of the business’ revenue, allowing it to give back to the community.

The popular hotel, which has been a feature of Main Road Glenorchy since 1904 when it used to house race goers travelling to Elwick, is the workplace of 15 employees and a time-honoured meeting place for many more regular patrons.

There is also a bottleshop which employs another seven workers, as well as about 10 contractors who perform regular maintenance and cleaning.

Ms O’Keefe, who has worked in the hospitality sector for almost 30-years, said the sense of community the Elwick Hotel offered would be most missed if it had to close its doors.

“Revenue wise we are predominantly a gaming venue and the revenue from gaming allows us to operate as a community hub for Glenorchy locals,” she said.

“We have a very diverse range of patrons, including the elderly, tradespeople and many people living with a disability and they all come together here to share a good time.”

Aside from being a meeting place for the community, the Elwick Hotel also regularly raises funds for charities and other community organisations.

Over the past five-years the hotel has raised more than $27,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation through the U.G.L.Y. Bartender program and more than $7000 for White Lion by running barbecues, garage sales and other fundraising events.

The hotel also supports local organisations such as the Glenorchy Football Club, Glenorchy Rugby Club, Guide Dogs Tasmania and The Salvation Army.

“We are always open to helping raise funds for organisations that can’t operate without them,” Ms O’Keefe said.

Long-term employee Merv Wrathall, who has worked at the hotel for 41-years, said he was worried the hotel would have to shut down, losing the many years of history and stories created within its walls.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen up to three generations of families call the Elwick their local,” he said.

“It’s a great meeting place for people where everyone is on a first name basis and it would be a shame to see it go.”

Jocelyn Berechree, manager of the Club Hotel, which employs 28 people, echoed Ms O’Keefe’s comments, saying if electronic gaming machines were removed from the hotel they would most likely have to close their doors.

“We currently offer discounted meals to our patrons, which are subsidised by gaming revenue,” Ms Berechree said.

“These subsidies make them a lot more affordable for people who might otherwise be using a meals on wheels service and it also provides a wonderful excuse for socialising.”

Various Glenorchy clubs and organisations would also feel the effect if electronic gaming machines were removed from pubs and clubs.

In the past five-years, sport and recreational clubs within the Glenorchy area have also received about $500,000 in Community Support Levy (CSL) grants to improve their facilities.

The CSL is raised from the gross profits of electronic gaming machines in hotels and clubs and put back into the Tasmanian community through a range of services and programs, including gambling help and community development.

Recent projects funded by the CSL in the Glenorchy region include the underground drainage system and new cricket nets at Eady Street Recreation Ground, new lighting at the North Chigwell sports ground and Prince of Wales Bay Recreation Ground and the resurfacing of courts at the Glenorchy City Tennis Club.

Caption: Elwick Hotel manager and licensee Sarah O’Keefe.