Kate Hardman, Byron Markets Manager
I am the Byron Markets Manager. I am appalled and disappointed by the articles and statements that have been coming out in the press recently about the Byron Community Centre (BCC), it’s staff and committee.
I have the privilege of seeing first hand, the huge amount of positive work the BCC does each week. From helping homeless people straight off the street, to bringing confidence and courage to shy volunteers trying to find their way through a tough time in life.
For someone in such a high position of power as Ms Cusack, to say such things about the BCC without proper evidence is appalling and disappointing. Paul and Jason have both been incredibly supportive to myself and my team. To have their integrity twisted into a story of harassment and discrimination is shocking and inappropriate. They have protected my staff and our stall holders as they should. The fact that Ian Brow is a leader in the campaign to ‘Save Byron Markets’ has nothing to do with his suspension or the complaints that were lodged against him.
When I started in this role six months ago, it was obvious from the start that there was a culture of bullying that was present in a small group of stall holders at the community market. In that short time, I have seen staff members and volunteers abused and mistreated in a way that I did not expect to find. As a new comer to the region, I was so surprised that the ‘chilled out, peace loving’ Byron Bay, was harbouring such heinous behaviour. Since then, with the help of Paul and Jason, we have set out to eradicate bullying and harassment at the Byron Markets.
As the markets manager, I can honestly say that the voice of the small number of stall holders who are getting a lot of coverage, is representing a very minor portion of the stallholders that operate at the Byron Markets. Their voice is not one that accurately speaks for the larger community and a lot of other stall holders are becoming increasingly annoyed and frustrated with the bad image they are projecting along with the negative atmosphere they bring to the markets.
My main concern is the reputation of the Byron markets and the business of the stall holders that rely on these markets to support families across the shire.
We have the most unique and well-known markets in one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia. These markets have been around since the 80s and have grown from strength to strength until now. In times like this we need to unify, not divide and degrade! I will do my very best to rise above this infantile behaviour and improve the markets to the best they can be…but we need the support and positive input of the community and the stall holders to bring it to its full potential.