Registry closure hits Facebook

When the bottom floor of Laurie Edwards' home in Mount Keira was destroyed in the 1998 floods, his family relied on the Wollongong Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry to recoup lost documentation.

Just a child at the time, Mr Edwards remembered "waist high" water churning through the lower level of his home. He said the BDM office provided a lifeline when his family was in need.

"The office not only replaced these on the spot but some documents were replaced free of charge due to the flood situation," he said.

It was this experience that led Mr Edwards to last week create a Facebook page called Keep Our Registry Office! in response to the news residents wanting immediate access to documents would soon have to travel to Chippendale or Parramatta.

"I've found in this circumstance and others, that the other value in the office is not only the prompt access to documents but the personal service and help when trying to navigate things like name changes or amendments," he said.

Since being created, the site has accrued more than 500 "likes".

"I set this group up because I was surprised when I heard the registry office was scheduled to close in only a month's time," Mr Edwards said. "I straight away thought about my elderly grandparents when I heard about the closure. If they were to need anything urgently, heading to Sydney just wouldn't be an option for them."

On Tuesday last week, the Illawarra Mercury reported services provided at Wollongong's BDM office on Keira Street was slated to shut on the 28th of this month, with staff being transferred to the department's Chippendale office.

It was reported that under the new scheme, Wollongong's Service NSW would deliver "urgent" certificates by mail within three to four days, while non-urgent certificates would be delivered within five weeks. At the time, a Service NSW spokeswoman confirmed the closure, stating "most BDM functions" would be available at the Wollongong Service NSW centre from March 29.

She noted the partnership with Service NSW would enable Wollongong customers to have greater access to BDM services through longer trading hours. "BDM is committed to maintaining its high standard of service to people in the Illawarra," she said.

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