The 10th NAIDOC Community Art Exhibition On Now

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Be sure to catch the exhibition of detainee artwork celebrating history, culture and achievements of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, running from 1st July 2022 at Community Services #1 head office in Narrabundah.

The exhibition features more than 30 original works from detainees incarcerated in the Alexander Machonochie Centre. Detainees have the opportunity to join an art program designed to reinforce connection to culture and to develop their artistic skills and talents while assisting in rehabilitation.The past 10 years of the program has produced dozens of quality artworks and an array of inspiring stories from individuals who continued their art practice beyond incarceration assisting in successful reintegration back into the community.

One of these stories comes from ex-detainee Terry who spoke at the launch of the opening in July. Terry said: ‘I was a habitual offender with very little self-esteem or pride in myself. That all changed when I was last incarcerated. I devoted almost all of my time to my art. I kept my head down, made some money and made a good name for myself selling my art. My art has helped me get through the hardest moments of my life. And helped me develop some pride and self-respect. I was able to build of this into a life where I now work full time, paint occasionally, have started a new family with a beautiful baby girl. Things are really good. I owe a lot to the art program at the AMC which helped me get my life back where I always wanted it.’

All works are on sale and proceeds are deposited into the detainees’ trust accounts providing them with funds on their release assisting in their reintegration back into the community.

The NAIDOC Community Art Exhibition is a working partnership between ACT Corrective Services and Community Services #1.

The 10th NAIDOC Community Art Exhibitio: 63 Boolimba Cres, Narrabundah ACT

Gallery Hours: 9am-4.30pm Monday – Friday from 1st July 2022

Information and Sales call: (02) 6126 4700

Email: reception@communityservices1.org

CS#1 Celebrates a year of delivering care in the Murrumbidgee

Community Services #1 CEO Amanda Tobler. Photo: Chris Roe.

CS#1 Celebrates a year of delivering care in the Murrumbidgee

Community Services #1 (CS#1) has been delivering in-home care services in the Murrumbidgee for a year now but is only just getting around to its official launch in the wake of COVID interruptions.

Established in the ACT, CS#1 now delivers a broad range of community programs in the Riverina.

CEO Amanda Tobler said the new office in Wagga is the 35-year-old service provider’s first expansion into NSW.

“We started as an early education and care provider in the ACT and throughout that period of time have expanded into being what’s called a regional community agency,” she explained.

“We now provide everything from early education and care right through to aged care services, food pantry and community transport.”

In the Murrumbidgee and Riverina CS#1 delivers non-clinical care in various areas.

“We deliver domestic assistance, personal care, transport, meals and a range of services to maintain the ability to stay at home and be independent,” she said.

“We also have some of our management team down here working with brokers in the area and we’re just really excited to be able to support the community here with local employees.”

Case manager coordinator Jeanine Aughey said it was a privilege to help people in the area.

“Most of us really enjoy doing it,” she said.

“We get to speak to some lovely people who are usually very appreciative of the support we can provide.

“I’ve got a lady at the moment and helping her with some shopping, some domestic tasks, and it’s about making sure she’s got someone to help out.”

Amanda Tobler said it’s great also to be creating jobs in the region.

“We are delighted to have established our services in the area and also to continue to offer employment opportunities to locals to deliver these services,” she said.

Despite a shortage of workers in many areas, she said they have been able to assemble a strong team.

“We’ve been very lucky to get a great workforce who work really hard and who continue every day to be able to support their local community,” she said.

“I wouldn’t say that recruitment in any space at the moment is easy, but we’ve actually been able to find the staff of the calibre that we want in the Riverina and we’ve been really happy about that.”

Ms Tobler added that they are always looking for good workers for both full-time and part-time roles.

“All of our case managers and management team here are full-time employees but the people who provide the in-home services can work on a casual and part-time basis,” she said

“We’re always looking for more home care support workers.”

The CS#1 official launch was held at the Wagga office on Baylis Street on Friday (24 June).

For more information on their services, visit the CS#1 website.

Plenty Of Australians Won’t Be Winners This Election Campaign

By Nicholas Stewart – Updated April 11 2022

Plenty of Australians won’t be winners this election campaign

Despite record-low unemployment, community workers say food insecurity is getting worse. Picture: Shutterstock

Sometimes, to see the big picture, you need to focus on the little things. Hundreds of thousands of words will be spilt over the next month to help us decide which party should govern the country and taking us forward over the coming years. The result will be vital in establishing the way we engage with the future. Our country may be about to change its government for only the second time this century, and the sixth time since the end of World War II, 77 years ago.

But if you really want to see what life in this country looks like, don’t listen to the politicians, or look at statistics (a record 27 years had passed since the last recession before the pandemic). Go, instead, to the suburb of Narrabundah, a couple of easy blocks’ drive down from Parliament House. Travel just far enough to enter a different world, one where most people never get their chance to “give a go to have a go”, and where all those slogans about “opportunity” ring shallow and empty, like the hollow promise they are. A place where young mothers with hard-working partners pay for food with coupons because the money’s gone on the rent; where an old man, now dead, went without food and heating for a week in the middle of winter until, finally, his pride collapsed and he struggled into the neighbourhood hub, begging for help.

Amanda Tobler sits in a small office just off the central hall of the old school, near the Narrabundah shops. A tightly compressed ball of energy, she’s chief executive of not-for-profit Community Services #1, and spends her time juggling the slender resources of her organisation to make ends meet. Today she’s engaged in a desperate attempt to keep existing programs running while finding ways of meeting newly emerging requirements.

“The other week we got a birthday cake and [a small] present to a four-year old,” Tobler says proudly.

“But food insecurity is becoming worse. We’ve had more and more people turning up every week for a long time now. The problems from the pandemic aren’t nearly over.”

What’s made her task more challenging is that it’s no longer just a matter of providing desperately needed physical support. The needs of people pushed to the sidelines of our society are growing faster than the economy.

Community Services #1 is just one of many small, local not-for-profits trying to make a difference at the sharp end of glib phrases like “economic transition”. She approached me at the National Press Club, asking if I really wanted to see how desperate the situation is for those on the breadline. I had no idea, but after sitting in the little “shop” where her meagre stock of food is being given away to people in need, the scale of the problem hit home.

What’s disgraceful – genuinely scandalous – is how fragile existence has become for so many “ordinary Australians”. They’re pushed to the edge with, crushingly, no apparent path out of the deep poverty in which they’re trapped.

This is the very real face of Australia in this year of our Lord, 2022. The prosperity gospel offers slim comfort to those on the streets of our capital as winter closes in.

Don’t think this is just some sort of poorly camouflaged “Vote Labor” screed. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have both visited Community Services #1 over the past term, and listened first-hand to the problems. Yet if either have discovered a real solution going to the core of this problem, it’s not apparent in their election bumf so far. Labor would put registered nurses into the community, which is great, but it’s still nothing more than a patch-up. Only Band-Aid solutions are offered for huge problems going to the heart of our society that need a team of problem solvers (social workers, trainers, grassroots workers and simple help to distribute things like food and clothes to those who can’t leave their houses). Neither side has a snappy 30-second grab with a pithy solution, for the very good reason that our economy appears to be built on pushing anyone who can’t immediately contribute off to the sidelines, while the rest of us divide up the goodies amongst ourselves.

Maybe this is the reason disadvantage isn’t mainstream. It simply isn’t one of the decisive fault lines that are critical decision points for swinging voters. They’re invisible, as they had been to me before I had to meet with individuals and saw the truth all around me in Narrabundah. Our “leaders” prefer to focus on their their loyalty to rugby league teams. Spare me the pretence. Those handing over a couple of dollars in return for a food handout didn’t look as if they could care less which team their PM supports. They’re far more worried about where next week’s rent for the caravan park will come from.

Politicians and journalists prefer to spend time focusing on issues like defence spending, negative gearing and fuel taxes. Along the way we lose track of the reality that no number of first home owners’ grants are ever going to make a difference to the handout queue.

And yet even here, in the midst of their need, people hold back so there’ll be enough food left for the others.

The economic train of prosperity left the station long before those living in entrenched disadvantage ever got a chance to board. It’s already pulled way off into the distance. No matter how hard people run, there’s no way they’ll ever be able to catch up and clamber on. That’s not the way things work. These people have been left behind.

The distance between those of us who have, and those who do not, is becoming greater and greater. And, unless the political rhetoric changes dramatically in the next couple of weeks, it’s difficult to imagine either of the major parties outlining a real solution.

The wells of entrenched disillusion, poverty and hopelessness run deep.

Columnist
Nicholas Stuart is a Canberra writer

Community Gardens will help ease food insecurity. May 16, 2022

Community Gardens will help ease food insecurity

Food security has become a huge issue in the ACT as the cost of living rises, says Amanda Tobler, CEO of Community Services #1 – but community gardens can help feed vulnerable Canberrans.

Community Services #1 received a grant from the ACT Government three years ago to set up their garden; now, they grow a wide range of produce from strawberries, celery, rhubarb, and beets to herbs like chives and rosemary. Vulnerable Canberrans learn how to tend the garden, harvest what they grow, and cook it for their families.

The 2022–23 round of the government’s Community Garden Grants, launched today, will set up more community gardens around the city.

“As our community moves towards higher density living with smaller blocks and backyards, it is becoming increasingly important to provide space where the community can grow fresh produce,” said Rebecca Vassarotti, ACT Minister for the Environment.

Totalling $40,000, grants of up to $10,000 are available per project for not-for-profit organisations, groups, owners’ corporations, and individuals to create gardens, enhance existing ones, buy or hire equipment or tools, or contract specialists to care for gardens.

The grants have also supported church groups to provide additional food for vulnerable people.

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