Canberra Community Champions

I’m doing a monthly shout-out to a champion Canberra charity or community group to put a spotlight on the vital community-building work done by charities. As Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities, I’ve had the opportunity to see the valuable impact of the hard work being done by the sector. But charities are struggling at the moment. They’ve seen a huge drop in donations, and many have had to cancel fundraising events. At the same time, they’re being relied on more than ever. Australians are depending on food banks, mental health counselling, family support services and much more.

Over the past generation, Australia has become disconnected. We’re less likely to join organisations, we have fewer friends, and we’re less engaged in sporting and political groups. Charities can help build a reconnected Australia, and Canberra Community Champions is a small recognition of the big work being done in our community.

To nominate a Canberra Community Champion, please drop me an email suggesting a local charity, and explaining (in a few sentences) why their work deserves recognition.

This month's Canberra Community Champion:

Belconnen Arts Centre - July Community Champion

July’s Canberra Community Champions is the Belconnen Arts Centre.

Belco Arts is a community driven arts organisation with one core purpose: to fuel a love of and engagement in the arts. It is a multi-purpose space that brings together diverse creatives in Canberra across a variety of arts practices and mediums. It’s a place to celebrate, experience creative journeys and share stories. The team at Belco Arts is currently working hard to engage with, connect and support the creatives throughout social isolation.

Artists and creatives have been hit particularly hard by COVID. Whether it is visual artists who cannot hold exhibitions, musicians who have had their gigs cancelled, lighting technicians and theatre ushers being stood down – there is no part of the arts sector that is unaffected. Last week, I joined Alicia Payne MP, David Smith MP and Labor’s Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke for an online forum with Canberra creatives and arts organisations. 

     

Casey Community Outreach, by Eleanor Ng of Casey        

The arts sector is doing it tough. And yet now more than ever, Australians are turning to the arts to find comfort and solidarity with our community. Australian stories are absolutely vital to promoting a sense of solidarity and togetherness. Whether you enjoy seeing Australian stories represented on screen or reading them on the page, resonate with the beauty and power of Australian visual art or appreciate listening to Australian music, the arts are fundamental to our culture and identity.

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Axial Housing - June Champion

June Canberra Community Champion – Axial Housing

Canberra Community Champion’s June shout out is Axial Housing, which is managed by Catholiccare.

Axial Housing is a ‘housing-first’ program that supports rough sleepers into permanent, secure housing. The program is unique as it does not discriminate based on employment status, criminal history or drug use and specifically targets people who have struggled to secure housing in the past. This is a significant, positive step towards more inclusive housing options for people with complex needs.

Another terrific aspect of Axial Housing is that it provides individual and flexible assistance for people based on their personal needs. And this support is wrap-around, which means that it extends beyond assisting a rough sleeper into a house and continues to provide long term support that is specifically targeted at breaking the cycle of homelessness. Importantly, it provides pet friendly housing. For many of us, a pet can be like family, so this consideration is very welcome.

A former rough sleeper who had been on the streets for 20 years shared this photo of his dog in his new home, provided as part of the Axial Housing program.

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Northside Community Services - May Champion

This month, Canberra Charity Champions is featuring Northside Community Services and the incredible work they’re doing to support vulnerable members of our community. Northside Community Services is a community based organisation that provides support for people with a disability, women’s housing and emergency relief and home support, children’s services and transport and social programs for seniors. In response to changing community needs due to COVID-19, they’ve focused on helping isolated Canberrans with personal and clinical care, safe medical transportation, essential shopping support, complex case management and client well-being check ins.

   

Every second day, a team of volunteers at Northside Community Services is calling over 600 Canberrans to check in on them. If they can’t make contact twice in a row, they undertake a home visit to ensure people are safe and well in their homes. In the week before Mother’s Day, they delivered an incredible 160 activity boxes to community members, including women and families in supported housing, older clients who were unable to see their family, and people feeling the period of isolation. This is just one example of the work charities are doing to ensure the wellbeing of individuals and boost social connection in this difficult time. You can find out more about Northside Community Services at their website.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.