Canberra Community Champions
Each month, I recognise a Canberra charity or community group as a ‘Canberra Community Champion’. As Assistant Minister for Charities and Federal Member for Fenner, I’m keen to shine a spotlight on the vital community-building work done in the bush capital.
Acknowledging these great organisations is one way of reversing the decline in social capital. Over the past generation, Australia has become more 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:
Our January Community Champion is Pegasus Riding for the Disabled
Located in Holt, Pegasus Riding for the Disabled is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing therapeutic horse-riding programs for individuals with disabilities throughout Canberra. They aim to increase the quality of life of their participants through emphasising the 5 main benefits of horseback riding: physical, psychological, social, educational, and recreational. Pegasus Riding is committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment, where riders experience the joy of horsemanship while gaining valuable physical and cognitive improvements. If you’d like to learn more about Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, check out their website here.Read more
Our December Community Champion is HeadsUp Kippax
HeadsUp Kippax is a volunteer run organisation that helps women affected by hair loss.
Based out of their storefront in Kippax, HeadsUp stocks wigs, scarves, turbans, and other accessories to help empower women who are suffering hair loss and provide them with support and a sense of community. HeadsUp’s volunteers create a private and supportive environment for women to find the right hair accessories for them.”
HeadsUp is one of those pocket-sized treasures that remind you how clever and compassionate Canberrans can be, and how rewarding it can be it is to lighten someone else’s burden.
You can check out more of HeadsUp Kippax's work hereRead more
Our November Community Champion is Good Omen Goodeze
Good Omen Goodeze is a Canberra-based community knitting and crochet craft group that creates blankets, beanies, toys and other comfort items for the patients and family of Canberra’s hospitals and health services. The group began in 2017, providing their goodies to patients throughout Canberra. As well as bringing joy to patients, Good Omen Goodeze also provides a space for their members to socialise and work together during their monthly working bees and other get togethers.
Good Omen Goodeze members produce a wide variety of items across many different skill levels, they encourage inclusivity and learning and are happy to teach new needle-crafters.
If you’d like to find out more about Good Omen Goodeze, check out their website here
Our September Community Champion is Crace Community Gardens
Crace Community Gardens is a warm and inviting space that brings local residents together, allowing them to grow their own fruits and veggies, encouraging healthier eating habits and environmental care. With a wide range of garden plots available, the space provides gardening enthusiasts with the opportunity to cultivate their own produce and connection within their community. In addition, the garden frequently hosts barbecues, working bees, and various community events, including their recent 10th birthday celebrations.
Our August Community Champion is Canberra Street Cat Alliance
Operating since 2014, Canberra Street Cat Alliance aims to reduce the population of Canberra’s street cats in a humane manner. The organisation runs multiple programs to achieve this goal, including the Streets to Sheets Adoption Program, the Trap and Release Program and the Barn Cat Program.
Canberra Street Cat Alliance is an entirely volunteer run organisation, their volunteers provide veterinary care, desexing, microchipping and love to the street cats in their care. The group helps an estimated 400-500 cats every year, slowly reducing the impact of large cat colonies on the environment and surrounding businesses, as well as allowing the cats to live healthy, happy lives.
If you’d like to find out more about the Canberra Street Cat Alliance, check out their website here
Our July Community Champion is Raw Potential Canberra
Raw Potential Canberra is an organisation that aims to empower at risk youth by offering personalized mentoring and support services. With a focus on youth development, Raw Potential Canberra provides a safe and inclusive space where young individuals can explore their potential and overcome challenges.
Through their outreach workers, the organization helps participants build essential life skills, Raw Potential's dedicated team provides assistance through multiple avenues, including connecting youth to vital support services, assistance in setting gaols and facilitating group activities, and communication and writing support.
Raw Potential Canberra has helped over 10,000 young people since 1986, if you’d like to help them grow this number, or find out more information, check out their website.
Our June Community Champion is Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT).
For over 25 years MIEACT have been providing educational mental health programs all over the ACT and its surrounding areas. MIEACT is dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental health through proper communication and education.
They offer group programs that cover a wide range of topics designed to build awareness and provide practical tools and support resources to participants. Through sharing their personal stories, MIEACT’s Volunteer Educators have created a safe space for Canberrans of all ages and demographics to learn about mental health issues.
MIEACT provides mental health education to a wide variety of groups, including community groups, primary and secondary schools, and workplaces. If you’d like to help them continue their work through volunteering or donating check out their web site.
Our May Community Champion is BAPS Shiri Swaminarayan Mandir and Community Centre in Taylor
BAPS Shiri Swaminarayan is a Hindu organisation dedicated to promoting peace and spiritualism within the community.
BAPS are currently building a Hindu Mandir and Cultural centre located in Taylor, which I had the pleasure of touring last week. It was terrific to see the progress of the temple after the challenges of the pandemic. The completion of this Mandir will be a fantastic addition to the already existing temples around Canberra, which are testament to Canberra’s diverse multicultural and multi-faith community.
Organisations like BAPS provide essential community services and connection to Canberrans, especially our rapidly growing multicultural community. 1 in 15 Fenner residents identified as Hindu in the latest Census, and this new temple will help to further strengthen Canberra’s thriving multicultural and multi-faith community
Our April Community Champion is RSPCA ACT.
Operating in Canberra since 1955, the RSPCA provides a range of services to the community that help animals to be cared for, find a home and receive dedicated support from staff, volunteers and community members. One of the RSPCA’s most significant contributions is their tireless work in looking after surrendered, seized, stray or lost animals at their local shelter and providing love and care to animals that need it the most.
Currently caring for over 300 pets, the RSPCA ACT’s success in protecting and advocating for the welfare of animals, is a testament to the power of volunteering and community engagement in Canberra. They are responsible for some of the most well-loved community events in the ACT, including the million paws walk that takes place annually around Lake Burley Griffin that raises awareness for animal cruelty.
After a recent influx of animals, the RSPCA has put out a call for volunteers so they can continue to their important work. If you have capacity to help out and want to learn new skills and help to change the lives of our furry friends, you can get in touch and find out more via their website. You can also stay up to date via their Facebook.
Our March Community Champion is WALK-W-ME.
WALK-W-ME started in 2020 as a walking group for men post-lockdown to combat the isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic. The group’s positive outlook and approach to mental health awareness through open conversation has led them to grow and become a positive Sunday morning routine for those involved. Now running a men’s, women’s and mixed group, WALK-W-ME provides a supportive forum to walk and chat and be part of a community. Starting something new is always a bit frightening, which is why WALK-W-ME is open to everyone regardless of fitness ability and is always welcoming to new faces.
Founder Zak Pino has emphasised the importance of connecting through disconnecting – leave your phone at home and commit your attention to one another instead. Members have shared how welcomed they’ve felt by the group’s judgment-free environment, including long-time Canberrans and people new to the ACT, showing how the values of WALK-W-ME are practiced by their members each week.
If you’re keen to joining them for a walk, check out their Facebook page for further details.