Just over a month ago I took my seat here in the Assembly and in the time since I have been meeting with many community organisations doing great work across Canberra, particularly in Gungahlin. Today I would like to take the opportunity to thank Communities@Work for hosting me at the Gungahlin community centre earlier this month.
As many members know, Communities@Work are a local Canberra organisation doing good work, particularly in Tuggeranong and Gungahlin. They do some amazing work for children, seniors, disability services and other community development services.
While I was there I met with Lynne Harwood, CEO; Lee Maiden, Deputy CEO; Judith McDonnell, executive director of disability and mental health; Kim Bool, director of social programs; Brooke Unger, the social programs coordinator; Elaine Smith, operations facilitator for disability and mental health; and Chelsea Greck, executive support officer.
I had the opportunity to visit the care and share program run by Communities@Work in the Gungahlin town centre. Care and share provides food and essential services to people in Canberra experiencing hardship. These programs provide essential help to vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Canberra. Interestingly, and a bit worryingly, I learnt that just in this calendar year alone an extra 100 people have visited the care and share program, most notably seniors. This was a new experience for Communities@Work and they are doing a lot to understand why there has been this increase particularly in the seniors cohort.
I also visited the holiday program for children and young adults with a disability. It was tremendous to see young people playing basketball, doing art, doing craft, working on the computer and learning essential life skills—and also some pretty magnificent breakdancing. The Gungahlin community centre also provides meeting facilities for community groups and not-for-profit organisations. Communities@Work and the facilities and services they provide, particularly in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong, mean there is greater collaboration with the local community.
Communities@Work also enables the private sector to give back to the community, as do many other community organisations, with many businesses around Canberra helping to sponsor programs. In Gungahlin the private sector is partnering to help build community gardens and also shade structures. Services for seniors are also important. Next week I will be visiting their seniors program, largely based out of Ngunnawal. This includes the men's shed. In particular, I would like to thank Minister Yvette Berry for the grant from the ACT government for $15,000 recently provided to the Gungahlin Men's Shed. So for the first time they have storage at their shed in Ngunnawal.
Communities@Work will also be hosting the upcoming inaugural Celebrate Gungahlin Festival, which will be held on 11 April between 11 am and 4 pm. This will be a great initiative to build a sense of community in Gungahlin and I encourage all locals to get along.