Hands up and steps forward to a Neighbourhood Centre for Nambucca

The Neighbourhood Centre re-establishment meeting.

A STEERING Committee has been formed to bring back a Neighbourhood Centre in the Nambucca Valley after a public meeting, open to all, was held on Tuesday 16 August at Nambucca Heads Senior Citizens Hall.

An engaged crowd of about 30 local people attended the meeting with the purpose of forming the steering committee to establish a Nambucca Heads Neighbourhood Centre.

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Concerned residents, some of whom remember the last time there was a local Neighbourhood Centre in the Nambucca Valley, located in Macksville, listened to a range of speakers who informed the group of the historical context, identified community needs and shared information about the smooth-running and busy Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre.

An Acknowledgement of Country was given by Nambucca local Fiona.

Paul Sekfy, a Nambucca Valley local with over 20 years of local, Australian and international experience in community development, Neighbourhood Centres and is also a Board Member of the Local Community Services Association, spoke about the history of Neighbourhood Centres.

Paul shared how the last Neighbourhood Centre in Macksville merged with another organisation and ceased to operate in 2014.

To drive this project he encouraged a “coalition of the willing”.

He supported the community engagement approach that underpins the philosophy of Neighbourhood Centres, whereby people come together and share their skills, knowledge and experience.

Moving forwards, he advised this approach would form the backbone for the re-establishment of a Nambucca Valley Neighbourhood Centre to be located in Nambucca Heads.

Community members, businesses and community services in attendance also agreed the re-establishment was not only possible, but achievable.

Nambucca resident Karin, whose passion is to provide much-needed in-person services and support in a one-stop-shop, received an array of hands from people of all ages and backgrounds, when asking who may be willing to form a steering committee.

An established steering committee will now drive this project forward.

What the meeting community voiced loud and clear was that a local Nambucca Neighbourhood Centre would provide a much-needed information, referral and advocacy hub, where people had somewhere to go to be supported to be able to make informed choices about the most appropriate services to meet their needs so they could get help and support quickly.

The benefit of such a hub would also be a step towards building a community space where people could connect, and to potentially support an interagency to improve navigation and access to services and ensure that any duplication of service was reduced.

Speaking at the meeting, Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre Coordinator (CHNC) Anna Joy described the practical services, activities, information and supports that are provided by CHNC and how these had been designed with the local community to meet the needs in the Coffs Harbour area.

Acknowledging the dedicated team of volunteers that are the backbone of the Centre in Coffs Harbour, reinforced that Neighbourhood Centres are community members, contributing to and supporting their own community.

Anna shared that many volunteer team members enjoyed and valued the work they contributed.

She reinforced that for many volunteers their contribution matched their personal values.

“Maintaining a positive environment, where volunteers are well supported, have the opportunity to build skills and knowledge of their community and where everyone is welcome will always provide a key foundation for any Neighbourhood Centre,” said Anna.

At the end of the night, people officially registered their interest in being a member of the steering committee with next steps discussed for a meeting to be convened as soon as possible.

All agreed that the re-establishment of a Neighbourhood Centre in Nambucca Heads was long overdue and the time to get it happening is now.


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