Funds building stronger communities
TWO local projects assisting worthy groups are among the recipients in the Stronger Community Grants program run by Dubbo Regional Council.
Orana Support Service Inc will receive $23,500 to expand its West Dubbo Project. CEO Peter Gallagher explained that they are the specialist homelessness service in the Dubbo, Wellington and Narromine areas.
“We provide a service for clients who are at risk of becoming homeless. We also manage Sturt House and the Dubbo Women’s Refuge as well as transition housing for clients.
Their West Dubbo Project focuses on assisting disadvantaged young people by providing an after-school space along with a healthy snack.
Currently it runs on two afternoons a week between 3pm and 4.30pm.
“The West Dubbo Project is a project to engage school-aged children in the West Dubbo area,” Mr Gallagher explained.
“It’s a community service which they can use, with funding provided by Family and Community Services NSW for the existing program.”
The group gives the kids some structure outside of school and helps them perform better in school, thereby improving their lives overall.
“It’s about engaging the kids and providing some shred of hope,” Mr Gallagher said.
“The evidence that Apollo House has collected shows that there are gains in trust and gains in behaviour and attendance at school.”
The government funding will make a huge difference and will allow Orana Support Service to increase the program’s number of days each week.
Mr Gallagher described the grant as a substantial boost.
“We are very excited about it and hope to expand by doubling the amount of time we spend (with the children). It’s certainly a windfall for us.”
“It’s an exercise in providing a service to the community and every cent will go back into the community.”
With the funding, the organisation aims to have an activities officer working with the children every week day.
“What we hope to provide is more employment with the money which will provide more services for the kids.”
Mr Gallagher hopes to improve the lives of affected kids, providing better outcomes all round.
“The ultimate goal is to improve behaviour, improve attitudes at school and improve nutrition as we provide fruit and water each day.”
Above all, Mr Gallagher would love to bring about social change as a result of the program. “I hope to break the cycle,” he said. “For these kids, being disadvantaged is generational. Their parents are doing the same thing as their parents were before them.”
“We would like to achieve better outcomes for the community.”
Another group which will benefit from the funding is the Buninyong Conversational English Playgroup which is operated from the Buninyong School as Community Centre.
The $7500 was sought under the auspices of Emmanuel Care, a local charity which supports the community through its care centre and Christian values.
Emmanuel Care Centre assistant manager Rod Boland was happy that the funding would be used by a very worthy group.
“We are very pleased to receive the funding but it’s not ours.
“It will be well-utilised by a group of people in getting them more involved in English (speaking) in the community. I couldn’t imagine moving to a country or community where you didn’t speak the vernacular.”
Buninyong SACC facilitator Lorna Brennan said the need for a group grew from the numbers of non-english speaking parents attending one of her regular playgroup sessions.
“I have noticed this year that the percentage of non-english speakers coming to playgroup has gone from 4-5 per cent to well over 20 per cent,” she said. “It’s the changing face of Dubbo.” Playgroup parents are hailing from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Vietnam and Egypt.
Many of them are on 489 visas and required to live in a regional area for two years before they can apply for permanent residency.
With access to services and their language skills limited, the playgroup parents seized the opportunity to learn and a breakaway group of about a dozen mums formed in July to practice conversational English every week.
“So many are coming to playgroup regularly that my playgroups are getting bigger and bigger but they haven’t got the confidence speaking English,” Ms Brennan said.
“I felt that if I could give them the support they needed, it would help. I asked if I could offer them a group, they all said they would like to practice speaking English.”
The funding will be used to employ an ESL teacher to assists the group.
“We have someone who volunteers her time but she’s very busy. We thought if we could pay her to come and also get some resources, it would provide some help and enable them to get further.”
Ms Brennan is thrilled to be assisting the migrants on their journey towards speaking fluent English. “It’s really exciting,” she said. “It’s been wonderful for me. I love meeting all these new people.” for
Altogether, Dubbo Regional Council allocated $350,000 in funding to 23 community groups and not-for profit organisations.
The grants ranged in value from almost $1700 for Wellington Amateur Theatrical Society’s purchase of replacement clothing racks to more than $38,000 the water supply scheme at Euchareena.