Whenever my daughter hears the news headlines, she asks why we only ever hear what's wrong in the world. I wish she could have been present at the 2016 WACOSS Community Service Excellence Awards on Wednesday, 4 May 2016.
The Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS) serves as a peak body for 300 member organisations and over 800 organisations involved in the provision of services to the community. Its mission is to advocate for 'social change to improve the well being of Western Australians and to strengthen the community services sector that supports them'.
WACOSS hosts the Community Service Excellence Awards every two years to recognise the invaluable work being undertaken in the community services sector. A group of 12 Buckets staff, mentors and board members attended the gala dinner and awards presentation, after becoming a finalist for the Small Organisation category.
While we didn't win, it was an honour to be nominated for a second time, and it was truly inspiring to share an evening with a room full of people committed to making a difference. Our most sincere congratulations to Coolbinia Bombers Junior Football Club for winning the Small Organisation category - your work in the community is changing lives - beautiful stuff.
Since we were moved and encouraged as we listened to the story of each finalist, we thought you might be too. So, here's a snapshot of the winners of each category.
Category: Outstanding Commitment to Citizenship Empowerment
Winner: DADAA Ltd for its Access All Arts program
DADAA is a community arts and cultural development (CACD) organisation which provides people with a disability or mental illness access to arts and culture, through a range of programs and initiatives. One of those is their Access All Arts program. Access All Arts aims to facilitate social inclusion and increase access to arts and cultural activities for people who are blind, vision impaired or deafblind.
DADAA achieves this through Audio Description arrangements, which offer additional commentary at theatre, opera and dance performances. The commentary includes descriptions of body language, expressions and lighting effects. Tickets are brought from the venue and then the listener books a special headset through DADAA.
There are currently Audio Description arrangements for more than fifteen events during the year, which have so far included the Perth International Festival Opening, The Lion King, Fremantle Street Arts Festival and The Little Prince (Spare Parts Puppet Theatre.
Upcoming shows can be found on the Access All Arts web page.
Category: Local Government and Community Services Collaboration
Winner: Community West Inc. for its program, 'Act to Connect: Facilitating Community Connections'
CommunityWest offers consulting and training services to community care providers as well as supporting the community sector in partnerships with the WA Home and Community Care (HACC) program.
CommunityWest's 'Act to Connect' workshops were developed in 2011 and form a collaboration between the City of Rockingham, Bethanie Inc. and CommunityWest itself, all of which worked together to design professional development workshops for staff and volunteers.
With an aim to address the issue of loneliness and social isolation, the Act to Connect workshops 'enable staff and volunteers to assist people connect or re-connect to places, events and pursuits which give their lives meaning and purpose'.
More information about the 'Act to Connect' program can be found on CommunityWest's website.
Category: Small Organisation
Winner: Coolbinia Bombers Junior Football Club for its program, 'Starkick All Abilities Football'
Coolbinia Bombers Junior Football Club started its Starkick all Abilities Football in 2015, with the aim of including children aged between 5 and 12 who have special needs and are therefore unable to participate in mainstream sporting teams.
The Starkick Team has been integrated into Coolbinia's existing NAB AFL Auskick program, so players train and play games under the same AFL sanctioned format.
An Australian first, Starkick aims to cater for all disabilities, and runs by a simple mantra - "If you want to play, we will find a way".
Participants are not the only ones to benefit. The program teaches leadership skills to older players who mentor Starkick participants. And parents benefit, too, as they watch their children get in on the action instead of sitting on the sidelines.
Head to the Coolbinia Bombers Junior Football Club website for details of how to get involved.
Winner: Centacare Employment and Training for its program 'Project Stepping Stones'
'Project Stepping Stones' is a joint venture between Centacare Employment and Training, PCYC and the WA Department of Education. Beginning in 2013, 'Project Stepping Stones' is a program designed to engage young people who are supposed to be at school but, for various reasons, are not turning up.
The 'Project Stepping Stones' curriculum focuses on developing skills that will eventually enable participants to access further education, training and/or employment. Learning activities are designed to be as "hands-on" and real life as possible. Adapting the teaching environment to suit the students' individual circumstances has seen some significant changes for the young people involved.
Category: Medium Organisation
Winner: Zonta House Refuge Association for its program 'Positive Pathways to Safety for Women and the Community'
Zonta House Refuge Association has been supporting women since 1982, when their first refuge house was established. The 'Positive Pathways to Safety for Women and the Community' is a more recent initiative, starting in 2013.
The 'Positive Pathways to Safety for Women and the Community' offers support services to women and families who have experienced, or at risk of, family and domestic violence, mental health and homelessness.
Acknowledging a need for an holistic, individualised and flexible approach, and partnering with other community service organisation, assistance includes accommodation, educational workshops, mentoring, counselling, starting over support (SOS) and community awareness.
Category: Outstanding Commitment to Reconciliation
Winner: Kaitijin Mia Aboriginal Foundation for its program 'Healing Centre and Bush University.
The Healing Centre and Bush University is situated at Malimup, inside the D'Entrecasteaux National Park in south-west WA. The program allows visitors to understand and learn about Aboriginal culture, ways of working and stories, as well as the technical aspects of Aboriginal land management. Visitors leave with a better understanding of the issues Aboriginal people face today, including ill health and lack of opportunity.
Category: Large Organisation
Winner: TADWA (Technology Assisting Disability WA Inc.)
TADWA is an organisation that is focused on making this world an inclusive one for people of all ages and abilities.
TADWA provides services to support people with disabilities, older people and those caring for them. Occupational therapists collaborate with skilled technicians to find individualised solutions that enable clients to have greater independence, as well as improving the quality and enjoyment of life.
Based in Bassendean, TADWA says it is 'proud to have a team of friendly experiences staff and volunteers who are passionate' about the services it provides.
Category: Regional Organisation
Winner: Youth Involvement Council Inc. for its program 'Mingle Mob'
Run by community group Youth Involvement Council, Mingle Mob is a youth outreach program in Hedland aimed at reducing antisocial and criminal behaviour.
Mingle Mob workers patrol youth hot spots such as the shopping centre and skate park, engaging with youth and offering advice, transport home, information and if required referral for case management.
Staff work in conjunction with the police, Department of Child Protection and Family Services and the wider community, but work hard to build rapport so that the young people feel comfortable approaching them with any problems they have.
But according to a recent news article, Mingle Mob hasn't had significant funding since 2014 and is currently running on empty. If nothing changes, this valuable program is in danger of closing down.
From all of us at 12 Buckets to everyone at Mingle Mob, we hope that doesn't happen.
We hope these snapshots will assure you that despite the bombardment of bad news in the media, there are good people doing great things in our community. And you can be part of it.