They gathered as one in the chambers of Alexandrina Council – 102 members of the community who care – to express their support to establish Alexandrina Connect, a new community centre to serve the south coast.
After hearing Karyn Bradford, executive officer of the Milang Old School House Community Centre, talk of what a community can achieve, and Professor Fiona Verity, a sociologist and a social worker with expertise in the areas of community development and public policy emphasis talk about the vital importance of such a centre, there seemed little doubt this ambitious project was achieveable.
The push for Alexandrina Connect – a community centre that would embrace Victor Harbor, the wider community and not just Goolwa – is desperately needed with growing cuts to programs that help assist people who are socially isolated.
The meeting was chaired by Carol Gaston, chair of the Goolwa & District Community Bendigo Bank and an amazing supporter of the community, who said she was overwhelmed by the response to a call for a showing of support.
“As a result of the meeting we have 16 volunteers on a steering committee, 10 on a fundraising committee and people at the meeting pledged on the night $8500 in the first year,” Carol said. “It was very good, extremely encouraging.
“We had our first steering committee meeting on Monday night. The plan is by end of January we will have a fully incorporated body, and the systems and processes set up for the governance. This enables us to seek incorporation and get an ABN, which will happen before Christmas.
Early in the new year we will seek charitable status or DGR (deductible gift recipient) status.
“We are most definitely thrilled by the support at the meeting, and the degree of support and encouragement from council, Mayor Keith Parkes and local Member of Parliament Adrian Pederick.”
The committee needs to raise $80,000 in its first year, largely to retain some semblance of an arts-based workshop during 2015. The ultimate target is $120,000, which will see other programs emerge.
“This is the beginning of something special for the wider community across the Fleurieu Peninsula,” Carol said. “Those in attendance at the meeting were able to see first hand what is possible in a can-do community.”
The achievements of the community centre in Milang have been recognised nationally, and Carol said it was heartening that its community was so willing to lend its support and expertise to help Alexandrina Connect evolve.