I am pleased to present the Chairperson’s report for 2016/17 on behalf of the Peel Community Development Group.
Our Board of committed and passionate volunteers has continued to engage with and advocate for the Peel community throughout the year. It has been an interesting period with a change of state government and challenging times that continue to affect some of the most vulnerable people in our region.
Through the professional and personal networks of our board members, the PCDG aims to understand the issues facing the community and the service sector that supports it, to clearly articulate those issues, and advocate for collaboration, support, resources and change where needed.
One of the key limitations faced by the PCDG is that our group is made entirely of volunteers. Whilst this may limit just how much we can do, it does not limit the commitment and determination that the Board members have to support the community sector in this region. Our members have networks within and outside the region that spread far and wide – across the community sector, all levels of government and the private sector. This network assists us to see and hear of developments that we believe can impact our region, both positively and negatively.
Changing Board members
The PCDG started the year with several new board members, following a renewed focus on ensuring we had good regional representation. We were pleased to welcome three new members to the PCDG Board:
- Brad Vitale, Community Development Officer from the Shire of Waroona;
- Sarah Farrance, Acting Manager of Community Engagement from the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale; and
- Jodie Doherty, Coordinator of Recreation and Community Development from the Shire of Murray.
During the year, Tim Williams stepped down from his position following his departure from his Community Development role at the City of Mandurah. David Walton, Peel LAC Manager for the Disability Services Commission has taken a leave of absence given an intense period of work with the introduction of the NDIS. Both Tim and David made a terrific contribution to the PCDG during their tenure and we thank them both for their time, efforts and genuine care for the work of the PCDG and the Peel community.
Our former Chair and current Board member, Paddi Creevey OAM, has recently been appointed to Chair the Peel Development Commission – a role that is perfectly suited to Paddi’s skill, knowledge, experience and passion for this region. Paddi has been an incredible advocate for the Peel region for so long and her 17-year contribution to the PCDG has been instrumental in ensuring that the community sector and broader community, has had yet another avenue and voice through which it can be heard. Paddi has guided and championed the PCDG with grace and determination, and for this we are most grateful. With her new appointment to the PDC, Paddi will be very busy and has understandably chosen to retire from the PCDG Board. Paddi, we thank you wholeheartedly and wish you all the best in your new role.
Engagement with the community sector in the Peel
Through all of our networks and various professional and personal relationships, it is a tangled web that we weave. I see this as a great strength of the PCDG. As a group, we made a commitment to more actively move around the region this year, and ensure we created opportunities to hear from people and organisations from all corners of the Peel.
Over the year, we met in Pinjarra, Boddington, Waroona, Mandurah and Dwellingup. And we’re looking forward to a meeting in Serpentine very soon! We had some wonderful presentations and discussions at each of these meetings where we heard from local service providers, community groups and local government representatives on a whole range of initiatives happening across the region. This has helped us to understand better the work and challenges happening in different parts of the region, which in turn has informed our advocacy efforts and our approach to various projects and regional discussions, of which we have been a part. To all of our hosts and guests – thank you for sharing your time and stories with us.
In the lead up to the WA state election, the PCDG hosted a ‘Meet the Candidate’ forum in Pinjarra. We invited volunteers and employees from the community sector (and the broader community) to come along and hear from each of the candidates running for local seats. The candidates who attended each made a presentation to share their approaches to tackling unemployment, affordable housing and substance abuse, and supporting vulnerable people and the community sector in the Peel. There was an opportunity for people to ask questions of each candidate. Feedback from the session was very positive and the PCDG Board felt this was an important event to host, to assist local people in making informed votes come election day.
PCDG Board members have continued to liaise with our local Members of Parliament on a range of issues throughout the year including the proposed mandatory drug testing of some welfare recipients in Mandurah, the International English Language Testing System (for new Australians) and support for ongoing funding of the Peel Mobile Health Service.
Peel Regional Leaders’ Forum (PRLF)
The PCDG continued to be a part of the PRLF, which consist of the CEOs and Mayor/Presidents of the five local governments within the region, as well as the CEOs and Chairs of Regional Development Australia Peel, Peel Development Commission, the Peel Harvey Catchment Council and the PCDG. This group aims to foster collaboration on issues of regional significance and identify opportunities to enhance regional prosperity.
Our role on the PRLF has been really important to ensure that there is an ongoing focus on the social impacts of growth and development, and that the PRLF considers the array of challenges facing the broader Peel community.
PCDG Deputy Chair, Anne Sinclair, and I have represented PCDG on this forum. Anne has done the bulk of the work, which includes attending meetings of the CEOs and the full meetings of the PRLF, as well as providing input to a range of debates, strategies and plans. It has been a fascinating journey that we have both enjoyed. I extend my special thanks to Anne for her time, thought and energy she has given to representing PCDG at the Peel Regional Leaders’ Forum.
Our key projects for the year were the Secure Housing and Employment Support project, Peel Says No To Violence and the continued support of the StreetNet youth service.
Secure Housing and Employment Support
Following a series of regional workshops, meetings, planning sessions and research tasks, the Peel Development Commission assisted in the facilitation of a co-operative project that would see UnitingCare West and local service providers agree to collaborate on the Secure Housing and Employment Support proposal. This was an integrated accommodation and support facility to be constructed on Uniting Church Investment Fund land in Mandurah, aimed at housing and supporting families and young people.
PCDG was disappointed that the project was not successful in attracting $22.6m Royalties for Regions funding following the development of a comprehensive business case and funding submission. Subsequently, Uniting Church Investment Fund has sold the land where the facility was proposed.
Earlier this year, the PCDG and PDC jointly facilitated a workshop with the original project proponents and others working in this area of the community sector, to discuss ‘where to from here?’ The group focused on what has changed in the Peel housing / social sector in the last 12 months, what remains the same and what is possible. The discussion resulted in agreement to look at different models of collaboration, including intensive service provision, integrated housing, completely different types of housing, collective impact models, collaboration with a wider group of people/organisations and taking greater risks to attract seed funding for new initiatives. The PDC agreed to continue to facilitate discussions between interested stakeholders to progress exploration of these ideas. Further details of the outcomes of this workshop are available by contacting Kristie Tonkin at the Peel Development Commission.
Peel Says No To Violence
PCDG received funding from the Department of Social Services under the Building Safe Communities for Women and Children program. The project, Peel Says No To Violence (PSNTV), is a collaboration between PCDG, Allambee Counselling, Peel Youth Services, Pat Thomas House and Peel Community Legal Service. The project has progressed very well despite some early challenges. The project aims to:
- Better understand the prevalence of family and domestic violence in the Peel region
- Increase the awareness of support services for women and children experiencing family and/or domestic violence
- Improve service delivery and coordination amongst service providers
- Create a movement of people in the wider community to support the ‘Peels Says No To Violence’ message
PSNTV has been developed in three stages: Research, Alliance development and Alliance initiatives – and is based on an active membership model. That is, membership of the Alliance requires members, be they individuals, businesses, community groups or others, to pledge to actively do one thing each year that addresses the aims of the PSNTV and promotes knowledge and awareness of family and domestic violence in our communities.
We are about to formally launch the PSNTV Alliance on Tuesday 5th December, and I invite and encourage you all to come along, sign up and help us create a safer community here in the Peel. The PSNTV Facebook page has provided an excellent way to share information about the project and create better awareness and participation.
In early 2017, Leah Watkins was appointed as PSNTV Project Officer following the resignation of Francis Lynch. Leah did a wonderful job of refocusing the project and really bringing our steering committee back together to create a strong and sustainable model for how the Alliance could progress. Leah was offered a wonderful opportunity to do some more work to the development of a long term strategy to support homeless people in Perth: an area Leah is passionate about and highly skilled in. The PCDG and PSNTV committee thank Leah for her excellent contribution to this project.
For a short period, Marzel Norton stepped into the Project Officer role before recommencing at the City of Mandurah as the Coordinator of Community Development. We wish Marzel all the best in her new /old role and are grateful for her ongoing participation in the PSNTV Steering Committee. Subsequently, Sue Fyfe has taken over as Project Officer to see the establishment phase of PSNTV project through to completion at the end of 2017. The PCDG is confident that the active membership model for the PSNTV Alliance will enable the project to continue in perpetuity, however we will be actively seeking ongoing funding to ensure its success.
Throughout the duration of this project, we have had good support from our local Members of Parliament including Andrew Hastie MP, Member for Canning; Hon. David Templeman MLA, Minister for Local Government, Heritage, Culture and the Arts; and Zak Kirkup MP, Member for Dawesville. We thank them for their interest in the project and their continued support. Andrew Hastie brought Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister for Women, to Mandurah to meet with the PCDG committee and we were pleased for the opportunity to share with the Minister how the project is progressing and the dire need for expanded support services here in the Peel.
Thank you to the PSNTV Steering Committee members: Paddi Creevey (Chair), Nicci Lambert, Jill Robinson, Be Westbrook, Lisa Craig, Kathleen Johnson, Sue Fyfe, Craig Edmonds, Tim Williams, Kristie Tonkin and Marzel Norton. I have enjoyed being part of this committee and learning from your experience, knowledge and wisdom.
The PCDG continues to auspice the delivery of the very successful StreetNet program in the Peel region, which is funded by the WA Department for Child Protection and Family Support. StreetNet Coordinator, Jess Vati, manages an excellent program of engagement activities that supports some of the most disengaged young people up to 18 years of age, in our communities.
Street Net aims to support and empower young people to increase their resilience and wellbeing by assisting them to access positive opportunities. StreetNet provides early intervention, diversional and recreational activities, and case management for young people who are at risk, through centre based and outreach services. The service aims to prevent the risks to young people escalating, and utilises strategies to divert young people away from high risk situations that may impact on their safety.
The range of programs and services offered include:
- Individual support and Case Management
- Home visits and Outreach
- Diversional and recreation activities
- Respectful Relationships (delivered in schools)
- Night Hoops
- Elements Hip Hop Program
PCDG congratulates StreetNet on the impacts of its programs and we also thank Allambee Counselling for hosting the program and team.
During the year, PCDG recognised the need to increase and improve our communication with the community sector and ensure that we provided another avenue for people and organisations to stay up to date with PCDG projects as well as contact us when required.
Andrea Kelly of Pepper Street Social has been engaged to assist us in this area and has done a fantastic job and improving our social media presence, developing electronic newsletters and updating our website. Andrea has a strategic approach to how we deliver our communication and we have all enjoyed the benefit of her wisdom. We hope that the community sector has also benefited from the increased communication and will continue to use our network as an opportunity to share news and information relevant to the sector.
The year ahead
Despite our resource limitations, I believe that PCDG has done a great job in progressing some key projects and discussions within the Peel community. We have all learnt so much and benefited from the willingness of the community and sector to share their stories with us. The year ahead will provide more opportunities to learn, grow and support the community and sector in this region. PCDG hopes to be able to secure financial support to continue its key initiatives and potentially fund an Executive Officer, in some capacity. Watch this space!
In the last month, we have seen leadership changes to local governments in the Peel with five new Shire Presidents / Mayor and many new Councillors. This provides an opportunity for PCDG to build new relationships with these community leaders and ensure there remains a focus on key social issues and the essential role that the social sector plays in this community. The participation of local government community development staff in our Board and events is an important way for local governments to access information and be part of regional collaborations. We look forward to their continued participation.
Membership of the Peel Community Development Group is an area that we are trying to expand. There is no cost involved as a member – but it provides a critical mechanism for the PCDG Board to connect with the community sector and understand opportunities and challenges facing our region. I thank you for your interest and encourage your ongoing membership.
In closing, I would like to thank each and every PCDG Board member for their friendship, support and the contribution they have made throughout the year. It is a big task to fit in with your work and personal commitments, but I know that I certainly value the time and learning opportunities that my time on the PCDG has afforded me. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Kristie Tonkin who is our PCDG Secretary. Whilst Kristie participates in the PCDG as a small part of her role at the Peel Development Commission, the majority of her contribution is made personally – and that contribution is huge. Kristie has kept us all on track with documentation for meetings, tracking actions, coordinating meetings and generally making sure the administration of our volunteer-based group continues to tick. And so, a very big thank you to Kristie.
I am stepping down as Chair but hope to continue on the Board to support the incoming executive board members and continue to contribute to the work of the PCDG. I wish the incoming Chair all the very best.
Peel Community Development Group Inc.
14 November 2017