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STRONGER TOGETHER: Start the conversation - there's more to say after R U OK?

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Last updated:
06/09/2021

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about mental wellness and creating a conversation this R U OK? Day.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

R U OK? Day encourages us to check in with our friends, family and loved ones about how we’re really doing.

In a time where there seems to be more dividing us than ever before, this day is about putting our beliefs, passions and views to the side, to allow us to be there for one another as people.

There’s no doubt the stresses of life feel compounded at the moment with varying and complex local, national and international factors at play, which is why it’s more important than ever to communicate our care, our humility, and our kindness to others.

It’s a time to step away from the politics of everyday life and step into our roles as considerate human beings.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics state one in five Australians (22%) reported their mental health in January 2021 as worse or much worse than before the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020.

The same research also found that since March 2020, 67% of Australians used one or more strategies to manage their mental health.

This year the theme for R U OK? Day is “Are they really ok” and encourages us to read beyond the initial response, which might conceal someone’s true feelings.

It can be difficult to admit that we’re struggling with something, and this year’s theme urges us to continue the conversation beyond the initial, “Are you okay?”.

While seeking professional help is important for serious or concerning mental health conditions, providing informal support to someone can give them an outlet to voice their troubles to a friend.

So, what can we do when someone says they aren’t okay?

Sometimes all people need is a safe space to talk openly and honestly, and all we really need to do is listen.

We don’t need to have a solution; we just need to let them know they’ve got someone on their side.

The R U OK? website offers informative tools to help us facilitate these conversations, which instruct us to ask, listen, encourage action, and then check in to see how they’re doing.

Before engaging in this kind of conversation their first suggestion is to check in with yourself first.

It’s equally important to make sure that you’re in the right headspace and have the time to engage in a meaningful conversation before beginning.

In my experience, it’s when we are unable to express our smaller stresses that they tend to build up and compound until all the small things have turned into a big problem.

Being a supportive ear for someone can prevent the little problems from becoming bigger issues.

R U OK? Day isn’t about becoming a professional counsellor, nor is it about taking on the problems of others; it’s about empowering connection and support, and letting others know that they are not alone. For more information visit ruok.org.au or, to seek professional advice, you can contact IMPACT’s Mental Health department on 07 4153 4233.

R U OK?
There's more to say after R U OK?

The Agnes Water and Discovery Coast region has long been known for its picturesque and laid-back atmosphere but has historically lacked pivotal services to welcome community expansion. 

IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall

Given the climate created by the COVID-19 pandemic the community is now experiencing significant population growth as people migrate away from hotspot locations, increasing the pressure on existing community services and demanding further resource in the health space. 

IMPACT Community Services’ Discovery Coast Health Precinct has a well-established reputation within the region and is pleased to offer a solution by providing communal office spaces for visiting allied health professionals to operate from. 

One such practitioner that has recently started visiting IMPACT’s Community Health Precinct is Rory Dowdall from Dowdall Optometry Group. 

Rory started his mobile optometry service after the first wave of COVID-19 hit, when subsequent lockdowns left his permanent role at a Brisbane optometry clinic in question. 

He decided to capitalise on the situation and took a chance at paving his own way. 

Over the past 18 months Rory has built up his own equipment and now services 9 locations throughout Queensland. 

After being approached by Checkup Australia he jumped at the opportunity to service the Discovery Coast community. 

“There’s a huge gap in regional services, and Agnes hasn’t had (an optometrist) for over 12 years,” he said. 

Although only contracted for two days a month by the government, Rory has decided to extend his visits to the idyllic coastal town for longer stints given the demand. 

His goal is to be based at IMPACT’s Agnes Water-based Community Health Precinct for 5 days each month to service the ongoing need. 

“Some people I’ve seen have been wearing glasses that are about 10 years old and are falling apart, so I’m glad I can come in, help them out and update their scripts,” he said. 

“I’ve already had a few glaucoma suspects that haven’t been seen for about six or so years, which is pretty scary.  

“At the same time, it’s great that I can come in and provide care for them and make sure they don’t lose visions or have any problems that could have been managed quite easily just because of where they live. 

“We don’t want anyone, just because you live in a regional area, to fall through the cracks.” 

Rory wants to change the way people approach optometry in rural areas. 

The travelling optometrist offers bulk billing for exams and has access to both DVA support and the medical aid subsidy scheme, which provides free glasses for health care card and pension card holders.  

“I just try and make it affordable for everyone,” Rory said. 

“I want to make sure nobody feels like they’re priced out of a service, which unfortunately a lot of the time people feel (is a barrier).” 

Rory said anyone over 65 should be having their eyes checked every year, and people under 65 every two. 

He recommends children should also be checked before starting school and has picked up a number of potential health issues in his patients based on their eye health. 

“I can tell people with high cholesterol, I can pre-diagnose diabetes, I have diagnosed over 50 patients with auto-immune conditions that were unknown to their GPs, so it’s one of those things where a thorough eye check can help not just from an eyes point of view but from a systemic point of view as well,” Rory said. 

If you live in or visit the Discovery Coast region and would like to make an appointment with Rory, phone the IMPACT Community Health Service on 07 4902 2000 or visit the health precinct at 2 Rafting Ground Road, Agnes Water. 

Optometry appointments for the Agnes Water clinic can be made directly online at https://bit.ly/dowdall  

IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
New Image Laundry worker Ann Duffy celebrates her 78th Birthday
New Image Laundry worker Ann Duffy celebrates her 78th Birthday

Most people in their 70s have said goodbye to their working years, are enjoying retirement and might even set off travelling to different parts of the country when possible. 

But retirement couldn’t be further from Ann Duffy’s sights, with the New Image Laundry worker recently celebrating her 78th birthday with her colleagues.  

Despite making numerous offers to resign, Ann continues to turn up for work each day. 

Why? 

“I just love ironing,” Ann laughed. 

Ann began working at the laundry 16 years ago when it was called Peg and Iron, located at Bundaberg East, and remained on-staff when IMPACT took the business over in 2013. 

“When IMPACT first bought the laundry, I offered to resign, but they wouldn’t let me,” she joked. 

“Then when they moved to this big building (at 4 Inglis Court) I offered to resign again, but they look after me so well.”  

After many years of work, Ann said the key to staying with the laundry was her relationship with the staff. 

“I class the staff here as family,” she said. 

Before the laundry became the busy commercial operation it is today, Ann used to pride herself on being the laundry counsellor and would take the time to talk through any issues the younger workers had. 

“When you get to my age, you’ve been through it all,” she said. 

“Now we’re too busy for that, and IMPACT offers its own counsellors for staff... but they all know I’m here as a listening ear if they need.” 

Ann has worked her way through each role of the laundering process, from doing the washing and folding towels and pillow slips to using the big machines, but has given up the heavy work for a more modest job of ironing garments. 

To celebrate her birthday the whole laundry came to a standstill and celebrated with a morning tea.  

“I’m so blessed really, and I say that a lot, because there are people at my age and even younger who aren’t working,” she said. 

Ann said New Image Laundry was a great place for people with a health concern to gain employment because IMPACT understood that different people have different abilities. 

“If they come here, they’re not going to get pushed to do the top work,” she said. 

“If they can come and do the best they can, that’s what IMPACT seems to accept.” 

And it’s not just the laundry Ann is involved in. 

“If you want to be sociable with IMPACT, I’m even in their ability choir,” she said.  

“We do look after disability people here… and everyone is accepted. 

“IMPACT does a lot for the community, and not just in the disability space but in supporting the whole community in so many ways.” 

To find out more about the many services offered at IMPACT, visit www.impact.org.au.  

New Image Laundry worker Ann Duffy
New Image Laundry worker Ann Duffy

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about our region's lonely elderly the and isolation COVID-19 has caused.

In a time where travel and visiting interstate is trickier than ever, and national mental health concerns are on the rise, visiting our lonely and elderly residents has never been more important.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Bundaberg and the surrounding districts typically have ageing populations and, with that, a rising need for kind-hearted volunteers.

It’s easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but unfortunately that often means our elderly can become an afterthought.

IMPACT’s Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) knows this, and has been operating its aged visitor service in the Bundaberg region for over 28 years.

The CVS program provides much needed companionship to older people who wouldn’t otherwise engage in much social interaction; if any at all.

It provides a regular familiar face for an aged person to see each week and gives them something to look forward to.

I have heard countless stories over the years about how much our volunteers brighten up the lives of others.

One particular volunteer that comes to mind is Roy McGuiness who retired from volunteering last year after 28 years with CVS.

He was one of our first volunteers when the pilot program began in 1992, and will continue to be an inspiration to us all.

His kind and giving attitude to relationship building set the tone for our volunteer program, and his achievements will continue to be well respected by all at IMPACT.

Roy was sad to be leaving the volunteer program to focus on his own health, but his parting outlook was that it was time to give others a go.

The CVS program is always looking for more volunteers, and in more areas than just Bundaberg.

We also operate in Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin, with our staff recently participating in the Gin Gin Seniors Expo.

The unfortunate reality is that there are lonely people everywhere, and we need volunteers to provide company to isolated community members in these uncertain times.

For as little as an hour each week, you could make a real difference in somebody’s life.

It is truly inspiring to see the difference we and our volunteers can make to people suffering from a lack of interaction.

I am incredibly proud of our CVS team and the fact we have been providing this important service in our community for almost 30 years.

I can’t thank our wonderful staff and our selfless volunteers enough for their time and commitment to improving the lives of others.

It’s people like this that are worth their weight in gold, but we always need more.

Get involved today and give the gift of friendship to someone in need; you’ll be surprised at how rewarded you will feel within yourself.

Phone Heather today on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about career growth and why it's important to support existing employees through the ranks.

As the common saying goes, you either work to live or you live to work, but does it have to be one or the other?

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

It can often seem that determined, career-oriented people must make sacrifices in their personal lives to achieve their goals professionally, but at IMPACT we don’t see that as the case.

We strive to support a work/life balance that offers flexible on-the-job hours as well as the opportunity for staff to further their personal and professional development.

Career growth is an important consideration for many when seeking employment, and it’s important to us that those with their sights on more senior positions are supported to achieve their goals.

Starting at an entry-level position and working through different roles offers a depth of knowledge that is hugely beneficial to the growth of an organisation.

Our not-for-profit organisation offers such diverse supports to our community that skilling our teams in their many roles is just as varied.

Our “grow your own” philosophy has seen numerous staff members engage in professional development opportunities, whether that be in further studies specific to their individual roles, or more broadly in the sense of thought leadership and management techniques.

The Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML) is a peak body association that works with people to help them become the best managers and leaders they can be.

The institute operates with a holistic approach that aims to create change beyond the workplace, into the everyday, to build a better society.

IMPACT regularly sponsors staff to enrol in the Foundation of International Leadership (FOIL) program, which is run by the IML.

The leadership programs have helped our people grow from casual staff to team leaders and managers, and it is so rewarding to see someone become more than they ever thought they could.

I am also an IMPACT success story in this regard.

I began working at IMPACT in reception, and I was supported to grow and develop into the Managing Director I am today.

IMPACT grows people.

Not just the people who enrol in our courses or those who find jobs with our employment services; not just the young parents who gain pivotal parenting knowledge or those who are assisted through a mental health condition; not just those with the NDIS who gain access to lifechanging supports or the people with a disability who gain employment at our Material Recycling Facility.

We support all of our people, through all stages of life, to improve their lives.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about mental health and the importance of breaking down the "busy" in life.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

If there’s one thing I hear on a day-to-day basis, it’s that people are busy.

Busy in their jobs, busy in their social lives, and even busy during time at home.

I look back to when the COVID-19 lockdown was effective in our region last year, and while we were worried about what the future held, staying home provided many people with a feeling of relief.

People weren’t busy anymore.

Almost overnight the daily rush of life had been put to the side, and people were grateful.

Grateful to be able to take a breath and pause… and take stock of the small things in life; our pets, gardens, health, and immediate relationships.

I remember one mother in particular during that time who told me she no longer felt the pressure to “keep up with the Jones’s”, and commented on how nice it was to be able to have a weekend at home without any social interaction, free from the feeling of doing things just to please others.

But lately I’ve noticed people have slipped back into those routines of busyness.

The stillness has seemingly slipped away, replaced once again by the mad rush of the rat race. The need to be everything to everyone.

It makes me wonder if people realise the reality we have welcomed back into our lives, or if it’s something that has crept its way back in gradually.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to reflect on our wellbeing regularly to make sure that we are okay.

Are we feeling frustrated? Anxious? Sad or withdrawn? Overwhelmed, perhaps?

When it comes to mental health, most people do not have a huge vocabulary.

And for some, it can seem impossible to describe exactly how they are feeling.

Whilst this emotion word block is not uncommon, and it is sometimes easier just to categorise our emotions into large, non-specific categories such as “I’m good”, “I’m bad”, “I’m happy”, and “I’m sad”, diversifying your mental health vocabulary is important for everyone.

Checking in with ourselves allows us to keep on top of these feelings, and address what might be causing them.

Understanding how we are feeling and being to articulate it is just as important, and you can Google the ‘Feelings Wheel’ or the ‘Wheel of Emotions’ if you would like to find out more.

We all get busy, but if it’s having negative and ongoing effects on our mental health and wellbeing, we need to take a moment and ask ourselves why we’re choosing it.

If lockdown taught us anything it’s that we can say no to things that are too demanding of our energies, and the world won’t actually end.

Prioritising our mental health and becoming selective about our attendance at events are important steps towards achieving a balanced, happy life.

It’s not only okay, but necessary to take time to rest, recharge, and regather our lives.

I’ve said it before, but we can’t pour from an empty cup.

If you ever feel like it’s all getting too much, reach out to a trusted friend or family member who can be a supportive ear.

Often voicing our concerns and mapping out a plan of attack can relieve a lot of the stress we put on ourselves.

Alternatively, if more advanced advice is required, our mental health department offers a variety of programs tailored to differing levels of support.

For more information you can contact our Mental Health department on 07 4153 4233 or visit impact.org.au.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day demands of leading a busy life, but it’s important to remember there are pockets of our community that face barriers to human interaction which can lead to ongoing loneliness and depression.

When Ken Dewe was visiting his wife Jean in her nursing home, he witnessed firsthand how rarely some people received visitors of their own.

CVS Volunteer Ken Dewe (left) with daughter Janice Franks
CVS Volunteer Ken Dewe (left) with daughter Janice Franks

Being so close with his own family, Ken felt for the people who had nobody.

“My wife was in a nursing home for two-and-a-half years before she passed away, and I saw other people in there who just didn’t have anyone visiting them at all… at any time whatsoever,” he said.

“I just thought it was not quite right that someone be left alone without relatives coming.

“Of course they may be overseas or in other parts of the country, but sometimes it seemed like they just didn’t care.

“The staff said it happened more times than you’d know, and that’s why I wanted to volunteer.”

Ken met many people during his time visiting Jean, and one such person was IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) Coordinator Heather Hinsbey.

He said Heather was visiting other residents there and they would talk about various subjects related to the aged in the Bundaberg region.

“Loneliness itself is a bit of a disease,” Ken said.

“We’re a herd animal and we need to be sociable.”

Ken now visits two elderly people and likes to think his company provides some comfort to them.

“They quite like it, but unfortunately I’ve got a terrible sense of humour,” he joked.

“I just try and cheer people up… the real art of it is listening.”

Ken said sometimes all they want is a small chat, or to be asked how they are and how they’re feeling that day, which is so simple to do.

“I thought I’ll try and do my little bit,” he said.

“It’s much easier to smile than frown.”

You too can make a positive difference in an elderly person’s life, for as little as an hour a week.

Heather said people usually started volunteering for the benefit it provided to the elderly, but volunteers soon realise how rewarding the experience is for them as well.

“It’s not a job, it’s a joy,” Heather said.

The CVS program operates in Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin and will be attending the Gin Gin Seniors Expo on Thursday August 19.

To find out more about CVS and the wonderful impact you could make, phone Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233 or visit impact.org.au/volunteer.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about homelessness in the Bundaberg community.

Homelessness is a rising issue in many areas of Australia, and the ongoing lack of housing is causing a ripple effect throughout our community in several areas.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

These include increased violence, deteriorating mental health conditions and joblessness to name a few.

Homelessness Week runs from August 1 to 7 and highlights the key issues and lack of support around housing.

This year the theme is “Everybody Needs a Home” and reinforces the message that more needs to be done to provide urgent social and affordable housing Australia-wide.

According to the 2016 Census, 4,900 people, or 8.4% of the population, are in need of social housing in the Hinkler electorate.

A staggering 600 of these people are experiencing total homelessness and living rough.

Homelessness Australia report that nation-wide, over 116,000 people experience homelessness on any given night.

A lack of affordable and secure housing is the number one reason for people seeking homelessness support in Australia.

Family and domestic violence was found to be the number one reason for women and children seeking housing assistance, which our Intensive Family Support (IFS) team sees on a frequent basis.

Anecdotal evidence from our IFS team found there has been more demand for emergency housing following the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stress and violence during lockdown periods.

In the past 12 months, national house rents have increased by 15.1% while the proportion of social housing has declined.

The rental crisis not only affects people seeking long-term reliable accommodation, but countless others with the ripple effect it causes.

People unable to secure a rental property are now living in temporary accommodation, leaving emergency housing options like caravan parks, hotels and hostels exhausted for those fleeing uncertain circumstances.

Some families are sleeping in tents or cars while waiting for more permanent living arrangements to become available.

It’s heartbreaking to think this is a reality for so many people.

Thankfully we have some fantastic community organisations working to combat homeless.

Regional Housing Bundaberg have this week been distributing information packs containing support pathways to people doing it tough.

Regional Housing Bundaberg also attend our monthly Community Hub where various local organisations come together in one easy location on the first Thursday to create convenience for our community members.

We have many services in our region that work hard to assist locals who have fallen on tough times.

While homelessness might be the overarching issue, a holistic approach to support can provide small wins in the overall picture.

Support in this space could look like managing mental health, upskilling, applying for further assistance, or simply having a safe space to open up emotionally.

While complex matters can take time to overcome, there are often smaller improvements that can be made in the interim to improve someone’s quality of life.

What is important is that people feel seen and supported through their struggles, and that they know others are working to help them reach a more ideal outcome.

We are stronger together.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about the critical services our health precinct delivers to the Discovery Coast community.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Having access to quality healthcare is important for all people at any stage of life.

In Bundaberg we are fortunate to have a number of services available to us when it comes to maintaining our health and wellbeing, but other areas in our region are not so privileged.

The Discovery Coast, located between Bundaberg and Gladstone, has a rising and ageing population with a growing need for healthcare.

The IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) was established in 2016 and took over service delivery from existing providers to ensure ongoing levels of care were maintained.

Since then, the ICHS has developed services tailored to the needs of the Agnes Water region and provides a diverse range of healthcare options to all people, from nursing services to allied health and mental health services.

Locals are now easily able to access immunisations, group fitness classes, mother’s groups, counselling, alcohol and drug support, skin checks, women’s health services, a midwife, breast screening, chronic disease psychology, hearing services and many more.

Our IMPACT Community Health Precinct also offers co-located services such as the General Practitioner at Shore Care Family Practice and the Discovery Physio.

What I find most exciting is the growing number of visiting services that are operating from our precinct on a regular basis.

Given the population of the Discovery Coast, having certain services operate full time from Agnes wouldn’t be justified.

To assist in this space, IMPACT’s health precinct offers shared spaces for practitioners to operate from during their rostered visits.

This way the people of the Discovery Coast can access specialised services when available and don’t have to make unnecessary travel arrangements.

Most recently our precinct welcomed an Optometrist to the list of visiting practitioners, who said many residents had suffered ongoing and debilitating vision impairments due to the lack of service in the area.

Without the health precinct, Discovery Coast residents would have to make a three-hour round trip for any health concerns or appointments or, as many have done, forego health checkups altogether.

Missing out on these important visits due to residential location just isn’t good enough, and we’ve worked hard to deliver fundamental services to the region to avoid this problem.

I was recently speaking to the team in Agnes who shared that they often provide much more than just a health service to locals in need.

The Agnes and Discovery Coast communities are close knit, and our staff are happy to be a point of call for people needing direction in any situation.

The ladies often complete and lodge aged assistance applications and help with other paperwork or enquiries that don’t always relate to the health sector, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

For services not yet available in the Discovery Coast, ICHS rallied to have the patient travel subsidy scheme accessible for patients travelling for health-related appointments or concerns.

At the end of the day our ICHS team are there to support their community through all of life’s challenges.

Like all staff of IMPACT, the ICHS team members take pride in their service delivery and are always looking to go the extra mile for their clients.

I can’t express how proud I am of our health service and the passion our ICHS staff have for their community.

Our “Stronger Together” mentality is certainly a lived value at ICHS, and I’ve seen firsthand how eagerly the team strives to improve the lives of Discovery Coast locals each and every day.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about the important role our community must play in ending domestic and family violence.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Supporting positive family dynamics and educating parents about healthy relationships are two of the most important services we offer at IMPACT.

Domestic and family violence (DFV) is still heavily prevalent within our Bundaberg region, and without a whole of community approach the reality is we simply won’t see the changes we so desperately need.

On Wednesday and Thursday next week, July 28 and 29, IMPACT will collaborate with Family Law Pathways Network, Uniting Community Care and The Family Relationship Centre to host the Working Together community conversation.

The aim of these two days is to hold a collaborative conversation and have as many people present to establish a practice commitment for working together to prevent domestic and family violence in Bundaberg.

The complexities involved in this space requires involvement on multiple levels.

People working with families and children, managers, board members, policy makers, community members, community leaders and people wanting to make a difference are encouraged to participate in the conversation.

Data that tracked Domestic Violence Order applications made to the Bundaberg Magistrates Court in 2019-20 showed an increase by over 27% from the previous year.

This increase was the highest in the state, followed by Rockhampton with 14.6% and Beenleigh with 14.4%.

Evidence also shows that violence creates ongoing cycles of intergenerational trauma leading to unstable mental health, neglected children, government dependence and learned poverty.

The only way I can think to describe this is unacceptable.

We need more action, more accountability, and more people willing to not only stand up and say no to domestic and family violence, but to act on it when it is seen or heard.

MATE Program
Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network, Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre will host the Working Together workshop

There are multiple service providers in this space that are under significant pressure; the need far outweighs the supports available.

The only way to move forward is to come together and work at this issue across varied government agencies, community organisations and members of society.

Together, we can create new, innovative approaches to effectively respond to the escalating incidents of DFV, as many of our services are not equipped to accommodate for the constant change and additional layers of complexity involved.

Children are the silent sufferers in these situations, until they are not.

There are significant ongoing implications for children exposed to violent relationship dynamics ranging from learned violence in the family unit to links to crime and deviant behaviour.

The Working Together community conversation aims to strengthen our relationships and collaborative practice through networking, conversations and, as mentioned, the development of a collective commitment to working together for Bundaberg families.

It’s up to us as residents of the Bundaberg region to create a light at the end of the tunnel, and work towards it together through measurable actions and achievable outcomes.

We are always stronger when we work together; creating the change that is needed starts with us.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about IMPACT's holistic approach to training, employment and support.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Having a job provides more than just a paycheck.

While it’s always nice to earn money and enjoy the certain freedoms that can buy, studies have shown stable employment is also linked to our overall happiness and wellbeing.

Having a purpose is incredibly rewarding, and finding employment that you enjoy is important.

That’s why our jobactive and youth employment programs strive to find our job seekers work that aligns with their goals and values.

At IMPACT we aim to keep people motivated in their employment journey and work closely with our training organisation to help clients take the necessary steps towards their ideal jobs.

When looking for employment it’s important that job seekers have the ability to upskill into their desired field.

Assisting our clients to access further studies or gain relevant training is pivotal to their ongoing employment prospects.

Our wrap-around approach to training and employment offers holistic support to our clients in high-demand fields.

We offer Certificate III training in disability support, aged care, home and community care, and hospitality to ensure our clients are not only able to upskill into a rewarding field, but gain sustainable, ongoing employment.

Taking a new step can be daunting, however our training department offers an in-house upskilling option for people already engaged with IMPACT in other areas.

This provides our existing jobactive, Transition to Work or Skilling Queenslanders for Work program participants with a familiar environment while transition into new territory.

Many of our graduates are often able to secure work before finishing their certificates, and are blown away by the obstacles they have been able to overcome both personally and professionally throughout the duration of their course.

Along with training opportunities, we also encourage our clients to engage in other forms of work that can assist them in their employment goals.

Volunteering, gaining work experience and beginning internships are some of the ways we are able to help people make their first steps into employment or back into the workforce.

We pride ourselves on our approach to service delivery, and the employment and training departments replicate that.

Providing wrap-around support allows us to offer improved outcomes for our clients in all areas of employment, parenting and relationships, NDIS, health and mental wellbeing.

Helping people improve their lives is our philosophy and each of our departments strives to achieve this every day to best serve our Bundaberg community.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the ways in which IMPACT encourages community and organisational collaboration.

A big part of being a community organisation is helping people improve their lives.

Part of our focus here at IMPACT involves how we can work with other businesses and like-minded organisations to provide a better service for our clients and participants so they achieve the outcomes they are after.

Operating across such a diverse suite of services, IMPACT has close-working relationships with plenty of the Bundaberg region’s really wonderful operators.

Here are some of the ways we work with others to deliver great results.

The Green Gang
The Green Gang

Bundaberg Regional Council

For the past six years, our Green Gang has been operating alongside the Bundaberg Regional Council as program trainees complete their Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management.

The Green Gang delivers Work Skills Traineeships through the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.

A traineeship runs for 22 weeks and each intake sees 10 new participants provided with an opportunity to develop the skills and work ethic needed to build a bright new future.

The trainees engage with council on various initiatives of benefit to the community, such as foreshore works, weeding, regeneration and revegetation projects, maintenance and repair tasks and completes upgrades to local spaces and facilities.

Stronger Together: Recycling towards a future beyond the bin
Recycling towards a future beyond the bin

Recycling

Bundaberg’s Material Recovery Facility is owned by Bundaberg Regional Council, but managed by IMPACT Community Services.

The facility processes all recycled items from the region’s yellow lid bins and provides employment for more than 20 people with a disability.

Our recycling activities also see us work closely with Container Exchange (COEX), which is the not-for-profit organisation created to establish and run the Containers for Change scheme in Queensland.

IMPACT operates its own Containers for Change refund point, where community members can actively gain a refund for recycling their eligible cans and containers for the greater good of our environment.

IMPACT's Community Hub
IMPACT's Community Hub

The Community Hub

IMPACT is proud to have introduced a Community Hub which provides a one-stop-shop for support services for locals.

A wide range of local services, including mental and sexual health, money management, legal advice, carer and child support and housing, gather once a month at IMPACT’s offices so people can come in and speak directly to the experts in a particular field.

Providing documentation or receiving advice from multiple service providers can be a time consuming and exhausting process; the Community Hub brings Bundaberg services together in one place to work collaboratively and aims to be a time saver for people, allowing the community to streamline service delivery.

MATE Bystander Approach
MATE Bystander Approach organisers Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services, Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre

MATE Bystander Program

IMPACT, in partnership with Bundaberg Family Relationship Centre, Uniting Care and the Family Law Pathways Network is working with Griffith University to deliver it’s MATE Bystander Program.

The program adopts an educative and intervention method that teaches how everyday people like you and me have a role to play in the prevention of violence and problematic behaviour.

The bystander approach focuses not on the perpetrator or victim of violence rather, what we can all do to prevent violence in our homes, workplaces, schools and communities.

IMPACT will be hosting a “Train the Trainer” workshop next month with a view to continue this prevention method to broader pockets of the community, so watch this space!

Kyle completes the first six months of his apprenticeship at Ross Gray Holden, Bundaberg
Kyle completes the first six months of his apprenticeship at Ross Gray Holden, Bundaberg

Employment Services

The success of our job service programs has been built on the foundations of our long-lasting relationships with employers.

Each year we work with hundreds of businesses across the region to help connect them with people looking for work and the opportunity to improve their lives.

I am extremely proud of IMPACT as a collaborative, community-based organisation that works with others to help people in our community improve their lives. We are all Stronger Together.

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