Since 2018, Centacare FNQ has been facilitating Our Place - a federally funded, assets based and community driven project which aims to build on the strength and resilience of community. The project is based in the Cairns West suburbs of Manoora, Manunda and Mooroobool, a community rich in cultural diversity comprising Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander as well as settled and emerging migrant and refugee background communities. Over the past two years, the Our Place project has enabled the creation of spaces and opportunities for diverse communities to have conversations, create meaningful connections, build relationships and grow sustainable social initiatives.
During the Covid-19 pandemic the project became a vital tool for supporting community safety and wellbeing. As the community went into lockdown, the Our Place project team had to quickly adapt to an online environment. As a result, the Our Place #wearecairnswest Facebook page became a vital platform to share community announcements as well as a place to connect and celebrate.
The project’s key community partners including neighbourhood centres, Cairns Safer Streets Taskforce, local Primary and High schools and community and faith based organisations all collaborated immediately to ensure that everyone in community was receiving crucial health and education messages and could access and identify community supports when needed. A range of stakeholders delivered wellbeing checks to high risk community members ensuring information was easy to access and available in over seven languages including AUSLAN, Torres Strait Creole, Nepali, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Burmese and French. With the most intense period of lockdown being over the Easter long weekend, faith leaders from across Cairns West were able to send messages of hope, comfort and guidance to the whole of community at a much needed time.
Centacare is proud to say, this collaborative community response has, without doubt, played a pivotal role in ensuring zero covid-19 cases across our refugee communities locally.
Centacare FNQ Executive Director Anita Veivers said, “The strategy we have implemented during the recent lockdown has worked really well to ensure the safety and wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable members of community. We are confident that we have the processes now in place so, if a similar situation to that currently being seen in Victoria was to develop here, we are ready to respond and support our refugee communities straight away."
The Our Place project continues to offer a digital platform for interactive community engagement with ongoing community projects and groups including the Multicultural Fashion Extravaganza, Musical Cohesion and Dynamic Young Leaders program. An exciting aspect of the project is the coming together of cultures and the broadening of community understanding. Through our partnership with Marc Harbrow from Harbrow Mentoring, a local Yirriganydji Saltwater man, the project has also had the opportunity to showcase local Indigenous knowledge and culture.
Overall, the Our Place project continues to support an incredible level of community reach and engagement, with over 13,000 people interacting with the digital platform throughout March & April 2020. The Centacare FNQ Our Place project continues to play a key role in the successful settlement of newly arrived migrants in the Cairns region.
For more information about this press release please, contact Astrid Murray on (07) 4044 0130.