Wednesday, 07 June 2023
Community Centres SA Reception
Rod and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House to celebrate 40 years of Community Centres SA. We particularly welcome those who have travelled a long way to be with us.
Such a significant milestone enables us to come together not only to reflect on the impact that the organisation has had over its history, but also to consider the role community centres will play in 40 years and beyond.
To that end I look forward to shortly placing the first item – my speech and tonight’s group photo - in the time capsule which aims to envision what community centres will look like in the year 2063.
It is the first of several events to celebrate CCSA’s 40th anniversary.
But firstly, what do we mean by community? Clearly, community is much more than a group of buildings or a place. It is a sense of place, a sense of belonging. People caring about other people.
I have sensed that spirit of togetherness time and time again while travelling throughout the State in the Governor’s community role.
Most recently, I experienced it in Minlaton on the Yorke Peninsula when I walked into the community centre.
My eye was immediately drawn to a morning tea being brewed by volunteers, talking as they worked and encouraging each other in their tasks.
After all, a cuppa and a piece of freshly baked cake always breaks the ice. It’s warming, it’s a great way to start a conversation and come together in friendship.
And over many cups of tea in my many travels I have been privileged to meet people, hear their stories, learn of their contributions, and be able to encourage their community aspirations.
I don’t think you can fully understand a district without visiting a community centre.
They are places where people create better communities - communities that encourage inclusion, reach out to break down loneliness, help people overcome barriers in their lives, or equip people with life and work skills.
A catalyst for connection. A means to nurture.
Indicative of how widespread community centres are, the CCSA website informs us that there are more than 1,000 community centres across Australia, rivalling the number of McDonalds restaurants or similarly the number of Woolworths supermarkets.
That’s just one striking demonstration of the reach of community centres.
Over the past 40 years, Community Centres SA has been the peak body for Community Centres and Neighbourhood Houses in South Australia.
I thank the board and staff for their role in supporting communities and being a voice for more than 35,000 people across the State through advocacy, research, capacity building and training.
Because community responses to community challenges help build strength and resilience.
In particular I thank the volunteers who give the precious gift of their time and expertise in our community centres and neighbourhood houses.
Your compassion is at the very heart of community.
This was clear in South Australia’s response to the pandemic where people cared about and looked out for each other even though at times they couldn’t meet.
More than ever, we recognised the importance of tackling mental health, isolation, and people’s wellbeing and health in innovative ways.
Long may we have people at the centre of all our ambitions.
In 40 years’ time, in the Year 2063, some of us will no longer be here, but I hope there will be a community where diverse voices are fully heard.
A community where people have opportunities that are not restricted by attitudes, race, gender, homelessness or poverty. A place where people do feel they belong, and their contributions are respected.
As our society continues to rapidly change, CCSA will have a vital role in making sure we leave no-one behind through empowering others.
I wish CCSA well for the next 40 years and beyond in your important work in “strengthening local communities”.