Thursday, 09 November 2023
Community Centres South Australia Conference
I am very pleased to join you for the closing of the 2023 Community Centres SA Conference.
I especially thank those of you who have travelled from regional areas to participate today.
Earlier this year it was my great pleasure to host a reception at Government House to celebrate 40 years of Community Centres SA.
It was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the impact that the organisation has had over its history, as well as consider the role community centres will play in the decades to come.
During my reception speech I posed the question, 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 my community role.
I have found that visiting a community centre helps me to understand the broader community it serves.
This was certainly the case earlier this year when I visited Minlaton Community Centre on the Yorke Peninsula as part of a regional visit, I was greeted by the warm smiles of volunteers, a cup of tea and some delicious cake – as well as a series of interesting conversations. Everyone there had a story to tell.
It was also the case in August when I launched an art exhibition at the Joinery in Franklin St, a dynamic and inspiring community space devoted to sustainability and the environment, created by Conservation SA.
From my travels I have also found that community centres 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.
I therefore thank you for dedicating today’s conference to the theme, People First: Prioritising Community Wellbeing, taking an in-depth look into what nurturing our mental health and wellbeing looks like as a community.
I would like today to reflect a little on what I have learned about supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing, both in terms of my diplomatic career, when I was leading large numbers of staff, and now as Governor, supporting the wellbeing of all South Australians.
< reflections >
Common to both has been the realisation of the power of community and, at a personal level, of feeling valued and having a sense of belonging.
I thank the board and staff of Community Centres SA for organising this conference, and 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.
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.
Thank you all for spending today considering the future of community centres and how you can continue to support the health and wellbeing of your clients.
The 35,000 South Australians who enter a community centre each week thank you, as do I as your Governor and Community Centres SA Patron!