Snapshot of Suzanne's Community Development Work.
OUT OF SCHOOL HOURS CARE - a brief history.
The Wallsend Community Development Centre (WCDC) helped build a strong local community. Most of the projects the centre staff designed and piloted, were later rolled out nationally, to become a vital part of the social framework..
The Wallsend Community Development Centre (WCDC), was a not-for-profit organisation. It was established by Janette Kibble in the Newcastle suburb of Wallsend, in New South Wales. The centre operated from premises owned by the Newcastle City Council and operated from 1971 until 1989.
Janette was the Centre Director. She worked tirelessly to gain government funding and support from local businesses. Suzanne Fleming was a Project Manager and Social Researcher with the centre for a period of fourteen years.
In November 1974 Suzanne was contacted by Ian Bronowski, a project officer with the Department of Youth and Community Services (YACS). Ian had read a paper written by Suzanne, in which she examined the problems experienced by Latchkey Children. She identified the child-care difficulties working parents faced during school vacation periods, and before students begin classes and again after school hours.
Suzanne and Bronowski met to discuss the issues raised in the paper. At this meeting Bronowski asked Suzanne, if funds were made available, would she develop a solutions-model and run a pilot program to deliver, test, and refine her program; thus, resolving most of the problems Latchkey children, and their parents, experienced.
Suzanne developed a working model, and then implemented and ran it, throughout the pilot program. The first Activity Centre was established and delivered, in Wallsend, with a second centre set up in the inner-city suburb of Carrington.
The programs proved extremely successful and it was only a short time before two additional programs were started. One operated at the Windale Public School and another at Wickham Public School. The Australian jazz singer, writer and actress, Su Cruickshank was appointed to the Project Coordinator role for the Wickham centre and in addition to her already heavy workload, Janette Kibble, took on the Windale position. Suzanne Fleming continued to Project Manage and Coordinate the Wallsend and Carrington centres for three years.
The Honourable Frank Walker QC, the then Minister for Youth and Community Services, and Kenneth George "Ken" Booth, who was at the time, the New South Wales State Treasurer and the local member for Wallsend, both approved funding for the programs to operate for a period of two years. Ken Booth was extremely supportive of the work done by the Wallsend Community Development Centre and was proud of its achievements.
The School Vacation and Before and After School Care programs, operated under the auspices of the Wallsend Community Development Centre (WCDC), until the pilot period ended. At the end of the trial YACS conducted an intense evaluation to determine the success of the programs. The results were considered outstanding, and the model was replicated and rolled out state-wide. It was not long before the program was adopted by all the other states. To this day, it remains a nation program, although it is now known nationally by its new name, Out Of School Hour Care (OOSH).
Responsibility for funding, operations and administration in New South Wales, was transferred from the Department of Youth and Community Services, to the Department of Sport and Recreation. Nowadays most OOSH centres are operated by private sector and not-for-profit organisations.
Network receives funding from the NSW Department of Education to act as the peak body for OOSH services and to provide support for DOCS funded vacation care. There are approximately 1100 OOSH services in NSW.
Network of Community Activities (“Network”) is a recognised leader in the field of school age care and the largest membership organisation in Australia dedicated to the advocacy, promotion, resourcing and development of play, recreation and leisure activities for 5-14 year olds. Network, is one of the oldest not-for-profit peak bodies in the Australian Children’s Services sector. It was established in 1974 to support the development of programs for children within their local community.
KEY PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED THE WORK OF THE WALLSEND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CENTRE (WCDC), by providing practical support and assistance, included:
Donald McKinnon (Don) Geddes.
For many years, Don was a Senior Partner of Baker Love & Geddes, which later became, Baker Love Lawyers. It is the oldest law firm in Newcastle and the Hunter region. The firm was founded by William Henry Baker as W.H. Baker Solicitor in 1875.
Don was a very popular lawyer and unique character in Newcastle. He was devoted to his duties, as well as his client practice, and eventually became the Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle.
Don Geddes quickly built a reputation as an exceptional criminal lawyer.
Bruce Callaghan: Social Planner and Project Manager, Department of Youth and Community Services. Bruce later became the Regional Director for YACS Hunter.
Alexander (Alec) Young – Young and Green Pty. Limited. Alec was a prominent Newcastle business who was known for his philanthropy. Alec was an active member of the Newcastle and Hunter community, and gave his time and money generously. This was usually done without fanfare and often anonymously.
Alec donated a late model motor vehicle to WCDC, and Young and Green took care of its repair and maintenance free of charge.
Later when WCDC established Newcastle’s first women’s refuge, Alec paid the first year’s leasing fees for the premises the refuge operated from.
Richard Face: was the ALP member for Charlestown from 1972 to 2003. He was the Minister for Gaming and Racing in Bob Carr's cabinet from 1995 until his retirement.
Ian Campbell, Newcastle Solicitor and Social Activist.
ONGOING SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY
While working for the Wallsend Community Development Centre, Suzanne Fleming also established the Retired Residents Project. A program designed to respond to the needs of aged people living in the Wallsend and Charlestown areas.
The services provided included:
The Home Maintenance Service – where a team of retired home maintenance trades people would carry out minor home repairs or supervise work being done by qualified building-trades people.
Community Companion Service – where a volunteer accompanied clients to doctors’ appointments, library visits and conducted regular ‘friendship’ visits to spend time with people who were confined to their homes.
Mobile Grocery Service (door-to-door grocery delivery and a mobile shopping service for the elderly).
Community Transport Service – WCDC established the first Community Transport Service for the elderly and people who were confined to their homes, because family support was lacking, or they had trouble managing public transport.
The centre operated two minibuses that it had purchased from the New South Wales Ambulance Service, for a nominal amount, . These were augmented by private vehicles. A team of dedicated volunteers used their own vehicles to transport clients. This was a free, door-to-door, service. It now operates nationally. (use this link to read about Community Transport in NSW)
Adopt A Granny – a service where younger members of the community promoted friendship with the elderly who had no family, or separated from loved ones, because of distance. The young families included elderly clients in family outings, gatherings and day trips.
Cottage Industry for Retrenched Workers -retrenched and/or retired people shared their skills with others to produce handmade products for sale in the Community Development Centre’s retail space. The products included the manufacture of wooden toys, craft items and a variety of goods appropriate for gift giving.
Counselling Services – provided in association with other community based professional services.
In order to become partially self-funding, the Retired Resident’s Project established an Op Shop in Newcastle’s CBD. This was at a time when Opportunity Shops were rather drab places and not really supported by the general public. Under Suzanne’s direction the shop premises were painted in bright colours, internally and externally, and excellent lighting was installed. The display windows were exceptional and rivalled most up-market boutiques. It was not long before the shop became a local attraction and considered a trendy place to buy quality, pre-loved clothing.
The volunteer sales staff were trained in Total Quality Customer Service and the initial setup costs for the store were donated by local medical practitioners.
In 1983 Suzanne was nominated for the National Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award.
The Retired Residents Project won the 1985 Zonta award for Community Services to the Aged.
The services provided by the Retired Residents Project were later incorporated into the initial Home and Community Care Program (H.A.C.C).
Janette Kibble continued to be a community lobbyist and gained funding to setup, run and monitor, several additional social-reform programs. These included a training program for the long-term unemployed, a car maintenance course and other training programs to help young people to become work ready.
She also established a free bread distribution centre and a Fresh Food and Produce Market. The ‘day-old’ bread was donated by three local bakehouses. The fresh produce was donated daily by local supermarkets, grocery stores and restaurants. All the produce was on-sold to needy families on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ basis.
Janette also worked closely with the Newcastle College of Advanced Education and the University of Newcastle, and provided opportunities for students to undertake practical experience at the centre.
Suzanne and Janette established and operated Newcastle’s first women’s refuge.
Janette now lives in the Queensland city of Toowoomba.
Suzanne lives in inner-city Sydney.
Both women remain politically active.
OTHER OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE ACTIVE IN THE WCDC.
Paul Brown: managed the Youth Retraining Program.
Craig Shaw: Managed the Home Maintenance Program.
Mary Blackmore: was a Social Worker with the Retired Residents Project. She coordinated the Client Companion and Friendship Service and was heavily involved with the Community Transport project..
Kath Graham: Managed the Op Shop.
Sharon Osborn: became the Retired Residents Project Program Manager when Suzanne left the WCDC.
Patricia Olsen: Coordinated the School Vacation and Before and After School Care program, after Suzanne's resignation.
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27668856