Community centres in WA strengthen ties…

A recent survey undertaken by Linkwest, the not-for-profit peak body for Neighbourhood and Community Resource Centres in WA, found that 96 per cent of Centres across the State continued to provide services throughout the crisis, addressing needs of social isolation, loneliness and community disconnection.

The survey, which took place last month and covered March – May 2020, showed that 78 per cent of Centres successfully pivoted their services to online delivery, with the majority providing a range of virtual activities to help maintain community connectedness, particularly in the most vulnerable groups identified as seniors and the elderly.

Jane Chilcott, CEO of Linkwest, said the majority of the 160 regional, remote, and metropolitan Centres throughout the State continued to strengthen communities by providing avenues for social connections, supporting people by connecting them to essential services and keeping individuals, families, and businesses informed.

“People who attend their local Neighbourhood or Community Resource Centre tend to be happier, more optimistic, have increased emotional wellbeing and are more connected, which is why it was so important for Centres to continue to provide services throughout the crisis,” she says.

“The fact that the majority of Centres remained open to the public for essential services, including providing online and virtual services and activities, and undertaking community calls to check in on vulnerable people, has helped to maintain stronger, healthier communities across our State during this difficult time.

“While each Centre is unique, reflecting the needs and aspirations of their local community, all are local and welcoming to everyone, and this sentiment has continued throughout the time of COVID 19, even if services have been delivered via modern day technology rather than face-to-face activities.”

Ms Chilcott said the Linkwest network of 160 place-based, community-led organisations now had a vital role to play in the State’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“International research into disaster recovery shows that recovery happens best when it is local, inclusive and community-led,” she says. 

“Each Centre provides a trusted safe place for people to connect and access essential services and information, as well as providing an important physical space and well-developed networks and relationships – built up over many years – which forms the area’s social infrastructure. 

“At a local level, Centres also play a significant role in the local economy through employment, traineeships, volunteering, job readiness programs, partnerships with training organisations and accredited training opportunities.

“And so Linkwest will actively highlight the importance of its member network in the State’s recovery efforts, as an integral part of the State Recovery Plan and the Department of Training and Workforce Development’s strategy to support the new jobs and training needs of the state.” 

Established in 1982 as a not-for-profit organisation, Nedlands-based Linkwest assists Centres to develop vibrant, inclusive and connected communities that are immersed in their local areas. Largely funded by the State Government’s Department of Communities and the Department for Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Linkwest specialises in true grassroot, community development and supports its members to fully reflect the needs of their community.