Northern Rivers Community Gateway will be closed over the festive season from Friday 23 December 2022 and will reopen on Monday 9 January 2023.
Our vision Many tracks, one road, sustaining community has shown us the way this past 12 months. 2022 has been one of the hardest years for our communities, for our staff and for our organisation.
Our building was inundated with water to the second floor in the floods of February and March 2022. With a disaster plan in place, we were able to immediately establish an alternative warehouse and shop front in Goonellabah, in preparation for this type of event. We are currently preparing our community hub in the CBD of Lismore to be flood ready and hope to be back in the premises by February 2023.
Many of our staff were directly affected by the floods but showed their true resilience, continuing to work with a person-centred approach, putting our vulnerable clients first.
Our staff pulled together in the aftermath of the floods to provide emergency relief, of food, clothing and essential items to those affected. They were on the road from day one, providing support to affected community members, in evacuation and recovery centres and providing outreach to isolated communities.
Thank you to Foodbank and to OzHarvest for your support of fresh food and voucher donations. Thank you to the many community members and groups that provided cash donations, new clothing, toiletries, cleaning products, blankets and so much more.
With your support as the winter months drew near, we were able to flexibly deliver relief through vouchers for heaters and electric blankets, vouchers for essential items and white goods.
Demand on services
After 2 years of COVID-19, we had only just started to move back into our offices, to then feel the effects of the floods in early 2022. Once again, our staff were asked to work remotely, and we continued to provide outreach and hub services at Goonellabah. Our Rainbow Region Kids services continued to support many children and families that had relocated to new schools and into new accommodation with their homes and schools flooded. Although our Lismore RRK service was also flooded, we moved to another location at Lismore Public School and continued to deliver childcare services there.
Whilst COVID-19 created new levels of vulnerability, the floods brought huge numbers of displaced people affected by trauma across 4 suburbs of Lismore – South Lismore, North Lismore, East Lismore and the CBD – as well as many towns and villages across the Far North Coast. These people were left without anything. This was a disaster in the extreme, one like we have never seen before within our borders. Our trauma counsellors were receiving referrals from people who had never sought help before, who were now experiencing significant trauma because of the impact of the flood event on their lives.
Adapting to change
We continued to challenge ourselves to be more innovative. This past year we’ve delivered our services in a hybrid mode, with staff working from our community hub in Goonellabah, our Grafton office, many schools, a temporary office in Ballina, and many working remotely at home and in the provision of outreach.
Thanks to the NSW Department of Communities and Justice for recognising the important role that neighbourhood centres play in our communities, particularly in our grass roots response to disasters. We were provided a significant funding increase to enable us to employ an additional trauma counsellor, intake worker and resilience worker. Whilst this is only for 12 months, we know that the Lismore community will still require our support for many years to come.
Our commitment to innovation and quality has seen the upgrade of HR, finance and IT systems. We have fully implemented this past year a number of systems including Go1 – an online training platform, MR+ – a web-based recruitment management and onboarding system, DoneSafe – a web-based incident management and reporting system, and Xplor – a web based childcare management and billing system.
I commend our team for their commitment to grass roots service delivery and the positive impact they have been able to create in the lives of our communities.
Affordable housing project
In 2023, we will continue to look for opportunities to fund the development of our affordable housing project of ten shop-top units in Carrington Street.
NSW Financial Inclusion Network
Together with our NSW Financial Inclusion Network partners and UNSW CSI, we ran a very successful hybrid international conference in Sydney this year. The FIN network is currently finalising an election platform paper to address financial exclusion, which will be released before the end of the year.
Thank you for supporting us
On behalf of the team at the Northern Rivers Community Gateway, I would like to say a warm thank you to all of our partners for your continued support throughout the year. I wish you and your families a merry Christmas, and a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
We look forward to working with you in 2023!
Chief Executive Officer