Advocating for Defence families

Simpson Barracks Community Centre

We spoke with Salina Parton from Simpson Barracks Community Centre, Simpson Barracks, Macleod , Victoria

How did you start with your group?

We posted into Yallambie at the end of 2017, and I started attending the centre’s programs – it was called the Mactier Centre at that time. I then volunteered as the Secretary on the committee. Later that evolved when the Coordinator was posting out and I stepped in as the caretaker Coordinator. The centre was closed due to refurbishments from mid 2019 until March 2020, which was part of a base upgrade project, and I continued in the caretaker Coordinator role. I was officially appointed as the Coordinator of the Simpson Barracks Community Centre on 5 June 2020.

Tell us about the group’s programs and your role in light of COVID-19

This year, with COVID-19 impacts, we have run online programs such as a weekly Zoom coffee group, an online Yoga group, and sharing our favourite recipes. We’ve had really good communication with other community centres to share ideas and maintain as much as we could online for the families. For example, we’ve  been holding a virtual playgroup each week for 13 weeks , which has involved me working out what activities would be suitable, sourcing the resources for playgroup packs, and getting the playgroup packs to families. My young son has really loved being videoed each week doing the playgroup activities, which are then shared to the virtual playgroup. It’s been really rewarding getting feedback from families too on how much they’ve enjoyed the virtual playgroups over the last 13 weeks and the effort to do them – we’ve put together over 150 playgroup packs over that time. 

We’ve also held household scavenger hunts on Sundays, where families are given a list of items to look around their homes, with prizes, which has been good fun for the families.

Is there any event /activity you’re particularly proud of because of how it connected the Defence family community?

There’s been a couple of activities I’m really happy with. The virtual playgroup has been great as it’s been wonderful to see the kids doing the activities at home, and to hear from families how simple it’s been for them to do them, as they have the playgroup packs each week.

The other event I’m really pleased with was our Mothers’ Day event – we wanted to do something as a surprise for our Mums this year, and we obtained product donations from companies such as a local coffee shop, Chocolatier and MooGoo, plus purchased other items such as from The Body Shop, to make up packs for each Mum. We wrote personalised cards to go with each pack, then volunteers from the Committee dropped them all off to the ladies in one day ! It was a real surprise and a lovely event !

Is there anything you’d like to say to others thinking of getting involved in a community centre?

One of the things we hear from people is ‘I don’t know anyone and I’m not quite sure about it’. But everyone is new once, so just come along and give it a go. It’s a good opportunity to meet people , and you can be as involved as you like. For me , it’s been a really good opportunity to be involved in the Defence community as well the local area, and to help others. It also gives you the confidence to get involved more generally, such as in school committees. You can make it what you want it to be!

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