Working Towards a Decent Life for All
An Anti-Poverty Week 2013 event
Around 120 people gathered at the Kippax Uniting Community Centre on Tuesday 15 October to talk about ways that they, together, could make their community fairer. The Community Centre is located in Holt, one of a string of suburbs on the western edge of Belconnen in Canberra which have been identified as a location where disadvantage has become structural and entrenched.
Canberra, by most measures, is the richest, most equitable city in Australia which is one of the richest countries in the world. And this is by far the ‘richest’ era in history. We have resources and we have capabilities. Let’s Make It Fair was an opportunity for a community to come together to talk about how they want to use those resources to minimise the impact of poverty in their area.
The participants at Let’s Make It Fair included users of the services at UnitingCare Kippax, members of the Kippax Uniting congregation, members of the local community, people from other churches and community organisations, large and small businesses, community services, government service providers, other government staff including policy makers and senior executives and local and Federal politicians. In short, all aspects of our community were represented as were all ages with the children who attended being given different ways to make a contribution to the discussions.
Let’s Make It Fair started with input from a range of people that looked at the current economic situation in the ACT, the reality of living in West Belconnen from the perspective of young people, single parents and small business owners, the impact of disadvantage and the opportunities that being the richest city in Australia presents.
And then it was over to the participants. Given just over half an hour, they came up with around 90 different things they could do to minimise the effects of poverty in this community. The ideas addressed issues and themes that are present in the community. The main themes were:
- Building community through shared action, shared social activities, increased participation and planning and designing physical spaces that enable people to relate more easily
- Focusing on the strengths of relationships by recognising and supporting the roles of grandparents, families and other carers; collaborating with and within these existing relationships to provide support with child care, and to those with mental health issues; and linking older people and young people through mentoring relationships in both directions
- Increasing the information available to community members on current services, what they do, how to access them and the benefits to be gained from working with those services
- Working with specific groups in the population, especially young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people transitioning to retirement
- Identifying specific actions that people can take to improve transport options, school experiences – especially for those who disengage or have learning difficulties, employment and accommodation, and
- Looking at ways that new approaches and bright ideas can be resourced, including through community fundraising, community organisation contributions and advocating for tax reform.
You can read the full report here: Let’s Make it Fair – outcomes report
The other thing that the participants contributed to Let’s Make It Fair was an identification of the strengths of the local community. 65 different ideas coalesced into the strengths of:
- High levels of community spirit
- Existing community services
- A diverse population
- A positive physical environment
- A mix of ages
- A widely demonstrated positive attitude
- People being new to the community and wanting to contribute to it, and
- The ACT being a manageable size in which to implement new ideas.
So what’s to be done? One member of the community has already offered to start action on a specific idea. The UnitingCare Kippax Board will be looking at this report at its meeting in November to see what UnitingCare might be able to do, with whom, to progress some of these ideas including seeking funding and other resources from a range of groups. And we’d be happy to hear from anyone who’d like to take further action collaboratively. Contact us on 6254 1733.