State Member pays neighbourly visit

State Member for Evelyn, Bridget Vallence recently received a first-hand account of how Cire Services is going from strength-to-strength as one of the region’s most significant and dynamic not-for-profit organisations.

Mrs Vallence gained the insight during a neighbourly visit to our new premises in Lilydale, just two doors from her own office. Mrs Vallence was welcomed by Cire CEO, Gus Seremetis who outlined many of Cire’s achievements so far this year as well as the programs and services it continues to introduce and deliver, to best meet the needs of people of all ages across the Yarra Ranges and beyond.

Cire’s Lilydale premises accommodates Cire Training and Corporate Services, providing improved teaching, learning and office space as well as a greater public profile. The move has also freed up much-needed space for the Community School at its Mount Evelyn campus and Yarra Junction Community Hub.

Gus said Cire was committed to providing educational opportunities for people of all ages through its core operations of Cire Training, Cire Community School, Cire Children’s Services and Cire Community Hubs. She said Cire delivered its services across multiple sites at Lilydale, Mount Evelyn, Yarra Junction and Chirnside Park.

In addition to occupying the Lilydale office at 211 Main Street, Gus explained that 2019 has been a year of exciting milestone achievements. These included:

  • At the invitation of Yarra Ranges Council, taking over the management of Chirnside Park Community Hub and revitalising the purpose-built resource through a range of initiatives.
  • Securing registration to commence a 3 and 4-year-old kindergarten program at Chirnside Park Community Hub in 2020.
  • Community Training Provider of the Year in the prestigious Victorian Department of Education and Training’s 65th Anniversary Victorian Training Awards. In addition, in the 2019 Learn Local Awards, Cire was named a Learn Local Legend and a finalist in the Victorian Learn Local Practitioner Award – Nina Bekker, Cire Training’s Business Development Manager; and the Victorian Learn Local Creating Local Solutions Award – Women’s Warehouse Essentials.
  • Finalist in prestigious national business and educational awards in the respective categories of social change-maker and specialist school.
  • Cire Community School’s reputation as a school of choice validated by a waiting list of students.
  • Commencement of the building of a hospitality training facility at Cire Community School
  • Successful launch of Cire initiatives including First Impressions Clothing Exchange for, and operated by, long-term unemployed women; Level Up youth program with a focus on esports (video games) at the Chirnside Park and Yarra Junction community hubs.
  • Securing funding from/partnering with philanthropic organisations such as the RACV Foundation and Helen Macpherson Smith Trust to expand our services and programs.
  • Securing competitive government and philanthropic grants.
  • Relaunch of Cire’s website

Cire and local students stand together for gender equity

Cire Services has helped students from St Peter Julian Eymard Primary School deepen their awareness and the need for gender equity through their involvement in the Clothesline Project at Chirnside Park Community Hub.

The Clothesline Project aims to build on the work already being done by community houses as well as strengthen the region’s approach to preventing violence against women.  Cire is proud to be part of such a worthy and inclusive initiative led by a partnership that includes CHAOS, EACH, EDVOS, Maroondah, Knox and Yarra Ranges councils and Women’s Health East.

Cire was also thrilled to engage a mix of 20 enthusiastic male and female students from grades 4 to 6 at St Peter Julian Eymard P.S  in a recent Clothesline Project workshop session at CPCH.

A highlight of the activity was the crafting of t-shirts with insightful messages of empowerment. A display of the t-shirts will be a feature of “16 Days of Activism” at the hub from 25 November to 10 December.

The morning started with a discussion on gender, how it is commonly defined, and stereotypical gender roles. We talked about gender representation in the media, particularly in advertising, social media, toy advertising and movies. The children came up with many examples from their own lives on how they’ve felt pigeonholed by their gender.

We watched highly recommended YouTube clips to encourage further conversation (Like A Girl, Lolly Jar GenderEquality, Redraw The Balance) and the children had plenty of opinions to share! It was fantastic to hear the different points of view and experiences shared amongst the group in such a positive and open manner.

After a delicious morning tea of fresh fruit, cupcakes and biscuits, we moved on to our favourite part of the day – crafting the shirts, using a white t-shirt and coloured sharpies, containing our own personal messages of empowerment. It truly was incredible to witness the innovation, insight and intelligence of the students. The empowerment messages included:

“Equality Is Everything”
“Gender Equality: Anyone Can Do Anything”
“Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Because I Can”
“Equal Jobs Deserve Equal Pay”

To further support the “16 Days of Activism” and celebrate the involvement and social awareness of our young visitors, Cire warmly invites the students, their families and members of our local community to our community dinner at 6pm on Tuesday 3 December.  The community dinners are held once a term and the invitation to attend is ongoing.

Cire appreciated the opportunity to take part in such important community-based projects and loved that we were able to engage local students in a meaningful way to discuss such an important issue.  If you would like to know more about the project or the supports and resources available within Yarra Ranges please feel free to contact us on 1300 835 235.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making the gender equity workshop a success!

Trivia hits the spot at Chirnside Park

Despite the wintry conditions outside, it didn’t take long for the inside temperature to rise as excitement gained momentum for a trivia night at Chirnside Park Community Hub on Saturday 25 May.

More than 50 people braved the cold, wet weather for a fun night of trivia and related antics which resulted in $1400 raised to purchase a barbeque and outdoor furniture for the hub

The trivia included many entertaining rounds focusing on pop culture, both new and more nostalgic, as well as some sport and general knowledge thrown in for good measure and to ensure there were questions for everyone. A particularly memorable movie question included an impromptu dance competition to the Blues Brothers soundtrack – definitely a sight to behold!

Silent auctions, raffles and lucky seat prizes meant that no one needed to go home empty-handed.

Executive Manager of Cire Community Hubs, Laura Shortis, described the event as a ‘fantastic’ success.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for staff, their friends and family and members of the community to come together and join in a light-hearted evening of entertainment,” Laura said.

Cire Services thanks all those who attended, as well as acknowledges the very generous donations received from local businesses to support the silent auction held throughout the night.

The community hubs team plans to make this an annual event – so look out for information early next year for the 2020 Cire Services Trivia Night!

Cire’s community hubs are one of our core areas of operation.

The hubs at Yarra Junction and Chirnside Park aim to empower people of all ages to learn, connect and belong. They are friendly, vibrant and inclusive offering an extensive range of services, education and leisure programs and community development activities that reflect community needs and interests. Programs include parenting education, environment education, health and wellbeing support activities, and craft and hobby tuition.
We are an active member of Neighbourhood Houses Victoria (NHV) and the Community Houses Association of the Outer Eastern Suburbs (CHAOS).

Cire’s other core areas of focus are:

Cire Community School. Our co-educational independent secondary school catering for young people who have experienced difficulty with mainstream schooling. We have pioneered successful and flexible programs to meet the needs of our students and work tirelessly to make our school one of choice. We provide quality education and personal development opportunities that are hands-on, and relevant in order to engage our students in their secondary education and life beyond school.

Cire Children’s Services. Children’s Services operates across multiple sites and focuses on the needs of families within our community. We provide long day care with an integrated kindergarten program); outside school hours care, vacation care and occasional care and several playgroups

Cire Training, our Registered Training Organisation (RTO). Cire Training offers nationally recognised and accredited and short courses, to help meet the diverse and changing needs of our community and facilitate greater inclusion. From short courses, work skills accredited units of competency to accredited training, our programs are both non accredited and accredited and have helped many people to upskill and achieve their aspirations and career goals.

If you cook it – they will come

Cire’s community hubs are putting on a Moveable Feast to celebrate Neighbourhood House Week, I was told. Breakfast at Yarra Junction, dinner at Chirnside Park. The premise was quite simple; to invite people in the community to come along and enjoy a free meal.  In the days leading up to the Moveable Feast I focussed on the specifics such as what we would be cooking and how we’d get the word out about what we were doing, and how we’d set up the spaces.  I was anxious that we would over cater and end up with too much food left over or worse, that we’d run out of food.

Quite new to my role at Executive Manager of Cire Community Hubs, and getting my head around all that entails, I didn’t have much time to consider much else about the upcoming feast. My amazing team at both hubs worked hard to pull it all together and I fronted up on the morning at Yarra Junction ready to serve egg and bacon rolls. And, as we fired up the barbecue and the smell of sizzling bacon wafted through the main drag of Yarra Junction, I began to see what we were actually doing.

That morning, we served 30 egg and bacon rolls in the hour we were cooking.  While some people came because they knew what was happening, the majority happened to be in the right place at a great time to be offered complimentary, hot and delicious breakfast.  Perhaps we saved some people from having to spend money on breakfast that morning, or an opportunity to grab something to eat because they’d forgotten to grab something as they rushed out the door that morning.

The unexpected bonus for me was the interactions – sometimes fleeting, sometimes more in depth, but equally valuable. It was a chance to meet and chat to people about the types of courses they’d like Cire to offer, or why we were doing what we were doing and share a bit about Neighbourhood House Week.  Seeing people smile as our CEO ran up to cars stopped at the traffic lights to offer a breakfast roll through their car window, or getting to pat a sweet little dog called Maverick who also loved bacon – it was an extra ordinary morning for us, for Maverick, and most definitely for those who received breakfast while waiting for the green light!

Fast forward to dinnertime when we were cooking the most giant pot of spaghetti bolognese I’ve ever seen, I worried that people wouldn’t come.  Our Chirnside Park Community Hub is a little off the main road which meant there would be very few people to invite to join us. We were relying on people to leave the warmth of their homes on this cold night and let us cook them dinner.

I had no reason to worry. From 6pm people started trickling in and by 6:30 we were churning out bowls of pasta at an impressive rate.  Again, I could see the immediate impact and how we were able to give families a night off from cooking, and an escape from the inevitable, “What’s for dinner?”. There was lots of chatter as old friends caught up and new introductions made over a shared meal.

And, at the end of what was quite a long day and while tackling the piles of dishes that result from feeding so many people, I reflected on what the day meant and had achieved. The departing comment from one of our dinner guests nailed it: “I was having a bad day so I came along for some company.  And I’m leaving with a full stomach and a smile on my face”.

My worries about what we should cook, how much food we should buy, would we get enough people through the doors suddenly all seemed so trivial. The fact that at least one person had been impacted positively made the day so worthwhile, and makes me want to do it all over again.

Laura Shortis,
Executive Manager, Cire Community Hubs