FICE launched at Yarra Junction

Cire’s First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) has opened its doors at Yarra Junction to support local women, and ultimately their families and communities.

Located at Cire’s Community Hub, FICE aims to empower women to work towards brighter futures by helping them achieve their personal and employment goals.

FICE is a retail training space that offers much more than a traditional shop, by mentoring and preparing women for pathways such as personal development, study and employment, as well as a trusted support network.

YJ FICE also offers quality and affordable women’s clothing suitable for everyday wear, interviews, or more formal occasions.

Our team focuses on reconnecting women with the community, building pathways that are tailored to individual needs like future independence and goal setting, identifying transferable skills to new industries, interview preparation and job readiness, and empowerment and confidence building.

FICE is thrilled to be supporting women in the outer reaches of the Yarra Valley and has already been generously welcomed and supported by the local community with donations being dropped off before we even opened our doors. There has been a lot of interest with people stopping by to peer through our window at our gorgeous range of clothing and accessories. Comments like, “I can’t believe how many nice things you have.”, “Beautiful quality.“, and “Are these really second hand?” is a testament to the wonderful items so generously donated by the community.

Integral to FICE opening its doors was a wonderful and very generous donation of shop fittings, mannequins, clothing and accessories from former shop owner Penny Gravias from Dekoda boutique in Eltham. After many successful years in retail Penny decided it was time to close the doors of her women’s clothing boutique. Fortunately, she had heard about FICE through Cire’s Chief Executive Officer, Gus Seremetis, and kindly offered to help fit out our new space. FICE coordinator Renee Cooke met Penny at her shop and loaded up the items that she no longer needed but didn’t want to end up in land-fill. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and aligns perfectly with FICE’s ethos of recycling fashion and sustainability.

The FICE space at Yarra Junction has truly come alive as an inviting place to shop, browse, pick up a bargain, have a friendly chat with staff and volunteers and even learn more about the Community Hub and other Cire services throughout the region. A sincere thank you to Penny and her act of generosity in helping make the dream of a YJ FICE become a reality.

YJ FICE is open Monday to Friday from 9 to 5pm, simply enter through the pink door.

Work experience and volunteer opportunities are now available at both FICE locations at Yarra Junction and Mooroolbark

Donations of good quality women’s clothing are accepted at FICE Yarra Junction, and Mooroolbark, Chirnside Park Community Hub and Cire’s Lilydale office. Please leave donations during office hours so Cire can thank you personally.

Finds us:

@firstimpresssionsclothingexchange on Facebook

@firstimpressionsclothes on Instagram




What’s happening at the hubs

Yarra Junction Community Hub – Monthly Blog Update (July 2021)

Just when we thought we were out of all the madness that June provided with Lockdown 4.0 and the storms that wreaked havoc on our town, Lockdown 5.0 was thrust upon us in July – but that didn’t stop our Yarra Junction Community Hub from having a great month!

The month started with our School Holiday Program, where we saw local school kids come and enjoy various activities including Jewellery Painting, Acrylic Fluid Art Classes, and the Lego Lock-In Creative Workshop.

Jewellery Painting consisted of kids painting various pieces with bright and sparkly nail polish that could then be made into necklaces, earrings, or even hair clips. It was so great to see them all show off their fancy bling when they were finished; they looked and felt fabulous! Next up we had the Acrylic Fluid Art, which turned the kids into talented artists. Using canvas and a special acrylic pouring medium, participants created works of art that left them so incredibly proud to show off their artistic creations, with one girl even capturing the beach by using blue and yellow paints – it was hard to believe that under 13yo’s produced such beautiful masterpieces! Lastly, we had the Lego Lock-In workshop, where our qualified youth worker and placement students helped like-minded kids in creating Lego masterpieces and build engineering challenges, with lunch and snacks provided – super fun and mentally challenging workshop for all!

Throughout the second week of the holidays, we celebrated NAIDOC weeks Heal Country!, where one of our Hub rooms were completely transformed into a gallery display that featured informative, cultural posters and original Indigenous First Nations Artwork. We also set up interactive activities around the room that included living native plants that could be touched and researched to see how Indigenous people’s use/d them, colouring-in activities and competition, worksheets, historical location map scouting activities, translation sheets, and a published Indigenous book about our local area that was also available for sale. We also hosted an Indigenous morning tea on the Thursday where the colouring competition winner was announced, and community members could indulge in homemade goodies including wattle seed damper, lemon myrtle biscuits, lemon shortbread, and dairy-free/gluten-free shortbread. The entire week was a great success with over 50 community members participating in the events, two pieces of artwork were sold, and all of the published books were also sold within a couple of hours. We can’t wait for NAIDOC week 2022!

Lastly, you may have noticed our maintenance crew in the hub this month. We are working on something very exciting for you all and we should be due to share it with our community early next month. Want a clue? How about, dressed for success! Keep an eye on our hub for more information or better yet, pop in and say hi and take a look for yourself.

As we wrap up for the month we reflect back on the community spirit and true nature of what it is to be in a rural town, seeing locals enjoy every moment that they can despite the hardships around, and in coming together and helping each other through the difficulties that are faced with Lockdowns and storm cleanups. Nothing can dampen the spirits of the locals, and we are looking forward to hosting more activities for everyone to enjoy!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with what’s happening at the hub.

NAIDOC Week 2020: ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’

NAIDOC Week 2020: ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’

NAIDOC Week 2020 Coordinator Naomi Taylor

Cire recently reached out to all those within our reach for NAIDOC Week 2020, honouring the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year’s theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ inspired great discussions about how privileged we are to live, work and play in a region so rich in Indigenous history, culture and connections.

Cire Community Hubs organised an engaging mix of activities to acknowledge and share Indigenous culture with some activities highlighted on our social media pages.  The Hubs team rose to the challenge of COVID restrictions to modify its original plans for face-to-face events for virtual delivery where necessary.

Toddlers at Cire Children’s Centre, Yarra Junction learned about bush tucker.  Freezing Australian mint into ice cubes created a great sensory activity for the children to explore through touch and smell.

Thanks to funding from The National Indigenous Australians Agency the Hubs team created a video featuring family-focused activities to celebrate the rich culture of Indigenous people in the Yarra Ranges and timeless connection with Birrarung (Yarra River).

Wattleseed Biscuits

Wattleseed Biscuits

With wonderful bush tucker ingredients and recipes from Murnong Mammas, we baked Wattleseed Biscuits, with Hub Coordinator, Naomi filming the process for viewers to follow at home.

We also worked with Indigenous educator, Emily Webbers from Wurruck Yambo to introduce some of the wildlife who call Birrarung home. This segment incorporated Emily’s many resources, recreating the river, the banks and the trees. We learned some local language and the ways that history intertwines with the environment through every animal and plant.

Ivor Wolstencroft

Ivor Wolstencroft

Ivor Wolstencroft, a Yarra Ranges local, shared his kayaking journey along most of the meandering length of the Yarra River.  Over 13 days, Ivor voyaged from Warburton to Williamstown in an inflatable kayak, experiencing a unique perspective of Birrarung.  The birdlife was a recurring interest along the way, so much so that Ivor created an artwork featuring a Sacred Kingfisher who he ‘met’ on his trip.

Cire’s NAIDOC Week video reminded everyone that our local area always was, and always will be an incredibly beautiful and significant part of Australia and its history.  We acknowledge and thank the traditional custodians, and we look forward to walking together towards a future of respectful curiosity and knowledge sharing.

For those keen to learn more about the Indigenous influence in our region, Yarra Ranges Council has prepared a podcast with Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Dave Wandin discussing land management.

Brief return flags much to look forward to

As we remain in Stage 4 lockdown, navigating ongoing Covid19 restrictions, we are certainly grateful for our brief return to Cire Community Hubs in June.
Our brief time back in the Hubs was boosted by our added confidence, knowing how well we adapt to ensure our team is available for our community whatever the challenges. We know our services and support are an important part of community life, and the past eight months have highlighted how critical it is for all to feel and be connected.
When the Hubs closed in March, we knew that we would have to be innovative to find ways to help people still feel connected. Initially, we simply used email and phone – the ‘new world’ of isolation was going to bring new challenges for a lot of us, and we wanted to establish points of contact with as many people as possible.

Lock-down-LegoAs we settled into operating remotely, we supported groups to transfer to online platforms such as our Craft group transitioning to Zoom. We also introduced our Lockdown Lego’ group in April, to provide a constructive space for families to connect with each other.

When restrictions began to ease at the end of May, our team held a collective breath waiting for news of CommunityHouses reopening. With each announcement came more optimism that Term 3 may see us back in the Hub doing what we love. Community Houses were permitted to open from June 1, and once again, we found ourselves pivoting to accommodate this change of plans. Distancing rules of 4m2 per person and keeping 1.5m apart meant that we had to revise our room hire options, looking at floorplans and layouts to maximise our options. We worked with facilitators and participants to support them to safely return to the Hub as soon as possible. Highlights include having the Fit 4 Life group excitedly return for their face-to-face sessions and hosting the first week of holiday activities, giving children a chance to have fun with their peers.
During our brief return to the Hub, we also saw an increase in ‘drop-ins’, with locals coming in to check out what we do. It was great to see some new faces, and we look forward to welcoming everyone again when we can. Once restrictions begin to ease back, we will be working to encourage people to consider participating in our in-Hub activities. We proudly offer a safe place where everyone is welcome, and we know that people will need this, more than ever before.

This year has brought challenges for many. It has also given us opportunities to learn new skills and revaluate what we want the ‘new normal’ to look like for ourselves, our families and our community. We can’t wait to return to the Hubs (again!). We’ve done it before, and we know we can do it again. We will continue to be there for you, remotely and in-person, doing whatever we can to support you during this period and into a positive future with so much to look forward to.

Naomi Taylor, Cire Chirnside Park Community Hub Coordinator

Welcome to Term 3 – Chirnside Community Hub

Welcome to issue #8 of OurHub term 3 Guide. As you can see we’ve moved to an online version for Term 3. Don’t worry the much loved printed version will be back for Term 4, and we will also continue to deliver this online for those of you who prefer to check out what’s on offer on your phone or tablet (it’s even better for our beloved planet).

What a whirlwind the last three months have been for not only for our community but for all communities worldwide. We have had to learn to adapt to many changes in our day-to-day routines with everything but essential services closed. For me, these changes meant that I had to adapt to working from home, homeschooling four children and being thrown into the world of virtual meetings and catch-ups. Reflecting on the past few months, I am really grateful for the experience as it has given me the opportunity to spend quality time with my family, enjoy a slower pace of life and gain the confidence that I can adapt to any situation and come out stronger.

We closed the Hubs on 23rd March and I was very unsure of how I was going to support the community and provide courses and programs, without being able to deliver them in the centre. I am very grateful for my amazing team and together we kept coming up with innovative ideas to support the community. Our Fit 4 Life program was the first to be delivered via Zoom and with the members that did not have access to technology, we sent them an exercise DVD and exercise information sheets. We connected our Wednesday morning craft group together on Zoom, and despite some technical challenges, with patience and persistence, we got there in the end. The weekly catch-ups have kept the ladies feeling connected during this isolating time.

Some of the other programs that went virtual included our Book and Movie Club which meets on the last Wednesday of the month and Majickal Belly Dancing launched a four-week course. Friday Night Live, a program created by our placement students from Box Hill Institute of TAFE, welcomed guest speakers each week and incorporated a question and answer section at the end. Guest speakers included Patrick Boucher and Danny Field from Yarra Ranges TV, David Shepard a Tai Chi instructor, and Emily Webbers, an Indigenous educator.

Two weeks before closed our Hubs, we welcomed Naomi to our team as the Chirnside Park Community Hub Coordinator (pictured above left). You may have already seen her on our weekly Cuppa and Chat sessions on our Facebook page, where she has kept us updated with what is going on at the Hubs. Naomi started the hugely successful Lock Down Lego Challenge on Facebook, reaching around 800 members. The group was created and new challenges were set up daily to engage families to get creative and build Lego. Due to the success of this group we are excited to be launching our Lego Group at both our hubs.

Level Up is unlikely to return to the Hubs in Term 3, or while limits on social gatherings are still in place. Level Up is extremely important for our young people however, we do not want to create a situation where some young people may need to be excluded from our programs. We are eager for Level Up to return as soon as we are able to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all. Gamers Lounge transitioned to an online format in May and will continue to do so for Term 3. Those interested in becoming involved can do so by joining our Facebook group.

We look forward to welcoming you back to our Hub and as always, please feel free to stop in for a cuppa and chat and let us know what you would like to see in our programming.

If you would like to subscribe simply click the Sign Up! button above.

Enjoy OurHubs online
Jenelle Strachan – Manager – Cire Community Hubs



Amazing virtual makeover for Training & Hubs

Cire Training and Hubs (T&H) has reached new and innovative heights in service delivery during the COVID-19 restrictions, highlighting its expertise and commitment to offering flexible teaching and learning opportunities to people of all ages.

Whilst the physical sites have been closed, much has been happening in the cyber world with T&H rapidly embracing the challenge to deliver online and providing learners with extra support where necessary.

 “It has been fantastic to see how quickly we have been able to adapt to successfully deliver training online, and find ways to continue to support our students and broader community virtually across all of our services. This is a testament not only to our trainers and support staff, but also our students who have been working closely with us to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said Laura Shortis, Executive Manager of T&H.

“We have even seen higher levels of engagement among some people with our flexible delivery to enable learners to continue with, or commence their studies and be engaged and connected.”

A standout has been First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE),  which grew out of Cire’s Women’s Warehouse and has been creating all kinds of COVID-19 restriction ‘inspired’ records.

FICE provides long-term unemployed and financially disadvantaged and vulnerable women with access to quality and affordable clothing, on-the-job-training through its Mooroolbark shop, together with a broad range of teaching and learning opportunities and other supports.

With its shop closed, FICE has undergone its own makeover with a vengeance reaching more than 10,000 people through social media platforms. It is planning to continue the online sessions post COVID-19 to foster an ongoing connection with the broader community and complement Cire’s face-to-face learning platforms.

With engagement of over 7,000 and videos views at 7,400, the digital campaigns are playing an integral part in keeping the community up-to-date and providing practical assistance on finances, accessing material aids such as food, bill paying and providing advice on job searching and applications. Sessions have also been expanded to assist people to update resumes and cover letters in anticipation of the job market reopening.

FICE is confident that it will connect face-to-face with approximately 100 women a week when its shop reopens while its virtual reach will be many thousands a week.

Other initiatives from Cire Training and Hubs include:

  • Training’s pre-accredited and accredited courses have moved online with great results in terms of attendance and feedback from students.  Training has worked closely with those experiencing online learning challenges such as limited access to technology and resources and provided tailored support where needed.  The success of the transition in such a short period of time is a true testament to the dedication and expertise across the training team.  Expressions of interest are being invited for Cert III Individual Support and Cert IV Education Support, both starting in July (Term 3).  The style of delivery will be determined on restrictions at the time.
  • Smart Money has been delivered virtually for the first time and has been well received. Cire’s pre-accredited team has been providing additional support to small businesses given the current environment.  Small Business Hub is offering a special discounted membership fee for those joining the pandemic.
  • Community Hub programs online. Using Zoom for the Fit 4 Life seniors exercise class and weekly craft group has been extremely successful.  We have also been trialling new initiatives such as the Lego Lockdown Challenge and Minecraft competition.
  • Hub staff are volunteering with the CHAOS Chatline to assist those in the community who are reaching out for connection and support during this challenging time.
  • For the more vulnerable, Cire has distributed items such as Quilton toilet paper from Good360 which distributes new and surplus goods donated by its network of Australian manufacturers and businesses. While the FICE shop has been closed, there has been much online delivery of services and support such as virtual ‘Frock up Fridays’ with Good360 pamper products as prizes, and a Zoom makeup session with donated L’Oreal makeup packs for participants.

Laura said the feedback from learners has made worthwhile all the hard work in embracing change so quickly and overcoming the challenges along the way.

The following helps capture the appreciation:

“It is fantastic to do all these exercises online with others.  You still get the community feel even in isolation. It is so nice to see other people we used to see all the time, plus it actually makes sure we do exercise and do it properly with supervision. Great fun for all” – Julie, Fit 4 Life participant

“I have enjoyed studying online as it gives me the flexibility to study from home and enables me to perform my family commitments. The workload is manageable and my teacher is easy to get in touch with and flexible in providing extra support when required” – Gavin, Certificate IV Education Support student (pitured above)

“I never thought I would enjoy learning about superannuation so much! Sue steers you through the confusing world of superannuation, with clear, informed and easy to follow teaching. The course is well thought out with the different aspects uncovered in each session, Sue takes the time so you truly understand what it is you are learning, I feel so much more confident and empowered in understanding my superannuation – thanks for such a fabulous course” – Alexandra, Smart Money attendee

Students and trainers have embraced the changes during this challenging time, as seen in this video for a Kitchen Kaos.

The Training and Hubs team are excited to be able to welcome people back to both the Yarra Junction and Chirnside Park Community Hubs following the announcement of the easing of restrictions. Both hubs will be re-opening on the 1st of June and will be resuming standard programs and services as the restrictions allow.

If you have any questions please contact us via email or call 1300 835 235