FICE perfect fit for volunteer Trisha

Volunteering at Cire’s First Impressions Clothing Exchange at Yarra Junction has proven to be a perfect fit for Trisha Rowe.
It has given her an unexpected and most welcome new “lease of life” – so much so that she is keen to share her experience and encourage others to consider using their spare time to contribute to their community.

People like Trisha make it possible for Cire Services to reach out to those who need assistance throughout the Yarra Ranges and beyond. They contribute thousands of volunteer hours each year to support Cire programs and services, particularly FICE at Yarra Junction and Mooroolbark and Cire Community Hubs at Yarra Junction and Chirnside Park.
In the following interview, Trisha from Yarra Junction shares her FICE journey to date.

How did you first become involved with Cire and (FICE) First Impressions clothing exchange?
After retiring, I gradually lost motivation; I knew it would be too late if I didn’t do something soon. I needed to do something for myself; my general health and mental health were starting to suffer. I saw the volunteer board out the front of Cire, so I popped into the hub and was greeted by the bubbly and very friendly Nicole; she told me all about FICE. I also wanted to brush up on my knowledge of computers and technology. I later met Renee, and before long, I was on my way.
What makes this program special?

When I first walked in the door, Nicole, the Yarra Junction Community Hub customer service officer, told me about Cire and FICE. I was hesitant and thought I would come back later, but thought – no, I’m going to do this! Everybody I have met through the hub and FICE has given me something, just talking to people, interacting and laughing; when I walk out of FICE and the hub, I feel really good.

How has the program supported you with your personal goals?
I have some health issues, and some days I struggle to get out of bed and the house, but volunteering at FICE, attending tech hub classes and now becoming a part of the craft group, I now have a purpose. This has allowed me to challenge and push myself within my own personal boundaries and feel supported and encouraged along the way.

How important was this additional support in your success?
Everyone at FICE and Yarra Junction Community Hub has been so supportive. Nicole is just this bubbly warm person who genuinely cares. Raymond is gorgeous, and Cohen in Tech Hub is so helpful too. The hugs you get if you’re not feeling the best, well, they are the best. The team at Cire really listen and value your opinion. I’m taken for who and what I am.

Any last words on the FICE program?
Just do it; you’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve gained more myself personally from coming here weekly. The ladies that come here to shop, we talk and laugh. It’s the best thing as everyone is so lovely and friendly. FICE and Cire fill the void that was there.

Click here to learn more about volunteering at FICE.

Cire named key Victorian charity partner

Leading Australian not-for-profit, Good360 has named Cire as one of its key Victorian charity partners.Cire named key Victorian charity partner

The honour highlights the strong relationship the two organisations have developed since Cire joined the Good360 network in October 2019.

Good360 is a matchmaker, helping Australian companies and manufacturers to channel their surplus new products to charities who can assist with grassroots distribution to those most in need.

Rather than add to landfill, Good360 aims to help repurpose $1 billion of brand new goods to Australians in need by 2025. Good360’s approach aligns directly with Cire’s core values including our 2022 theme of Sustainability.

Good360’s partnership manager for Victoria and Tasmania, Liz Henderson, said Cire is recognised as one of Good360’s key Victorian charity partners because of its agile and strategic approach in supporting its diverse range of services, and the people of all ages within their reach in the Yarra Ranges and beyond.

“Cire maximises Good360’s product opportunities despite varying levels of logistical challenges such as storage and physical distribution in order to ensure those most in need benefit,” said Liz.

“It is an absolute pleasure working with a partner like Cire who has such a responsive approach and professional attitude for the greater good.”

Cire named key Victorian charity partnerIn fortuitous timing, Cire joined Good360 just before the Covid pandemic emerged. Since October 2019, Cire has been able to distribute surplus new goods valued at RRP $100,000s ranging from educational toys and equipment, Lego and nappies to cosmetics, clothing to hand sanitiser, face masks and antibacterial products, and even a truckload of toilet paper during pandemic panic buying. Unable to have stalls for Mother’s/Father’s/Special Person’s days and other special occasions, Cire Early Learning has been able to help children make up gift packs of Good360 items to give to the special people in their lives.

In July 2020, Cire was thrilled to be named Good360s Member of the Month.

Since it was launched in 2015, Good360 has received goods valued at RRP$222.3m from Australian companies with 26,903,782 items distributed through a network of 3086 not-for-profits and schools throughout Australia and collected numerous sector awards along the way.

Get Online Week a winner for all

While Cire had hoped to deliver its recent Get Online Week (GOLW) activities face-to-face, the Be Connected-funded initiative had to be modified for virtual delivery.

Given that Be Connected is an Australia-wide initiative to empower all Australians, particularly seniors, to thrive in a digital world, the virtual GOLW was a fun opportunity for even further skills and confidence building.

Cire Community Hubs initially planned to host events and Be Connected information sessions at Chirnside Park, Yarra Junction and Lilydale.
The revised format comprised a trivia session, a walk through the myGov site and how to use it, followed by bingo with information on social media. Enthusiasm-charged participants joined both.
The trivia group thoroughly enjoyed the topics, which focused on celebrities, technology, fashion, and music from the 1950s to the late 1980s. There were three rounds of trivia in between a two-part presentation on myGov.

For the bingo, bingo sheets were delivered (in a Covid-safe manner) to all those who had registered, adding an additional element of fun to the event.
In preparation for the Be Connected events, visually engaging PowerPoint presentations were created on the focus topics – myGov and social media – which were selected from the Be Connected resource library.
Social media looked at how to create accounts on three of the most popular platforms used by seniors (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), and how to stay safe. Over the past two years, social media has been used more than ever, as it was the only way to stay connected with family and friends during Covid lockdowns. As a result of high use, the number of social media scams and viruses spiralled. The Cire session focused on how to find settings, ensure accounts are secure, and how to identify scams and viruses.
The myGov session addressed how to set up an account and how to link government services. This was greatly received as many seniors do not have myGov accounts or know how to navigate them, which results in having to spend more time accessing services to get the required information.
Participant feedback conveyed how excited, and appreciative everyone was that events were not cancelled but held online, providing them with a w chance to socialise.

Hubs Manager Jenelle Strachan said the level of social interaction was wonderful. Many of the participants did not know each other before the events but willingly connected, had a laugh, and established friendships.
Throughout the sessions, participants asked questions that showed they were generally interested in the chosen topics and requested copies of the presentations to refer to the information and have the details on how to sign up to Be Connected. It was great to see that participants were eager to create Be Connected accounts to access further learning modules.

Youth award honours Rosie’s service to community

Cire Community School student Rosie Hellicar, who is passionate about the importance of the Arts to overall health and wellbeing, has been recognised by the Warburton Yarra Junction Community Bank for her inspiring service to the community.

The 17-year-old was a special guest at the bank’s recent AGM where she was officially named the 2021 recipient of the Ian De La Rue Youth Initiative Award which acknowledges a local young person’s positive contributions to their community.

Rosie was overwhelmed to receive the $1000 award and, in true form, plans to use the money to fund a VET Certificate III Music Industry (specialising in Performance) to further help the community.

Rosie believes investing in her education is investing in the local community and will benefit many more young people than just herself.

“A Cert III Music Industry would mean I could run my own program for people who can’t afford a course like this.”

The Ian De La Rue Youth award acknowledges Rosie’s community involvements and achievements including:

  • The Warburton-based MISFIT theatre project creates opportunities for youth development and empowerment, giving young people in the Upper Yarra particularly a voice and a place to belong Rosie is an assistant and has co-directed shows in the past.
  • Koha Café. Koha brings people together who might not otherwise be able to provide food for their family. Rosie helps out as a volunteer.
  • Rosie has volunteered as a disability support worker, attending camps and day activities helping children with disabilities participate in the program

In nominating Rosie for the award, teacher Kelly Taylor stated:

Rosie is truly deserving of this award because of her unwavering philosophy of service to others and the community. She is a true role model to so many other young people, having overcome many challenges in her 17 years. She is wise beyond her years

The work Rosie does to better her community has given her a sense of purpose and belonging and has enabled her to grow into the young woman she is today. Rosie takes on roles and responsibilities that are beyond her years and always has a smile on her face. She is more than capable of anything she sets her mind to.

Rosie would never self-promote herself or her abilities and always puts the needs of others first. With a quiet and shy disposition, Rosie avoids attention but her contributions and effort are worth recognising as she inspires other young people in the Yarra Valley to be true to themselves and have a sense of purpose by giving back.

With a calm and supportive demeanour, Rosie engages easily with the young people in the programs in which she is involved. Through her own lived experience, she knows how drama and music help overall health and mental wellbeing. She draws on her own experiences to help others initiate the changes they need to make to move forward with optimism and purpose and self-esteem.

Rosie has made positive contributions to her community and will continue to do so because of her giving and selfless nature. Rosie is involved in and attends many different programs and volunteers her time on youth camps and other activities. Rosie is kind and supportive and any young person attending these camps or programs would feel loved and accepted by Rosie without any judgement.

The $1000 Ian De La Rue Youth Initiative Award was first made in 2012 to honour the memory of the late Ian De La Rue OAM, first Chairman of the Warburton Community Bank and a member of the Steering Committee.  It is presented in the spirit of his commitment to community, and his passion for encouraging young people to strive for excellence and to be active in and contribute to their local community.

The activities and passions of award recipients are varied but they all help to strengthen and better the local community.

Ian was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his community service, in the Australia Day Honours List, 26 January 2008 (the year after he passed away).

Photo: Rosie hugs an avocado pillow – she loves avocados

Vote for Good360 CEO to show our thanks

Cire and all those within our reach benefit enormously from the generosity of the Good360 network and now’s the time to show our thanks.

Good360 founder and CEO Alison Covington is a finalist in the prestigious Third Sector 2021 CEO of the Year Awards and every vote counts. It’d be great if we could all show our support, and appreciation, by voting for Alison below. Voting closes on Friday.

Good360 is a not-for-profit that helps repurpose items of value and surplus new goods to Australians who need them most. The goods come from Australian companies and manufacturers with Good360 operating as a matchmaker with registered NFPs like Cire to assist with distribution. Driven by a philosophy that one person’s extra is another person’s essential, Good360’s goal is to also ensure that nothing new and useful lies unused or goes to landfills. By 2025, it is hoped that $1 billion of new goods will be delivered to Australians in need.

Those within Cire’s reach have benefitted enormously with goods valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars distributed through Cire Early Learning, Cire Training and Hubs, our Community School, and First Impressions Clothing Exchange. Items have included Lego, Jamie Oliver kitchenware, LÓreal products, clothing, footwear and accessories from companies like Big W Lilydale and Yarra Trail, hand sanitiser, face masks and anti-bacterial cleaning products, and gift packs for people of all ages.

Click here to learn more about Good360 and how they can support NFPs and registered charities.

Hospitality Jump Start for Jobs success story

An innovative and hands-on job skills program has ignited a passion for Yarra Ranges hospitality and tourism for Damien Bongouvert and provided him with much to hone and look forward to when the region re-opens to the hundreds of thousands of visitors it normally welcomes each year.

The 23-year-old has already applied some of his new expertise at his uncle’s vineyard and restaurant at Seville and equally importantly the opportunity has provided him with the confidence and pathway to secure an on-site traineeship in hospitality.

‘I never imagined I would have had these kinds of opportunities when I moved to Australia,’ said Damien who has been working at Killara Estate since arriving from France at the start of the year,  but only after his mandatory two week’s hotel quarantine.

During a timely out-of-lockdown period, the 23-year-old enthusiastically participated in the Hospitality Jump Start for Jobs program, a joint initiative between Yarra Ranges Council, Cire Services and Box Hill Institute Lilydale. He then had a window just before the current lockdown to apply his new front-of-house skills at Killara’s restaurant and was delighted by just how much he had learned.

“The course was totally hands on, covering barista training, food and beverage skills and customer service and responsible serving of alcohol (RSA). The skills are so important to have in any restaurant setting and I was really proud to use them confidently at Killara,” said Damien.

“As part of the front-of-house course Cire had a pop-up cafe day where we served lunch prepared by Kitchen Skills students.  It was great experience and also a fun way to apply our learning.”

Manager of the Killara Estate restaurant, Kevin Sheehan said Damien had really benefitted from the Jump Start for Jobs program with a new level of competence and knowledge of the sector, and confidence. Kevin described the Jump Start for Jobs program as a great initiative to help the region’s hospitality and tourism sector rebound from COVID.

“The impact of COVID has been devastating and it is vital that we draw on everything we can to work towards a great future,” Kevin said.

The Hospitality Jump Start for Jobs program comprises two face-to-face training courses focusing on Front of House and Kitchen Skills to help local people learn the essential skills most needed by the region’s hospitality and tourism sector.  Each of the week-long courses is free to those who are unemployed or underemployed and include certificate level components such as RSA. Front of House is conveniently delivered by Cire Training at Cire’s Chirnside Park Community Hub and Kitchen Skills at Box Hill Lilydale’s lakeside campus.

Keen to build a life for himself in Australia, Damien initially consulted a careers advisor at Box Hill Institute Lilydale who recommended Jump Start for Jobs and then the traineeship.

“It was a perfect fit because I was already working for my uncle and wanted to improve my skills and what I could contribute to the business,” said Damien adding that Killara’s restaurant can seat up to 120 people.

“Everyone in the program has been so helpful and encouraging.”

With an Ozzie mum and French father, Damien is from Perpignan at the foot of the Pyrenees and the last major French city before the Spanish border. Damien has often visited Australia to catch up with relatives and particularly loves the Yarra Valley and “the stunning views from Killara Estate”.  He is excited to be upskilling to help the region’s hospitality and tourism sector rebound from COVID.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Fiona McAllister said:  “Hospitality and tourism businesses are at the heart of our Yarra Ranges lifestyle and economy. Our cafés, restaurants, vineyards, gardens and other attractions draw thousands of visitors to the hills and valleys, and makes our region such a vibrant place to live.

“Having local training providers like Cire and Box Hill Institute means that community members can learn skills locally, then put their hands up for jobs locally and put those skills to the test.”

Due to on-going lockdowns, local businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry have had to stand down employees, many of whom have sought alternative jobs where possible. The Hospitality Jump Start for Jobs program helps boost confidence in the sector that they will have access to local staff with appropriate skills when the sector re-opens.

According to Victorian Government pre-COVID statistics, tourism in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges was estimated to be worth $778 million in 2018/19, representing 7.8 per cent of the region’s economy. It generated employment of approximately 9,300 people, 9.1 per cent of the region’s employment, directly and indirectly.

The Yarra Valley and Dandenong ranges is the second largest tourist destination in Victoria outside of Melbourne with approx. 6.6 million international and domestic visitors in a normal year.

Kahoot fun for Adult Learners Week

Cire Everyday Learners celebrated Adult Learning Week with our students and staff on Monday, September 6 2021. Lockdowns weren’t enough to stop us from gathering together online, with a bake-off and Kahoot quiz that was enjoyed by all. Learners who participated are part of our Everyday Learning pre-accredited program, which runs courses five days a week at our Lilydale and Chirnside Park sites (or online during lockdowns). With classes ranging from Kitchen Kaos to Smart Money, these learners benefit from a wide range of educational options tailored for adults.

Students in Friday’s Explore the World Around Me class developed a Kahoot quiz of trivia questions based on their own interests. They then presented those questions to other students and staff who joined us online on Monday, September 6. Players were able to answer the questions on their own phones/devices and a final tally of answers kept us all on our toes!   Congratulations to new Reconnect Case Worker Marli Wilson for taking top prize in the Kahoot!

While students presented their Kahoot, pre-accredited staff led the group in a bake-off where we all made muffins simultaneously in our own kitchens. We had a really interesting discussion about baking substitutions, dietary requirements and how to save a recipe-gone-wrong!  We all learned something and had a good laugh along the way.   Thank you to everyone who participated!

This year’s Adult Learning Week is based around the theme “Change Your Story”.  Here is what learner Robyn had to say on that theme:  “Cire’s Everyday Learning classes give me opportunities to be able to do the things I want to learn and persevere at, and to gain independence.”

From the Adult Learners Week official website:

Adult Learners Week is celebrated at the beginning of Spring with hundreds of events and activities promoting the benefits of learning. There are so many opportunities to learn available across Australia.

Adult Learners Week is a UNESCO initiative supported in Australia by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment and coordinated by Adult Learning Australia. Adult Learners Week runs from 1–8 September and incorporates International Literacy Day, which is celebrated annually on September 8.

Adult Learners Week in Australia is part of an international festival of adult learning.

The move to create a broad celebration of adult learning began with the American Association for the Advancement of Education (AAAE) in the late 1980s. In 1990, governments met in Jomtien for the Education for All world conference. The aim of this conference was to set goals for:

  • universal access to and completion of primary education
  • reducing the adult illiteracy rate to one half its 1990 level by 2000. Click here for further information on the adult literacy day.

For further information on our pre-accredited courses, including our Everyday Learning courses, please visit our Everyday Learning webpage.

Lilydale Toastmasters welcome Cire recruits

Lilydale Toastmasters is the latest example of how Cire loves connecting with groups and organisations to help people be their best selves and contribute to building stronger communities.

In an unusual twist, our Toastmaster collaboration is achieving exciting outcomes for our own teams which will indeed benefit the wider community we endeavour to empower and support.

Lilydale Toastmasters recently offered memberships to Cire Services, thanks to a generous sponsor.  There was great interest across Cire’s teams resulting in Maddie Lowrie, Director of Cire Early Learning (formerly Cire Children’s Services) Mount Evelyn and Naomi Taylor, Business Development Officer with Cire Training enthusiastically accepting the invitation.

The opportunity was made possible by Harriet Shing, Labor Member for Eastern Victoria Region, who provided the sponsorships to introduce new members to the Lilydale Toastmasters.  As a former member of the group, Harriet fully appreciates the value of Toastmasters for participants. Harriet’s commitment to encouraging others to consider joining will contribute to the ongoing longevity of the organisation, and the broader contribution it makes to our community.  Members often work with other groups to share their knowledge and experience.  One example of this is a representative joining Cire’s Small Business Hub for a session in the coming weeks.

The introduction on its Facebook page describes Lilydale Toastmasters as

“A diverse group of people with the common aim of becoming better communicators and leaders”.

Working on the premise that people learn in moments of enjoyment, Lilydale Toastmasters has gained a reputation as vibrant and successful.

This has certainly been the experience of Maddie and Naomi.  While their motives for joining are based on further developing communication and leadership skills, both have noted their increased confidence.

In reflecting on her experiences in joining Lilydale Toastmasters, Naomi says:

“Joining a new group, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone, can be challenging at the best of times, but then adding public speaking makes it so much more daunting.  This has been a great experience though and, as Maddie agrees, the members have been extremely welcoming.  Everyone has made an effort to help me feel comfortable and confident to join in, at whatever level I’m keen to do so.”

With the club celebrating its 40th year, members enjoy the long-standing friendships and network connections they have made.  One sign of respect is the group’s “Patrick Owl” Award in honour of a highly regarded member.

Current president Joy Harte, comments:

“We are a friendly bunch keen to share our knowledge. We try to make our meetings educational, but enjoyable. Every time you attend a meeting we hope you leave feeling empowered and more in control of those nerves that can make public speaking a challenge.”

This sentiment is echoed by Naomi, who agrees “if you’re keen to gain confidence in public speaking then Lilydale Toastmasters is the place to do it”.

If you’d like to learn more, head to the group’s website.

First Aid skills critical for all ages

First Aid saves lives, making it an essential skill set for people of all ages, as you never know when you may it may be needed.

To extend the safety nets within our communities and to put into action 2021 World First Aid Day’s theme of “First Aid in Schools”, Naomi Taylor from Cire Training recently met with Peter Beams, one of our valued trainers, to discuss how children and young people particularly can be equipped with a basic skills ‘toolkit’.

Peter, who has previously shared first aid tips with staff and children at Cire Early Learning centres and local primary schools, emphasised that each child is different, and parents and carers should use messaging that best align with their family’s language.

Some of Peter’s key tips and advice include:

Calling 000: Teaching children how to call for help is a great way of including them in a safety plan.  Basic information like how to utilise the “Emergency Call” option on a locked mobile phone, could save crucial minutes.  Learning your address, or having details somewhere children can see them, will also help in an emergency, but this can be age-appropriate.

Finding someone unconscious: Most people know ‘DRSABCD’, or some variation of it, however Peter reminds us that any action is better than nothing.  If you (or your child) encounter someone who is unresponsive, simply rolling them on to their side, and tilting their head back can be the key to saving their life.  Call 000 as soon as possible. As a refresher, DRSABCD is an acronym for Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Defibrillation

Nose bleeds: It is now considered best practice to have the patient bend their head forward slightly (not back, as previously encouraged).  If available, add a cold washer or ice pack to the back of the neck.

Choking: If someone is coughing, they should continue to do so, as this is the body trying to dislodge the blockage.  If the coughing ceases, lean the patient forward and administer back blows in an upward motion to assist them.

Peter’s information prompted Naomi to reflect on her real-life experience with First Aid; “When he was a toddler, my son tried to eat a full apricot and started choking on the pip. Fortunately, I was able to react promptly by laying him over my knee and giving him some back blows to help him cough it out.  I never thought I’d need to use this knowledge, but I am so thankful that I had learnt it.”

As research and knowledge improves, so do the recommendations for various treatments. It is best to refresh First Aid skills every three years and CPR education every 12 months, at least, to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

Cire offers a range of training options, from our “First Aid Fast” sessions targeting parents and others who care for children. We also have a series of accredited short courses, from the base level, to the additional skills needed for those working in an education or care settings.  Individualised training can also be arranged for groups and businesses.

For more information visit the Cire Training website.