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.

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

Our trip to Africa

This month our early learning educators have been coming up with some really creative ways for children to learn through interactive play. One that stands out is the airport they set up with the children to teach them about travel.  This was inspired by a recent holiday that one of the children had been on with their family. Through their experience, we extended and created our very own aeroplane that could take the children on their very own holiday. The children used an old box and sat down as a group and painted the box using brushes, their hands and even their feet! The children really enjoyed the sensory experience as well expressing their creativity!

Once the box was dry we went on to add different pieces our plane was missing, through group discussions, we talked about what our plane needed. We discovered we needed wings as well as engines to fly our plane. We then set off to find a pilot for our plane, which we found and was named appropriately by the children “gorilla pilot”.

We hung our aeroplane from the ceiling and the children were very excited and enthusiastic to show their achievement to their families as they came to pick them up that day.

“The plane is flying”- Ollie.D

One of our toddlers Ash asked, “Taylor, where is our plane going to fly?” This sparked our conversation and curiosity about our world. We went over to our map and Taylor asked Ash “where do you think the plane is going to fly today?” He looked at the map and pointed to Africa. We used our iPad to look up Africa on the map and to see what we could find in Africa. This generated an abundance of interest because Africa is full of exotic animals. Serengeti, which is located in Tanzania, was selected so the hunt was on to find animals that from that part of the world. Using our iPads we were able to locate and learn about the animals we found. We observed the animals and then everyone participated in discussions such as how they looked, what noises they made and other interesting facts. David Attenborough would have been impressed!

“The gazelle lives in the Serengeti in Africa”- Ash

The children became very curious about the animals that lived in Africa so we also set up a small world experience with African animals. Through these activities the children have been sharing knowledge with each other, has sparked their curiosity about the world and created new conversations and discussions about their findings.

Through our music and movement, we have also explored the sounds of Africa. The instruments came out and the children enjoyed listening to the different style of music and multicultural experiences were shared by all.

Through continuing on with our around the world project, the children are able to connect with and contribute to their world as well as showing they are confident and involved learners. This has also promoted a strong sense of identity as we have also discussed where in the world we live.

“I live in Australia” – Rhiver

Next week we plan to fly our plane to a new destination in the world. The children will decide where we go, what we expect to find there and what music is part of their culture. The fun continues through the learning at Cire Childen’s Services.

If you would like further information about Cire’s early learning programs, click here.

Back to Grass Roots Community Support

Exciting times ahead for the Upper Yarra region with the re-introduction of grass roots community engagement at Cire Services. In the coming months, Cire Services will be focussing on a new community house structure that aims to bring people together to connect, learn and contribute in their local areas. We will be providing locals with the opportunity to identify and address their own needs, to do something for themselves in order to develop and grow their own personal skill set and wellbeing. We welcome people from all walks of life and provide an approach that opens up opportunities for individuals to broaden and enrich their own experiences, in turn enriching their community.

Cire Community House will operate from the Yarra Junction office using a unique community development approach in order to engage, connect and develop community members. We aim to provide a safe learning and social environment where community members feel they belong, can meet new people and learn something enriching and new along the way. We will be a hub of fun activities that not only provide locals with an outlet to channel their passions, but a space where valuable life skills can also be learnt.

In order to develop a strong community offering, we want to provide exactly what the community wants and needs. So to kick off Cire’s new Community House we are seeking input from our local communities in the Upper Yarra to assist in developing ideas that will strengthen our community and lead to diverse and innovative outcomes.

Some of the activities and services recently developed in response to your needs are; community lunch, community events, health and wellbeing, numeracy and literacy, digital literacy, leisure and life style activities. Have you got any more ideas of what you’d like to see us deliver?

We invite you to join our first community lunch on Wednesday 3rd May; 12.30 to 2.30 pm at Upper Yarra Family Centre, 2444 Warburton Highway Yarra Junction. Bring with you your appetite and ideas to share. Please call 5967 1776 to book your seat click here Hoping to see you there




Shooting hoops set in concrete

New Basketball Court for Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) Yarra Junction

Cire Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) service at Yarra Junction will soon receive an upgrade to their basketball playing area due to the generosity of Upper Yarra Community Enterprise. The Community Enterprise operates the Yarra Junction and Warburton Bendigo Bank branches. Cire Family and Children’s Services Director, Lysa Smart, and Cire Sponsorship and Fundraising Coordinator, Amy Sheridan, attended the Upper Yarra Community Enterprise sponsorship presentation in Warburton recently to receive a cheque for this project to get underway at Cire’s Little Yarra Road campus.

“Providing funding for the basketball concrete pad was a great opportunity for us to support and encourage children to be outside and have fun while being active. The outside school hours program at Cire is an essential and high quality service to our community and it’s great to know the children will be now be able to play regardless of the weather, and on a flat surface. We’re sure there are many future stars among them.”Jaqui Hall Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise

Cire Family and Children’s Services was successful in receiving sponsorship to create a new concreted basketball area for the children. This project will encourage children to participate in being active and healthy after school, enhance social inclusion and team involvement; and also broaden their basketball skills. There is a huge emphasis on promoting physical activity in children these days so by providing them with a safe, fun space to run, play and stretch their legs means the children can continue to be encouraged by Cire educators to get active.

“Physical activity is such an important part of every child’s growth and encourages good modelling for later life in creating healthy lifestyles. Being that we care for children after school, it is important that we can provide these children with an appropriate space to get active.” Lysa Smart, Director Cire Family and Children’s Services Yarra Junction.

The importance of providing activities and space for children to be physically active means Cire staff can help promote health and development, improve cardiovascular fitness, improve balance, coordination and strength, as well as help further develop strong, healthy muscles, bones and joints; which is important to their overall growth. Interpersonal skills are developed and enhanced through participation in team sports.

Cire OSHC staff are so excited the children will be able to safely enjoy their ball sports once their new court has been constructed within the next couple of months. They can’t wait for this new space to be completed.

“Our aim was to provide a space for the children to continue to better their basketball skills and we are thrilled to be able to improve the space for the children to do this and improve our services.” Lysa Smart.

Cire Family and Children’s Services appreciates the continued support from the Upper Yarra Community Enterprise which in turn helps our community by providing them with high quality care.

Stay tuned for project updates.

Exceeding - National Quality StandardCire Family and Children’s Services outside school hours care (Yarra Junction) is proud to announce the achievement of receiving an  Exceeding Rating from Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.

For further information all our children’s services click here

Students get creative with hair and beauty

As part of the curriculum at Cire Community School, students are required to choose and participate in a ‘project day’ also known as a Personal Development Skill (PDS) class. In these classes, the students are required to work toward goals that the class set together.

Hair & Beauty PDS at Mount Evelyn campus is taught by Megan Small, and her students think she is great. Megan ensures her students get the help they need to get the results they desire. The atmosphere in the class is always a positive one because Megan adds her touch of magic to the group with the least likely students being brought together and working as a unit. The students are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and apply themselves at things they may usually shy away from. As her students say, if you know Megan, “shy” isn’t in her vocabulary.

The way Megan tailors her curriculum means the students focus is on positive experience, not on doing school work. Megan’s students enjoy the time they have together whilst putting their new-learnt skills into action to better their community and the lives of people within that.

“My class mates are a big part of my enjoyment with this class. We are an unlikely group but we work together well. We motivate one another to persevere, we help those that fall behind and we are just a group of young girls having a good time! I consider myself very fortunate for the amazing class mates I have and how compassionate and kind they all are. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside these girls and I hope in the future they pursue all their dreams and aspirations in life because they have worked unbelievably hard to get there and they deserve it!” VCAL Student 

The Hair and Beauty class’s project for first semester encouraged the participation in volunteer work with groups such as Alexandra Gardens, an aged care facility in Donvale. The students provided the residents with companionship whilst furthering their manicure skills, painting the resident’s fingernails, giving them hand massages and spending time together with the residents chatting.

The students agree the experience was vastly different from anything they had expected. Every time, without fail, the class left with grins from ear to ear buzzing from the fun they had at Alexandra Gardens. It was fascinating for the students to hear the stories and struggles of the aged care residents and to hear how similar their lives are to the students’ lives in some ways, yet so different in other ways. The students found themselves encouraged by the residents to keep going and to follow their dreams and aspirations. Bonds were formed and Megan found herself being asked to organise another date for the class to visit.

“It’s a great feeling to give back to our community for no profit other than the grins that we all leave with. We have learnt so much from our volunteer work, it’s very clear to all students that you only get as much as you put in and we plan to take advantage of that and gain as much as we can from this semester” VCAL Student

The class also visited Megan’s Hair salon Megga Hair where they invited support groups like mothers who suffer from Post Natal Depression along to enjoy free manicures and hair styles that Megan has previously taught the students to create, this is what our students had to say…

“It’s so beautiful to see the women transform into gorgeous confident women and the feeling it fills you with is beyond extraordinary.”

“Even if I am having a bad week, every Tuesday seems to make it that little bit brighter. I think a big part of that is to do with our teacher and the enthusiasm she brings in every morning and the belief she has in each student even if we don’t have it in ourselves.”

“I’m so grateful to not only my teacher, but my class mates for making every semester in Hair & Beauty an incredible journey full of laughter and fun. It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work all parties put in and I will carry the memories I make here well into my adult life and hopefully I will one day be in a retirement home having my hand massaged by an intelligent young woman like my fellow students telling her about my experiences and life journey too.”

Hair and Beauty class student, Molly Charles, feels that Cire Community School is a space of opportunity and support. Molly moved from a mainstream school to Cire and has noticed positive changes since making the change.

“The teachers here interact with the students and are happy to go through steps showing no frustration even if they’re sitting there for an hour saying the same thing over and over. They are willing to do whatever it takes to help the kids here and teach them, but they teach so much more than maths and English. They teach life skills not just banking and all of that but how to go about things in a way that no mainstream teacher would. I value the relationships I have with my teachers at Cire because not only are they teachers they’re my mentors.” Molly – VCAL Student

Cire Community School offers a full range of VCAL programs, for further information click here or call 1300 835 235.

Takysha’s Story – learning from the wise

As part of their Personal Development Skills unit, the Senior and Intermediate VCAL class at the Yarra Junction campus of YVCS have been visiting the Estia Nursing Home in Yarra Junction on a weekly basis. The following is Takysha’s story.

Elderly people can face a wide range of difficulties. They may be facing problems with their moods such as becoming depressed, experiencing the loss of loved ones, and also watching their friends need help and feeling helpless themselves.

For a 12-week period this year, I shared 2 hours each week with Florence, a resident from Estia Nursing Home in Yarra Junction. I learnt through conversations with Florence that a big thing that brought on depression was watching her friends slowly start to lose themselves and deteriorate medically. She said that she’s been with the Red Cross for decades and has always been able to help people and now she can barely help herself. It’s also the little things that can become overwhelming for the elderly, like for a passionate writer who with age loses the ability to write, a footballer who can no longer run. These are massive losses to people; to slowly start losing small components that help make who they are.

There might not be a cure for these symptoms but there is a massive way to help them and anyone can do it, and this is what our class has been doing this semester. We have been visiting the nursing home in Yarra Junction and spending time with the residents there. We don’t have to do much, just find some spare time to bring a smile to someone’s face, and just sit down with them, have a coffee and talk. We can gain knowledge from these people and they can learn from us too. As humans we are social creatures and this is imbedded in us all, but as we get older we lose our social network.

Throughout my whole experience with Estia Nursing Home and Florence I saw firsthand how life changes with age. I gained patience, learned to appreciate the value of teamwork, and most importantly I made a new friend. It was great sharing stories, looking at photos and laughing. I know that I will never forget my time with Florence. It was beautiful to see her eyes light up every time I walked into the room, to know I could talk to someone without getting judged. It was very rewarding to be a part of such a lovely program.

These are the types of programs that our VCAL students participate whilst studying at YVCS. For further information on our youth education services, click here.

UYCH Children’s Centre – exceeds expectations

We are so proud and excited to announce that upon receiving our assessment report from the Department of Education and Training that our children’s centre received a rating of Exceeding for each quality area and an overall rating of EXCEEDING!

The hard work does pay off and benefits the families who use our Early Childhood Education and Care services. UYCH Family and Children’s Centre in Yarra Junction was granted an overall rating of exceeding by the National Quality Framework (NQF). Achieving this is a step closer to an excellence rating which can only be awarded by Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. These assessments are conducted by the Department of Education and Training rated our service based on the National Quality Standards (NQS) which ensures our services are of the highest quality.

The recent assessment was conducted over a two day period in late September. Nadia from the Department of Education and Training assessed and rated our service based on her findings. This included her spending time in each education and care room, speaking with program leaders and discussing processes with Paige (Centre Director) and Natalie (Assistant Director).

The NQS sets a national benchmark for the quality of children’s education and care services across Australia. As the NQF progresses, every service in the country will be assessed on its progress in meeting the quality standard.

The centre was assessed and rated across 58 elements, 18 standards and 7 quality areas.
These areas were:
• Educational program and practice
• Children’s health and safety
• Physical environment
• Staffing arrangements
• Relationships with children
• Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
• Leadership and service management

This is what the assessor had to say about us:

“Intentional teaching was embedded in the program to scaffold and extend each child’s learning. For example, educators used a social skills program to intentionally scaffold children’s understanding and help them to develop social skills.”

“Each child’s comfort was provided for and there were a range of opportunities for both individuals and groups who effectively met children’s need for sleep, rest and relaxation. For example, each room provided a book/rest area that was warm and inviting with books, soft toys, blankets, beanbags and adult sized couches where educators, parents and children could cuddle up and enjoy telling and listening to stories.”

“The service had built a relationship with Yarra Valley ECOSS who donated fruit trees and vegetable seedlings to help create a community vegetable garden and have invited the service chef to complete a three day horticulture class where she will be learning about composting biodiversity, soil health, tree pruning and fruit management, growing seedlings and hot house creation using natural materials.”

“The service demonstrated recognition and acknowledgement of educator strengths incorporating these into the program. For example, an educator passionate about music education ran a music program visiting all of the rooms. An educator imparted her indigenous culture through storytelling in the bush kinder.”

“The children shared ideas and information and improved their understanding of the needs of living organisms, conservation and biodiversity. They also explored ways to represent their ideas and information as a plan. Children volunteered to help in setting the tables for lunch and in packing away, putting their water and food scraps into containers and their cups, bowls and spoons into a tub when they had finished. The dignity and rights of every child were consistently supported and promoted at all times.”

“Continuity of learning for each child was systematically promoted by sharing relevant information and building collaborative strategies. Children experienced positive transition from their home to the service. This was observed when children entered the service confidently and were warmly welcomed by each educator.”

It is with great pleasure that we all say thank you to the passionate and dedicated educators at UYCH Family and Children’s Service. This exceeding rating could not have been achieved without their expertise, commitment and incredibly high standard and dedication they bring to work each day.

With their professional and caring ability and motivation we now look forward to applying for the excellence rating. We extend our gratitude to our children and families for their continuous feedback and involvement in our service.

If you would like to know more about our Early Childhood Education and Care programs click here.



Bush kinder – planting for our future

The Yarra Junction UYCH Bush Kinder have been busy little green thumbs, and the weather did not deter them at all; Dressed in their little red rain suits, gumboots and with determined looks on their faces they began planting for the future. Their task was big, very big, they had to plant 300 trees and shrubs indigenous to Yarra Junction as a part of the Ribbons of Green Program.

This initiative was part of the Yarra Ranges Shire Ribbons of Green program, which encourages local services to offset carbon emissions through the planting of indigenous plants donated by the Shire.

The team led by Simone, our sustainability leader, and Ian, from UYCH maintenance managed the project by helping the children plant and learn about the importance of nature and the role it plays from an environmental perspective.

UYCH used these plants to help revegetate our bush block which over the past term has had much work done. Through participating in the Ribbons of Green initiative our service has been able to provide our children with opportunities to learn about local indigenous culture, sustainability and develop connections with nature.

The children helped to dig the holes and plant the different types of indigenous plants, trees and shrubs. The rain didn’t deter the children from planting and as for the mud, well that became the headlining act as the children had plenty of fun. This is what some had to say;

“We’re gonna plant the plants not kill the plants.”

“I’ve got my working boots on just like Ian.”

“I am a good digger.”

“I like flowers, not grass.”

The Yarra Junction Children’s Centre would like to thank Benn Sheffield from the Yarra Ranges for all his help in organising the Ribbons of Green project.

The UYCH Bush Kinder is a great way for your children to start their educational journey. For further information call 5967 2776.

Community houses working together

SWEY Project – Community Houses Partnering together to provide more learning opportunities in the Yarra Valley.

The Seville Community HouseWoori Community House and the Upper Yarra Community House recently received funding from ACFE (Adult, Community and Further Education) to explore the possibility of developing a partnership. One of the aims of the group is to be able to deliver more courses to people who live up and down the Warburton Highway.

The project name, SWEY, is a play on words, coming from the individual Community House locations, Seville, Woori, Mt Evelyn and Yarra Junction, SWEY.

The UYCH Mt Evelyn campus recently held a workshop which included representatives from each of the three community houses and was facilitated by Sue Gold, who is an independent business advisor. The workshop focused on the values of the Community Houses and how they support learners within each of their communities.

There is a second workshop planned in the coming months in order to decide on the type of partnership that could work for the three Community Houses. So watch this space……

“This funding has been a fabulous opportunity, giving the community house leaders time to come together and think about possible ways that we can all help support each other and our respective communities.” – Nina Bekker, UYCH

“This project has given the three Houses the chance to come together and form the beginning of a valuable partnership which could lead to resource sharing, bringing accredited training to the Valley and hobby courses to the Yarra Junction region.” – Vicki, Seville Community House

“Woori Community House is looking forward to working together with Seville and Upper Yarra Community Houses on the SWEY project to enrich the lives of local community members.” – Sonja, Woori Community House

“The funding has helped the SWEY group with big sky thinking time, opportunities to be creative, thinking outside the box, possibilities of delivering something different, and above all keeping the focus local.” – Nina Bekker, UYCH

For more information on the Seville and Woori Community houses, visit the links below:

Seville Community House
Woori Community House