Labuan Square upgraded

The streetscape upgrade to Labuan Square in Norlane has been officially opened.

Cr Anthony Aitken said the rejuvenation of Labuan Square has been a long-term priority for Windermere Ward councillors. The project was put on the agenda back in 2018, and received wider Council support to upgrade the streetscape, with better surfaces, play items, furniture, and gardens.

“On the back of this commitment, and significant public input, the Victorian Government provided support via two separate grants,” Cr Aitken said. “It was fantastic to see the community using the more attractive and vibrant space, at the official opening of the space in early August.”

The City of Greater Geelong contributed $405,000 to the project along with $326,000 contributed by the Victorian Government through the Department of Jobs Skills Industry and Regions (DJSIR) COVID Safe Outdoor Place Activation Fund ($100,000) and the Department of Justice and Community Safety, Creating Safer Places grant ($226,000).

Features of the work include:

  • Streetscape improvements, which also feature smart nodes, CCTV and free public Wi-Fi.
  • Additional amenities, such as a toilet, shelter, and children’s waterplay fountain.
  • A public mural, by Nikki McKenzie, Norm Stanley and Tarryn Love, which highlights First Nations creativity and culture.

The landscaping and art installations reference the nearby Cowies Creek, providing a unique, local touch and a strong sense of community pride.

Cr Aitken said: “This upgrade is a big step towards the reactivation that this part of Geelong deserves. There is also a great opportunity to create an exciting new era for Labuan Square.”

Art for healing and connection

Art therapy as a way of helping with healing and building connection is being explored at Cloverdale Community Centre, and the community has opportunities to find out more about the practice at mini workshop sessions in October.

Trainee art therapist Anna Hurley is based at the centre as part of her university studies. In Term 4, Anna will be at the centre on Tuesdays and Fridays.

“I am very excited to be working with the team at Cloverdale as a trainee art therapist for the next few months,” Anna said. “Prior to this, I have worked in schools, teaching arts and photography.”

During her placement at Cloverdale, Anna is also supporting other staff in group training sessions. She provides creative activities that are linked to the topics being discussed by the group.

Anna provided the following information to help better understand her role:

You’re probably asking what is art therapy?

First and foremost, you don’t have to be an artist to use art therapy and it can include all sorts of media and materials, depending on your own preferences.

Neuroscience is now confirming the positive effects that working with the arts in all their forms have on our mental health in numerous ways.

There is strong evidence to show that artmaking and expression through artistic processes can change our brain and behaviour.

How can it help me?

Art therapy can be healing in many ways:

  • It can provide space away from our everyday stresses.
  • Help with emotional regulation and accessing nonverbal/internal worlds.
  • Give you opportunities to express your inner thoughts, while helping you to better understand and make sense of your emotions and your mental health.
  • Connect you with a sense of meaning and help you with communicating this to others.
  • Allow you to recognise your own growth and inner strength.
  • Can be practised with individual clients, families and groups or provide tools for your own self-care.

For anyone who would like to find out more about art therapy, Anna is conducting free mini workshops at Cloverdale Community Centre on Tuesdays October 3 and 10, from 12.30pm until 1.30pm.

Playgroups are not just for kids

Parents and carers of young children are encouraged to get involved with a playgroup to help connect themselves and their children to the local community.

A playgroup is a group of parents or caregivers with their babies, toddlers and preschool children who get together regularly for play and social interaction. A range of playgroups are held throughout the Corio and Norlane area. Some are council-run, some are facilitated by agencies and services. All have the common aim of using fun and play to connect with others.

Helen O’Connor, from Northern Bay College’s Family Centre, said playgroup is a fun and playful experience for parents and carers to share with their child and with other families. 

“Playgroups at our centre are run by committed staff who rely on relationship building, sharing ideas and simply brightening the day for the adults and the children. I strongly recommend playgroups. There are excellent ones in our local area.

“Each Northern Bay College campus offers playgroups, and this could be a great starting point if you want to join in. Session times, days and frequency vary across centres and may depend on the families who are attending. Sessions are free and joining a playgroup important for a range of reasons.”

At Our Place Northern Bay there are several choices for parents or carers and their pre-school, aged from birth to five years. No child is ever too young to go to playgroup.

Our Place staff, who are based at Korayn Birralee Family Centre, know that a child’s learning from birth to three years of age is one of the most important and vital stages of their lives. And playgroup helps set them up for the next step in their learning journey to Kinder.

Meli provides a free playgroup at Korayn Birralee Family Centre on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The playgroup is free and is facilitated by experienced and supportive staff. The Thursday playgroup also has a bi-lingual support worker which assists families to feel welcome and supported.

Playgroups provide families with so many benefits. Not only do children have the opportunity to socialise, learn and practice new skills, but parents and carers also benefit in so many ways. It is a place to meet other parents and carers of young children, share ideas and learn from one another.

For more information about Our Place Northern Bay, call in to Korayn Birralee Family Centre, 146 Purnell Road Corio or email [email protected].

The Northern Bay College Family Centre is at 25 Goldsworthy Road, Corio, phone 5224-9791.

More information about playgroups is also available on the Playgroups Victoria website –

Free programs for families

Our Place Northern Bay has a range of weekly programs and activities for families to try. The team has provided the following information:

Are you looking for a fun, friendly and supportive playgroup? The Wexford Supported Playgroup runs on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9.30am until 11am, during school terms.

Storytime is also a good opportunity to come along and listen to stories, songs and meet others. With a guest reader from local community services and organisations each week, it is a great way to spend time with your child and foster their love of reading.

Remember your baby/child is never too young to be introduced to reading. Storytime runs every Thursday morning during term from 9.10am until 9.30am.

My Time is a free program offered every Wednesday morning from 9am-11am, during term. My Time is for parents and carers of a child with a disability, chronic medical condition or other additional needs including developmental delay. It is a space to unwind and share experiences with others who understand.

Our Place Northern Bay also has parenting programs, free support for families throughEarly Help Families Support, English Conversation group and more. 

All programs are free and anyone from the local community is welcome.

For more information and to keep up to date with activities on the site and in the local community, follow us on Facebook send an email to [email protected] or drop by and say hello to the staff of Our Place – Rebecca, Tanya and Karen. We are situated at Korayn Birralee Family Centre, 146 Purnell Road, Corio.

Wilderness camp fun for kids

Children from Geelong’s northern suburbs were among a group of 80 who experienced the Lions Village Licola children’s wilderness camp, thanks to the Lions Club of Geelong Corio Bay.

Licola is a former timber town located 54 kilometres north of Heyfield and at the gateway to the Alpine National Park. The children’s village comprises was purchased by Lions clubs of southern New South Wales and Victoria in the late 1960s.

Camp organiser Brian Edward, who is a retired police officer, said: “The purpose of these adventure camps is to provide children aged 8 to 11 an opportunity to live in a community setting and to participate in challenging outdoor activities designed to promote self-worth and to allow them to rise to their full potential.”

“This is a big ask of some children who are away from home and challenged to make decisions about first-time participating in a variety of outdoor activities,” he said.

“The children are always in the care of child-safe volunteers, and they take advice from outdoor activity specialists. They are encouraged to listen to instructions and to make decisions about, for example, being fitted into a harness and taking that first step off a platform that sends them flying down the flying fox zip line. Their after-activity smiles and reactions are unforgettable.”

Brian said the children participated in activities from arts and crafts and indoor games, to being harnessed and lifted to great heights and then pulling a pin on a giant swing.

“Many children overcame their fear of heights. Mini golf, disc golf, the trampolines were popular and they all participated in a last night camp concert. They talked to one another, encouraged one another and made new friends”.    

The 80 children who attended the camp were jointly sponsored at $400 per child by the Dawn Wade Foundation, The Howard Glover Trust, West Carr and Harvey (Accountants) and Geelong Community Foundation.  

The next Lions Village Licola camp is programmed to take place in January 2024.

Corio Foodshare program

St Andrew’s Church in Corio provides important support for the community with its Foodshare program. Spokesperson Anne Asciak said the program has been running for more than 20 years.

The community Foodshare program is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am until 3pm. It takes place at the rear of the Op Shop (next to the church) in Bacchus Marsh Road.

The program is for Centrelink Card Holders who live in the church’s service range – Corio, North Shore, Bell Post Hill, Lovely Banks and some parts of North Geelong.

Anne said the program is run by volunteers who enjoy helping others and “doing something for the community.”

Eligible community members can receive a food parcel once a month. Each parcel contains pantry staples such as long-life milk, cereal, bread, pasta, pasta sauce and tinned goods. Additional items are sometimes available.

Anne said food for the service is received from Food Bank and Geelong Food Relief, as well as donations from the community. A recent appeal through Bay FM resulted in a restock of the shelves that had been “almost empty”.

The service welcomes donations of non-perishable food items as well as excess fruit and vegetables from people who grow their own produce. They can be delivered during the program’s opening hours.

For more information, phone 0451-095-881.

New CEO has community focus

Norlane-based not-for-profit organisation Northern Futures has a new CEO, with Andrew Palmer replacing Lyn Morgan.

Northern Futures uses partnerships, education and employment to connect, support and advocate for people in the northern suburbs. It aims to help people find long-term sustainable employment and support them to keep it.

Andrew’s background is in adult education, including teaching English to international students and managing language schools. He also worked at The Gordon, Box Hill and Holmesglen TAFEs.

While working at The Gordon for 13 years, Andrew managed the Foundation Skills program and also created the Getting Ahead program for Northern Futures. He also used the time to develop valued community connections.

Andrew said: “I knew about the work of Northern Futures and how it significantly changes people’s lives. It means a lot to be able to support people into something better.”

“The (CEO) job came at the right time for me; I want to be in my community, making a difference. As the first leader of Northern Futures with an education and training background, I understand the pathways to work and the need for supporting and mentoring participants.”

Andrew said his first priority in the job was establishing stronger grassroots partnerships in the community. As a result, a Memorandum of Understanding with Cultura Training means that Northern Futures will deliver Certificate III in Early Childhood and Care, starting in July, at the Northern Futures site in Station Street, Norlane.

Andrew said the Northern Futures approach is to ‘reverse plan’ by talking to employers about their particular needs and creating courses that are current, relevant and provide every opportunity to help people into work at the end.

Current courses Introduction to Civil Construction and Certificate III Individual Support are examples of the model. “We have employers in those fields waiting for our graduates,” Andrew said.

“Our track record is that of the people who do a course with us and complete it, about 80 per cent will get a job. We walk with people from the day they come in our door, through showing them options, seeing their potential, through training, introductions to employers and support to make sure they have resources to be an independent worker.”

“Northern Futures’ mission to address disadvantage in the northern suburbs of Geelong. That can mean a lot of different things. We know we can improve employment outcomes with resilience, resources, confidence and employability.”

For more information about Northern Futures programs, phone 5277-3519.

Open and here to stay

Corio Library staff want everyone to know they’re back and keen to welcome the community for a visit, to borrow or to join an activity.

Information Services Librarian Leanne Reinke has been in her role since December and is gradually introducing new activities, as well as continuing already-popular sessions.

They include:

  • Book Club – held on the first Monday of the month, 2pm-3pm. There are some places available and another group will be formed if there is demand.
  • Book Chat – Monday evening sessions. A facilitated group for members to talk about the books they are reading.
  • Themed Information Sessions to discuss different genres of books, for example crime, then take home ideas of more books to read.
  • Purl Jam Knitting Circle – Thursday from 2pm-4pm.
  • Practice Your English – Tuesday from 11am-11.45am. Resources are available to help participants.
  • Create and Make sessions- book an induction session to learn about the 3D printer, sewing machine or overlocker.
  • Technology and library help sessions – book a librarian for a 30-minute appointment to get help with the library, computers, myGov.
  • Children’s activities – Baby Time, Toddler Time, Story Time and after school activities.

“We are also able to help parents with use of the apps used by the schools to communicate,” Leanne said. “We have amazing staff and can usually help with immediate issues too.”

Leanne said the library won’t be moving as part of the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub, which is being constructed nearby.

“We’re here to stay and we just want to encourage everyone to come back to the library,” Leanne said. “Come and see us.”

The library is open seven days a week. Monday 9am-8pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-6pm; Thursday 9am-8pm; Saturday 9am-5pm; Sunday 2pm-5pm. It is on the corner of Cox Road and Moa Street.

Free legal advice

Deakin Law School Clinical Solicitor and lecturer Michele Tucker leads a team that provides access to free legal help, and she’ll feel right at home when she brings them to Corio to help the community during Law Week in May.

Michele grew up in Department of Housing homes in Norlane and Corio. She is the eldest of five girls raised by their mother.

“Many of my family still live in Norlane and Corio and my grandparents lived in Norlane for more than 60 years,” she said. “Nan is in aged care in Norlane.”

After attending Norlane and North Shore primary schools, then Norlane High, Michele left school in Year 10 and worked as a legal junior in a Geelong law firm.

“I never considered university as an option as no one I knew went to university,” she said. “I worked for law firms in Geelong and Melbourne as a law clerk and eventually in management roles. In 2002 I applied to Deakin to study law, but didn’t get in. I was pretty disappointed.”

A lawyer working with Michele explained different pathways to study. She commenced a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2003 and was then able to transfer to a double degree: Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws. 

“While juggling full-time study I continued to work part-time in law firms and was also a single mother during this time. I completed my degrees in 2007 and was admitted to practise law in 2008. To say my family was proud is an understatement.”

Michele practises in different areas of law. She also started teaching in the Law School at Deakin University in 2012 and is Clinical Solicitor and Co-ordinator at Deakin Law Clinic, as well as teaching.

Deakin University is a sponsor of Law Week, from May 16-22, which is run by the Victorian Law Foundation. Michele will be at Cloverdale on Wednesday, May 18 with students from the Deakin Law Clinic. 

“I will do a presentation on Family Law and Family Violence Intervention Orders and the students will assist me with a pop-up clinic for the community, to provide information about different areas of law,” Michele said.

“I love my job. I’m very passionate about the law and enjoy helping people solve their legal problems. The legal system and processes can be overwhelming for some people, so I try and break down the issues for clients. 

“I believe it’s only fair that we should all have access to legal assistance and justice, regardless of our background or financial situation.

“I also love teaching, so I have the best of both worlds with my job. It’s amazing to watch our students grow and gain such invaluable practical legal skills during their time in the clinic.”

Deakin Law Clinic is a free, community legal service with five practice areas: Family Law, Criminal Law, Civil and Commercial Law, Employment Law and Policy Advocacy Law. 

The clinic opened in 2017 in Melbourne CBD and a new Geelong office, at Deakin Waterfront campus, in March this year.

Students work on real life client matters under lawyers’ supervision to gain practical and communication skills for their careers in legal practice.

Time is right to step away

The following was provided by the Member for Lara, John Eren …

It’s so hard to believe that 2022 is already upon us. I hope that everyone had a safe, happy and healthy holiday season and that 2022 is your best year yet.

For almost 20 years I have represented the great people of Geelong both as the Member for Geelong Province and then as the Member for Lara. 

It has been two years since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This diagnosis, along with challenges brought about by the COVID pandemic, has made me place a greater focus on my health and wellbeing and that of my family and friends, to value the ability to spend quality time with them. 

After thinking about my future as time moves on and following discussions with my family, it was with sadness that I decided to not contest the 2022 State Election. 

When we come to the end of this term of Parliament, in about November this year, I feel that will be the time for me to step away and spend my time pursuing other things. 

Until the November State election next year I will continue to strongly represent the Lara electorate and I will be working hard each day to ensure we continue to achieve great things for our community.

In the meantime, my office is still here to help. Many people do not know the assistance they can receive from their local State Member of Parliament’s office.

As your state representative, I’m here to assist you with any State Government matter including education, health, public housing, main roads and public transport to name a few.

Applications for commemorative letters such as 100th birthday and 60th wedding anniversary letters from the Queen, or 90th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary letters from the Prime Minister can also be requested from my office.