As 2022 draws to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to express my best wishes for the holiday season and reflect on the work of South East Community Links during the past year.
This year, again, has been tough as we continue to respond to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, the SECL team has delivered culturally informed programs and services that are progressing our plan to triple our impact. At the same time, I have the greatest respect for the resilience and optimism shown by our clients as they work with us to navigate hardships and build a sense of belonging with local communities.
While much has been achieved this past year, I’d like to highlight three profound programs that are making a difference in the lives of so many people.
Firstly, I was particularly proud to see the Minister for Home Affairs, and long-term SECL supporter, Clare O’Neil, launch our new MERLE youth development program. Named after our former patron, Merle Mitchell, the program works with 33 young people to reengage them with their education, family, and the local community. Its early days, but participants report increased school attendance and decreased criminal behaviours.
Second, I’ve learned that our team is remarkably skilled at understanding the needs of local community members and designing programs to fill the gaps. One example is our Afghan Women Driver Education Program which responded to feedback about a lack of culturally appropriate and in-language driver programs. Participants tell us that this program not only builds their knowledge, confidence, and skills but also supports pathways to education and employment.
Finally, our Community Employment Connectors program supports people with complex and long-term barriers to employment. People in this program have been unemployed for more than five years, and employment agencies have yet to successfully deliver sustainable, meaningful employment opportunities to this cohort. Our work has proven that grassroots, individualised, wraparound services are effective in getting people employment ready. More than 50% of participants have obtained work and 64% undertook training. An inspiring result.
I want to say a heartfelt thanks to every one of our team members. You are an extraordinary group of people that live our values of inclusion, equality, compassion, dignity, and choice.
While we look forward to a well-earned rest during the holiday season, celebrating and relaxing with family and friends, we’re also excited about the year ahead. We have new programs on the horizon that will continue to progress our vision of every person counts, every system fair.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and team at South East Community Links, I wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable holiday season, a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Chief Executive Officer