A (LONG) DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOAN KIRNER HOUSE

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By Mark Brophy

Ever wondered how a day in the life of Joan Kirner House unfolds? Let’s take an insider’s look…

9am. Doors open – lights, computers and heating is turned on.

By 9.15am on a typical Wednesday morning Joan Kirner House is pumping! 20 plus kids with their brothers, sisters and their parents mingle in the refurbished foyer getting ready for the Three Year Old Pelicans Activity group to start.

Over 50 students are milling around, socialising, getting tea and coffee ready in preparation for classes – everything from computers to English language courses. The printers and photocopiers are running flat-out as teachers and child care workers are doing last minute preparations.

The phones are running hot with enquiries, referrals, requests to rent rooms for functions, as well as students and parents running late.

A local counselling service provider is setting up in one room. In the foyer, people are looking through the papers that have just been delivered and going through the Brochure Stand, Book Swap, DVD Swap, Seed Share and someone is at the Open Access Computer.

And it’s still only 10am!

At 10.15am the Willi Walking Group sets off along Thompson Street towards Nelson Place and morning tea preparations begin.

By 11am the Walking Group is back, students and staff meander out of the classrooms for a break and everyone enjoys a hearty morning tea, with some ingredients coming from the community garden.

Meanwhile programs are running at Spotswood Community House, Altona North Library, Dulcie Shaw House and the Migrant Resource Centre.

By the end of the day over 270 local community people will have flowed through the doors of these Williamstown Community and Education Centre program venues.

This community asset has been with us for over 40 years, having been first established in 1975 by a small group of mums at North Williamstown primary School.

In 2003 Joan Kirner’s hard work ensured that the old Williamstown Court House became a Community Centre. It was officially launched by Premier Steve Bracks and was renamed Joan Kirner House.

It now has nearly 100 members, 22 staff, 22 volunteers, an annual turnover of close to a million dollars, nearly 200 students, 100 children in childcare, and a wide range of programs from exercise, yoga, and meditation to acting, language and music programs for all ages, cultures and interests.

The Centre also has many service contracts with local, State, and Federal governments as well as numerous philanthropic organisations to deliver a wide range of programs and services to our community.

Lynne Hewet, who has worked at the Centre for over 22 years in various roles such as Volunteer, Committee Member, Manager and now Teacher and Education Coordinator reflects:

“Every day is different, so much happens here, it’s like one big huge happy family, helping and supporting each other. We have many people needing help come here. From refugees, mature aged, disabled, unemployed and those needing referrals for services, all the way to families needing local child care, others wanting to join activity groups, even just the use of computer, internet, photocopying or asking for directions.”

“I often wonder – if we were not here, where would these people go?”

Near the end of the day, the last computer class finishes at 5pm, but that’s not ‘shut up time’ just yet…

The French Club for Kids and Children’s Lego Engineering is still running.

After this, the evening Meditation and Spanish classes will start.

Finally, at 9pm, the Book Club winds up, and Joan Kirner House closes down for the day.

As a legacy to Joan Kirner herself, the Centre runs long hours and serves many in our community.

Mark Brophy is Manager/CEO, Williamstown Community and Education Centre Inc

 

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