Exclusion from full participation in society is common for many people supported by community service organisations.
That is why ‘social inclusion’ is the theme of this year’s Community Sector Showcase, an event to celebrate the contribution of local agencies and highlight the issues they work to address.
Sue Masters, from Haven; Home, Safe, said the theme was selected as it was an issue common across the sector.
“We all deal with people you would probably classify as the most vulnerable in our community,” Ms Masters said.
Anglicare Victoria regional director Francis Lynch said for some, they simply did not have the confidence to participate in certain activities in society, or felt that they were not for them.
Struggles with daily living make social participation difficult.
“When you don’t have a home, it’s very hard to have a life,” Ms Masters said.
For people with a disability, lack of access can be prohibitive; victims of family violence can also find it difficult.
And for refugees trying to establish a new life in the area, language barriers are an impediment.
In the showcase’s second year, the City of Greater Bendigo has come on board as a major partner.
“A fair and inclusive community is a very liveable community,” young communities co-ordinator David Williamson said.
He said it was important to ensure people from marginalised groups or disadvantaged backgrounds were encouraged to be part of the community, and the showcase was an example of a commitment to this.
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The showcase also gives organisations the opportunity to learn more about each other’s work.
“The better we know each other, the better we can help,” Mr Lynch said.
Bendigo Community Health Services’ Rod Case said this had last year sparked ideas for new partnerships between organisations.
ARC Justice executive officer Hayley Mansfield added that it also helped prevent duplication across the sector.
The event also presents an opportunity to inform the community about the breadth of the work done by these agencies and the contribution to the community.
“Together, we are one of the major employers in Bendigo,” Golden City Support Services chief executive officer Ian McLean said.
“Thousands of people are employed in the organisations around this table.”
Ms Masters said the showcase also allowed people who were interested in working in the sector to learn more.
“There are a huge amount of people who might be considering a careers in the community sector,” she said.
This year’s free Community Sector Showcase will be held at Ulumbarra Theatre on November 15, with London bombing survivor Gill Hicks as special guest.
The principal partners for this year’s event are Haven; Home, Safe; CatholicCare Sandhurst; Golden City Support Services; Bendigo Community Health Services; Amicus; Anglicare; Annie North; Centre for Non-Violence; Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault; Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative; and ARC Justice.