Social inclusion – it means different things to different people, but the underlying principle is about giving every person every possible opportunity to participate in community life.
At council we talk a lot about social inclusion and certainly, councils have a large part to play.
But equally, it’s often the community at the coalface of the issues facing people who are disadvantaged, disenfranchised or on the periphery of our community.
Our recent presentation of Australia Day and merit awards highlighted the vital role of volunteers and community groups in identifying and meeting these needs.
At the Barossa Community Kitchen, volunteers from the Uniting Church are giving dignity to people sleeping rough by providing meals, personal care and conversation.
Disability & Carers Link are helping to give people with disability genuine choices about their future through initiatives like the Disability Expo.
At the Barossa Bushgardens, the Barossa Dementia Friendly Garden Committee is creating safe and welcoming spaces for families living with dementia, so they no longer have to suffer in silence.
And people like Simon Taylor are helping reduce the impact of ICE (crystal methamphetamine) usage on local families through the Local Drug Action Team, providing advocacy, education and support to local families.
None of these outcomes are achieved in isolation, but through community networks.
From little things, big things grow – sometimes a chance conversation can be the catalyst for something much greater.
It is critical we continue these community conversations and give organisations every opportunity to network and collaborate.
In this way we can identify where gaps exist, value-add to existing initiatives and put resources where they are most needed, to achieve maximum benefit for our community.
I welcome anyone with an interest in this area to let me know their thoughts.
Together, we can make social inclusion more than just words on paper, we can turn them into life-changing outcomes.