The champions of Redbank Plains put community in the Centre

Ipswich’s first new community centre in 30 years has a cheer squad of champions who will be just as vital as steel and concrete to the long-term success of the building.

The Redbank Plains Community Centre on School Road is under construction.

The carpark is complete, and the prefabricated building is being manufactured offsite, with the project expected to be completed in late March 2018.

Features include rooms for health clinics, large deck with kitchen facilities, large hall that can be divided, toilets and parents’ room and grassed areas.

Running parallel to the design and construction of the facility has been significant community engagement to make sure the finished building supports a stronger and more connected population.

Redbank Plains faces challenges such as rapidly growing population, significant multicultural community with English as a second language, transport issues for those without a car or licence, and crime and safety.

Part of the Centre’s process was identifying community champions – representatives from a variety of organisations, people with a diverse mix of ages, cultural backgrounds and experience – who can relay information about the Centre, as well as provide input.

They get together at Fernbrooke State School, and around the table they share ideas, programs they are offering, their feedback and needs.

residents surveyed about new Community Centre

Meet some of our champions

Priscilla Deng, Community Hub Leader at Fernbrooke State School

Five community hubs have launched at Ipswich schools, where families are linked to services and support. 

The concept has taken off at Fernbrooke, with playgroup and pre-prep, and activities such as parents’ swimming lessons, WOW women’s group with activities like Zumba and yoga combined with health information sessions, English classes – and even more coming in the new year.

“Community Hub is like a meeting point that connects parents to services around them, and conveying the message to services that these are the needs and issues facing the parents,” Priscilla said. “What I will like about the (Redbank Plains) Community Centre, it will be a space a parent can access easily, and access a lot of services in one place.”

Thea Mende, Kruger Parade Baptist Church and long term resident

When Thea arrived in the suburb decades ago it was all farmland. “Kruger Parade was a dirt track, and the church – one day a koala walked in, that’s how quiet it was,” she said. Now it is a rapidly growing and changing community.

“We are blessed with 10 acres. What we really want to do is become a hub and meet the diverse needs of the community,” she said.

Thea said the champion meetings were a way to know what was happening in Redbank Plains, including the Centre, and how different groups could help each other.

“As an older person, it is great to hear the young people talking about all the activities,” she said.

Jon Janetzki, Redbank Plains Neighbourhood Watch area coordinator

The group launched on November 25 and will have its meetings at the Centre when it is complete. “It puts us in an environment where we are much more likely to interact with other community groups,” Jon said.

Jon said there were many residents who would post about crime and safety on Facebook. “I’m trying to figure out ways to get them out, active and involved,” he said.

Jon said there were about 160 languages spoken locally, and the committee members – also from diverse backgrounds – see an opportunity to work with different cultural groups.

“We all have those things happening in our neck of the woods that concerns us.”

The Redbank Plains Community Centre will be at the heart of a future commercial area to service the increased population of one of Ipswich’s fastest growing areas. Council has undertaken significant community engagement including census data analysis, surveys and boots-on-the-ground engagement with residents to make sure the Centre’s programs and atmosphere reflect communiy needs.
Sheila Ireland

Division 9 Councillor

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