Spirit of Ballarat Award night 2012
SPIRIT OF BALLARAT AWARDS NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS THE REAL ISSUES IN OUR COMMUNITY
Last night (Thurs May 31st) over 130 people from the business community of Ballarat came together to celebrate the positive programs that are being funded through their contributions to the United Way Ballarat Community Fund.
But it was a night of thought and challenge as we heard from 3 guests who are working at the coal face with some of those in our community who are doing it tough.
Jo is a kinder teacher with a difference. Working at Yuille Park Community College, Jo faces challenges daily with children who are probably the most vulnerable in our city. She shared that many of her students have difficulty with such things as language, concentration, routine and are often from families who are struggling with many major issues.
Jo was honest about the impact her work can have on her personally: “ I come home and cry some days… but if I can make a difference in even one or two of these children’s lives then I’m making a difference for the next generation and perhaps breaking the poverty cycle for those families… that makes it all worth it”
Bob is from Child and Family Services and works in programs trying to address the high prevalence of Domestic Violence in our community, particularly with Men trying to turn their lives around and change their behaviour.
Domestic Violence takes many forms; it can be physical but it is often financial deprivation, isolation or emotional and psychological manipulation. For a child it may not be against them but just being witness to violence against their mum is violence against the child.
Bob told us of a group of boys aged 8 – 12 who he spent time with who had experienced domestic violence. Amongst some of the stories these boys had written in a particular session one really made the audience think: “I’m in a cage under water and I’m screaming out for help but no-body hears me…. Why do adults hurt us?… If we hurt someone at school we get in trouble…..I don’t understand”
Vicki from Lead On Ballarat, works with the Young people of our community. Her team are facilitating projects that are engaging the kids in things they are interested in, in an environment where they can be mentored and guided. Projects like Film Making, Street Art, Photography and Information Technology are Youth Led.
“These Young People are our future and I have seen some amazing transformations where simply by bringing together youth from all walks of life and allowing them to work together on a project of common interest, those kids who may have not been engaged in school, or were involved with vandalism or other crime, have a new sense of purpose and have moved on to re-engage with education and the community in a positive way. “
The Spirit of Ballarat Awards Night highlighted the work of the many people throughout businesses in Ballarat who have been supporting United Way for many years. Each business and their United Way representative were presented with a certificate and the top 4 donating companies were further highlighted. The most generous group of employees were from McCains Foods Ballarat with MARS Chocolate Ballarat, UFS Dispensaries and the City of Ballarat employees coming close runners up.
The night also saw the graduation of the inaugural Ballarat Advocacy Program students, each of whom has completed 3 units of an Advanced Diploma of Management through the University of Ballarat and is committed to continuing to advocate for United Way in their workplace. Jodie Kennedy from the City of Ballarat was named Dux of the group for her outstanding efforts in encouraging her workplace to increase their support of United Way.
Those attending the evening were given the opportunity to share the issues they saw facing our community, with table discussions encouraged. The information gathered will form part of a community needs analysis.