JNC recently celebrated its 40th Birthday with staff, management committee, clients, volunteers, local government officials, local members of Parliament and other special guests. Following an inspiring Welcome to Country by local Aboriginal elder, Vic Simms, speeches were made by JNC’s two State MPs Michael Daley and Bruce Notley Smith, Janet Green (General Manager) and Solange Frost (Vice Chairperson).
Janet Green commended the value that local services had had in meeting the needs of our communities and in making a difference to people’s lives, particularly those who had experienced disadvantage, are vulnerable and socially isolated.
Of equal value are the contributions that volunteers have made since the earliest days, “we just could not have done it without them” she stated with sincerity.
Since JNC first started in 1974 as CHARM, the Community Help Association of Randwick Municipality, “Our work has consistently been based on social justice principles” she continued. The second decade was one of growth and saw a new name RICC Randwick Information and Community Centre. During this time RICC’s work was responding to changes in the community, including increased cultural diversity, and an ethnic volunteer program. By the end of the decade RICC had a staff of 17 and many more programs including Family Support and Volunteer Connection, as well as playing a role in advocacy for other services.
The third decade saw further growth and some new challenges, including the changing nature of funding with the introduction of competitive tendering in community services. It also saw RICC working for Indigenous reconciliation and an increasing focus on community development.
The last ten years has seen more growth, another new name The Junction Neighbourhood Centre reflecting the organisation’s role as a local neighbourhood centre and a broader focus in the region. This decade has seen much change: the move to the Bowen Library, expansion in programs including family programs, aged services, new partnerships in community capacity building, a new centre in Randwick and of great significance, the merge between the JNC and ECHO Neighbourhood Centre at Bondi Junction. Not only was JNC celebrating 40 years, ECHO Neighbourhood Centre, had also been working with our communities across Waverley LGAs for over 30 years. This new era had taken JNC’s work in new directions and to new places.
Janet stated “As we celebrate the work of JNC over these four decades, we ask ourselves ‘what difference have we made?’ and it is rewarding when we reflect on that and hear people’s stories.
Over 40 years, the tireless work of volunteers, the inspiration of those who have been on our Management Committees, the passionate staff who have come with inspiration and ideas have brought us to where we are today.”
The former JNC Manager, Barb Kelly, sent a message for the 40th Birthday celebration: “Neighbourhood centres are a beacon of light and hope for many, and few stand as tall as The JNC, with its guiding principles rooted firmly in social justice goals and aspirations. I will always be proud to have been part of your amazing journey.”
Refreshments and entertainment, by JNC’s in-house band “Sifalo” followed the official speeches for the JNC 40th Birthday. It was a time of celebration, to acknowledge the comradery in the achievement of many social justice goals for the local communities JNC supports.