‘We witnessed a lot of inequity and separation. That’s why OneCare was established seven years ago with the purpose of creating links across communities. Our motto is ‘building community, restoring hope, changing lives’. We are located in Geelong West and people are happy to come from all over Geelong.’ I’m talking to Corrie Inei.
‘At noon on Thursdays we hold a community meal which is open to anyone. Some appreciate the free meal, others appreciate the social contact. We get around 60 each week and had 110 for our Christmas lunch on the Thursday before Christmas. The people who come are mostly individuals, ranging from recent arrivals to those with mental health issues. The group has become like a family and they all look out for each other.
‘We also host a ‘bring your own lunch’ every 2 months on a Saturday. People bring food to share and it turns into a multicultural eating experience.
‘I’m a counsellor here and coordinate our mentoring program called COACH. This stands for Creating, Opportunities And Casting Hope. We match mentors from various Churches with families or individuals who are in need. Places like Bethany and Barwon Youth and Family are there for people if things get really tough, then mentors step in afterwards to offer support and guide individuals to independence. Refugee minors have Government support until they are 18. We can offer support after that. Mentors love watching their match grow in self-esteem and confidence and reach the goals they originally set. It’s a long-term relationship that might last from 12 months to 3-4 years.
‘Our programs break down the stereotypes. We find people can’t come alongside each other without changing their mindsets and reaching a new empathy, on both sides. They see each other as people with their own dreams, goals and challenges, rather than as labels or stereotypes. It is about connectedness and community building.
‘I am very proud that we have started a pilot program called The Recovery Course for those facing life-controlling issues or addictions. It is only a very small group but the stories I hear are all very positive as it is transforming people’s lives. It runs for 15 weeks and individuals can join at any stage.
‘Counselling is such a big love for me. Some people are in places in their lives where it is so overwhelming. They have such courage and determination to unpack all their stuff and find there is hope. It’s a pleasure to listen, support and guide them through the dark places.
‘I grew up in Winchelsea and still live in the country not far from Geelong. I have a real love for this community and am very proud to be a part of Geelong. Melbourne might have been named one of the most liveable cities for the last six years in a row but personally, I would have given it to Geelong. We are just the right size, it is easy to get around and there is a growing passion here. Studying for a Masters in Community Development is helping me realise my dreams and ambitions, and finding the best position for OneCare within the community.’
Photo: Phil Hines Potography