Dream becomes a reality


CCSS Federal Funding for new Aboriginal Services & Resource Centre
Senator Mark Arbib with (from left): Rhonda Randall, Sr Naomi Smith RSJ and Aunty Jenny Ebsworth. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

By Virginia Knight

On Friday 26 March, 2010, Centacare Catholic Social Services received Federal Government funding to commence work on building a new Aboriginal Service and Resource Centre at Emerton.

This new centre, to be built in the grounds of Holy Family Parish, Mt Druitt will provide new premises for Aboriginal Catholic Social Services, replacing the existing centre currently housed in the Old Council Chambers at Penrith, and will offer more room for counselling and education projects.

Aboriginal Catholic Social Services is a program area within Centacare Catholic Social Services, the welfare arm of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Parramatta, and provides services for up to 2,000 people every year.

Senator Mark Arbib and the Member for Chifley, Roger Price MP, announced the $393,000 funding under the Get Communities Working stream of the Australian Government’s Jobs Fund.

Otto Henfling, Executive Director of Centacare Catholic Social Services, said all the staff and volunteers were thrilled that this money had been made available by the Government.

“The team at Aboriginal Catholic Social Services has waited for this for a number of years and will now be able to extend the range of services offered to the Aboriginal community in western Sydney,” Otto said.

Senator Arbib said the Aboriginal Service and Resource Centre would create 20 jobs – 30 work experience and some trainee positions in construction, landscaping and service delivery.

Two Yurts (round houses) will be constructed on the site. These prefabricated units will be assembled by local Indigenous people under the guidance of the manufacturer.

It is envisaged two or three people will obtain apprenticeships in this form of construction, with fit-out and landscaping of the site leading to more traineeships in other fields.

In line with current trends, the construction will also be environmentally friendly with rainwater tanks installed underneath the structures and solar panels fitted to each roof.

The Mt Druitt and greater Blacktown area has the largest urban concentration of Indigenous people in Australia. As Minister for Indigenous Employment Participation in the Federal Government, Senator Arbib attended the meeting at the Holy Family Centre with Rev Phil Medlin, Chaplain of ACCS; Otto Henfling; Fr Ed Dooley, parish priest of Holy Family; Charlie Lowles, Mayor of Blacktown; members of the ACSS team and elders of the Indigenous community who have worked so diligently to bring the project to fruition.

At the close of the meeting, before an inspection of the site, Senator Arbib made plans to return with representatives from the Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Training and other state and local government bodies to meet with the ACSS team to address issues in the area.  

Click here to view the photo gallery. Photos by Alphonsus Fok and Virginia Knight

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