BOWEN’S new Neighbourhood Centre is bringing the community together, with the $4.3m facility driving a huge increase in participation and enquiries.
The Queensland Government has built a replacement centre, after the existing facility was deemed no longer fit for purpose.
It was completed in late 2022 and has been operational since last December. It was officially opened by Minister for Communities Leeanne Enoch, on Thursday, December 7, 2023.
Featuring a large kitchen and meeting spaces, the new purpose-built facility has allowed the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre to expand its programs and support more people in need, contributing to a 44 per cent increase in contacts, during 2022-2023.
Minister Enoch said Neighbourhood Centres provided inclusive and respectful places for people to connect, belong, participate and be supported.
“It’s great to hear that the new centre is already improving the wellbeing, resilience, safety and participation of community members by providing a client-centred hub, where people can access a more diverse range of services, programs and activities,” she said.
“Other services on offer include advocacy, counselling, community activities, emergency relief, disability support for young people, aged care, domestic and family violence support, family support, youth support and homelessness support.
The Bowen Neighbourhood Centre’s executive officer Stephanie Cora it was nice to have a place big enough to accommodate community groups and new programs.
“From an old Queenslander, where we only had room for five people, to now having meeting rooms fitting up to 60, plus a large, commercially outfitted kitchen – it’s been amazing for our community,” she said.
“We’ve been able to offer so many diverse programs in the last 12 months. This has led to a significant increase in people contacting us, participating in programs and utilising the facilities. In 2022-2023, we had 72,000 contacts, compared to 50,000 in 2021-2022.
“The biggest demand, at the moment, is emergency relief, our Tuckerbox Food Shop, Tuckerbox Kitchen, and Second Bite program. Demand for these programs has grown tremendously since we opened the new centre, and we have had locals stating that they didn’t even know we existed until now.
“We’ve also seen a big increase in people dropping off donations for our Christmas hampers, now that we are easier to find.
The Bowen Neighbourhood Centre is located at 34-38 Gregory Street, Bowen, and services include emergency relief, No Interest Loan Scheme, Community Connect, Bowen Community op shop, Tuckerbox Food Shop, Tuckerbox Kitchen and volunteer program.