Upgrades for The Gathering Place

The Gathering Place volunteers manager Carolyn Whalan talks to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing and Labor candidate for Morwell Mark Richards.

The Gathering Place volunteers manager Carolyn Whalan talks to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing and Labor candidate for Morwell Mark Richards.

An important volunteer-run community place is a lot safer and more accessible, thanks to a $15,600 grant from the Latrobe Valley Authority.

The Morwell Gathering Place was established as a culturally-safe space for members of the local Indigenous community.

The Gathering Place has artist groups, a Koorie youth group, play group, soup and salad days and also has a food bank for people in need.

The grant money will go towards a new safety gate to keep tots away from the stove, an outdoor security fence to keep kids out of the carpark, new cooking and kitchen equipment and four laptops.

Gathering Place volunteers' manager Carolyn Whalan said about 90 people came in each week to engage in the space and the upgrades would ensure the safety of all users.

"This is very important as it's a neutral area for people to meet and come together to hold events in," she said.

"The Gathering Place has grown beyond what we thought, we didn't think people would take it up, but they did. This really puts a lot of weight on our volunteers."

Ms Whalan said volunteers were rotated into different roles, such as front desk, administration and running the food bank and were taught skills she hoped would lead to paid employment.

She said it was the volunteers who identified necessary improvements before the LVA stepped in to provide additional help.

Volunteer Dolly Dalton works across all the programs in the Gathering Place and said she hoped to get a paid job with the skills she is learning from her volunteer work.

"I volunteer to connect with the community. It has improved my confidence through talking to people at reception," she said.

"At first, I wasn't willing to answer the phones, now I'm okay with it, and also making phone calls. I'm learning more about communicating face-to-face and administration work."

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said the Gathering Place and its volunteers did important work in the local community.

"This grant will enable the Gathering Place to go from strength to strength. It is where people come together because they want to make a difference," Ms Shing said.

"The Gathering Place provides various programs, services and activities in our local community and is a vibrant and inclusive hub that engages, recognises and celebrates families, children, youth and elders."

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