Alison Heagney, Executive Officer - Community College Northern Inland

In 2019, Community College supported the community by offering fee-free places in a range of leisure classes at campuses throughout the region. These places were funded by the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network under the Australian Government Empowering Our Communities initiative. This program gives local communities the opportunity to tailor mental health responses to people and communities struggling with drought. The impact of drought is known to extend well beyond farmers and their families in rural communities. The response to our effort to create change was overwhelming. Feedback told us that everyone who took part in our workshops thought they were a success. Of those who responded to our survey, 77% thought our workshops were very successful. Almost 40% of people enrolled in a class for the chance to meet others.

94% of people came along to a class to learn something new while 63% were encouraged to take part because the activity was free. This information tells us a lot—that even in the most difficult economic times the value of expanding skills and knowledge surpasses affordability as a reason to take part in learning programs. Learning has a positive impact on our self-esteem, increasing resilience through improved self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. We proudly present Empowering Our Communities Impact Report 2019.

Community College is pleased to support the whole-of-community approach to mental health and suicide prevention that the Empowering Our Communities program delivers. We hope to see smiling faces at a workshop again soon.

22-23 June: Two-day intensive course presented by renowned local whipmaker, John McMaster. Students come from far and wide to learn the specialised leatherwork techniques that John is famous for.

John McMaster of John McMaster Whips
The course was run by a master of his trade. With his demeanour he was able to instruct us in a manner that (was) comfortable whilst at the same time clearly demonstrating what was required of us and what we could achieve. The (class) was mixed sex and ages from very young to very advance(d). Yes, it was good for the soul and thanks for funding us.

From the Barraba Campus Coordinator

Barraba Community College recently welcomed John McMaster to tutor an 8-strand roo hide whipmaking course. John is well known across Australia for the quality of his hand-crafted stock whips and leather belts. He frequently tutors short courses in plaiting, belt and hatband making and both 4- and 8-strand whipmaking using roo hide and red cow hide. The classes are always popular. At times the College has had people travel from interstate to take part. A group of eight enthusiasts including five Barraba locals, worked from early morning to dark to complete their own roo hide whip over the course of the weekend. The Barraba Men’s Shed donated use of the shed and tools such as clamps and vices were very helpful to ensure the leather was stretched and tensioned during the plaiting. At the completion of the weekend participants proudly demonstrated their completed whips to show off how well they ‘crack’!

Life skills. Whip in a weekend.

25 August: One-day art class presented by Andrea Horwood from Inverell. Students learn mixed media techniques with a still life art piece.

Life skills: Live the creative.
Loved the day. Got our minds off the drought.
Drought weary communities finding joy in learning.

25 July: Hatha is a style of yoga that focuses on building physical strength as well as cultivating harmony, mentally and emotionally. Students learn to work with the body into postures and breathing/relaxation techniques towards calming the mind, strengthening the body and nourishing the soul.

Bingara's Awesome Joe-ga(s) taking part in their weekly yoga

From the Bingara Campus Coordinator

The men of our community who attended Hatha yoga classes benefited in many ways - physically, emotionally, socially and mentally. Classes provided a short break from the worries of the drought and its effects on our community, and men took the opportunity to support each other by getting together afterwards to debrief over a beer at the local pub.

I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to teach this class of men. They are benefiting in so many ways, physically, emotionally, socially and mentally. I’m proud to be part of this program and Community College should be unbelievably PROUD for facilitating this. One student welled up with tears when I told them they didn’t need to pay. This is a very important part of sustaining our community through this horrible drought! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Heartwarming feedback from Karen Bishton, workshop facilitator and owner of Selah Yoga

2 August: 3-hour workshop presented by ONE TREE TRENDS. Students learn how to make the beaded Mala necklace with Tassel Pendant.

Lovely way to meet new people and have some fun.

25 August: 6-week course presented by Maree Kelly covering techniques and materials used in oil painting, composition and colour mixing.

Learnt to appreciate art more. Very relaxing activity to do.

13 August: An exciting new class presented by Matthew of Thistle Flowers. Students learn the art of creating beautiful floral wreaths with Australian natives.

Just fabulous to try something I have always wanted to do. Very nice to be a student, not the teacher. Great to see hobby type courses being made available as so important for so many reasons. The generosity with materials to use was great. Thanks so much.

13 & 18 August: 1-day course for beginners. Students learn the fundamentals of digital photography using a DSLR camera with Q&A time for photography tips and tricks.

Good chance to come together in drought times. Learned a lot too!
Classes in Inverell and Outreach location

18 August: 1-day course presented by Inverell-based artist Andrea Faiers. Students learn how to produce a charcoal drawing in an impressionist or abstract style.

More funding for workshops for the Arts would be great as it benefits mental health, and wellbeing as well as learning new skills.

18 August: Half-day workshop creating beautiful macramé pieces. Students learn the basic knots that are used as the basis of most macramé pieces.

3 & 4 August: 2-day intensive course presented by Peter Koschmann. Students learn practical skills using Manual Metal Arc (stick) and Gas Metal Arc (MIG) welders.

Life skills. Weld in a weekend.

25 August: Evening workshop creating the life you want to live! A vision board is a collage of visual images or words that represent the life you want to live.

10 August: One-day workshop presented by Silver at Sawn Rocks. Students learn how to create a beautiful piece of jewellery, working with the metal itself in annealing and manipulating, shaping and soldering the silver and then polishing their piece of art!

From the Narrabri Campus Coordinator

It started as a chilly day on Killarney Gap Road, Narrabri but participants in the Make your Own Silver Ring soon warmed up with a cuddle from some local wildlife. Kath Hamilton from Silver at Sawn Rocks guided participants through the process of making a silver ring to their own design and everyone left with a unique piece of jewellery that looked fabulous. Thank you Kath and thank you HNECC PHN for providing funding for this course to give a well needed break and distraction to everyone. We are looking forward to the Make your own Silver Bangle next!

15 July: Six-week evening course presented by Peter Koschmann. Students learn the basic knowledge and practical skills required to weld with Manual Metal Arc (stick) and Gas Metal Arc (MIG) welding processes.

25 June: 1-hour session presented by the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) with free luncheon following. Participants learn how to support volunteers in their organisation or community.

From the Warialda Campus Coordinator

A small but enthusiastic group of community volunteers joined the RAMHP-delivered Volunteer Wellbeing session hosted by Warialda Community College in partnership with the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) at their rooms in Warialda on 25 June.

Educating volunteers on how to identify, manage and prevent stress and fatigue is critical to ensuring the continued growth of our volunteering workforce. RAMHP Coordinator Letitia Cross warned participants that volunteer fatigue can lead to people resenting their committee or their role, not feeling valued, or even disengaging from their role and possibly leaving. Participants were given useful tips, videos and facts to help manage and reduce volunteer stress and information about how to look after their own mental health and wellbeing; as well as that of others.

The one-hour Volunteer Wellbeing workshop was followed by a delightful luncheon that continued in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for most of the afternoon.

Creating change in local communities for more than 38 years.

Community College Northern Inland Inc. - RTO 90027

92 Queen Street, Barraba NSW 2347 | Tel: (02) 6782 1662 | info@communitycollegeni.nsw.edu.au