First published in the Augusta Margaret River Mail 1 October 2021
The Simple English Wikipedia defines ‘Community’ as “a group of living things sharing the same environment. They usually have shared interests. In human communities, people have some of the same beliefs and needs, and this affects the identity of the group and the people in it. Although communities are formed around personal similarities in interests, every individual is divergent in their own ways, which is the main reason for social diversity in a community”.
A connected and resilient community is the sum of all its parts.
We are a community ‘sharing the same environment’.
So where are we ‘sharing our interests’?
Where do we connect with people with similar ‘beliefs and needs’?
Are we connecting in ways that validate and respect the reality that ‘every individual is divergent in their own ways’ helping to nurture ‘social diversity in (our) community’?
Whether you have lived in this region your whole life or you moved here more recently, we are all connected by the beautiful natural environment that surrounds us.
We choose to live in a rural area for all the benefits we feel it provides, and we accept the challenges it can sometimes present us.
Each of us have different interests and needs, and we find ways in which to engage with those interests and often with others who share them.
If there is a need for a new service, support or group, the community often creates it.
The wide array of social, intellectual, creative and physical activity groups that we enjoy in our community are driven by each of you.
Likewise, when we need support and assistance when life challenges us, our community responds.
Tragedy and loss send ripples of grief and shock through our community, but it elicits a truly heartfelt response of compassion and support in that same community.
A country girl who had been in the city for too long, I moved to Margaret River in 1999 and have been building my sense of community ever since.
My very first role locally in youth work was with an agency based at the Margaret River Community Centre, activating a long history of connection with the Centre and as a result, my wider community.
I have worked for the Centrelink Agency and in the Childcare Centre.
After a challenging journey to becoming parents, our child attended the Margaret River Community Centre for Children; the amazing Child Health nurses who supported me through a period of postnatal depression are now based here.
Now 22 years on, alongside passionate and invested staff and committee, I have the privilege of being the manager of this amazing community hub.
The Community Centre has often been a place of connection, assistance and information when the community has experienced human tragedies and natural disasters.
It has provided a central point to grieve, connect and start the healing journey.
But on a day-to-day basis this place provides people with connection to community in an infinite number of ways!
You come here for courses and dance classes, meditation and singing, for aged care and disability support, for environmental issues and programs.
You come here for counselling, legal advice, community workshops, for support groups and interest groups.
You come here for a warm meal, for information and emergency support, to access the arts, for childcare, playgroup and the toy library.
Some of you simply come and enjoy the beautiful gardens and historic grounds.
Connections happen every day here – sure, sometimes they are in times of desperate need when assistance is needed and referrals are made, but often it is the everyday connection to other mothers, fathers, children, and your own interests and passions that bring you here.
Community happens here every day.
Lydell Huntly is the Manager of the Margaret River Community Centre and a taskforce member of Mindful Margaret River.
Mindful Margaret River is an alliance of mental wellbeing professionals, government agencies and community members aimed at promoting health and wellbeing in the AMR Shire. Mindful Margaret River is funded by Lotterywest and supported by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. Find out more on our website mindfulmargarteriver.org.au and follow us on Facebook.