We’d like to introduce you to Corrie McColl, coordinator of Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre and this week’s Local Community Hero.

Corrie is part of a team that delivers the Community Action for a Multicultural Society (CAMS) program, which focuses on supporting and connecting migrant, culturally and linguistically diverse people who have moved to Australia. Not only do he and the team at the Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre run multiple programs in this space, but they continue to offer support long after people have settled into jobs, residences and social groups. This work has also proven crucial to the safety of migrant populations during COVID and other disasters. 

“Any migrant that wants assistance for pretty well anything contacts us in their first instance. We work to help them to connect with community, socialise, reduce isolation at home. We introduce them to sporting groups, mingling opportunities and we even have a migration agent that comes in to help people navigate through the visa application system. We’re most people’s first point of call and then we help them to connect out to other services.” 

“We walk beside people along their whole journey. We follow up after they have joined groups, one week and one month after just to make sure they’re ok and not feeling isolated in their new environments. This follow-up improves the outcomes and retention rates for people achieving what they want.” 

“Along with all of our other programs, we offer something called Culture Bites. This happens 3-4 times a year and is a fantastic opportunity for everyone from any CALD communities to come together at the centre, bring food and connect. Often people like to bring traditional dishes from their home countries to share. We open these events up to the community, board members, local council, state members and business leaders. It really helps people connect, feel good about themselves and the community around them.” 

 Maintaining this connection and support has become a vital ingredient in ensuring disaster resilience within the community. Over time Corrie and his team have worked to ensure that as many people as possible are receiving up to date information about the pandemic and other disasters. 

“We realised that most of the CALD community members were not using social media platforms with news services, not watching Australian television and were often sourcing their information from news sites based in their home countries. We reached out to every ethnic group in the community. We made a list of community leaders, these are prominent, respected people in their community. In communities where leaders don’t have a huge online presence, we also made a list of community connectors, these are people who are always online, constantly connecting and speaking with the other members of their community. Through these leaders and connectors, we are now able to reach about 90% of the people within CALD communities with up-to-date information about COVID and other disasters.”  

The work of Corrie and the entire team at Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre is essential to the safety, support and connection of all people in the Bundaberg region.

Written by: Taylor Bast
Published: 17 March 2022