Caroline Sciascia has been an incredible change-maker in the Winton community, working tirelessly over the past 22 years to transform the Winton Neighbourhood Centre. What was a place that dealt primarily in service provision to individuals became a true hub for community development, where groups evolved, and community events took place.
“It’s important that neighbourhood centres provide individual support and link people with services [but] we had nothing for groups. I felt we needed to broaden [our scope] so we were more well-rounded. Making sure groups have a place to come together and connect.”
Despite being a self-proclaimed community development novice, Caroline could see the centre had a gap and worked alongside her community to create a place where groups and events could prosper.
“If people want to have a go at something they can come and talk [to us], we can listen and then see where we can go from there.”
Winton has had its fair share of challenging times, particularly during the years of drought experienced in the area and the 2019 flooding incidents. When the flooding occurred, the whole town was locked down, people were stuck and the roads blocked, and Winton Neighbourhood Centre became vital to the community’s recovery.
“The whole of the neighbourhood centre was involved in organising the rest of the town. We had to meet the needs of the people.”
Caroline truly understands the unique value of a neighbourhood centre. Neighbourhood and community centres have the power to mobilise community, help those in need and be a place that the community can rely on unconditionally.
“As we were the neighbourhood centre, people were coming in to look for help. Because that’s what neighbourhood centres mean to people. We hope that’s what our neighbourhood centre means to our local people too.”
In one of many career highlights, Caroline helped to organise an event to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2020, a first for the Winton centre.
“It was quite spectacular, because women at Winton didn’t get an opportunity to really come together. Often their husbands go to the pub, but they never really had an opportunity to come together [themselves].”
During the celebration, women had the opportunity to listen to speakers, engage with one another, open up and connect over how the floods had impacted them. The event had a powerful effect on the women in the community.
“[The] women had a great day. They were astounded by how powerful it was when they came together. As people were leaving, they were thanking us in saying we’re going to have to do this again, can you do this again next year.”
“As the worker it was pretty special feeling, it’s like finally that you’ve done something that matters to at least one group of people in Winton. It’s really important that we can create spaces where we can keep people talking to one another.”
Caroline has recently retired from her role after 22 years. She has no doubt left an impact that will long outlast her time in the neighbourhood centre.
We are exceptionally grateful for Caroline’s dedication to the Neighbourhood and Community Centre sector and wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement.
Published 21 September 2020
Written By Taylor Bast