Melanie is our Sector Development Lead in Communications and Digital Engagement at Neighbourhood Centres Queensland, having joined the team in late 2021.
Melanie came to the team as an experienced strategic communications designer, dedicated to social and environmental justice. Using her skills in strategy, communications, visual design and digital engagement, she’d spent the last 12 years working alongside for-purpose organisations to achieve substantial impact at the local, state and national levels. Melanie has worked on a diverse range of projects such as leading state-wide communications in Federal Election Political Campaigns; designing awareness and fundraising initiatives (including those for poverty in Hong Kong and environmental protection in Tasmania) and collaborating with environmental researchers to achieve public policy reform. Melanie is also a university lecturer with over 9 years of experience in designing and delivering lectures, workshops and courses.
Growing up in the small regional village of The Channon, in Northern NSW, Melanie has long appreciated the importance of people coming together to speak up and stand together for the change they want to see in their community. “I grew up swimming in Protestors Falls, which was not too far from my home. The Terania Creek rainforest surrounding the falls was the site of the first sucessful anti-logging demonstrations in Australia in the late 1970s. Without local people coming together to campaign, the forest along with all of the sacred sites, animals and memories it held would have been destroyed.”
Melanie was inspired to work in the Neighbourhood and Community Centre space because of the dedicated people she’s met and the potential to grow the recognition, resourcing and ultimately the impact of the sector.
“The staff and volunteers I’ve met at Neighbourhood and Community Centres are some of the most deeply caring people I’ve met, who go to significant lengths to support people through hard times whilst also growing the inclusivity and connectedness of their local communities in really creative and empowering ways. As our research shows, they’ve been remarkably effective – together, they impact the lives of over 1.6 million Queenslanders a year. They inspire me.”
“Before I first joined NCQ, I rarely heard Neighbourhood or Community Centres recognised or acknowledged in the media or in public policy. I saw an opportunity and thought ‘If I use my skills and experience to help increase the recognition, resourcing and relationships of the Neighbourhood and Community Centre sector at a state-wide-level… then these remarkable staff and volunteers (who are already doing everything they can) could hopefully be in stronger, better recognised and better-resourced situations… then their impact would grow… and the world would be a bit more equitable and socially just.”
Melanie’s skillset has been crucial to NCQ’s achievements in increasing the recognition and resourcing of the sector, having a hand in developing the strategy and communications behind NCQ’s effective advocacy in the 2022 Queensland state budget, uplifting the voices and stories of frontline staff in the media, rebranding the peak body, delivering a new website, and more.
When you speak with Melanie, her genuine passion for the development of more inclusive, equitable, and resilient communities is obvious. ” Local Neighbourhood and Community Centres are inclusive environments of community-led change, where everyone is welcome to grow innovative projects with others or seek the support they need when life is tough” She says. “Neighbourhood and Community Centres are somewhat humble… but their importance is significant in so many areas. In Queensland, Centres are vital in supporting their communities before, during and after natural disasters hit, on top of responding to rising (and increasingly complex) cases of homelessness, domestic violence and social isolation… in deeply caring and genuinely respectful ways.”
When she’s not working, Melanie loves relaxing with her head in a book (her cat Pablo on her lap), or spending time with her partner, family or friends by the closest beach she can find.