On March 14th the NCQ team were fortunate to visit the Donald Simpson Community Centre in Cleveland and meet Thomas Jithin (the Centre’s CEO) and Tony Christinson (the Centre’s Board Chairman) who gave the team a tour of the Centre.
The Community Centre, which until 12 years ago was called an ‘Over 50’s Leisure Centre’ had an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. Our team was greeted with warm smiles and laughter could be heard throughout the building as the Centre’s many daily activities were taking place.
The Centre lives up to its motto “enriching the lives of mature citizens through activity and friendship” by offering an extensive array of scheduled activities throughout the week. The programs were exceptionally diverse, ranging from creative classes like painting, pottery and woodworking; physical activities including table tennis and Qi Gong, through to pragmatic supports, services and information sessions about health, legal advice and local events. The Centre also offers 4-6 low-cost day trips every month, as part of their Out With a Difference (OWAD) initiative, which provides community members an opportunity to connect with one another while exploring Queensland. In addition, members can join a range of multi-day interstate and international group holidays.
Despite providing a diverse range of inclusive activities and supports, the Donald Simpson Centre receives no operational Neighbourhood Centre funding from the government. The Centre raises money through their low-cost annual membership fees for their growing community of 2,000 members alongside sponsorships and donations for activities. In addition, they have a number of creative fundraising initiatives including selling tickets to their annual show and their Centre Café, a social enterprise located at the Centre. In a recent study by KPMG, it was found that the Donald Simpson Community Centre provided $3.85 of community value for every dollar of Government funding they raise.
The extensive work of the Community Centre is supported by an incredible 140 volunteers alongside a small team of staff who run the Centre including 2 part-time caretaking staff (who both have CPR certifications for duty of care). Everything from their staff down to their colour-coded library sticker system has been well-considered to provide the best experience for their membership base, which is mostly comprised of older Australians.
It was a fantastic opportunity to visit the Donald Simpson Community Centre and see the work of passionate people providing inclusive, dignified and engaging support to our older Queenslanders.
To learn More about Donald Simpson Community Centre, you can visit their website: https://www.donaldsimpsoncentre.com.au/
Published: March 2023
Written By: Taylor Bast