helping out at the community cafe


IOE’s Adult Services is making good community connections in the Yarra Valley through its Rural Intensive program!

The program has two main components, community inclusion and independent living skills.

The independent living skills are being learned and put into practice during regular two day intensives which includes an overnight stay at Britannia Park Guides Camp in Wesburn. Participants stay overnight in one of the cottages and while there practise independent living skills, including shopping; planning and cooking meals; doing general house hold chores like washing dishes, vacuuming floors and carpets, making beds and cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. As well they learn about personal care in regard to showering and general hygiene issues. Living and working in the house participants also learn to share a space with other people, to compromise, negotiate, communicate and be in each others company. This is when the good social interaction happens, people begin to build rapport, get to know each other and develop friendships.

We are building community connections in the Valley in a number of ways. At present participants are volunteering at Koha Community Café in Yarra Junction on a Thursday afternoon where they set up the dining room ready for the café to open to the public at 6pm. Every second week everyone stays on to join members of the community for dinner at the cafe and on the alternate week the group cooks dinner back at the cottage.

Participants also volunteer at Yarra Valley ECOSS, which is a sustainability and learning farm. The farm has many aspects to it such as bee keeping, tiny houses, an art gallery and pottery studio and a general area for communities to use called The Coop. Chickens run free and lay their eggs in the garden, there is a plant nursery and a large vegetable garden where the group mainly works clearing the vegetable beds and preparing for the next seasonal crops.

The Rural Program participants have finally started volunteering at Warburton Primary School, growing vegetables and herbs in their garden beds that will then be used for cooking meals at Koha Café. All in all there are a huge number of diverse skills that are being acquired through involvement in all these ventures, skills which can be put to good use when looking for work and moving to increased living independence.

These are just a few of the things that Rural Intensive participants are involved in. Our aim is to explore the Yarra Valley and all its resources and hopefully to become involved in many more community and private businesses so we can gain skills and build friendships in the Valley.

Theresa Vincenzini – Adult Services Support Worker