Fitzroy Learning Network Annual Report - Page 8

Executive Manager’s Report Our Volunteering program has been restructured and we do look forward to appointing a new manager for this very soon. The program will be fully operational early in the New Year. A major development this year has been the building of our relationship with the Atherton Gardens estate residents, managers and staff. This has led to the roll out of additional programs on the estate, including the development of a Computer Clubhouse Satellite. This whole process has been an exciting one and promises to enhance the community building project of the FLN. FLN has welcomed and embraced many people over the years. Some were local residents struggling to connect with each other due to age and/or isolation from their families. Some others were from new migrant and refugee and new residents whose visa status allows access to English lessons for 500 hours or 700 hours. Also, we have numerous young residents who are engaged at the Computer Clubhouse. Our capacity to host youth after school is stretching. Originally set up to host 20 youth and facilitate their access to technology while encouraging positive role models, many young people have benefited from the CCH and retained their schooling participation while others have been highly motivated to further study. I began work here this year in what is FLN’s 30th Anniversary and I would like to congratulate all past and current stakeholders. FLN over the years has been able to create a holistic model attuned to the needs of the local community, responsive and sustainable. We deliver foundational skills, paths for employment and generally aim to support people who are eager to overcome challenges and disadvantages they face. Our open and welcoming spirit draws from a strong sense of fairness and a well founded approach that has at its base a respect for others and our own humanity. Ten per cent of our local residents are new migrants or are from refugee backgrounds. Most share a vision to obtain education, employment and learn how to improve their lives in their new society. Numerous new university graduates, entrepreneurs, practising professionals, tradespeople and workers are committed to working and living in Melbourne. There are many challenges for those who have lived in detention centres for long periods of time, displaced from country to country, or escaped suddenly into other nations. Also we know that many continue to struggle in their daily life and the scars of these journeys are damaging. At FLN we witness how students and members have developed a relentless attitude towards having responsibility for their own lives, for their own work and a commitment to acting appropriately. FLN is not just a place, it is an entity, an organisation that has developed a work culture where people are respected and supported, working side by side with local residents, volunteers and new residents. Our students and service users come mainly from the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate, high rise buildings that consist of four towers with twenty storey blocks, ten flats on each floor with a total of eight hundred apartments. This place houses two thousands residents. Most come from Vietnam, China and Laos, Central Asia and the Middle East, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, former Yugoslavia, among others. Our staff are driven by the conviction that together we can achieve positive outcomes. Our network values diversity and difference. We know the importance of working transparently and seek further support for much needed investment in the organisation. Our English for All classes are for people who are yet to have a legal status in Australia. Current policies prevent a more humane transition into Australian social life. We aim to review and develop this area over the coming year and to actively advocate for change to inhumane government policies. In a nutshell, FLN staff and volunteers have worked together this year with over 560 people who have accessed our services each week. We deliver over 120 hours of classes, 30 hours more than during 2013. We have increased the number of staff including the addition of a dedicated Education Coordinator. New roles have also been added to administration and maintenance. Working in this organisation we are teaming up with people who know that change is possible and despite all odds we strive to create a better place, better future and more harmonious environment for our local residents. We also know that in order to prepare people to obtain meaningful work and employment, foundation education and paths to further study are at the heart of local residents ability to achieve their aspirations and dreams. The Computer Clubhouse has gone through some major change and development. We are in the process of contracting a new Coordinator for this program and in the mean time Ror Akot, Belinda Lauria and Ben Charly Brown have been sharing this role. This year we have seen the departure of much loved staff members who devoted significant numbers 6