A helping hand since 1946

Members of the Coolibah Centre in the vegetable garden at the back of the centre. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

The Coolibah Centre in Fitzroy, the first senior’s citizen centre in Australia, is doing things differently and providing socially isolated and vulnerable senior members of society with vital life skills.

Events and activities such as barista classes, table tennis tournaments and competitions involving the CEO are a part of daily life and are also crucial in maintaining the fun loving culture at the centre.

Open since 1946, The Coolibah Centre is part of the not for profit organisation, The Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Program co-ordinator, Marica Cindric, told The Yarra Reporter that “we identify each member’s need and then try to help from there.”

“For example, some need help with their shopping, some with healthy cooking and others with cleaning.”

“The main aim of the centre is to help vulnerable older people to become more independent than they currently are, so that they can live in the community that they love for as long as possible.”

Members of the centre hail from all walks of life, with some coming from dysfunctional families where they were not given an education, and many suffering from addiction or dementia – this is where the Coolibah Centre steps in to offer a helping hand.

Art by the senior citizens at the Coolibah Centre. Photo: Deniz Karaman

The centre takes a holistic approach to helping its senior members by arranging a number of different events and activities, such as cooking and gardening classes, advice and education on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, physical activities that range from table tennis tournaments to walking groups, and arts and crafts programs.

“The centre is more than just a social centre, it’s a place where you invest in health and well being. It’s about building healthier and happier people, which in turn, has a larger overall benefit to society,” said Marica.

A ‘family atmosphere’ is crucial in the running of the Coolibah Centre to ensure every member who joins becomes happier and more independent.

“Some changes are immediate, some take longer, it depends on the individual’s goals, but there’s always an improvement,” said Marica.

“We want our members to have a direct input, for example, our CEO teamed up the senior members for a table tennis tournament, it’s a community endeavour and staff regularly get involved in member events.”

The Coolibah Centre is open six days a week and on any given day, between 25 to 45 senior members access the programs and activities available.

For more information on the Coolibah Centre, click here.

Written by Deniz Karaman

About Deniz Karaman
A born and bred East London girl, Deniz thrives on adventure and new discoveries. She is currently studying politics and international relations and as a self-confessed coffee addict, when she isn’t politics-ing, you can find her hopping from cafe to cafe searching for the best coffee in town.

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