A recent survey of our community showed that we have some tremendous resources available, covering a huge number of needs. However the common response of these service providers was that the people who needed the service were mostly reluctant to access it, or did not know it was available. In the small community/suburb in which we work, transport to these services is also a major factor.
This survey also showed that the greatest felt need within this community was for relationship or connecting with others. In a community with a large number of single parent families, and in a city where people come for work and so do not have family support networks in place, this is not unexpected.
I suggest that a computer-based database of all community services, plus links to various services and someone trained to navigate these links and services, be available at our local Community Drop-in Centre. This does not necessarily "use" the data in new ways, but makes the services already out there more accessible to the marginalised. (I'm not suggesting an extra Centrelink agency - just someone to help others navigate all of the community services out there.) In this way people can meet and network in a community setting familiar to them, and be guided to the services that will best meet their needs.
I also suggest that census data be mined that will guide the compiling of such a database. The profile of the community shows many lonley people who aren't looking for a handout - just a hand! We need to be better equipped to reach out to those who cannot reach out for themselves.
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