Clients Celebrate Italian National Day

OUR  social groups were immersed in all that is Italian during the week of the Italian National Day Celebrations.  Celebrating the 76th National Day of the Republic of Italy on 2nd June this year, clients and staff danced in traditional folk costumes to their favourite music and songs of their youth.  Both Casa Serena and Casa Aurelia activity centres were decorated to homage to Italian culture. They not only celebrated the heritage of those who have immigrated here, but also introduced and included the worldly clients who participate in centre activities, native Australians and beyond. Following a delicious spread of Italian staple foods like Antipasto, Farfalle in pesto and Tortellini in Sugo, the day turned to embrace another culinary staple; wine.

A winemaking demonstration took place at the centres as this plays a signification role in their culture, economy and health and it is something that many Italian immigrants themselves have brought with them to Australia. To honour this aspect of Italian heritage, centres participated in the classic foot-stomping methods of winemaking. Along with winemaking, clients were invited to dance along to traditional Italian music, making this an event that was sensory as much as it was fun. At Casa Serena, seeing the act of the grapes being crushed underfoot made one client emotional as it evoked a memory of her childhood back home in Spain.

Clients expressed their gratitude for the experience that not only reminded them of Italy, but of family as well. Upon experiencing the festivities, one client shared her story of immigrating to Australia from Italy by boat in 1959. She came with three small children, the youngest being only 9 months at the time to join her husband who was working here, “I joined him with three small children to help him work on the houses.”

While some revisited memories of home and others explored cultural traditions that were completely new to them, it seems that everyone was able to take away something meaningful from the experience and overindulging in Italian food.  One way Casa Aurelia honored Italian heritage while also including other cultures was through song. The group sang one ballad completely in Italian, “Romagna Mia”, and another in English, “Che Serà Serà.” The experience of singing “Romagna Mia” was poignant in its theme, as it tells the story of a man’s nostalgia for his homeland in Italy, but also as a bilingual challenge in memory. Not only were the Italian Week events successful in evoking memories and blending cultures, they also encouraged clients to participate in activities that stimulate balance, movement, cognition and more.

 

 

Latin Dancing in Lutwyche

HAVE you always wanted to learn Latin Dance but not sure where to start? Do you prefer smaller groups of people to learn with? Consider joining our community centre Latin Dance Classes at Co.As.It. in Lutwyche. The classes are held by a professional and friendly dance teacher who will have you in a shimmy in no time.

With only $5 a class the lessons will not break the budget, while getting you into a fabulous new routine.  According to the State Health Department the benefits of dancing include:

  • improved condition of your heart and lungs.
  • increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness.
  • increased aerobic fitness.
  • improved muscle tone and strength.
  • weight management.
  • stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis.
  • better coordination, agility and flexibility

We have a new class starting soon on Thursday from 3pm to 4pm at 473 Lutwyche Road, Lutwyche – with plenty of parking in nearby streets or at the Lutwyche Shopping Centre.  Just call us on 3624 6100 to book your spot!

 

IWD2022 a Great Success

MORE than 300 guests attended Co.As.It.’s high tea for International Women’s Day (IWD), Saturday 12th March held at the Rose Room at Cloudland in Fortitude Valley. The theme, celebrating women, the heart in our community, was reflected in a mini documentary outlining the brilliant volunteering work done by women who volunteer in our Italian community.

Co.As.It. acknowledged the selfless work of three women who were interviewed: Ruth Allison who has been volunteering every Wednesday at Co.As.It.’s Casa Serena Social Centre for more than 15 years, Carmela Bozzi OAM who volunteers for the church and many other organisations in the Italian community, and Paolina Greco who volunteers as part of Co.As.It.’s Community Visitor Scheme, attending residential aged care facilities each week for over 10 years. They talked about the work they do, what motivates them and how their work has helped others.

Speeches by the Hon. Grace Grace acknowledged the leadership by Co.As.It. CEO Cav. Dina Ranieri, and the importance of equal representation of women in public roles and governance, and Lady Mayoress Nina Schrinner talked about dementia affecting women more than men, and encouraged all guests to support the fundraising efforts by the organisation.

Guests were treated to a professional fashion show curated by Laura Churchill from Brisbane Fashion Month featuring local designers Anannasa, Chamani, Red Ridge the Label, Annalisse Designs, Maiocchi, and Jericho Road Clothing. The collections were modelled by Co.As.It. staff and friends and was enthusiastically supported by guests.

Thanks to the wonderful enduring sponsorship from Cav. Fil D’Arro from Italiquore, guests enjoyed complimentary prosecco, as well as a delicious high tea including scones, hot savoury pastries and gourmet sweets. Over 43 raffle prizes were won, with proceeds going towards Co.As.It.’s dementia and wellness program. A fully sold-out event that will stay in the hearts of all who attended.

CEO Dina Ranieri and the History of Co.As.It Community Services

EVOLVING from a consular welfare committee in 1978, the Italian Welfare Association became Co.As.It. by 1986 and in the late 1990s, Community Services was added to the name to better reflect its broader multi-cultural and mainstream role. Today Co.As.It. Community Services employs 420 people supporting more than 5000 clients weekly with aged, disability, community support services and social connectivity.

Despite its dramatic growth, the organisation still retains its original “extended family relationship” model says CEO Dina Ranieri.

“Our culture is such that we welcome people in as a family member, and we look after clients like our own family. We create relationships with them and a sense of village is nurtured every time a new client comes on board -and they love it!”

Dina was 12 when she left Italy and arrived in Australia, with no language skills as she first started attending school. This experience helped to shape her core values, that being the importance of community and culture. As Dina says, “people stay if they like the culture and environment.”

When Dina joined the organisation as an Administrative Assistant in 1987, there were only five staff members and five Community Care Workers providing services to 10-15 clients, all of whom were Italian. At the time, Dina still had small children and was only able to work three days per week.

Soon after she was employed, the organisation became the first culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) organisation to attain aged care funding through the Home and Community Care (HACC) program.

This set Co.As.It Community Services on a path to rapid growth.

Dina’s role at that time involved “a bit of everything”- getting to know the ins and outs of every aspect of the organisation. Like many staff members, she has grown up with Co.As.It. Community Services.

“Many colleagues have been with the organisation for decades and staff turnover is low” she happily reports.

As Dina became more familiar and knowledgeable with the functions of the organisation, she was offered the role as Director in recognition of her skills and expertise. In 2018, when Co.As.It. became a company, she was appointed CEO.

The organisation has powered and grown under Dina’s stewardship, expanding both service provision, assets and presence within the industry.

Co.As.It Community Services have received recognition and won awards for high quality services and excellence in care. In 2021, they were presented with a distinguished Order of Merit Award from the Italian Government for services to the community.

“We all believe in the vision of the organisation and because more than 80% of our staff speak another language, we have the cultural and linguistic competency to excel in this area. We have since opened our arms to other new and established CALD communities.”

Co.As.It. Community Services has two divisions that Dina oversees on a daily basis.

The Italian Language Centre (ILC) promotes and teaches the Italian language and culture in primary and secondary schools Queensland-wide. The centre provides professional development opportunities, resources and support for teachers and over 24,000 students learning Italian.

The Community Services division delivers aged, disability and community care services in Southeast Queensland, from Bribie Island to Tweed heads. Based in Lutwyche, there has social activity and respite centres in Stafford, Brackenridge, Acacia Ridge, Cleveland and the Gold Coast.

Three of these facilities were proudly built using Co.As.It.’s reserves and fundraising capital- a massive achievement for an organisation that started with one office and no bathroom facilities.

Today all the centres offer themed-day activities, transport and meals for clients. Every centre operates five days a week with two activities offered each day that are “often the highlight of the week for the clients” says Dina.

There is also an activity group specially designed for people living with cognitive impairment, the Sunshine Group, which is an essential service for carers and those who attend.

“Co.As.It is providing services that are very much needed in the community. We are supporting families in a way you would in a village; extended families, that is our ethos”

Dina Ranieri

The newest facility Amici House at Bracken Ridge was refurbished entirely from its own funds to the cost of $1M and has been operational since mid-2021.

An array of classes and activities is offered through this centre including respite, Latin dance, art, technology, physiotherapy, podiatry, information sessions and social group meetings. This community hub also boasts a café offering tasty meals and snacks at an affordable price for clients and guests.

 

One of the most enjoyable activities is having children from Tumble Tots Kindergarten and Goodstart Early Learning Centre visit to share their day with clients. The intergenerational exchange between the two generations is extremely precious and rewarding- so much so that it’s not clear who enjoys the day more the children or the elders.

Co.As.It have evolved their services to meet the needs of their clients; to continue to support them on their life journey. “Italians migrated to Australia in large numbers, so they are the first to age in large numbers,” Dina says.

Services like the free ‘Stay Active Exercise Programs’ have been created, to encourage physical activity for older community members. This program is funded entirely by the organisation and started with a pilot study of 15 people. Now the program proudly boasts 6 weekly classes with over 120 participants in three different locations.

The organisation has cared for many clients for generations.

Including children who initially attended playgroups when they were young now attending as parents who have their own offspring and clients who previously attended Co.As.It social outings in the 80s now receiving social activity support, in Italian, as they have moved into aged care homes.

“The demographic has changed but we will always have the history with the Italian community, and Italian will always be part of us,” Dina says.

The sense of continuity and continued strong relationships with their clients are just like a village – the sense of which is loved by all clients regardless of their cultural heritage.

Yoga Classes at Amici House

ARE you wanting to learn yoga without breaking the bank? Why not join our yoga classes on offer at Amici House? All you need to do is register your attendance, bring a yoga mat and wear loose, comfortable clothing. The classes on offer are suitable for all levels and you will learn postures to help improve your mobility, core strength and stability.

Amici House is a re-purposed gospel chapel on Bracken Ridge Road that has received a new life as a café and community facility.  The centre runs weekly community activities for seniors, yoga classes, art classes, and latin dancing. The centre is a hub for the local community and boasts over 170 visitors weekly.

The benefits of yoga are well known and some classes charge up to $20 per class, this is a fantastic way to learn this modality for only $5 in a wonderful environment. You can contact  Co.As.It. Community Services on (07) 3624 6100 to book your place. This course is very popular and highly recommended – register today!

Art Classes at Amici House

DO you live in the Bracken Ridge area and keen to learn something new? Have you ever wanted to join an art class but not sure what you might be good at? If you want the option to try sculpture, painting, sketching, collage, working with clay or watercolour, why not join an art class at the wonderful Amici House! Classes are held every Monday from 10am to 12pm at Amici House, 294 Bracken Ridge Road, Bracken Ridge. Access to the centre is via the service road and there is plenty of on site parking.

Amici House is a re-purposed gospel chapel on Bracken Ridge Road that has received a new life as a café and community facility.  The centre runs weekly community activities for seniors, yoga classes, art classes, and latin dancing. The centre is a hub for the local community and boasts over 170 visitors weekly.

The art classes at Amici House are suitable for students interested in developing their skills or learning new skills. A perfect class for anyone seeking to explore their creative side. All materials are provided for the very affordable cost of $5 per class. Classes are run by a qualified art teacher who can deliver tips and tricks to help you develop your skills. All you need to do is contact Co.As.It. Community Services on (07) 3624 6100 and register your interest.

Nourishing the Soul at Amici House

COME and experience two hours of pampering, wellbeing and friendship. This is a monthly event open to women from the ages of 16 years and above for a $5 contribution. The event will present the importance of self care and how to take time out – there is also time for connecting.  The presentation will be followed by a delicious morning tea including tea and coffee and something nutritious to eat. The gatherings are held on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am to midday at the wonderful Amici House in Bracken Ridge just near the corner of Bracken Street – entry via the service road.

Amici House is a re-purposed gospel chapel on Bracken Ridge Road that has received a new life as a café and community facility.  The centre runs weekly community activities for seniors, yoga classes, art classes, and latin dancing. The centre is a hub for the local community and boasts over 170 visitors weekly.

The “Nourishing the Soul” talks are filling up fast, all you need to do is contact the Co.As.It. Head Office on (07) 3624 6100 to register and book a space for you and a friend, if you wish. It’s a women-only event and there is plenty of on site parking.

International Women’s Day 2022

CO.AS.IT. Community Services is delighted to host the International Women’s Day Celebration on Saturday 12 March, 2022 from 10am to 2pm at The Rose Room,  Cloudland in Fortitude Valley. International Women’s Day is a unique global event that is the highlight of Co.As.It.’s community calendar.

Themed ‘Celebrating Women, the Heart in our Community’, be immersed in a stunning event that will honour the quiet achievers in our community who dedicate time, love and energy to helping others. In collaboration with Brisbane Fashion Month’s Laura Churchill, this year’s event is shaping to be unmissable.

Laura Churchill will curate the Co.As.It. International Women’s Day fashion parade, she is one of Brisbane’s leading stylists and fashion event producers. As director of Brisbane Fashion Month, a month-long series of runway, networking and public events each October, and producer of the Ekka Natural Fibres Fashion Parades since 2017, Laura helms the two largest showcases of Brisbane and Queensland fashion in the state and is a passionate advocate of local fashion designers and makers.

Join Co.As.It. for a wonderful high tea with prosecco upon arrival, generously sponsored by Italiquore, and a chance to win raffle prizes – all in a breathtaking setting at the opulent Rose Room, at Cloudland in Fortitude Valley. Returning as emcee is the masterful Kim Skubris, exceptional communicator, ambassador – a true powerhouse of personality.

Enjoy this event with friends, family, and celebrate the work that women do in our community. Co.As.It. is hosting this exclusive event with all funds raised going toward their Mind Wellness Program – a fully funded counselling and support service for carers and for those living with dementia. Brisbane women of all ages are invited to this event to celebrate women’s achievements and to help #BreaktheBias for a more equitable future.

You do NOT want to miss this one! Tickets via Eventbrite or the Lutwyche Office.

Organisers: Grace Demaio and Linda Moffat

Brisbane Seniors Expo

ORGANISERS were thrilled with the turnout to the recent Brisbane Seniors Expo ’21, held at Brothers Rugby Union club, Albion. Visitors to the Co.As.It. stall received information about the various services and assistance the organisation provides and useful information about registering with My Aged Care, the various forms of financial support provided by the Commonwealth Government and free activities such as dance and computer classes.

Visitors saw local politicians at work, with Federal Member for Brisbane and Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, whose office organised the event, mingling with attendees to gather information about their needs and expectations of government. Along with other politicians and clients, Mr Evans expressed his gratitude for the work Co.As.It. does caring for older people and others in the community requiring support due to disability, incapacity or chronic illness.

Corporate office staff rarely have opportunities to meet Co.As.It. clients and it’s heart-warming to hear first hand just how highly regarded Co.As.It. and its support workers are by clients, their families and friends. Co.As.It. gave out more than 100 ‘sample bags’, with the event being hailed a success by all involved.

WE HAVE MOVED

CO.AS.IT. Community Services begins a new chapter in a new location. The Brisbane team have moved to newly renovated offices at 473 Lutwyche Road, Lutwyche.

The building is the new home of all segments of the organisation including the Italian Language Centre (moving at the end of the school year). The building has a single level for all staff to enable consultation and connection. The new renovation includes state of the art kitchens and a beautiful break out space for all staff to utilise.