A day to be remembered: International Women’s Day 2023

International Women's Day Co.As.It. 2023

Co.As.It. brought a vibrant community together on Saturday (11) in a memorable event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 under the flag “Embrace Equity”.

In a journey specially prepared through the colours of the Mediterranean, VIPs, guests, and staff at the Greek Club honoured the advances and the crucial work carried out by women in the community services industry.

Kim Skubris entertained the guests over five hours of celebration, networking, and friendship, accompanied by a sumptuous brunch and fashion parade by Laura Churchill (Brisbane Fashion Month).

Guests’ kind-heartedness outpoured as raffles were quickly sold – with proceeds going towards Co.As.It.’s Dementia Support & Mind Wellness Program. Winners were gifted with wines, store vouchers and hampers, among other prizes.

In a touching speech, Brisbane’s Lady Mayoress, Nina Schrinner, singled out the importance of organisations such as Co.As.It.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of organisations like Co.As.It. as they will come in [to support the community]. They are the white knight coming over the hill to help,” Lady Mayoress said.

“Dementia is the number one killer of women in Australia, while isolation is one of the most significant contributing factors to that. I’m talking about serious life-changing issues related to this. You watch your relative being perfectly fine physically before you, but their mind has gone. We need the support of those specialised organisations.”

In 2022, it was estimated that 401,300 Australians were living with dementia, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures.

Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing, Hon Grace Grace, reinforced the necessity of embracing equity and praised the work conducted by Co.As.It.

“We need to continue to embrace equity to be sure women and men have an equitable challenge in life and the ability to grow,” the Minister said.

“Co.As.It. does such a fantastic job, and I don’t think there is one person in this room who hasn’t either directly benefited from Co.As.It. or indirectly seen the benefits for someone they know – when we think about our Mammas, Nonnas – what a great organisation to look after them.”

Cr Vicki Howard, Central Ward’s first female Councillor elected in 2012, affirmed that Co.As.It. stands for the ability to connect people through their language.

“The organisation has the ability to help people in their own language. This is just so important. More than 30% of our people within Brisbane come from countries other than Australia. So we have organisations such as Co.As.It. that bring people together and are always there to support them,” Cr Vicki said.

Through a recorded video, the Consul of Italy in Brisbane, Luna Angelini Marinucci, regretted not being able to participate in the event but emphasised the strength of women in the 21st century and the importance of the work done by Co.As.It. within the community.

Dina Ranieri, CEO of Co.As.It. highlighted that the organisation has organised International Women’s Day for about 14 years as an opportunity to celebrate the excellent female staff and all volunteers.

“As we are an organisation that looks after the elderly and those with a disability, we attract a lot of females because they are the ones that have that caring nature. With over 400 staff and more than 85% women, it makes us realise we are a force not to be taken lightly.”

“Today, we celebrate women’s incredible achievements and renew our commitment to gender equality. We remember the sacrifices our past strong and determined women made to ensure we would be treated equally and not be put aside and forgotten.”

Casa Serena and Ruth Allison: a love story

Casa Serena Co.As.It.

Sixteen years ago, Ruth Allison began her journey as a volunteer at Casa Serena. After decades of teaching, it was time to step aside from the school and dive into a new world: Community Services.

Ruth stumbled upon Community Services due to her willingness to practice Italian and serve the local community. “I used to teach high school. When I retired, I didn’t know what to do next. I was only sure that I wanted to speak in Italian and have contact with our community,” she says.

“Days later, I saw Co.As.It’s advertisement asking for volunteers able to speak Italian. It was love at first sight”.

Last December, for one last time, Ruth supported and spread love to each of her unforgettable clients (friends, as she calls them). Friendship, as she emphatically says, is what will be kept from these almost two decades at Casa Serena.

“There are lots of pictures of birthdays, parties and Christmas. There are also those special moments of happiness and tears that I will always carry on me.”

Ruth recalls that her first interactions with clients at Casa Serena were strictly in Italian, as most of them couldn’t speak English. Among her initial tasks was assisting clients in contacting the local parish, teaching English and even helping a romantic client find a bride.

“My experience as a volunteer was great. I recommend to anyone interested in serving the community talk to Co.As.It. My time at Casa Serena was amazing, and people have always been nice to me in a very welcoming way.”

Now, it is time for Ruth to look after herself and enjoy her retirement – and, for sure, become a periodic visitor to our “Community Centre of Friends”.

Meet Paul and Desley: our dynamic duo

Paul and Desley at Co.As.It.

Desley Anthony (72) and Paul Anthony (86) are the accurate representation of the term ‘dynamic duo’.

The couple has been attending all activities offered at the Amici House – a Community Hub part of Co.As.It Community Services – a charitable organisation with a heritage of helping the multicultural community for over 40 years.

Since last year, both partners have been attending exercises, Latin dance, art, technology classes, and the woman’s group (for Desley).

“The classes are very helpful in keeping us active. It is all easy and fun. Not to mention that I have learned so many things in the technology classes,” said Paul.

“We love to do the exercises, but our favourite class is Latin dancing. We just love that. We’re not terribly good at it, but it makes us happy and active,” Desley says.

A consistent social life like the ones of Desley and Anthony has been proven to offer many health advantages, such as less risk of depression and a longer life span.

The Australian Loneliness Report has pointed out that higher levels of loneliness are associated with more elevated levels of social interaction anxiety, less social interaction, poorer psychological well-being, and inferior quality of life.

Chiara Dal Sasso, counsellor of the Mind Wellness Team at Co.As.It., says that ageing is usually accompanied by fears or never-explored traumas from the past.

“There is the fear of the end of life. You look behind and think about what you have done or if you have done enough, and if something should have gone differently,” Chiara says.

“In addition, traumas reflecting past times might emerge, such as witnessing domestic violence, alcohol abuse and war. They might appear again if these traumatic situations have been hidden over the years and never tackled.”

The fact is that our mental health shifts in multiple ways as we age, and staying active and socialising are powerful medicines against any deterioration in life quality.

At Amici House, seniors and community members will find activities and services such as yoga classes, art classes, women’s groups, technology classes, Latin dancing, NDIS art classes and health services (podiatry and physiotherapy).

International Women’s Day – Tickets On Sale Now

Co.As.It. Community Services “International Women’s Day” features the participation of Brisbane Fashion Month’s Laura Churchill – one of Brisbane’s leading stylists and fashion event producers.

Guests will enjoy a fabulous brunch with prosecco upon arrival, generously sponsored by Italiquore. Returning as emcee is the masterful Kim Skubris, an exceptional communicator and ambassador – a true powerhouse of personality.

Our International Women’s Day is our largest fundraising event in which all funds raised go toward our Dementia Support and Mind Wellness Program. The program is fully funded by Co.As.It. and offers counselling and support services to over 200 carers and those living with dementia.

More information here.

Ageing Well – Amici House

Co.As.It. Community Services

Every Wednesday at 7:04 am, Co.As.It.’s Team presents a 15 minutes show called Ageing Well at Reading Radio Brisbane (1296 AM).

Ageing Well is a show created to explore age-related subjects, such as dementia, social isolation, exercises, and social hubs, among others. In this episode, we talked to Cintia Paolino, Community Services Officer about the activities run at Amici House.

Listen to the episode here:

Amici House hosts its first Art Exhibition

Amici House Artist Posing in Front of His Artwork

Amici House hosted its first “Art Exhibition” on Friday, 16 December. The paintings were created by participants of the NDIS program and other community members with an interest in art. Hundreds of guests turned out for the exhibition to celebrate the clients’ artistic flair ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Art Class Teacher at Amici House; Ali Gillet, could not hide her happiness with the results, after only a short time in leading the art classes. “Art generates bravery and confidence in our students. It empowers them to make small decisions like what brush to use, how to correct colour, or how to see the colour or shapes needed,” Ali says.

Clinton Wade, an NDIS participant, had his artwork exposed at the event. For 2023, he says, the goal is to use a different painting style. “I’m just having fun and learning. I want to try different approaches, like charcoal on animal paintings,” he says.

Karen Petersen, also another participant artist, revealed that the classes are used as a time to relieve stress. “I have anxiety, and I feel calm and relaxed among friends during the art classes,” she says.

Co.As.It.’s CEO, Dina Ranieri, thanked Amici House staff and praised the importance of art classes held at Amici Community Hub.

“An exhibition like this highlights the work we do in the community, and allows us in bringing participants together to share the activity and form friendships. We know that art is an element that reduces stress and anxiety in many people, and all of those within this class gain much benefit and enjoy it.”

It was also a time to wish everyone the best wishes for the festive season as well as raffling of gifts and sharing of good food.

Ageing Well Episode 1

Ageing Well

Every Wednesday at 7:04 am, Co.As.It.’s Team presents a 15 minutes show called Ageing Well at Reading Radio Brisbane (1296 AM). 

Ageing Well is a show created to explore age-related subjects, such as dementia, social isolation, exercises, and social hubs, among others. In our first episode, we talked to Paola Matute, the NDIS Coordinator at Co.As.It, on how art and creative programs can contribute to NDIS outcomes.

Listen to our first episode here:

Casa Aurelia celebrates 20 years of Rose

Rose at Casa Aurelia

Around 80,000 clients served and hundreds of hours worked in two decades of pure dedication and commitment to delivering well-being to the senior community in Brisbane.

SGA (Social Group Activities Centres) Coordinator Rosetta Sirianni, or Rose, has blown out the candles of 20 years of work with Co.As.It. Community Services.

Amid gifts and slices of cake at Casa Aurelia (centre in Acacia Ridge), Rose made sure to affectionately hug one-by-one: members of the team and her nurtured clients.

Being able to write down books with many stories accumulated over the years, Rose tried to summarize some of the moments she has experienced at Co.As.It.

Unforgettable Moments
“I think every day is [an unforgettable day] by just coming in here and seeing the clients been thankful at the end of the day. But, sure, after Covid-19 was really special when everyone appreciated the groups even more.”

Biggest Challenges
“Covid-19 has been the biggest challenge. There haven’t been that many huge challenges over the years. I would say keeping the groups interested and creating ongoing activities for them. So, they’ll be interested in coming every day.”

Most Important Lessons
“Listen, listen, and keep learning, always learning. Even now, I’m still learning. There’s much more to teach and show them [the clients].”

Secret for Longevity
“You need to like your job, not love it. Because you can love anything, but you need to like it. I get up in the morning, and I’m ready to go. There is also perseverance. You don’t give up because something gets hard. It gets tricky, but you work through it with your staff. My staff is my backbone, without them…”

[Rose gets emotional. The Marketing Team decides to put the camera and notes aside to give her a well-deserved hug.]

Social Outings – Byron Bay

The heavy rain alerts didn’t stop our captivating Social Outing group from having a fantastic time in Byron Bay on October 20. Clients wanted to reminisce on the old days when they frequented the area.

The first stop was at the Social Brew Cafe at Burleigh Heads. A delicious morning tea made up of incredible types of sweets served as fuel for the long day ahead. Hours later, at the RSL, the clients were ready to enjoy a wine and meal of their choice, followed by apple pie and ice cream dessert.

Nothing is better after a tasty meal than visiting the town centre for some shopping therapy – they had plenty of fun. On the way home, our group was accompanied by Elvis Presley as the bus driver put on a classic movie of the rock legend.

Euro Concert Gold Coast – A Huge Success

The Glades Golf Club in Robina served as a stage for Co.As.It. Euro Concert at the Gold Coast, a seniors’ multicultural celebration that will be long remembered, as declared by the public. As part of Queensland Senior’s Month, the Euro Concert drew a crowd from diverse backgrounds who took over the dance floor and (almost) didn’t let it go. A hamper and several wines were giveaways as part of the Lucky door prizes.

While the public relished refreshments, including a Chef’s selection of sandwiches, savouries and sweets, Musical Director Frank Debellis and Australian indie artist Vince Gelonese were in charge of Latin classic tracks.

“Euro Concert is important because we have been isolated for two years without going anywhere. This is really the first outing after so many restrictions. Getting together and celebrating like this is so beneficial,” guest Claire Garcia said. “I would be attending events like this every month. I love music and dancing, a perfect combination well served at the Euro Concert,” affirmed Samar Moubayed before heading to the dance floor.

Co.As.It. Care Services Manager based at the South Coast office, Rosario Occhipinti, said it is a relief to finally be back with the community. “We’re going to look at doing more events now, bring the community together more often. We can see it today; people are enjoying it, and they’ve all expressed their approval for more events. Even those not on the dance floor are celebrating, so I think one event is not enough,” said Rosario.

Euro Concert Gold Coast was granted contribution funding from COTA (Council on the Ageing) and the Gold Coast City Council.