Here is our first Community Connect for 2022. Community Connect is our way of connecting you to the ERCS community. In this edition you’ll find:

  • A reflection on the importance of relationships from our CEO, Andrée Brown

  • The extraordinary donation of the Mt Atkinson Community Centre property is finalised

  • A look at Edmund Rice Camps VIC’s GEM programs.

  • The latest IPCC report signals a dire, but avoidable scenario for the Pacific

  • How volunteering is ‘like fresh water for a parched soul’

  • And a whip around some recent ERCS news

I was sitting with a small number of staff and volunteers a few weeks ago who work alongside people who are experiencing social isolation, which has been exacerbated by COVID. We were reflecting on the challenge of gathering face to face and if we had to find a different way, what was important in our continuing work with people.

It became very clear that authentic relationship with others in our communities is imperative and a cornerstone of everything that we do. This was described as ‘a lot of listening’, genuine interest in each person’s story, meeting people in their everyday experiences, and building of trust. This is not only for our work in the community but with each other as workers, volunteers, and stakeholders.

For me, this also means that we collectively value the spirit of each individual and the spirit of this emerging organisation. We have more than a passing interest in people’s relationship to the world and how their own story fits with our combined story. We value building relationships, and reflecting on them, as part of our ‘productivity.’ This includes time to deeply listen to each other and the world so that we can bring our gifts to our work, invite others to bring theirs, and affect positive change.

We could say it is ‘part of our DNA’ and a legacy that we bring with us from the Christian Brothers, whose values of presence and compassion have nurtured us and provided guidance as we develop our own identity as ERCS.

As you read through the stories in this newsletter, I invite you to listen to the authenticity of relationship, as we tell the stories of engagement across our communities in recent months, despite the continuing disruption of COVID. The resilience demonstrated indicates that we are well-positioned to listen, respond and plan for the future.

- Andrée Brown, ERCS CEO

The site of Mt. Atkinson Community Centre (MACC), which is the location of Edmund Rice Services Mt. Atkinson, has been gifted to ERCS to ensure the longevity of service delivery in the Mt. Atkinson area. Located on Wurundjeri land, MACC is a community resource that provides opportunities for people who live, learn, work or recreate locally, to come together.

Mark Monahan, Executive Officer of Edmund Rice Services Mt. Atkinson says that “the donation of the Mt Atkinson Community Centre site gives us a home base to journey with the local community for many years to come. The space is unique and flexible, enabling us to evolve our service delivery in response to the expressed need of the community.

Since the inception of Edmund Rice Services Mt. Atkinson, the community have connected with our site and now have a real sense of ownership. The local Aboriginal community feel a real connection with the trees, other cultural groups feel safe and welcome, so are willing to try new activities such as cycling and high ropes, while some older community members find a spark of creativity each week at the Mt Atkinson Art Group. Mt Atkinson Community Centre provides Edmund Rice Community Services with a home to participate in the rapidly growing community sector in Melbourne’s Western suburbs.

Deep appreciation goes to Mt Atkinson Holdings – Anthony Caligiuri, Eli Goldfinger and David Scalzo.”

You can now set up regular giving for ERCS at