Bunbury outreach centre 'Our Lot' opened by AccordWest

Helping hands: AccordWest chief executive officer Neil Hamilton, tenancy officer Leeanne Grey and intensive engagement officer Michael Grove. Photo: Thomas Munday.
Helping hands: AccordWest chief executive officer Neil Hamilton, tenancy officer Leeanne Grey and intensive engagement officer Michael Grove. Photo: Thomas Munday.

Bunbury resource centres and community groups have celebrated the beginning of a new outreach centre in South Bunbury. 

Crisis care provider AccordWest held an event on Friday, December 1 as part of the official opening of its ‘Our Lot’ facility. 

The event saw AccordWest, Rotary Club of South Bunbury, Salvation Army, and Bunbury Regional Prison representatives get a first-hand look at the Timperley Road premises. 

AccordWest chief executive officer Neil Hamilton said Our Lot provided a sanctuary for a range of people, including those who are homeless, disengaged or have come out of prison.  

“This is has been a long-term dream and Our Lot, as a concept, is a safe place for people to come,” he said. 

“We wanted a safe environment that people could come to and engage with.” 

Mr Hamilton revealed AccordWest has planned to invite chefs and gardeners to assist the centre’s attendees. He said the centre would be utilised by a range of community groups. 

He also added many local organisations have helped to create a workspace for people to develop and share new skills. 

“A lot of this work down here has been done by people who are in prison, coming out and getting involved and giving back to society,” he said. 

“Society is actually about bringing a whole range of people together to get a great outcome.

“It is important not only at this time of year but important all the time. 

“I’m so positive about life in the sense that I get to see not only the worst of life but I also get to see the best of life.” 

The Salvation Army had gifted the land and house to AccordWest. 

Mr Hamilton told the Mail the house was named ‘Mario’s Place’ after a displaced man who moved to Australia after World War II. 

The man had made the Rotary Club of South Bunbury president the executor and trustee of his will.

In his will, the man had asked for his money to be dispersed into the community. 

During the event, Mr Hamilton and AccordWest president Glenys McDonald thanked those involved for helping to make the centre a reality. 

Ms McDonald said it was an impressive community garden and hoped things turned around for AccordWest’s clientele. 

Salvation Army Bunbury Corps Lieutenant Harriet Farquhar expressed support for Our Lot’s role in providing companionship, skills and food. 

“Today’s event is just a great, big celebration,” she said. 

“It’s been a very long time and, to me, it is a great example of two organisations’ collaboration that provides a win-win for both and serves ultimately to benefit the community.” 

Lt Farquhar said the facility was an example of community organisations working in unison. 

“We’ve all got our areas of expertise, and if we all work on our own we end up in little silos but if we work together we actually achieve more,” she said.

BRP superintendent Kerri Bishop said it would provide a valuable resource for people leaving prison. 

“It is very important on a number of different levels,” she said.

“It develops places they can come to when they get out and helps disadvantaged people and others that are in need to get company or support or life skills. 

She said the prison aimed to assist community initiatives wherever possible. 

“I think our role is important because we’ve got the capacity and we can do it,” she said. 

“It’s a win-win for us – it’s a win for the prisoners, their development, the staff, the prison and all the organisations that have got together to develop this centre.” 

Head to accordwest.com.au to learn more about the organisation’s work in the South West.