Communities and Justice

We're all in this together

Community is at the heart of programming at Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre (CINC). By taking a collaborative approach, CINC are building flexible programs with the Cowra community in mind. Cowra Information and Neighborhood Centre delivers a range of programs for children, families and young people, to ensure “no one is left behind”, and strongly believes that with a bit of support, everyone has the capacity to succeed.

We're all in this together

Read the transcript.

Going deeper into the practice

Are you a TEI practitioner or someone with an interest in TEI practice? Take a closer look at the practice behind the story and learn how these TEI practitioners were able to connect with their clients and communities to achieve strengths-based and person-centred outcomes.

Fran Stead

Digging deeper with Fran Stead from Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre

Fran is the Chief Executive Officer of Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre (CINC), a Cowra local and part of the community for 17 years. She is featured in the video case study above with Mindy and is a passionate advocate for supporting people earlier on.

What are the important things you focus on when delivering the TEI program?

  • Be calm and positive
    • For service providers, how we show up and the way we engage with the people who come in to connect with our services, is so important. We have to be present and offer a calming, positive energy. As support workers, our behaviour and the environment we create, helps the people who come to us to feel valued and comfortable.
  • Create a welcoming space
    • It’s also important to make the place where people spend their time with us, an inviting, comfortable and welcoming space. If you put effort into creating a space that’s enjoyable to be in, you’re telling people they are worth the effort it has taken to create that space, and that you value them and their time. Nice environments also make them want to come back. There’s good theory behind that as well, it’s not a superficial thing to put value in. Trauma informed care talks about making places welcoming, and paying attention to environment and colour.
  • Use visual cues
    • You also need to be sure of yourself, who you are and be authentic, that’s what makes people feel comfortable. I like to use visual cues of support with people. For example, on the lanyard that I wear to work every day, you can see my ID so you know who I am, but I also have badges on my lanyard with the Aboriginal flag and the rainbow flag. I’m showing that I am an ally to folks who share those identities and they can see that they will be accepted before they disclose any information to me.

You’ve spoken about engaging with the broader community in Cowra, why is that beneficial?

I’m like a salesman in Cowra, telling everyone what we are doing at CINC. It’s really important to create networks and connections in our broader community. Partnerships and connections with businesses and other organisations can offer immense benefits. We are lucky to receive support from lots of local businesses including Woolworths, Coles and others via the Cowra business chamber. These often take the form of program sponsorship and food donations for take home meals.

We also have a permanent seat on the Cowra Local Emergency Management Committee. This was a big achievement for us because they are usually held by much bigger organisations. We attend those meetings at every opportunity, using them to share what we are hearing and seeing in the community and what we are doing. Our voice is valued there because other organisations know that what we are saying is genuinely reflective of what’s going on in the community.

What advice would you give to other TEI practitioners?

Develop a good relationship with your Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Commissioning and Planning Officer (CPO) (for funded service providers). Don’t be afraid of them or try to hide any issues from them. Talk to them, get their advice and input, and tell them what you’re seeing in the community. DCJ wants the best for clients, and so do we, we’re on the same team. DCJ have commissioned us to deliver the work because we know our communities best, so if something isn’t working talk to them about it and try to find a solution together.

How do you make your service trauma informed and client centred?

  • Employ the right people
    • I think the most important thing is employing the right people and making sure those people have the tools and training they need to do the job well. Taking time to do recruitment right is crucial, I can’t overstate it. If someone doesn’t have the right mindset, and doesn’t align themselves with the values of your service, they aren’t right for the job.
  • Know what you can do versus what you can’t
    • It’s also important that we don’t promise things to clients that we can’t deliver. If we can’t provide a service well, if it’s not something in our contract or something that we are trained for, we need to help that person find another service.
  • Training
    • It’s important to make sure the values of the organisation are really clear. In our organisation everyone attends a wonderful training program called ‘Bridges out of Poverty’. This program makes sure we are all on the same page. Everyone, from our disability support workers and TEI workers, to our 18 year old receptionist, does that training. While our receptionists may not be counselling people or be expected to have that sort of expertise, when they deal with people they treat them with respect and dignity, thereby representing the values of our organisation.

What challenges do you deal with in Cowra?

What’s so good about TEI, is that it’s locally-based. This gives us the flexibility to listen to our community, so when we collaborate and connect with our DCJ CPO, we can adapt and respond to the changing needs we see. One significant challenge that impacts our community work, is that we are very reliant on outreach services. For example, some of our practitioners travel from larger metropolitan or regional centres to Cowra once a week. This makes it really hard for them to get to know the community and understand the nuances here. It also makes it hard for them to build trust with the community. I think this issue is faced by many regional places.

Refer yourself or a friend

If you believe someone you know would benefit from some extra support or connecting with community services, search TEI on ServiceSeeker to find a service. If you need help finding a TEI service visit Family Connect and Support.

Practitioner referrals

If you’re working with a family or young person and would like to refer to one of these services, search TEI on ServiceSeeker.

Last updated:

07 Jul 2023