South Eastern Community Connect has a wide, interesting and rich history. Long-time SECC volunteer Catherine Schulte did some research and shares how we have evolved over the last 43 years.

Neighbourhood centres are only what they are because of the dedicated, caring and compassionate people who build them up from the ground.

And South Eastern Community Connect is one such centre.

It started out as Matraville Neighbourhood Centre in 1978. There was a need in the community which had to be met, with a growing population with varying needs.

During the early years we operated as an aged care service, meeting the needs of the local elderly population, assisting them where they needed the help. Back in those days we offered community transport, social support and respite.

By 1987, our name became Botany Neighbourhood Centre. With the name change came community development and multicultural programs from 1993, which included multicultural bus outings, English classes, exercise and recreational programs, Farsi classes for kids, computer classes, the community gardens program, community and multicultural health and mental health programs. There was also a wellbeing for Public Housing Tenants program.

These are the kinds of programs that mean so much to many people, and the families of those who are supported by the centre.

By the time 2002 rolled around, the centre was renamed as South East Neighbourhood Centre. SENC diversified its services even further by including a Justice of the Peace, Community Legal Centre Outreach, Work Development Orders, the EPA scheme, Counselling Service and the famous Volunteer Program.

By 2005, SENC had its first newsletter published, and soon volunteers were recruited to write and design the publication.

Following the path to diversification of the service, along with services to the elderly and disabled population, a Family Hub was included in the service run. This included supported playgroups, a family worker, parenting workshops, the famous SMOOSH program – Out of Hours School Care at both Gardeners Road and Eastlakes Public Schools – and the toy library.

In 2014, SENC diversified even further and included a Dementia Day Care Centre called “The Cottage” in Rushcutters Bay. SECC established this service without pre-existing structures or specific business expertise. The centre was run for some time by a coordinator who was also an experienced Diversional Therapist, and today Eric Scott steers the ship with great skill. Meals and transport are provided at The Cottage, as well as a range of stimulating activities for day visitors. Since commencing, The Cottage has provided a program that yields excellent results for the clients, with symptoms slowing, no longer worsening or, in some cases, improving. The facility also established excellent relationships with clients and their families, local health services, Council and the surrounding community.

By 2015 another name change came about and we moved to our current name of South Eastern Community Connect. Not long after, the organisation took on a second centre at Mascot to further increase its capacity to provide services. In 2021, the centre then moved its central operations from Eastlakes Shopping Centre to a new address at 21 Vernon Ave, Eastlakes.

SECC has grown considerably larger since its inception, and thousands of people of all ages have been the recipients of our services. Today, SECC proudly operates across Bayside, City of Sydney, Randwick, Waverley, Woollahra, City of Canterbury-Bankstown and City of Campbelltown LGAs.

As always, we are here to help when the community needs us.

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