Author Archives: Eastern Community Legal Centre

  1. Latest news: State Budget addresses funding gap at Specialist Family Violence Courts

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    Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) welcomes the State Government’s budget announcements confirming their commitment to supporting victim-survivors of family violence through Community Legal Centres and Victoria Legal Aid.

    Attorney-General Hon. Jaclyn Symes MP announced that victim-survivors of family violence will be better supported with $22.8 million to provide Specialist Family Violence Legal Assistance at Courts in Ringwood, Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Latrobe, Melbourne, Sunshine, Werribee and Geelong.

    ECLC has been strongly advocating for funding to be provided to both meet surging demand and implement the new model at the Ringwood Specialist Family Violence Court, which formally commenced in October 2022.

    The Centre provides free duty lawyer services at Ringwood Court four days each week and has been seriously affected by the lack of funding which has left victim survivors at risk. ECLC reluctantly introduced a limit on assistance at the Court to protect both client safety and staff wellbeing.

    ECLC’s CEO Michael Smith said, “We know the distressing impacts for community members – mostly women and children – of not being able to fully support victim survivors who are facing immense challenges in navigating the court system and are at their most vulnerable.”

    “We are very reassured that the government is recognising the vital importance of this support for victim-survivors of family violence and look forward to more fully implementing the recommendations of the landmark Royal Commission into Family Violence.

    The State Budget also confirmed continuing funding for the court Early Resolution Service as well as broader CLC family violence and early intervention programs. Further funding to meet organisational wage pressures will also ensure key programs continue.

    ECLC has received strong support from key MPs across Melbourne’s East and greatly appreciate their advocacy. ECLC thanks the Attorney-General, the Victorian government as well as all of the local MPs and the broader community for their advocacy and support, particularly for people experiencing family violence,” added Smith.

    Download Media Release here

    Download State Government Media Release here

  2. Star Weekly: Report launch hails success of elder abuse program partnership

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    By Parker McKenzie

    An independent review has hailed the success of two programs run in partnership by Eastern Health and Eastern Legal Community Centre to combat elder abuse while earmarking the programs for expansion.

    A launch at Eastern Health’s Box Hill office was attended by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Wednesday 12 April to release the report into the first three years of the Engaging and Living Safely and Autonomously (ELSA) and Rights of Seniors in the East (ROSE) programs.

    ECLC CEO Michael Smith said his organisation has been working in the area for 15 years now.

    “In the early days, all our projects had names like under the carpet or behind,” he said.

    “Sadly, but thankfully, we’ve become much more aware.”

    ECLC partnered with Eastern Health to launch ELSA and ROSE in 2019, and the programs “have achieved their goals to the highest possible levels” and support the adaption of the ELSA and ROSE models to other geographical locations and their continuation and expansion” according to the report.

    Eastern Health CEO David Plunkett said the report release was a big moment in the partnership between his organisation and ECLC.

    “One key aspect that is discussed at length in this report is collaboration with community partners,” he said.

    “We know the needs of our community are changing, in fact the proportion of our population over 85 years is set to grow by 75 per cent by the year 2036.”

    The ELSA program comprises of a partnership coordinator, community lawyer, elder abuse advocate and financial counsellor to respond to older Eastern Health patients at risk or experiencing elder abuse.

    The ROSE program features a community lawyer, elder abuse advocate, and financial counsellor to respond to older people experiencing or at risk of abuse, working in partnership with Oonah Health and Community Services Aboriginal Corporation and other community partners.

    Mr Smith said he first met Mr Deyfus 10 years ago during his first stint as Attorney-General as a part of the Gillard Government, where he pitched a community legal centre in Healesville.

    “I’m pleased to say the Yarra Ranges Centre is now in its 10th year,” he said to applause.

    Mr Dreyfus said the evaluation demonstrates the incredible work and service the ECLC has provided to “some of our most vulnerable Australians.”

    “ECLC has been at the forefront of strenuous efforts to tackle elder abuse and has engaged in policy, advocacy and community education on elder abuse for many years,” he said.

    “There is growing awareness in our communities of elder abuse, in part that is thanks to the first national elder abuse prevalence study in December 2021, which revealed that approximately one in six Australians experienced elder abuse in some form.”

    The programs have received funding until 2026.

    Mr Dreyfus said often pilot programs don’t result in long-term funding.

    “I’m very interested in predictability of funding for obviously the legal assistance sector,” he said.

    “It’s very important organisations are able to plan.”

    Read the original article here

  3. ECLC supports Poccum’s Law Bail Reform

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    ECLC along with 55 other legal, human rights and health organisations are proud to pledged support for “Poccum’s Law: The Blueprint for Bail Reform”.

    The Centre will continue to stand with Veronica Nelson’s family and are proud to support this clear blueprint for bail reform as we collectively call on the Andrews Government to urgently implement bail reform so what happened to Poccum never happens again.

    Read the official Media Release below:

    Media Release

    | For immediate release: Wednesday 22 March 2023

    Poccum’s Law: the blueprint to fix the Andrews government’s discriminatory bail laws

    The family of Veronica Marie Nelson, a strong Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman who passed away in custody, are calling on the Andrews government to implement urgent changes to the state’s bail laws and have asked that these reforms are referred to as Poccum’s Law.

    “Poccum” was the nickname Veronica received from her family; as a child they took Veronica out to see a possum in the tree, and she would pronounce possum as ‘poccum’.

    Thousands of people continue to be funnelled into Victoria’s prisons following knee-jerk amendments to Victoria’s bail laws. Since 2018 the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in prison has almost doubled, and right now a staggering 41.9% of people in prison are unsentenced and awaiting a court hearing or trial.

    Victoria’s bail laws destroy families and communities and put people’s lives at risk. They have led to a soaring prison population, even though Victoria’s crime rates have flat-lined.

    The Coronial Inquest into Veronica Nelson’s passing labeled the bail laws ‘a complete and unmitigated disaster’. The Coroner found that the bail laws discriminate against Aboriginal people, are incompatible with Victoria’s Human Rights Charter, and should be changed urgently.

    56 organisations in the legal, human rights and health sectors, including the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Robinson Gill Lawyers, Dhadjowa Foundation and the Human Rights Law Centre, support the family’s calls and urge the Victorian government to immediately implement Poccum’s Law by:

    1.      Removing the presumption against bail.

    2.      Granting access to bail unless the prosecution shows that there is a specific and immediate risk to the safety of another person; a serious risk of interfering with a witness; or a demonstrable risk that the person will flee the jurisdiction.

    3.      Explicitly requiring that a person must not be remanded for an offence that is unlikely to result in a sentence of imprisonment.

    4.      Removing all bail offences (committing an indictable offence while on bail, breaching bail conditions and failure to answer bail).

    Read Poccum’s Law here

    Quote from Aunty Donna Nelson, Veronica’s mother

    “My Poccum’s pleas for help must be heard by all lawmakers to correct a bail system that is broken.

    “I want these reforms to be made in honour of my daughter, Veronica, so lawmakers can always be reminded of how cruel and inhumane prison can be to our mob.

    “Any reform falling short of our demands will not be supported by me, and cannot have my Poccum’s name associated with it.

    “The Victorian Government has an opportunity to get this right once and for all – to keep our daughters out of these heartless prisons and to invest that money into where it is needed, rehabilitation and support for our mob.”

    Quote from Uncle Percy Lovett, Veronica’s partner

    “The Premier has got to change the bail laws, he just has to. They can’t just make small changes and then do nothing else. Everyone should be presumed innocent, they should have a right to get bail.

    “Veronica shouldn’t have been in prison, she should have been at home. If it weren’t for the bail laws, Veronica wouldn’t have been in prison, she would be alive.

    “I want to make sure no one else goes through what Veronica went through.

    “Veronica deserves the justice she didn’t get that day. When I was in court with Veronica when she applied for bail – no one asked Veronica proper questions, no one listened to her, no one cared.”

    Quote from Nerita Waight, CEO of VALS

    “VALS is proud to be able to support Uncle Percy in his fight for justice. He wants to ensure that what happened to Veronica does not happen to anyone else and we will keep working until we get that change.

    “Victoria’s bail laws have decimated the lives of so many people, families, and communities. One of the worst outcomes of the current bail laws is that it has driven a large increase in the number of Aboriginal women held on remand facing minor charges. These women are often victim-survivors of domestic violence and often primary carers for family and kin. Many of them would not get prison time if they were convicted of the charges they are facing.

    “Veronica Nelson’s passing in Dame Phyllis Frost Centre prison must result in big changes to Victoria’s bail laws. The Victorian Government must not fail to meet the moment. This is the governments and society’s chance to say that we don’t believe in laws that decimate the lives of individuals and communities nor do we condone the cruelty that Veronica faced.”

    Quote from Ali Besiroglu, Principal Lawyer at Robinson Gill Lawyers

    “Veronica Nelson’s death in custody is a powerful and devastating reminder that Victoria’s bail system is in dire need of reform. The over-representation of Aboriginal women in our jails is a national disgrace. Urgent bail reform is essential to ensure that Aboriginal women are not unfairly targeted and criminalised by a system that is stacked against them.

    “Thirty-two years ago, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recognised the need to revise any criteria which inappropriately restricted the granting of bail to Aboriginal people – yet we continue to imprison Aboriginal people more than ever before. We cannot continue on the current path.

    “A mere watering down of the current bail legislation will be woefully inadequate and will not address the over-representation of First Nations people on remand. Nothing short of a drastic and urgent overhaul will suffice.”

    Quote from Apryl Day, Executive Officer at Dhadjowa Foundation

    “Veronica should be here today with her family. It’s time for the Victorian government to meaningfully address the racial injustice and overrepresentation of Aboriginal and and Torres Strait Islander people in the legal system.

    “The Andrews government must immediately implement Poccum’s Law and reform the state’s bail laws. A continued lack of action will only leave our community members in danger of suffering the same discrimination as Veronica.”

    Quote from Amala Ramarathinam, Acting Manager Lawyer at Human Rights Law Centre

    “Victoria has some of Australia’s most dangerous and discriminatory bail laws. These laws are resulting in the injustice of women and children being denied the presumption of innocence, not because they pose a risk to the community, but because they themselves are at risk – of family violence, homelessness, economic disadvantage and mental illness.

    “Poccum’s Law provides the Andrews government with a clear blueprint for bail reform to ensure that Victoria’s bail laws are fair, compliant with the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, and will not needlessly discriminate against people experiencing disadvantage.

    “The family of Veronica Nelson are leading the calls for fair bails laws with tremendous strength. They must be listened to, and the Andrews governments must act on their calls for change.

    “If the Andrews Government is serious about addressing its botched bail laws and meeting its obligations under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, it must implement Poccum’s Law in full. Without these wholesale changes, the Andrews government will continue to inflict unnecessary and preventable harm on people, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and put them at risk of dying in a police or prison cell.”

    Media contacts:
    Thomas Feng, Media and Communications Manager, Human Rights Law Centre,
    0431 285 275,

    Patrick Cook, Acting Head of Policy, Communications and Strategy, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, 0417 003 910,



  4. ECLC will be closed on 26 January as our teams attend various Survival Day events and activities

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    ECLC acknowledges that we live and work on stolen lands, lands which were never ceded and pay deep respect to all First Nations communities.

    Today, the Centre stands in solidarity and support with First Nations communities acknowledging that today is not a date to celebrate. The Centre will be closed to the public as our teams attend various Survival day events and activities. Stay tuned for more…

    If you would like to find out more about Invasion Day/ Survival Day and become an ally to First Nations communities, visit or visit and  Uluru Statement from the Heart

    If you need urgent legal advice please contact Victoria Legal Aid onVictoria Legal Aid (VLA) 1300 792 387

  5. ECLC’s 48th Annual General Meeting

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    ECLC was delighted to welcome over 70 partners, supporters, volunteers, guests and to its 48th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 29 November, 3pm at Manningham Civic Centre.

    ECLC officially unveiled its 2022 Annual Report, “Moments that Matter”, a key theme that resonated throughout the meeting hosted by Chairperson, Janet Matton AM. The Centre warmly thanked Jose Abalo for almost 12 years of service on the ECLC Board and reported almost breakeven financials.

    CEO, Michael Smith acknowledged the Centre’s Aboriginal partnerships and reiterated the Centre’s commitment to  being active and strong allies to our First Nation’s communities.

    Michael also shared some of the key milestones for the Centre including great work in the prevention space; the You, Me and MP’s toolkit, Hidden Voices project and the expansion of the Mabels program to Mildura etc.

    The  16 Days of Activism  was highlighted as was ECLC’s ongoing advocacy around the need for funding to be able to provide better support at the Specialist Family Violence Courts.

    The My Generation Intergenerational Art Project aimed at challenging ageism was highlighted  with a trailer of the documentary ‘Art is for Everyone’ screened.

    ECLC’s recent Anti-racism project, Amplifying Community Voices in the East was also presented. Guests were privileged to hear from Anti-Racism Advocate Eva Lam about the moments that mattered for her in the project together with a screening of the animated video, ‘Voices of Change – Action Against Racism’.

    A team of four staff presented a client story detailing a community member’s legal support journey, highlighting the important collaborative approach taken by ECLC’s intake workers, community lawyers and client advocate

    The crème de la crème was hearing first hand from Guest Speaker, Maria Dimopoulos AM about her own experiences that have shaped her life and the moments the matter.

    The AGM made its debut on Facebook live, allowing guests to attend from afar. We are pleased that we had over 35 registered attendees and the live screened vid has already been viewed over 100 times.

    If you missed out, you can watch the video here. A digital copy of the 2022 Annual Report, ‘Moments that Matter’ is also available here. An official AGM 2022 video will be available soon.

    Special thanks to Manningham Councillor & ECLC volunteer Anna Chen, Whitehorse Cr Amanda McNeill, Chris Mathieson, EDVOS CEO, Elly Taylor, Women’s Health East CEO, and all our other guests for joining the celebration in person. Thanks also to the ECLC Board  Christine Cowin, Luong Ta, Dr Guy Masters, Katherine Dowson, Tabitha Lovett, Elke Smirl and Ali Besiroglu for your continued dedication and guidance.


  6. 3CR Radio Broadcast ‘Done by Law

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    On Tuesday, 29th November, Belinda Lo, Director, Legal Services/Principal Lawyer and The Federation of Community Legal Centres’ Rachel Pliner were interviewed on ‘Done by Law’ regarding the Specialist Family Violence Courts.

    You can listen to the recording HERE

  7. ABC News: Victim-survivors unsafe, unsupported at family violence courts, say community legal centres

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    By Matilda Morozzi


    Dilal has been able to find a stable job and housing, where she is raising her young daughter.(ABC News: Matilda Marozzi)

    Dilal* knows the impact of going to court for a family violence matter with no support.

    Key points:

    • Specialist family violence courts are designed to provide care to victim-survivors
    • Community legal centres were given extra funding to provide services at the first five specialist courts, but not an additional seven courts
    • Lawyers say the shortfall is unfair and putting victim-survivors at additional risk

    The then 20-year-old had discovered she was pregnant that morning, then her husband hit her.

    Having recently arrived in Australia from North Africa, Dilal had limited English, no money and nowhere to go.

    She messaged a friend who immediately called triple-0.

    Police came and applied for an intervention order on Dilal’s behalf.

    She was told she had to go to court the next day.

    When she arrived at court alone Dilal saw her husband and all his family.

    “I felt like a sheep going to the wolves,” she said.

    In court she waited for hours, she said no one told her what was happening.

    “I was scared, I feel no support,” she said.

    “I wish I’d never come here [to Australia].”

    Dilal only had a few minutes with the duty lawyer before her case was heard — she didn’t have access to a translator or get the chance to explain what she wanted.

    “It was so fast,” she said.

    “I didn’t know what was going on.”

    The lawyer applied for, and was granted, a full intervention order, against Dilal’s wishes.

    Dilal found herself pregnant, beaten, without money or a place to sleep the night.

    There was no one at court to help Dilal figure out what to do next.

    Shortfall leaves people vulnerable

    Eastern Community Legal Centre Principal Lawyer Belinda Lo fears many other victim-survivors of family violence will be left unsafe and unsupported at seven new specialist family violence courts due to a funding shortfall.

    The centre had to turn away three people in one day last week at the recently opened specialist court in Ringwood.

    Belinda Lo says they don’t want to turn people away.(ABC News: Matilda Marozzi)

    Ms Lo said people would be put at risk if the next state government didn’t provide additional funding for lawyers.

    “We are really concerned about not being able to provide proper, holistic legal care,” she said.

    “People lose trust in the court system and then don’t engage, which creates more layers of risk and harm.

    “It is the opposite of what specialist family violence courts were created to achieve.”

    What are specialist family violence courts?

    The Royal Commission into Family Violence recommended all 14 headquarter Magistrates’ Courts across Victoria introduce specialist family violence services.

    The courts are designed to provide comprehensive care for victim-survivors of domestic abuse.

    As well as dealing with family violence cases, survivors should get help with other court cases (like criminal or tenancy matters) on the same day.

    Direct links to support services including social workers and housing, should be offered.

    press release from the state government in December 2021 said “co‑location with vital legal assistance and community services ensures victim-survivors have access to the holistic support they need”.

    Ms Lo said co-location wasn’t enough — the legal services needed to be funded to provide quality support.

    “We don’t want to provide, and should not be providing, 10-minute consultations for people who are experiencing extremely traumatic, extremely complicated and distressing legal matters,” she said.

    “But providing trauma-informed care takes time and costs money.”

    Family and domestic violence support:

    The rollout of the first five specialist family violence courts at Shepparton, Ballarat, Moorabbin, Heidelberg and Frankston began in 2019.

    Ms Lo said community legal centres servicing the courts were given additional funding to offer comprehensive care.

    A further seven specialist courts are being rolled out in Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Geelong, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, Ringwood and Sunshine.

    But the additional funding isn’t being provided community legal centres.

    It means even though the Ringwood court has similar demand to Frankston, Eastern Community Legal Centre has not been funded for any additional lawyers, while in Frankston there has been funding for an additional three full time positions.

    “Survivors of family violence should all be entitled to the same high level of care and assistance, unfortunately that’s not the way it is with specialist family violence court services,” Ms Lo said.

    “Because the seven new courts have not had the additional recognition of resourcing, it actually discriminates against people who live in different areas.”

    Uneven funding exacerbates problems

    The peak body for community legal centres in Victoria said without additional funding for the new specialist courts, many victim-survivors would be left without any, or adequate, legal assistance.

    Federation of Community Legal Centres chief executive Louisa Gibbs said people’s safety could be put at risk.

    “Without additional resourcing community lawyers will not be able to spend the time needed with families experiencing family violence … or meet increased demand for legal support in court,” she said.

    Push for specialist family violence court in north-east Victoria

    Family violence rates are high in north-east Victoria, but there is no specialist family violence court or legal aid centre in the region.

    Read more

    The federation said the impact of the pandemic, coupled with increased demand for their services, mean community legal centre were already struggling to meet demand for the legal needs associated with family violence.

    “Community Legal Centres assisted with 52 per cent more family violence intervention order matters in 2020–2021 compared with the previous year,” she said.

    “Without additional funding the new specialist family violence courts will exacerbate this problem.”

    Ms Gibbs said properly funding legal support for family violence survivors would save the state government money in court costs and support services in the long-term.

    The Victorian government has allocated more than $16 million to the Community Legal Centre Family Violence and Assistance Fund since January 2020 to provide specialist family violence assistance.

    A Victorian government spokesperson wouldn’t say whether they would further increase funding.

    “We’re continuing to invest in preventing family violence, encouraging respectful relationships and changing harmful attitudes,” a Victorian government spokesperson said.

    The Opposition was contacted for comment.

    What good support can look like

    After going to court twice without adequate support, Dilal was put in touch with a lawyer at Eastern Community Legal Centre — Connie Chen.

    Dilal felt like she had found someone to fight for her interests, at the time she needed it most.

    The idea of other victim-survivors asking for legal help and being turned away was “shattering” for Dilal.

    “Connie was more than a lawyer to me, she was like a friend because she was asking about my mental health and even if I have a place to sleep,” she said.

    “I’m lucky that they helped me, so I wish they can help more people.”

    *Name changed for legal reasons


    You can read the original article here:


  8. Yarra Ranges community groups able to apply for multi-year funding

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    Eastern Community Centre’s ‘Hidden Voices’ initiatives was helped by Partnership Program funding from Yarra Ranges Council. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

    By Tyler Wright

    Community groups, not-for-profits and event organisers are now able to apply for funding of up to $40,000 a year through Yarra Ranges Council’s Partnership Program.

    Applications for the program opened on Saturday 1 October, with the funding stream for successful applicant flowing from 2023 to 2027.

    Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC), who was a successful applicant of the Partnership Program for 2018 to 2022, used the funding stream of $20,000 per year to provide legal advice on the ground in the Yarra Ranges and educating school children about sexting, cyberbullying and consent.

    “We’ve probably done about 14 workshops across seven schools in the last year alone on those issues across Yarra Ranges; and this funding really drives that kind of work in schools,” ECLC CEO Michael Smith said.

    Through the funding, and working alongside other community organisations, ECLC was able to respond to community need after the June 2021 storm event in the Yarra Ranges.

    “There’s always issues around insurance… the impact by the power issues, and sometimes there’s issues with neighbours and fences and things like that, but also there’s issues like family violence that might be either as a result of the storms or kind of exacerbated by that too,” Mr Smith said.

    ECLC also started their ‘Hidden Voices’ initiative this year, creating a space for sexual abuse survivors, family violence survivors and those impacted by mental health issues to tell their stories.

    Mr Smith said ECLC will be applying for the most recent Partnership Program, helping to continue work with young people in schools and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisations.

    “We’ve actually had really smooth referral options between us, as well as doing community projects that really helped the community, so we’re looking forward to continue to do that,” Mr Smith said.

    Yarra Ranges Council is encouraging community groups to apply for funding for projects that align with the council’s Health and Wellbeing and Creative Communities Strategies.

    “Grant applications take significant amounts of time and effort – they also go through a rigorous assessment by Council staff and an independent panel, and there’s heavy competition for this funding,” Yarra Ranges Council Mayor, Councillor Jim Child said.

    “We get incredible proposals through all of our grant streams and we can only fund a fraction of these.

    “For the best chance of success, applications should demonstrate a strong alignment to Council’s strategies, meet the selection criteria, demonstrate a willingness to work collaboratively, and outline previous experience delivering Council funded initiatives. These are a must.”

    Applications for the Partnership Grant round will close on Tuesday 15 November 2022, with successful applicants to be announced in 2023.

    The first year’s funding will be delivered on 1 July 2023.

    To learn more about the application process, call Yarra Ranges Council’s grants team, or email

    Read the original article here:

    Yarra Ranges community groups able to apply for multi-year funding


  9. Star Mail article – Public art project sees collaboration between young and old

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    74 year-old Croydon man Alexei Ho at the Boronia Progress Hall, where his art work made alongside five other adults over 60 and nine primary school students from Boronia K-12 College is now on display. PICTURE: TYLER WRIGHT

    By Tyler Wright

    When it came to getting involved in a collaborative art project with primary school children from Boronia K-12 College, 74-year-old Croydon resident Alexei couldn’t think of anything better.

    “Young grandchildren never spend time with their grandparents and do creative things; they talk and play, [but] that’s it,” Alexei said.

    “This is good – share ideas that we can offer society, your own community… I love it.

    If every place do the same, how wonderful the place would be.”

    Alongside five other adults over the age of 60, Alexei spent one day a week from mid-July to August at Boronia’s Progress Hall creating artwork with 14 primary school children from Boronia K-12 College as part of Eastern Community Legal Centre’s ‘My Generation’ art project.

    ‘My Generation’ was created as a way to break down inter-generational stereotypes, combat ageism and build connections within the community.

    Participants drew animals, people and patterns; the final product injecting vibrant colour into what was a dull laneway between the Progress Hall and Knox Infolink.

    Alexei has noticed visitors to the cafe at the Progress Hall who he has not seen before; attributing to the “bright” artwork made public in September.

    “It brightens the place, the place looks so young again, so open,” Alexei said.

    Boronia local and artist 71-year-old Bronwyn Hampshire thought it would be “fun” to create art with her younger counterparts when she first joined ‘My Generation’ – and the experience seemed to live up to her expectations.

    “We had to draw something, so one of [the students] drew a basketball as a head and then the other one did a football as the body…so I did snake legs and fish arms,” Bronwyn said.

    “It’s quirky art, but it really does look fantastic in the space that it’s been placed.

    I’m proud of it, and I’m sure the kids are too.”

    Boronia K-12 College Assistant Principal Cassandra Wright said misconceptions around being creative, or doing things ‘the right way’ became evident as the students began working with older people, trying something new and seeing things from a different perspective.

    “[The] workshop leader did a lot of work with them around art as an expression of self, they talked a lot about personal values, talked a lot about how we’re feeling and how art reflects how we’re feeling, and I think that lent the kids being able to have a lot of connections with the older people that they might not have seen without that,” Cassandra said.

    “Because when they talked about ‘oh, well I’m really passionate about the environment,’ and the students were ‘oh, actually, I’m really passionate about the environment, I’m really big on that, too,’ they made some connections they might not otherwise have had.”

    Cassandra said shy students were able to come out of their shells during the workshops.

    “There were a few, probably not misconceptions, but that old people struggle with mobility and things like that, whereas the older generation that worked with us, they didn’t struggle with their mobility… they were doing things, they made connections with them about walking dogs and doing all of that sort of stuff,” Cassandra said.

    For Bronwyn, more programs like ‘My Generation’ could only benefit the community moving forward.

    “Whether it be gardening projects or art projects or dancing… I think is a good thing, because there are, I’m sure, a lot of people locked away in their homes, not knowing how to interact with other people, especially if their families have moved away,” Bronwyn said.

    “If projects can be created by anybody, whether it be council, or the Knox legal services…because not only was it about the kids and the oldies, also their parents were there too for the opening day, and their parents got to meet people, and I got to talk to some of the parents of some of the kids…

    There should be more.”

    Meanwhile, Alexei will continue volunteering at Hope City Mission in Croydon and the Salvation Army, waiting for the next community project to jump onto.

    “If you do something that makes you feel good, it’s always better,” he said.

    “Kindness is a disease that spreads… everyone kindness brings happiness from small things…

    It’s priceless.”

    Partners of Eastern Community Legal Centre’s ‘My Generation’ project include The Basin Community House, EACH, Eastern Regional Libraries, Knox City Council, Knox Leisureworks, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place (MMIGP), Swinburne University and Women’s Health East (WHE).

    “It has been an honour providing a platform for participants to work together creatively, to learn about ageism and stereotypes; and to have their work permanently decorate a walkway in Boronia and celebrated through events – has just been the icing on the cake,” Eastern Community Legal Centre CEO Michael Smith said.

    Read the original article below:

    Public art project sees collaboration between young and old