Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, Senator Ursula Stephens, and Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, today met with Neighbourhood Centres across the Far North Coast region to discuss this year’s Social Inclusion Week

Neighbourhood Centre leaders from Lismore, South Grafton, Casino, Nimbin, Mullumbimby and Pottsville gathered with Senator Stephens and Ms Saffin to discuss their plans for celebrating Social Inclusion Week 2010.

The first Social Inclusion Week was held last year and was the brainchild of Jonathan Welch, best known for establishing the Choir of Hope and Inspiration (formerly the Choir of Hard Knocks).

The Australian Government and the Brotherhood of St Laurence were major sponsors of the inaugural Social Inclusion Week.

The objective of the Week is to bring about more inclusive communities through taking practical steps to fight loneliness and isolation by bringing people together.

Last year’s week was a great success, with a wide diversity of events held across Australia – from sausage sizzles to jazz sessions, from cricket matches to market stalls, and even roller-skating displays.

The focus of each event was on bringing people together, particularly those who are traditionally isolated from the rest of the community such as people suffering a mental illness, those who are homeless and people with a disability.

“Neighbourhood Centres are a touchstone for finding out about local services and getting involved in the community,” said Senator Stephens.

“From the ideas that the Centre leaders have been discussing today, it’s clear that Social Inclusion 2010 is going to be even better than last year.”

Ms Saffin acknowledged the invaluable role that Neighbourhood Centres play in the Far North Coast and hinterland region and congratulated them on their proactive role in preparing for Social Inclusion Week 2010.

“Social Inclusion Week is a great time for showcasing the strong community spirit that we have here in the Far North Coast and hinterland,” she said.

“I’ve told the centres that I’m happy to help out with their celebrations in any way, and I encourage all local community members to get involved too – whether it be through participating in an event or running one.”

For more information about Social Inclusion Week 2010, go to http://socialinclusionweek.ning.com/