ADRA community centre opens sensory play area

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Special guests at the opening of the playground. (Credit: ADRA Australia)

Politicians, volunteers, community members and Adventist Church leaders attended the official opening of the “Zen-sory Space and Play Area” at Mallee Rose Cottage—the Adventist Development and Relief Agency’s Community Centre in Macquarie Fields—on September 2.

Featuring a colourful garden and playground, the play area is highly accessible and approved for autistic children. It was completed in collaboration with funding from Ability Links NSW, a government initiative delivered by St Vincent de Paul Society’s support services.

Attending the ceremony was Greater Sydney Conference (GSC) president Pastor Terry Johnson, Federal Member of Werriwa Anne Stanley, Federal Member of Macarthur Dr Mike Freelander, Councillor Margaret Chivers, ADRA CEO Paul Rubessa and GSC ADRA director Malcolm Rea. A team from Ability Links NSW, including Carolyn Koch and Sarah Murphy, also attended the event.

Pastor Johnson cut the ribbon at the ceremony, officially opening the new facility. He blessed the play area and emphasised the importance of Christians being in their community and making a difference.

“As Christians we think about the kingdom of heaven being here, now. What is it that we can do to actually make a difference in people’s life, one person at a time?”

The play area features brightly-coloured decorations and play equipment. (Credit: ADRA Australia)

State Member for Macquarie Fields Anoulack Chanthivong, who wrote a letter in 2017 to help secure government funding under the Social Housing Community Improvement Fund, expressed his praise for the hard work involved in the project.

“The things that Mallee Rose Cottage does for our community is really just remarkable,” Mr Chanthivong said. “Getting kids and parents involved, and getting our community involved, they are the things that actually matter—building community spirit.”

Mr Rubessa then commended the work of community centre manager, Melissa Baleilekutu, and her team of volunteers for creating a safe and positive space for adults and children.

“Things don’t happen from offices like mine, they happen right here on the ground,” said Mr Rubessa. “Thank you so much to our volunteers who make this possible. This is where the real change is happening.”

Melissa acknowledging the hard work of the volunteers at Mallee Rose Cottage, Macquarie Fields, at the event. (Credit: ADRA Australia)

For the past six years, Mallee Rose Cottage has been a refuge for families in Macquarie Fields. With services ranging from counselling to food parcels to support groups, the centre has cemented itself within the hearts of locals as a place of support and acceptance.

With both young and old visiting the centre, the need for a play area for children to have fun in a a safe space became apparent.

“It’s a play on words,” explained Ms Baleilekutu. “Zen, and a sensory space.”

To learn more about the work of the ADRA Macquarie Fields Community Centre and to donate, visit www.adra.org.au/project/macquarie-fields-community-centre/.