IMG_7914 RU OK Marist

On the road for the R U OK? Bus tour at Marist College Pearce with Headmaster Richard Sidorko and the Labor Federal member for Chifley (NSW) Ed Husic. The message is about talking to your mates, asking them RU OK? The conversation could change a life.

Sadly, suicide affects too many Canberran’s and every life lost leaves a profound sense of grief on our community. A simple conversation, having the courage to reach out to someone struggling, can mean the difference between a hopeful path, or a tragic one.

We don’t have to be experts. We don’t have to have the answers or the solutions to someone’s problems. All we need to do is follow that gut feeling we have when we know that something’s not quite right, and ask the question, “are you okay?”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Westwood Lodge

IMG_7878Bruce May, Beverly von Stein, Bill Dunn, Chris Bourke

I had a fascinating visit to the Lion’s Youth Haven Westwood Lodge with a guided tour by Lions Bruce May, Beverly von Stein, and Bill Dunn.

As the sign says, the Lodge off Kambah Pool Road is a working farm with a herd of Red Angus cattle, an aquaponics facility and horses on agistment. It gives visiting school groups, junior choirs and sports teams touring Canberra a chance to sample the rural life in the beautiful setting of the Tuggeranong Valley with the Brindabellas looming in the west. The lodge sleeps over 50 visitors downstairs has separate rooms upstairs for teachers and drivers as well as catering facilities.

This initiative of the combined Canberra and Queanbeyan Lions clubs was opened in May by Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr and already has solid bookings for the rest of the year. It was also a pleasure meeting Beverly von Stein of the Belconnen Lions Club and catching up on the good work they are doing for the community.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Canberra Grants

IMG_7882Healthy Canberra Grants Glen Flanagan Companion House  Good Sports National manager Jon McGregor

At the Belconnen Magpies Clubhouse Kippax Oval with Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and to the left Glenn Flanagan, of Companion House in Cook, and on the right Jon McGregor, the Good Sports National Manager of the Australian Drug Foundation.
Companion House and Good Sports ACT were amongst the recipients of $2m in Healthy Canberra Grants Katy announced to promote a healthy, active and productive Canberra.
Companion House which assists survivors of torture and trauma will use its grant for their project, Healthy Futures: Gardens, Healthy Eating and Getting Active. It includes:
· work with the South Sudanese, Karen, Sierra Leone, and Hazara communities on food and nutrition,
· addressing alcohol misuse amongst some young refugees,
· arranging access to community gardens particularly for Karen, Mon, Chin, Burmese and Tamil community members and;
· swimming days and classes for women and children in a culturally appropriate setting.
The Good Sports ACT grant will assist work on healthy canteens for ACT clubs with junior players, provide free workshops for club volunteers on food safety and nutrition as part of the healthyfood@sport program.
These grants are a feature of the ACT Government’s Towards Zero Growth Healthy Weight Action Plan.
Other recipients for these latest grants include:
Nutrition Australia ACT Branch,
the Pharmacy Guild ACT Branch,
Jervis Bay Primary School,
Canberra Environment Centre,
The Wirrpanda Foundation’s Wirra clubs at Ngunnawal Primary School and Kingsford Smith School,
and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT.
Information about the grants is available online here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Belconnen Walk-In Centre

IMG_7871 Belconnen Walk-in Centre entrance


Belconnen’s new Nurse led Walk-in Centre opened in early July and already has a steady flow of clients. It is at the Belconnen Community Health Centre on the corner of Laithlain and Cohen Streets across from the Belconnen Mall bus stop. The Walk-in Centre is run by highly qualified Nurse Practioners and deals with one off treatment of minor illnesses and injuries. Patients can walk in off the street without an appointment and wait to be seen. It is a great alternative if you don’t need the ongoing comprehensive care of a General Practioner or emergency care at Calvary or Canberra hospital’s emergency department. Other sources of help are your community pharmacist or the Healthdirect Australia info line 1800 022 222.

The Belconnen Walk-in Centre, like the new one in Tuggeranong, is open 7.30am to 10pm daily. These replace the Canberra Hospital Walk-in Centre which has now closed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Australia India Business Council seminar

5-DSC09582 (3)

Key note speaker Gai Brodtmann with Chris Bourke

The Australia India Business Council invited Canberra businesses and guests to a networking event to better understand the business opportunities that the policies of the new Indian Government could bring.  The new National government is led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and we discussed the impact of the election results and the new government’s economic policy.  Gai Brodtmann, MP for Canberra, shared her perspectives on the opportunities for Canberra businesses in India.

Established in 1986 the AIBC is a non-profit organisation promoting business links between Australia and India by building and maintaining relationships in both countries, with Federal and State government agencies, the corporations and industry bodies.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

2XXFM Latino Program celebrates 38 years

This year marks the 38th anniversary of Latino Program at 2XXFM. It was the first Spanish language program in Canberra and it was launched by the then Commissioner for Community Relations of Australia, and former Immigration Minister in the Whitlam government, Al Grassby. Victor Marillanca has been presenting the program as a volunteer for 38 years. This is a remarkable and commendable feat and it proves his value as a presenter to all Latin American loving Canberrans tuning into 2XXFM. Congratulations!

2XXFM is Canberra’s largest community radio station. They have 200 plus volunteers and programs range from the environment to local music to indigenous and multicultural affairs. They broadcast 24/7 on 98.3 FM.

Gough Whitlam and Victor Marillanca

Gough Whitlam and Victor Marillanca

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

CIT Photography class 2014

CIT Photograpy class 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 graduating class of the CIT Bachelor of Photography seen here with CIT staff. I opened their final photographic exhibition mounted this year in the Legislative Assembly. The exhibition showed why the CIT photographic courses have built such a reputation for excellence. The display of varied styles and interests announces the graduates to professionals in Canberra’s creative industries. Industry representatives chose their favourite work and presented an award to the winner.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

ACT Government Work Experience and Support Program graduation


I enjoyed meeting the graduates and presenting graduation certificates for 20 Canberra migrants at a  special ceremony for this year’s Work Experience and Support Program (WESP).

The graduates hail from Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam – reflecting Canberra’s diverse multicultural community.

They boast qualifications, including Masters in Business Administration, IT, Economics and Accounting.  WESP is structured around four weeks of formal training in office skills and administration and eight weeks of voluntary work placement in an ACT Government agency.

The ACT Government Work Experience and Support Program (WESP) has helped launch the careers and fulfil the dreams of skilled migrants since its inception over a decade ago.  WESP provides training, skills development and work experience in the ACT Public Service building knowledge, confidence and attributes as potential employees.  It’s about assisting people who are experiencing significant barriers to meaningful employment by providing an opportunity to update their skills and experience, and to build a network of contacts in the ACT Public Service.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Canberra Lions turn on tourism to help kids at risk

Westwood Lions 1 Westwood lions 2

Congratulations to Canberra Lions for turning to tourism to help local kids at risk.

Canberra Lions clubs recently opened Westwood Lodge, a $650 000 accommodation centre for school, teams and community groups visiting the ACT.

The new Lodge sits on a 200ha farm in the Tuggeranong Valley. The farm has hosted Lions’ youth programs for 20 plus years.

The new Lodge will meet a gap in Canberra’s tourism market and help Lions finance future youth programs at the farm.

Canberra has a shortage of affordable accommodation for students visiting the national capital, a situation which the new building will help ease. It can sleep 70 people with catering and laundry arrangements and comes with a spacious outdoor recreational area. Rooms have rural views across the Murrumbidgee Valley.

Westwood Lodge also has a fund-raising mission. Revenue from bookings will help Lions continue and expand their youth programs at the farm.

In the past four years over 500 students, many in trouble at school or at home, have attended farm education and training programs.

One day a week they received a taste of farm life, learning environmental science, sustainable agriculture and animal handling. The rural environment provided work experience and taught the kids valuable life skills like teamwork and self-confidence.

Lions across the country, the ACT Government and corporate supporters in Canberra contributed funds to build the Lodge.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

That’s not a crossbow, THIS IS A CROSSBOW!

Dr Chris Bourke - Copy

I had the honour of firing this huge crossbow (a replica ballista dating back to Roman times) to open the 20th National Crossbow Championships at Lyneham Archery Centre over the Queen’s birthday weekend. Congratulations to Stuart Atkins of the Canberra Archery Club who emerged the winner and national champion after three days of competition.
Winning the tournament qualifies Stuart to represent Australia at the 2015 World Championships in the USA.
While crossbow shooting is a small sport in Australia, arbalests (crossbow shooters) make up for numbers with their passion for the sport.
Canberra Archery Club has a long tradition of hosting major events, which includes the 1977 World Target Championships, the 2012 World Field Championships and National Junior Championships in the 1990s.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off