Our Community Place Inc., was established in 1987 as the Lake Macquarie Neighbourhood Information Centre Inc., and provided over the years a diverse range of activities such as sustainable gardening, home maintenance, painting and drawing classes, drama classes for children, exercise for seniors, advocacy and online hub services for Boolaroo, Speers Point, Warners Bay and the surrounding area.
Within the space of two decades significant changes occurred such as the closure of the Pasminco Mining Smelter at Cockle Creek and the subsequent gentrification of the local community. To better enhance the needs of the community the organisation underwent a rebranding and was renamed Our Community Place Inc. in 2005.
With the changing policy direction of FACS (NSW Families and Community Service, now known as NSW Department of Communities and Justice), the prominence of non-Government organisations such as Our Community Place grew. This period resulted in a shift away from FACS directed service delivery to an outsourcing of funds via the Community Capacity Building program to the local not for profit (NGO) sector to develop and administer service delivery for the local community. This has provided both challenges and opportunities for the NGO sector.
In 2015 Our Community Place significantly renewed itself under new management and leadership and embarked on a strategic review process. The review was to guarantee that Our Community Place was best positioned to embrace all opportunities that arose under the FACS review of funding; in establishing new funding streams; entering strategic partnerships; enhancing community connections; ensuring the organisation is best placed to support the identified current and future needs of the communities of Lake Macquarie.
DCJ underwent another review in 2018 by consolidating its funding streams which resulted in the formation of the Targeted Early Intervention (TEI) program. By 2020, TEI replaced the Community Capacity Building Program thereby significantly changing how Neighbourhood Centres could allocate funds towards community activities. TEI is aimed on supporting families, youth, children and indigenous families.
This review prompted a report on Locations on Vulnerability based on the 2016 Australian Census which identified other nearby areas with higher at-risk populations. In a move to better place Our Community Place strategically a comprehensive review of OCP’s strategic plan occurred involving the Board of Management, Staff, Members and Volunteers. This process determined that a move of location for the organsiation was necessary to better capture and support vulnerable TEI clients. After 37 years in the Westlakes and with the support of DCJ, Our Community Place closed its Boolaroo Centre in December 2020 and moved to a multiservice centre at PCYC Windale.
Our Community Place with its vision and mission aims to strengthen its targeted communities of Windale, Gateshead and Charlestown and connected localities by delivering holistic services to link families and community members with opportunities and further supports. Similarly, building on the sense of community connectedness which Our Community Place achieved prior in Boolaroo and its surrounding areas. Our Community Place will aim to achieve this by committing to consulting with community members and partner service providers to continuously review programs and activities to meet the needs of the community, therefore strengthening the vision and mission of OCP.