Volunteer for Knox co-ordinator Sally Dusting-Laird was announced as the runner up in the Volunteering Victoria Awards in the Community Partnerships category for her work at the Westfield Knox Community Space. The event was held at Government House in late March and attended by the Governor of Victoria the Hon Linda Dessau AC.
Sally has managed the Community Space at Westfield Knox Shopping centre for the past eight years, an initiative for community groups to promote volunteering and showcase what they do best.
The Community Space is provided rent free by Westfield and through this partnership Sally has connected with more than 300 volunteer involving organisations and hosted around 2000 events. They include the local fire brigades, community magazines, Talking Cafés, girl guides, Meals on Wheels, sporting clubs, op shops, local high school bands, the Knox Community Chess Enthusiasts – a very popular community chess club, choirs, the Salvation Army and it’s home to the Australian Filipino community seniors group every Friday.
The Community Space is located on Level 1 next to Liquorland and opposite the fresh food market.
It is the only community space promoting volunteerism and community in Australia. Westfield estimates around 30,000 shoppers pass by the site every week.
‘The Community Space has enabled the promotion of very important services, the celebration of community achievements, educated the community about issues and events, provided adult learning opportunities, showcased cultural events and reduced social isolation for many community members,’ Ms Dusting-Laird said.
‘It was an absolute honour to receive this award and recognition especially because I am doing something that I love!’
There are over 800 volunteer involving community groups in the City of Knox all contributing to the richness of community life in a variety of ways. They provide services such as, early childhood education and care, aged care, disability support, animal welfare and education, conservation and the environment, counselling and support, education and learning (including libraries), festivals and the arts, legal services, religious groups, sport, leisure and recreation clubs, youth services, health services, media (including community newspapers, magazines, radio and television) and much more.
All these organisations rely on volunteer support and membership to remain viable. Westfield Knox has provided the Community Space to contribute to the ability of these clubs and organisations to promote themselves to potential members and clients as well as recruit valuable volunteers.
Sally has also hosted Pop Up Learning Events with the help of her Volunteer for Knox governance team; the five Knox Community Houses showcasing what community houses do best, by taking learning out of the classroom. Photography, dance, career guidance and ipad classes are just a few learning opportunities run out of the Community Space.