2016 Impact Stories



In our seven years, Hands Across Canberra has donated over $2.5 million to over 50 community projects aimed at making a difference to some of our most vulnerable people.

The following 14 stories demonstrate the impact of our 2016 grant round and highlight the good work we can achieve working together.



C3Cares Monash

C3Cares exists to help people in need, in crisis or isolation across our community. They welcome people from all backgrounds and circumstances. C3Cares’ main focus is to help people who are socially isolated. The reason people find themselves socially isolated varies but can be due to their age, stage of life, illness or unemployment circumstances.

Most of the guests live alone although C3Cares also caters for families.

The grant received from Hands Across Canberra contributed towards the purchasing of food items to make food hampers. These were distributed to people attending their fortnightly community lunches, as well as the Christmas lunch. By the end of June 2017, C3Cares had distributed 228 hampers, with an additional 80 still waiting to be distributed.

Plans for the future

C3Cares plans to expand into a second location. They are also considering monthly dinners to better utilise their volunteers who often cannot assist during the day. C3Cares will also consider offering a weekly lunch, if they can attract more volunteers.



Canberra Community Law

Canberra Community Law has provided legal services for people on low incomes for over 25 years. Canberra Community Law provides legal services in the following areas: housing law, social security law, street law, and disability and discrimination law.

The Hands Across Canberra grant was used to purchase tablet computers for their Socio-Legal Practice (SLP) clinic. The SLP clinic has a particular focus on preventing homelessness for vulnerable women and children. It assists clients to overcome legal and non-legal barriers that can often lead to eviction and homelessness. The objective of the service is to help clients access and maintain, safe and affordable housing.

The purchase of tablet computers enabled the SLP Clinic to deliver services in a more flexible and efficient way, increasing the accessibility of legal and social work assistance to these clients. 

The benefits included the ability to:

  1. complete online forms for clients during client appointments
  2. provide written advices during the client appointment, saving time and further financial strain
  3. remotely access our computer system reducing the amount of follow-up tasks to be undertaken post client appointment, and
  4. Electronic access to documents avoiding the need to print out large volumes of documents and information.

Plans for future

Canberra Community Law will continue to build and expand the capacity of the SLP Clinic to assist vulnerable families to obtain safe and secure housing.



Canberra Rape Crisis Centre

The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) offers free and comprehensive services for survivors and communities by providing crisis lines, counseling, advocacy and community education programs. They continually work toward eliminating sexual violence against women, young adults, children, families and men.

The counseling services are free and offer victims/survivors of sexual assault with support and advocacy. They also provide support to non-offending parents of children who have been sexually assaulted and other supporters of victims/survivors. In 2015, 1,045 women, 154 men, 30 children and 395 young people received counseling services from CRCC. Crisis counselors throughout 2015 responded to over 17,300 calls.

 The 2016 Hands Across Canberra grant allowed Canberra Rape Crisis Centre to upgrade their technology, ensuring they can continue to collect the best possible data and statistics on sexual assault in the ACT – and to ensure they can correctly report and provide adequate assistance now and into the future.

 Plans for the future

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre will continue its strong focus on ensuring that people within the ACT community receive the best possible services at CRCC through crisis intervention, counseling, community education and social action.



Directions Health Services

Directions Health Services provides treatment and support to people impacted by alcohol, drugs and other addictions. Directions Health Services works with individuals, their families and friends and the wider community to offer a comprehensive range of programs.

The Hands Across Canberra grant received in 2016 was to assist staff in supporting children in families where there is substance use identified in one or both parents, with the aim of reducing the risk of family breakdown and/or removal of children. The grant funding has enabled the staff to increase their skills and knowledge. It has enhanced the way Directions Health staff work with families by:

  • facilitating stronger partnerships with family and carer services
  • providing in-house training on family counseling
  • introducing staff training for the Circles of Security program
  • enabling two family members/carers to join the Community Advisory Committee

These outcomes will promote greater collaboration with relevant family and community services, build capacity within those services to recognize and respond to substance use and ensure improved support services for families with substance use issues.

 Plans for the future

Directions Health intends to improve the support available for families and children impacted by substance use, by continually increasing the capacity of staff to work with families and community services.




Domestic Violence Crisis Service

Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) is a community organisation that seeks to address violence and abuse and to promote respect in family and intimate partner relationships. DVCS encourages people who use violence and abuse to take responsibility for and cease this behaviour.

Originally Hands Across Canberra provided funding to Connections ACT Inc, to deliver eight-weeks of their Fathering After Separation program. When Connections ACT’s merged with DVCS, the funding enabled DVCS to research the particular needs of fathers who have used coercion and control in order to identify a program of international standing that met the unique needs of this particular cohort of fathers.

 The grant from Hands Across Canberra will support the delivery of 8 weeks of the Caring Dads group – a group to support fathers to help build positive and child centred relationships with their children and to use healthy parenting strategies. Caring Dads will work directly with fathers with the aim of creating safe, non-abusive parenting to benefit children and their relationship with their father. 

When fathers who have used coercion and control in their families attend parenting skills programs, the fathers often learn additional skills. Caring Dads is specifically designed for fathers who have used coercion and control to shift their focus from a self (or parent-centred) focus to a child-centred focus. Abuse of children is associated with a self or parent-centred focus.

 Plans for the future

In the next 12 months DVCS hopes to ensure child-centred groups are available for the population of fathers who are better suited to Caring Dads than the main parenting skills programs.




Early Morning Centre

The Early Morning Centre (EMC) is located on Northbourne Avenue. The Centre operates under UnitingCare, the community service arm of the Uniting Church. It provides a safe space for homeless guests to access information and support. EMC is open five days a week, serving a free breakfast from 7.30am – 8.30am, with an additional coffee cart located out the front for guests passing by. EMC’s second function is the ‘Community Hub’. This opens between 9am – 11.30am to provide a range of support services including access to internet, personal care facilities, group activities and classes.

EMC’s core function is the Community Hub, while the breakfast encourages homeless guests to enter the Centre, engage in conversation, open up about their situation and difficulties, and seek support. Between January and May 2017, over 4,200 guests ate breakfast at the Centre and over 2,600 guests attended the ‘Community Hub’. Close to 1,000 cups of tea/coffee were served in May 2017 alone!

In 2016, the EMC received a grant from Hands Across Canberra that provided the Centre with six new computer tablets, three additional desktop computers and additional office furnishings to fit out the space. The new technology has reduced computer wait times and encouraged more guests to access the additional computers.

The EMC aims to implement a new computer skills training class during the ‘Community Hub’ hours to help homeless guests learn how to access emails, submit job applications and write basic resumes. The tablets will be used in-group activities focused on developing literacy and numeracy.

Plans for the future

EMC will be extending the Community Hub hours, from 11.30am – 2.30pm, in order to accommodate more practical activities, such as expanding the art group and implementing cooking and nutrition classes.  EMC is also looking to reinstate counseling facilities.  




EveryMan supports men who are at risk of homelessness, living with mental health issues, living with disabilities, who are perpetrators or survivors of violence, who are ex-prisoners, socially isolated, or who are having relationship or parenting difficulties. 

 The 2016 Hands Across Canberra grant was used to:

  1. Establish a new in-house practice development program, and to train caseworkers working with men who have complex needs. This approach forms the basis for all of their work with those using violence towards partners and their family.
  2. Ensure EveryMan’s programs meet NSW standards for Men’s Behaviour Change Programs.
  3. Review and update their Preventing Violence, Managing Anger Group Program in partnership with NSW’s Men, and Family Centre and Victoria’s ‘No To Violence’.

Everyman employees have developed a strong partnership with both the Men and Family Centre and Victoria’s ‘No To Violence’ (Men’s Referral Service) receiving training and consultation for a more well rounded recovery.  

EveryMan was also able to employ Emma Henderson, formerly Principal Researcher for the ACT Domestic and Family Violence Death Review, to deploy her analytical skills to produce a volume and quality of work, which has continually elevated the quality and consistency of the violence prevention services.

These programs benefited people through Canberra how have used violence against partners and families.

Plans for the future

EveryMan wants to register their Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DFV) program in NSW to provide their Behaviour Change Program along with other violence prevention services, to people living in the Queanbeyan-Palerang Council region. These programs and services will be targeted to individuals using violence to partners and families. EveryMan will also strive to improve the level of safety experienced by partners, children, other family members and the local community.



Hartley Lifecare

Hartley Lifecare is a local and specialised disability service that provides high quality residential, recreational, respite, transport and community services for children and adults with physical and complex disabilities.

The 2016 Hands Across Canberra has been directed towards the implementation of CIMSability – which is a Client Information Management System. This software will empower Hartley Lifecare to simplify client data administration and allow them to provide their clients with tools to better support their needs. The new technology will directly benefit the 73 clients who live within their supported accommodation across 32 houses. By having the software installed, Hartley Lifecare will be able to greatly increase their capacity for record keeping for all of their clients and provide increased services to people with disability in their care.

 Plans for the future 

In the long term Hartley Lifecare wants to be recognised as an innovative disability provider within the ACT utilising best practice procedures and processes across all areas of the organisation. The implementation of the CIMSability software will enable even more efficient practices, which will in turn benefit the clients Hartley Lifecare serves.




Marymead delivers a range of high quality, family support services to children, young people and their families. Services include: children and family counselling, early intervention, mental health support programs and parent education groups. They currently have over 5,000 clients utilising their services every year.

 In 2016, Marymead received $5,000 from Hands Across Canberra to be used for their IT equipment upgrade, for the Centre for Early Life Matters.  This equipment helped run the Circle of Security (COS) Intensive Early Intervention Program for parents and children. The existing cameras at MaryMead, used in the program required ongoing maintenance. The tapes were at times unreliable and storage had become an issue. As filming and access to films is an integral part of the counselling process, this had become unsustainable.

The Hands Across Canberra grant covered the upgrade of the video camera and storage capability, with the aim of moving away from costly digital video tapes (in excess of $5,000 pa).  A Canon XA 30 Compact Full HD DV Camera was purchased as well as a Synology DiskStation NAS, which provides a more cost-effective backup and storage solution. The outcome helped Marymead implement a more digitally reliable process within this world-leading COS counselling program. This meant fewer disruptions for families during their counselling process. 

 This has enabled great timesaving for the counselling staff and program administration. They now have more time available for valuable counselling with parents and children across the ACT. Marymead continues to strive to maintain its status as Australia’s leading provider of the internationally recognised evidence based Circle Of Security Program. 

Plans for the future

Marymead will continually work to ensure that vulnerable children, young adults and their families, across Canberra and the surrounding NSW regions, are well supported through their key life transitions. This should enable them to achieve fulfilling, positive lives that are productive and happy.




Mental Health Foundation

Mental Health Foundation (ACT) Inc. (MHF) supports people on their mental health journey whilst aiming to provide improved livelihood through community acceptance and social inclusion. The Hands Across Canberra grant was used to purchase six portable laptop computers to help with the development of individualised computer education for people living with mental illness in the ACT.

Mental Health Foundation has been able to facilitate learning of important computer literacy skills for its clients. MHF is now able to continue to offer regular computer training to meet the tailored needs of those attending.

 The clients that attended the training sessions are now more technologically proficient which has been particularly important for those now funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This funding enables clients to access the NDIA Participant Portal to keep track of their funds and services. 

Plans for the future

Mental Health Foundation hopes to expand its psychosocial activities program by providing a wider range of services.  Basic computer training will continue and will be expanded to include training in the use of social media and the internet. It will possibly also become more focused on training in Microsoft programs such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel, depending on individual needs.




Prisoners Aid (ACT)

Prisoners Aid provides prisoners and their visitors with support, programs and financial assistance. These services are offered to inmates in prison and on their release as well as to their families.

The 2016 Hands Across Canberra grant was used to implement the ‘Participate’ program. This program directly benefited the children of inmates of the Alexander Maconochie Centre. This program helps children from families who have an incarcerated parent and who often cannot afford for their children to participate in extracurricular activities such as dance, sports and music lessons.

The funding has enabled at least six children to participate in out-of-school activities.


Plans for the future

Prisoners Aid hopes to expand the ‘Participate’ program to more affected children by securing additional funding in the new year.




Safe Shelter

Safe Shelter is an emergency overnight shelter for men, staffed by volunteers, which operates in halls in Canberra’s inner north.

In 2016, Safe Shelter received $5,000 from Hands Across Canberra to assist in implementing a Fire Detection System, which enabled them to open their third shelter at the Salvation Army Hall in Braddon. With the funds from Hands Across Canberra the installation and building certification processes were completed quickly, just in time for winter. The grant provided at least 60 homeless men in Canberra with a safe place to sleep throughout the 23 weeks of winter.

Safe Shelter has 125 volunteers who donate one night a month of their time during the peak periods. In 2017, over 380 guests utilised the three Safe Shelters that were opened between April and September.  This is a significant increase from 2013, where only 15 guests used their services. Safe Shelter provides guests with bus tickets to ensure they can attend breakfast at the Early Morning Centre, breakfast vouchers to Coffee Ruckus and if necessary a sleeping swag. Safe Shelter has a strong partnership with Griffin Centre Red Cross Roadhouse, which provides evening meals for their guests.

 Plans for the future

In winter 2018, starting on Sunday 22 April, Safe Shelter will operate seven nights each week. All Saints Hall will open on Sunday and Monday nights, St Columba's Hall on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and the Salvation Army's Canberra City Hall will open on Friday and Saturday nights.




The Shepherd Centre

The Shepherd Centre assists children who are deaf or hearing impaired. Their main focus is to help these children achieve the best listening and spoken language outcomes possible, to support their continuing skills development and to maximize their social inclusion.

The grant from Hands Across Canberra supported The Shepherd Centre program ‘A Sound Start to School’. TSC is dedicated to ensuring that all children with hearing loss receive the support they need to complete school. Starting school is a challenge for most children but increasingly so for those with hearing loss.

‘A Sound Start to School’ was created to address this need. The 2016 program commenced in August and finished in late November. The Canberra children who completed the program entered mainstream primary schools in the ACT in January 2017 and have now successfully completed their first two terms in Kindergarten.

94% of the children who graduated across The Shepherd Centre last year entered a mainstream primary school, and of those children 85% (who had hearing loss without additional disability) had already achieved speech outcomes that were equal to or better than the normal range for a child without hearing loss. In addition all of the TSC graduates had language and vocabulary, which equaled that of a child with normal hearing. 




UnitingCare Kippax

UnitingCare Kippax is a community service agency that facilitates a variety of programs to assist local individuals who struggle with financial hardship, housing stress and social disadvantage.

The 2016 Hands Across Canberra grant supported the Kippax Kids program to continue its good work achieved through their Drop In Playgroup and Koori Playgroups. The funding assisted with obtaining staff and materials, to ensure they could provide resources to facilitate successful programs. Providing support to parents and carers building networks and sharing ideas while helping children develop social, cognitive and fine motor skills through informal and structured learning. In 2016, 35 families attended the drop-in playgroup and 15 families attended the Koori Playgroup.

UnitingCare Kippax’s focus is building a caring and supportive community. Having the ability to run playgroups allows them to engage with the community who can participate in a welcoming space. These two programs meant UnitingCare could broaden its reach into the local community. The opportunity to run these groups encourages families who have never or don’t regularly participate to get involved.

Plans for the future

UnitingCare Kippax will be revamping the play and development opportunities and will be extending the number of playgroups offered. Uniting Care Kippax also hopes to develop the Kippax Kids playgroup and crèche spaces.