On Tuesday 18 April, the Annecto Sydney and surrounds team celebrated the official opening of their new office in Mount Druitt, NSW.
The sun was shining on the suburb of Mount Druitt where staff, people we support, locals and other stakeholders gathered out the front of the office for the opening ceremony.
Annecto Case Manager Vera Tancevska was the day’s master of ceremonies. Vera began by welcoming everyone to the Mount Druitt office.
“We are pleased to have you all here to celebrate the opening of one more Annecto community centre. A place that is designed to bring us together as a community,” she said.
Acknowledgement of Country and smoking ceremony
Vera introduced Gumaroy Newman and his cousins, Sarah and George to do the Acknowledgement of Country and smoking ceremony.
Gumaroy is a proud Aboriginal man from Gamilaroi and Wakka Wakka country. He is a storyteller, cultural educator, a traditional song man and an award-winning performance poet. Gumaroy began by acknowledging the people of Darug country, the country in which the Mount Druitt office sits on, and performed a traditional smoking ceremony.
Gumaroy and his group then performed traditional dances including the Kangaroo Dance and shared his own poem called ‘Let’s be grey’ that speaks about his connection to country, family and experiences with racism.
It was a great way to open the ceremony, connecting everyone at the Mount Druitt office to the land they were celebrating on and bringing the community together through song and dance.
A few words from special guests
Councilor Bob Fitzgerald from Blacktown City Council who also works at Blacktown Police spoke about Annecto’s role in Western Sydney’s culturally rich and diverse community.
“It is my honour today to officially open the Mount Druitt office of Annecto. This organisation has been providing culturally safe, individualised aged care support services to people in Western Sydney since 2013,” he said.
Councilor Bob then passed on the microphone to Michael Hercock, Annecto’s Executive Manager in National Business and Community Development, who shared his history with Annecto and the community of Western Sydney.
“We were trying to work out how to get our Elders on to Home Care Packages so they could stay in their homes,” he said.
Michael recounted how the local Uncles that were forcibly taken as children and remain a part of the Stolen Generation said to him, “do not let us be taken from our homes for as long as we can”.
Himanshu Singh, Annecto General Manager in Operations in NSW, ACT and QLD, then spoke about his own journey alongside Michael Hercock and how it has led the Sydney and surrounds team to the new space in Mount Druitt.
“The commitment was that we’d work with communities. We’d work with the most marginalised communities for the people that are trying hard to get aged care services and other services and have not been able to do it because of all the barriers they face,” he said.
“This commitment that we have with communities, it’s not stopping. Now we are in the right place,” Himanshu said as he pointed to the new office in the centre of Mount Druitt.
Himanshu also spoke about what the future holds for Annecto Sydney and surrounds. “We intend to start NDIS services as well, in Western Sydney and again we expect to reach out to the most marginalised communities.”
Michael Beres, Annecto’s Chief Operating Officer, then spoke about Annecto’s foundations as an organisation and its connection to community.
“We’re very committed to making Sydney grow and prosper and support more communities throughout Sydney,” he said.
“I’m really proud that we support our Aboriginal community, we support our Macedonian community, I met someone from our Romanian community. We’re really about supporting communities to thrive.”
Annecto’s aged care support services mean older people can live longer in their own homes and in the community. Uncle Widdy’s story is an example of how important this is in different communities.
Uncle Widdy then shared a song to conclude the day’s speeches.
The celebrations continue
After a morning of speeches, music, song and dance, it was time to officially commemorate the opening of the new office. Michael Beres and Uncle Widdy cut the ribbon on the office’s front door to many cheers and claps.
Everyone gathered to celebrate and share lunch. There was one final ceremonial act and one that everyone was looking forward to – cutting the cake! Silvia Cumpanas, Operations Manager in the Sydney Regions, thanked everyone for travelling to the new office for the event and cut the cake.
To wrap up a wonderful day together, Annecto’s older care recipients took part in their regular game of bingo. It was a competitive game filled with laughs and some very lucky winners who took home prizes.
There was a real sense of community in the suburb of Mount Druitt for the opening of the new Sydney and surrounds office.
Every speech was evidence that Annecto’s vision is at the core of everything the organisation does. Annecto continues to work towards a more inclusive society where all communities can be supported and live the life they want.
Well done to the Annecto Sydney and surrounds team and everyone involved in launching the new office in Mount Druitt. It’s an exciting time for the team, and we look forward to seeing all the wonderful things you do in your brand-new space.
If you would like to get in touch with the Annecto Sydney and surrounds team in Mount Druitt, you can call (02) 8047 0909 or simply visit the office to chat with the team at 6/15 Cleeve Close, Mount Druitt, NSW 2770.
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