Supporting communities and improving well-being
In 1973 Intereach commenced its operations under the name of the Deniliquin Council for Social Development. Since then, we’ve strived towards empowering communities to live their best lives.
Top picture: This photo appeared in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times newspaper in January 1980, accompanied by the following caption:
It’s all aboard for the Children attending the Department of Sport and Recreation vacation play centre in Deniliquin. The Station wagon’s tyres almost gave way under the weight of 74 children – 47 inside and 27 on top.
While we love this photo, we doubt our WHS team would endorse this type of activity these days!
The early days
In the early 1970s, various organisations were operating from different venues in Deniliquin, each working towards providing services to fulfil the diverse needs of our community. Discussions took place around ways to improve delivery of these services. In 1973 the Deniliquin Council for Social Development (DCSD) was formed to oversee the most appropriate way to address and implement social policy and services.
The Council for Social Development obtained premises and became a ‘one stop shop’ for various community programs, ranging from a Youth Club on the top floor, to a Senior Citizens’ space, plus services such as a Health Commission day care and rehabilitation operation, Meals on Wheels, Mobile Nursing Service, and Family Day Care for children. The centre was run by the inaugural Community Development Officer, Sylvia Baker.
Pictured: Inaugural Community Development Officer, Sylvia Baker
Under Sylvia’s guidance, the organisation extended its focus and geographic reach to become the Council for Social Development Central Murray Region and the headquarters changed its name to the Central Murray Regional Community Centre, catering for many and varied community groups.
Development projects were initiated throughout the Central Murray region as far afield as Pooncarie, north of Wentworth on the Darling River in the far west of NSW. Among the many achievements in this area was the development of an airstrip which provided improved access for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, funding of roadworks and help for isolated families with children.
However, with a shift in Federal and State Government responsibilities and funding it became necessary to reduce the regional services being provided. The Regional Community Centre became a Neighbourhood Centre, and in 1978 the Deniliquin Municipal Council purchased this building, giving the Council for Social Development a permanent home. It was owned by the Municipal Council and managed by the CSD committee, and provided office space and meeting rooms for a wide cross-section of human service organisations and community groups. The Community Development Officer was able to develop and provide services in response to local needs in a building that had become a central focus in the community.
Picture: Central Murray Regional Community Centre ad in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times – 1978
Purpose and role defined
The organisation’s purpose and role were developed under three broad categories:
- Affirmative action towards disadvantaged people and groups
- Local participation and control
- Community development
As community needs changed, so did the work and priorities, but the community development role continued to be centred around increasing access, equity and participation.
The philosophies and rules under which the Council for Social Development operated continued to be its foundation until 2000, when a Board of Governance replaced the Management Committee, and the first Chief Executive Officer was employed.
New premises were required to provide a central hub from which to deliver services throughout the region, and in 2001 a former supermarket building at the corner of Napier and Trickett Streets in Deniliquin was purchased, and significant renovations were undertaken to make it fit for purpose. Around the same time Children and Family Services was established in a separate venue to accommodate the need for outdoor space and children’s play areas.
Pictured: Intereach headquarters located in Napier St, Deniliquin
The organisation was growing its regional focus, and 2001 also saw its reach extended across the Riverina/Murray with the Commonwealth Carer Respite Program and the Commonwealth Carelink Service. This development saw the establishment of the Wagga Wagga office and other services with an extended funding base.
The regional focus also led to a name change and it became the Regional Social Development Group, recognising its coverage of a wider service area, the organisation’s social development philosophy and its varied range of services.
From its humble beginnings as Deniliquin Council for Social Development, the organisation had expanded across the Riverina and Western NSW, but the growth was far from finished. By 2007 the Wagga Wagga office had moved into newly refurbished premises and a shopfront was opened in Buronga to service the western part of the region around Wentworth, followed by Holbrook as a base for some of the rurally based staff in the east, then a major injection of funds saw the establishment of the Albury Regional Office
Pictured: Intereach office – Wagga Wagga
In 2008 there was a further review of the organisation’s relevance and profile which led to another name change – this time to Intereach, which it remains to this day.
By 2010 Intereach had offices in Deniliquin, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Buronga, Griffith, Holbrook and Finley, and more than 150 partnership agreements with other organisations across the Riverina/Murray.
Just two years later, new funding opportunities led to community hubs being established in Hay, Corowa and Cootamundra, and there was also an expansion in Finley. The growing Intereach footprint supported broader delivery of services across the region and greater collaboration with other forms of support into the smaller communities.
In 2014 funding was obtained for a purpose-built Intereach Family Centre, adjacent to the Neighbourhood Centre in Trickett Street, Deniliquin, which centralised support for children and families of the local region into one main location.
Pictured: Intereach Family Centre
New heights with NDIS
The growth of Intereach over its journey of more than 40 years had been significant, but in 2016 it was to reach new heights with the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) following national reform to the way in which people with a disability are able to live their lives. As part of the commitment to meeting the needs of local people and communities, Intereach started Local Area Coordination of NDIS in the Loddon region of northern Victoria and this led to five more offices being opened.
This delivery of NDIS was the catalyst for a massive Intereach growth spurt. By 2019 the organisation’s staff had grown to 380, working across 16 locations – all from just one Community Development Officer and a single office in the early years. In 2021 there are 17 office locations and more than 460 staff.