As the only neighbourhood centre in the rapidly growing Cairns Northern Beaches region, Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre is facing a huge demand for community services.
With a packed calendar of activities, including Tech-Savvy Seniors classes, Tai Chi, line dancing, book clubs, gardening groups, and mosaic classes, Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre Manager Prue Rheuben says the biggest issue for the centre is finding enough space for the community.
“In terms of indoor space, we only have the hall. It splits in two but we desperately need more space,” Ms Rheuben said.
“We’re in the process of seeking funding to build a demountable to alleviate that. It will solve a lot of problems as we’ll be able to provide more space for community groups and rent it out to external groups.
“We’re the only staffed facility in the northern beaches that provides activities so it’s really important that there is that space for the community, and right now we’re full – until we get another building, we can’t do more.”
Some of the community activities on offer each week include gardening groups, armchair yoga and line dancing.
Like most neighbourhood centres, Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre is reliant on multiple funding streams to keep the centre running and roll out programs for the community.
“It does take a lot of energy,” Ms Rheuben said.
“You spend the time writing the grant, but you don’t know if you’re going to get enough money to do what you want to do, and then you might have to spend it by the end of the year, so you get caught in this stasis.”
On top of its community activities, the centre also offers emergency relief as well as financial counselling and Skilling Queenslanders for Work programs, focused on individual aged care and early child care.
The centre’s hall can be split in two for different activities, but as the population grows, there is a greater need for more space to cater for the local community.
In recent months, the team has seen a rise in the number of families seeking help.
“Being so reliant on tourism, our region has been hit hard by border closures during the pandemic, so we’ve had more and more people who have been out of work,” Ms Rheuben said.
“We saw a real rise in the need for emergency food relief after the Covid supplement ended. For many people, it’s the first time in their lives they’ve ever needed assistance.”
Manager Prue Rheuben (centre) with the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood centre team.
Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre is located at Trinity Park in Far North Queensland and is open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 4pm and on Friday from 9am to 12pm. The organisation is dedicated to promoting, supporting and enhancing community, family and individual well-being. A list of their programs and services is available here.