October is Seniors Month and once again the theme for 2022 is social connection.
According to COTA Queensland, there are more than 880,000 seniors in Queensland. With more than one in three seniors living alone, and therefore at increased risk of social isolation, it’s no surprise that a third have reported feeling lonely.
It’s an issue that is tackled head on, with a healthy dose of love, care and companionship at Waminda near Bribie Island– one of the Social and Community Hubs operated by Centacare across South East Queensland.
‘Waminda’ means friendship in the traditional language of the area, and according to the clients who attend every week, that’s just what they have found there.
Mother and daughter duo, 94-year-old Cissy and Pat have proudly been attending since 2005.
“I was a 10 pound Pom, I came from the back streets of London, which wasn’t the best place to grow up,” says Cissy, “But I love it here, we’ve been supported and welcomed by people from the very beginning.”
Cissy recounts moving to South East Queensland and being helped through the early days by neighbours who became friends. Now, she finds that support at Waminda, “We are all friends here, one big family. Coming to Waminda helps us stay connected to other people. They treat you with respect and really look after you.”
Uncle Ron Powell is a force of positivity to be reckoned with. A Wiradjuri man from New South Wales, he has lived on Bribie Island for many years and is a regular at Waminda.
Uncle Ron takes great joy in sharing stories and traditional culture. As well as Waminda, he is a regular visitor at a number of local schools and also the Bribie Island museum.
“I want to share positive stories. I love seeing people working together to help each other and carrying our stories forward. I am happy to share our culture, I enjoy that,” he says.
Children from nearby Kids Capers long day care also visit Waminda regularly to share craft activities with clients and enjoy Uncle Ron’s music and stories together. It’s a happy occasion all round.
“I can see the program has been carefully designed to cater to the particular needs of the target population, with emphasis on the main risks associated with being an older person living at home – social isolation, nutrition and lack of physical and mental stimulation. All of this is provided in a culturally sensitive environment that allows Indigenous clients to feel comfortable.” Visiting GP, Doctor Kate Venner, General Practice Training Queensland.
‘The blokes’, John, Robert and Bernie, enjoy the card games and outings on offer.
John is a recent addition to the group: “Waminda is something extra to what else we have in our lives,” he explains “We all have wives and families. Us coming here gives them a bit of space and we can find some new friends. It gives everyone a bit of a break and a change.”
“We all have a time when we need a place to go where we can be safe, happy and looked after”.
Barry is a Waminda volunteer of nine years. King of the bingo and a larger than life character, he explains that when he retired he looked for something to do, and found Waminda. “It keeps me out of mischief,” he smiles.
Client Bessie laughs, ”Barry’s always trying to fool me with his trivia questions. But I worked at a radio station for years, so I can’t be fooled with the trivia questions about music.”
Jokes aside, Bessie sees real value in both the stimulation and community connection on offer at Waminda.
“The games keep your mind occupied and keep us thinking,” she says, “Never underestimate an old lady who reads many books.”
“When my husband died I wouldn’t have survived without Waminda. It’s the enjoyment, the company, getting to know people, being with people. It’s all very important to us.”
Centacare runs a range of activities at Waminda every week on Monday and Thursday. Men’s Group is offered every Tuesday and every second Wednesday there is a community an outing. Transport is available for clients to and from the centre. Social and community activities are also offered at Centacare’s other social and community hubs throughout South East Queensland.