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AnglicareSA and the City of Onkaparinga recently joined forces in a pilot project helping people not only shop smarter and healthier – but importantly cut down on their grocery bills.

Led by the City of Onkaparinga and AnglicareSA’s Communities for Children Onkaparinga, the Smart Shopper Tours also brought together The Green Gourmet, Rotary Club of Seaford, and Drakes Supermarket for two-hour sessions to help strengthen family meal planning skills.

The sessions were hosted at Drakes at the Seaford Central Shopping Centre with participants learning how to shop for and cook with healthier, less expensive foods, understand food labels, shop based on the seasons, all while making savings by buying for better value.

Janine Carger, AnglicareSA Manager, Children and Families South, said the Smart Shopper Tours were a fantastic initiative at a time when many families are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Food security, healthy cheap meals, and opportunities for connection in the community for children and their families featured strongly in a community wide consultation, undertaken by our Communities for Children Onkaparinga team,” Janine said.

“This consultation highlighted a real interest and need within the community for more information and ways to save money in the supermarket.

“Communities for Children reached out to the City of Onkaparinga, which was already working on food security within the community, regarding collaborating on developing a pilot program relevant to and within our own community.”

The Smart Shopper Tour pilot was attended by 20 community members over the four sessions, with an equal split of families with young children and older adults with adult children.

“At each of the sessions, the group was supportive of each other and shared ideas,” she said. “They were very engaged, asked lots of questions, and were eager to learn.

“Many of those who attended revealed they had challenges with ‘fussy eaters’ or dietary restrictions and through the program were able to gain many tips and tricks to help them eat healthier, including increasing their intake of vegetables and replacing snack foods with healthier and money-saving options.”

The Tours were facilitated by The Green Gourmet’s Andrea Ball who is a local food educator and recipe developer with a focus on eating and cooking local, seasonal, affordable foods.

She has extensive experience in health literacy and community engagement programs with young families.

Each participant received a $15 Drakes voucher to spend at the workshop thanks to the Rotary Club of Seaford with the tour finishing at Seaford Library with a recipe development workshop.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were said cost of living was front of mind for many in the community.

“The Smart Shopper Tour pilot program was created in response to the rising cost of living, reduced income and lack of access to good food, which are leading to increased food insecurity,” she said.

“Partnering with AnglicareSA Communities for Children was invaluable because it allowed us to target local families who would benefit the most from the program. The support of Drakes and Rotary Club of Seaford ensured a successful pilot program that provided us with plenty of learnings and feedback for next time.”

The Mix social groups in the north and south of Adelaide are helping autistic children to engage in social activities in a safe environment without judgement or shame.

The groups, run by Diverse Learning and funded by AnglicareSA’s Communities for Children Playford and Onkaparinga programs, also welcome siblings and families outside the autism community.

Founder and Director of Diverse Learning, Meg Eusope, said the social pressure that autistic children feel to ‘fit in’ (known as masking) in the community is thrown out the door at The Mix.

“It’s a space where the children can fully be themselves without judgement or imposition of how they ‘should’ behave,” Meg said.

She said constant masking could lead to poor mental health outcomes for autistic people, including burnout, social anxiety, and depression.

That’s why The Mix focuses on building self-esteem.  

“We ensure that everyone involved in The Mix feels safe, supported, valued, and respects others’ differences and interests,” Meg said.

“Interacting with others and getting involved in different activities helps attendees build confidence and self-esteem, which boosts their overall mental health.”  

Autistic people might encounter difficulties in social situations, as behaviours like avoiding eye contact and struggling with small talk can be misunderstood.

Meg said The Mix aimed to reduce the overwhelming feeling autistic young people might experience when socialising by incorporating special interests into group activities.

“Special interests are not just accommodated, but embraced, encouraged and celebrated at The Mix,” she said.

“For each session, we organise a range of activities based on a theme the children are interested in, including science, crafts, games, and physical activities.”

Georgina, Andi, Marguerita, Lani, Meg, and Bel from Diverse Learning.

Gen and her son Will (pictured in main image) attend every session of The Mix and said they had found a community of people who are accepting of him.

“He can be goofy, express himself, and stim in joy without anyone even blinking,” Gen said.

“It feels great to be in an environment that normalises things.”

Now, almost a year later, Gen said she had noticed changes in Will far beyond expectations.

“When we first started attending The Mix, Will was adamant that he was going to keep homeschooling forever,” Gen said.

“When he started experiencing social success with the other kids and found safe adults, he started experimenting with doing more activities.

“This year, Will decided to go to school and has successfully transitioned. Without the foundation of the success he built at The Mix, I think that might have been some years off.

“He is more confident, resilient and able to speak up for his needs.”

Gen said attending the group had also been beneficial for her as a parent of neurodivergent children, including Will.

“The program staff genuinely care and take the time to look after the whole family’s needs. I have been able to let my guard down for a while, knowing Will was safe – this is not something we often experience in group settings.

“It can be isolating in a high-needs household, and the group has been a reliable way for me to connect with others and feel supported.”

AnglicareSA’s Communities for Children programs in Playford and Onkaparinga are funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

Get Mix-ing

The Mix is held fortnightly during school terms on Thursday evenings from 5pm to 6:30pm and is designed for children aged 8-14. Siblings are welcome to join the fun under parental supervision.

  • The Mix North: The Platform, 73 Elizabeth Way, Elizabeth
  • The Mix South: Wardli Youth Centre, 13 McKinna Road, Christie Downs

For more information, please call 8102 8340 or visit Diverse Learning’s website.

It was all about dribbling into fun this school holidays, with AnglicareSA’s Playford Communities for Children teaming up with Community Partner Yara Family Connections to host a free basketball event.

The event at Smithfield Plains’ John McVeity Centre saw children aged between 5 and 12 years old run some basketball drills, connect with others, and expel some energy.

For the children involved, it might just be a fun day out, but this school holiday basketball event is part of a broader community picture.

It’s one of the many events that AnglicareSA runs in partnership with another service.

Melissa Ruthen, co-director of Yara Family Connections, said the Community Partner model worked because it was relationship based.

“I’ve partnered with almost every major organisation, not only in the northern suburbs but throughout the metropolitan area,” Melissa said. “AnglicareSA partners very well, their communication is exceptional, and they share information easily.

“A lot of agencies are still in that competitive mode where they think they can’t partner because they’re competing for the same funding. AnglicareSA doesn’t think like that.”

Amita Rana-Marjara, Community Development Worker at AnglicareSA, said partnerships within the community were crucial to the work the organisation does.

“We look at what the gaps are in the area,” Amita said. “We work alongside other services as much as we can to make sure there are activities and services that families can access around Playford.”

AnglicareSA Community Development Worker Jayde Milburn said Yara Family Connections was a perfect choice to partner with for this event because of its strong ties in the local area.

“Yara Family Connections is doing amazing things in our community,” Jayde said. “They have so much passion for the community.”

The organisation, which launched in May 2023, offers services exclusively for First Nations peoples after the directors saw a gap in mainstream services and wanted to create safe services for Aboriginal peoples.

Melissa said the event was not so much about the basketball as it was about teaching the children resilience, especially from a cultural leader and proud Kaurna, Narrunga, Ngarrindjeri man like Trevor Pearce, who is one of Yara’s co-directors.

It’s clearly an approach that’s working, with some of the children so eager to play basketball and interact with mentors like Trevor that they arrived half an hour early.

Through similar events and partnerships with organisations like AnglicareSA. Melissa said the trust circle becomes broader for people to access the services and support they might need.

“We’re trying to widen the trust circle and the partnership approach does work,” she said. “Even though I’m promoting another business, people are going to benefit from that.

“We can invest the time and leverage the community’s trust to say AnglicareSA are people that Yara trusts, and they will look after you.

“It’s always about community and about what’s right for them.”

Learn more about AnglicareSA’s Playford Communities for Children program online or through the Facebook group.

Giving her son Eden the best possible preparation for school was motivation enough for mum Michaela to join AnglicareSA’s HIPPY Program.

HIPPY is a free, two-year, home-based, early learning and parenting program for families with young children which is improving children’s school-readiness through AnglicareSA’s Elizabeth and Christies Beach sites.

Children’s earliest and most powerful learning comes from their family with parents laying the foundations for success at school by teaching their literacy, numeracy, and language skills which supports their love of learning throughout life.

“I thought it would be a really good addition in the lead up to school,” Michaela said. “I got a lot out of it too as it reminds you of all the things that you should be doing all the time.

“Things like rhymes, songs, and doing the actions to things – all the things you are doing anyway but it makes you do just that little bit more – plus you learn other skills that you might not have known about.”

Over the course of his three years working within the HIPPY program, Michaela said she had seen a lot of growth and development within Eden.

“Yes, emotionally of course plus we’ve seen development of his fine motor skills, being able to write his name and things like that.

“He has also shown a lot more confidence, because when we started off Eden was very shy in the group activities and now, he gets involved – it might be slow start sometimes but after he thinks about it he joins in.”

A group photo of AnglicareSA's most recent HIPPY program graduates

Eden was among 36 HIPPY students who graduated at a special ceremony held annually at the Adelaide Zoo marking an end to his involvement in HIPPY.

Michaela said she was thankful for the support of her HIPPY tutor, Kayla.

“They were really amazing; they were so supportive of us and often they were able to direct us to other services and supports available to us through AnglicareSA.”

Through the program, parents are supported to shape their child’s learning opportunities around their strengths and interests and to bring learning off the page and into the world. We call it ‘Everywhere Learning’ – taking HIPPY activities to everyday situations and places.