Cobaw wins Community Organisation of the Year Award

AGPAL & QIP awards_26

Cobaw Community Health is celebrating national recognition winning the category of the QIP Community Organisation of the Year Award. This Award recognises Cobaw for its excellence in partnerships, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusive practice, in the Community Services sector.

The Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) and Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) Excellence Awards recognise AGPAL and QIP accredited practices, organisations or services, who consistently go above and beyond to implement and embed quality improvements, have teams that love to innovate, demonstrate a dedicated approach to patient and consumer services and/or care, and have a clear understanding of related industry standards.

Dr Stephen Clark, Group Chief Executive of AGPAL and QIP said that the Awards team received a large volume of high calibre nominations from AGPAL and QIP accredited practices from around the nation.

“The AGPAL and QIP Excellence Awards recognise and reward the commitment that organisations make to quality improvement within Australia’s health care setting. I was privileged to gain a unique insight into the inspiring achievements taking place within the health care environment. I was proud that I, and our judging panel of industry experts, was able to read about Cobaw Community Health’s nomination. Their dedication to community health goes above and beyond expected standards”.

“I would like to thank all other nominees for sharing their stories and to congratulate Cobaw for being Excellence Winner in the category of QIP Community Organisation of the Year Award,” Dr Clark said.

Cobaw’s CEO Margaret McDonald and Quality Manager Julie Cairns attended a Gala Dinner in Brisbane to collect the award.

“It was a privilege to accept this acknowledgement on behalf of all the dedicated staff at Cobaw who are committed to providing high quality care and services to the Macedon Ranges community,” said Ms McDonald.

At the awards ceremony Ms McDonald spoke with the Chair of the selection panel who said that the award was highly contested and that Cobaw Community Health stood out in its application.

“The award is a huge accolade to every member of staff, our volunteers and our Directors. The values that drive each and every one of us at Cobaw show an extraordinary commitment to our clients, customers and the community.”

Central Victorian Volunteer Service launches new website

Cobaw Community Health’s Central Victorian Volunteer Service is celebrating National Volunteer Week (9-15 May) by launching a new volunteering website on Wednesday 11 May 2016 at 11am at the Castlemaine Library.

The website will provide a central point for volunteer opportunities across the region and allow organisations, community and sporting groups seeking volunteers to post roles at no cost. The website will also feature volunteer management documents, resources and information about upcoming training for both volunteers and volunteer leaders.

The volunteer service will also be hosting an information stall at the Kyneton Farmers’ Market on Saturday 14 May from 8:30am where community members can find out more about the website and volunteer opportunities within the region.

Cobaw CEO Margaret McDonald understands that for community members, finding the right volunteering opportunity can be overwhelming.

“The new website will provide a central access point for anyone interesting in contributing to the community by volunteering. Volunteers are a valuable resource to both Cobaw and the community, providing significant expertise in areas such as the L2P Learner Driver program, Social Support & Respite, and the Board of Directors,” said Margaret.

Nicky Suter, Cobaw’s Volunteer Services Coordinator added, “According to the 2011 Census, there are over 14,000 Central Victorian residents over the age of 15 who volunteer. The service hopes to continue to grow the number of volunteers in the region and make volunteering more accessible”.

The Give Happy Live Happy theme of National Volunteer Week celebrates and explores the research that shows volunteers live happier and healthier lives.

The experience of helping others provides meaning, a sense of self-worth, a social role and health enhancement (It’s Good to be Good, 2011 5th annual scientific report on health, happiness and helping others, Stephen G. Post PhD).

To RSVP to attend the website launch or for more information, contact Nicky Suter, Cobaw Volunteer Services Coordinator 03 5421 1666 or

Cobaw supports funding announced for Kyneton Courthouse

The funding announcement from the State Government of $1.2 million today to improve the Kyneton Courthouse is welcome news to Cobaw Community Health who provides support for victims of family violence.

In the last couple of years, concern has been raised regarding significant safety issues about the aged state of the courthouse. As a key part of local community infrastructure, the news of extensive structural changes to improve the size and functionality of the building, in particular the lack of safe waiting spaces especially for those people attending the court in relation to family violence issues is of major significance.

There are currently no waiting areas or seating in the courthouse, private interview rooms or safe spaces for victims of family violence. The employment of safety officers at the court is an additional strategy to improve overall safety in the court environs. The funding has been achieved through collaborative advocacy amongst a number of key organisations in the community.

“The funding announced today demonstrates the government’s commitment to improving the facilities of Kyneton Courthouse for the Macedon Ranges community,” said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO. “It will enable the existing issues to be addressed and further improvements made to ensure a safe court experience for victims of family violence. I acknowledge the ongoing support of Mary-Anne Thomas MP, member for Macedon in advocating for a significant improvement in community infrastructure”.

Funding welcomed for former Romsey Primary School site

Plans to transform the former Romsey Primary School site into a shared community space are a step closer following yesterday’s funding announcement that the Australian Government will contribute $997,478 towards the project.

The project, which is a joint partnership between Macedon Ranges Shire Council, the Greater Romsey All Abilities Park (GRAAP) committee and Cobaw Community Health, consists of a long held community vision to redevelop the historic site located at the corner of Main and Palmer streets for ongoing community use.

This includes the construction of an all-abilities park and refurbishment of the existing school building to provide increased access to community health services in the town.

The proposed extension and refurbishment of the school building will include consulting rooms, a community meeting space, kitchen facilities, toilets, office space, a store room, and reception and waiting areas.

Councillor Henry McLaughlin welcomed the funding announcement and said Council has been working closely with GRAAP and Cobaw to further progress plans to bring this much-needed project to fruition.

“It’s a very exciting project that will re-instate a historic community asset and provide for the delivery of quality health and wellbeing services in the East of the shire. It will also accommodate the growing community and create a public space that will be visited by people from the Macedon Ranges and beyond and become a favourite destination for everyone for many years to come,” he said.

Cobaw CEO Margaret McDonald acknowledged the support of Council’s CEO Peter Johnston and Councillors in seeking to meet the growing demand for services to the East of the shire.

“Cobaw looks forward to working in the Romsey community with Council and GRAAP to realise this important community facility. This project enables Cobaw to progress a long held strategic goal of providing services from locations across the Macedon Ranges,” she said.

President of GRAAP, Raelene Mottram, said the committee is delighted with the announcement of this funding.

“We are excited at the prospect of the park’s Stage 1 development now getting underway and look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Council. This means the Romsey community and the region in general is now even closer to having an innovative open space development at this significant Romsey site,” she said.

It is anticipated that the next stage of the project will begin in early 2016, starting with a program of community consultation and master planning that will include an opportunity for the community and stakeholders to have their say and share ideas on how the space will be used.

Cobaw says No More Violence Against Women!


Cobaw Community Health Services (Cobaw) is supporting White Ribbon Day – Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women.

On Wednesday 25 November 2015, Cobaw staff members will distribute White Ribbon posters to local businesses in the Macedon Ranges and invite business owners, managers and staff to take the oath of standing up, speaking out and acting to prevent violence against women.

In addition to this poster drop, in order to raise awareness of the campaign, Cobaw will display White Ribbon stickers on cars stating, “Shouldn’t everyone have a safe place to go home to? – Prevent Violence Against Women”.

Globally, White Ribbon is the world’s largest male-led movement to end men’s violence against women. White Ribbon Australia annually observes 25 November as the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day. It signals the start of 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women ending on 10 December, Human Rights Day.

According to the 2013 World Health Organisation report, intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 per cent of women worldwide. In Australia, over 12 months on average, one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence. One in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them.

If you are affected by or witness violence in your home, workplace, school or community and are seeking support, please contact Cobaw on (03) 5421 1666 for information on support services.

New youth support resource launched

On Tuesday 17 November 2015, the Macedon Ranges Child and Youth Directory was launched by the Macedon Ranges Youth Alliance with the support of the School Focused Youth Service.

The website aims to help young people, families, care givers, schools and professionals access appropriate supports for children and young people.

It provides accessible, up to date information about child and youth services throughout the Macedon Ranges and is a key resource in providing young people and their families with the support they need when they need it.

The Macedon Range Youth Alliance aims to provide strategic direction and leadership to deliver collaborative, responsive and holistic services to young people. It is committed to increasing the level of young people’s engagement in all aspects of community including education, training, employment, decision making and leadership. It recognises the barriers young people and their families face in accessing services and is committed to addressing these through collaboratively designed and delivered initiatives.

The School Focused Youth Service is an initiative of the Victorian Department of Education and Training, working with schools and community organisations to support young people at risk of disengaging from school. This service is coordinated by Cobaw Community Health Services Ltd and works under the direction of the Macedon Ranges Youth Alliance to deliver services responsive to local needs.

For further information, please contact Chris Dawson, School Focused Youth Services Coordinator 03 5421 1666 or


New Regional Volunteer Strategy – Volunteer Expo

The Macedon Ranges Volunteer Coordination Service will be hosting a Volunteer Expo on Friday 23 October 2015 between 2:00pm-4:00pm at the Woodend Hub as a part of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council Seniors Festival Activities.

This will be the first Volunteer Expo for the Macedon Ranges Volunteer Coordination Service with the hope to host more across the region over the coming months.

At the expo, people will be able to learn about multiple volunteer opportunities in the region. Volunteers from various organisations will be sharing their stories. Activities and light refreshments provided.

In July 2015 Cobaw Community Health Services Ltd (Cobaw) received Department of Social Services funding to establish a volunteer coordination service. The Macedon Ranges Volunteer Coordination Service aims to provide a network for groups managing or coordinating volunteers and a matching referral service for people seeking volunteering opportunities.

This service covers both Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander Shires and the Heathcote region.

“There are so many volunteering opportunities in the region and it can be overwhelming to know where to start looking or trying to find the right volunteer role that suits best. My role is to match those looking to volunteer and organisations recruiting volunteers,” said Nicky Suter, Cobaw Volunteer Services Coordinator.

If you’re looking for new volunteers at your organisation, community group or sporting club you are welcome to have a presence at the expo. If you are interested in joining the volunteer network or booking a place at the expo, contact 03 5421 1666 or

WayOut funding announced

Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas, yesterday announced that Cobaw’s WayOut program will receive $195,000 to continue to deliver youth suicide prevention programs supporting LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex) young people in the Macedon Ranges and surrounds.

The announcement was made at an event organised by Kyneton Secondary College students celebrating Wear it Purple Day which seeks to recognise and support the gender and sexual diversity of young people.

Cobaw CEO, Margaret McDonald said WayOut has accomplished a huge amount in Macedon Ranges and across Victoria and the $195,000 grant will allow Cobaw to support more young people through initiatives and events such as this.

“Programs such as WayOut are vital in providing support to young people and let them know that they are not alone. We want to give young LGBTI people the support they need to be themselves and live in a society that respects them for who they are.”

Across the week, Cobaw staff have been wearing purple to show rainbow (sexuality and gender diverse) young people that they are supported, celebrated and respected exactly as they are.

Wear it purple

Cobaw Supports Marriage Equality

Cobaw supports marriage equality

Yesterday Cobaw and Macedon Ranges Shire Council youth staff gathered on the steps of the Kyneton Town Hall to show their support of marriage equality.

Cobaw Community Health welcomes the US Supreme Court decision in ruling same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states of America. This ruling sees equal recognition of same-sex relationships in the United States, ending marriage laws that fail to grant equal recognition for all.

Marriage equality in Australia would be a key step towards recognising equal standing of same-sex relationships, and the right of all people to have equal recognition in the eyes of the law.

“The current laws in Australia that deny same-sex attracted people the right to marry their partner, continue to affect the wellbeing of many members of our community,” said Cobaw CEO Margaret McDonald.

“Social exclusion is one of the most significant determinants of health outcomes. Due to ongoing prejudice and discrimination, same sex attracted and gender diverse people have significantly lower health outcomes than the broader population”.

Marriage Equality Australia states that “the most important link between marriage equality and health is the way marriage affirms relationships, strengthens family bonds and creates a sense of inclusion”.

The Mental Health of same sex attracted people in Australia is amongst the lowest in the country with over 24 per cent experiencing a major depressive episode (in 2005) compared to 6.8 per cent of the general population in the same year. Alongside this, rates of depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm are between 3.5 and 14 times higher for this group of people, compared to any other population group (Marriage Equality Australia).

Cobaw Community Health is a Rainbow Tick accredited organisation, committed to inclusive service delivery and practice. Rainbow Tick is an accreditation process that assesses organisations against Australian standards to endorse services that are welcoming, responsive and understanding of the health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex members of our community. Cobaw provides the WayOut program, a state wide suicide prevention program established in 2002 that works with same sex attracted, bisexual and transgender young people in rural Victoria.


Continuation of Funding for WayOut

The Victorian Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Martin Foley MP has announced, as part of the 2015-16 Victorian Budget, there will be $117.8 million available over four years for a broad package of mental health initiatives.

Of this money, $5.88 million has been allocated for a set of targeted initiatives to be introduced in the next four years that combat transphobia and homophobia and improve the mental health and wellbeing and promote the rights of same sex attracted and gender diverse young people. Many of these young people are vulnerable to harassment, bullying and stress and are at heightened risk of self-harm and suicide.

A range of health promotion and prevention initiatives will be introduced with a focus on increasing the effectiveness of mainstream youth services, schools and youth mental health services to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI)community.

For Cobaw Community Health, this means that the highly successful WayOut program can continue its fantastic work locally within the Macedon Ranges and across the state as part of the Healthy Equal Youth (HEY) project. “The HEY project has been successful in resourcing a unique coalition of LGBTI organisations and mainstream youth and community health services, to improve the mental health and quality of life of young LGBTI Victorians” stated Ms Margaret McDonald.

In addition, Cobaw has also been accredited for the next three years as a Rainbow Tick organisation showing its commitment to diversity and inclusion in its practice and service delivery.

This coming Sunday 17 May is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities. IDAHOT was created in 2004 to draw attention topolicymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media of the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people. The day is celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal and was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.