Cobaw finalist in quality award


Cobaw Community Health is a finalist in the prestigious national Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) Community Organisation of the Year Awards. These awards are part of the Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) and QIP Excellence Awards which will be announced on 27 May 2016 at the AGPAL and QIP Conference in Brisbane.

To be selected as a finalist, Cobaw had to submit a nomination form self-assessing against key criteria. The judging process was vigorous with a large number of nominations received resulting in the creation of two sub-categories to recognise innovative service delivery within the Community Services Sector and excellence in partnerships, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusive practice.

Dr Stephen Clark, Group Chief Executive of QIP, said that there were a number of outstanding nominations received from QIP accredited organisations.

“The QIP Organisation of the Year Award recognises and rewards the commitment that these organisations make to quality improvement within a community setting. I was privileged to gain a unique insight into the achievements taking place within the community environment. I thank all those organisations who shared their inspiring and innovative stories of quality improvement. Congratulations to Cobaw for being selected as a finalist.”

Cobaw’s CEO Margaret McDonald said that every member of staff in the organisation is committed to providing high quality care and services to the Macedon Ranges community. “Our mission is to provide excellence in health and wellbeing services for everyone in the community and reaching the finals of these national awards demonstrates the dedication and continuing effort of our staff towards quality improvement.”

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”.

Cobaw Celebrates 30 years

30 year logo

On 7 April 2016, Cobaw Community Health will celebrate 30 years of service provision to the local community and in doing so looks forward to the next 30 years of achievements.

Cobaw was established with funding provided by the former Health Department of Victoria following momentum from a group of locals who expressed concern about the lack of services in the area. The demand had been highlighted through an increased community need after the February 1983 bushfires. The first services to be provided included counselling, the QUIT Smoking program, community health nursing, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychiatric services. Thirty years later, Cobaw has evolved and expanded while continuing to meet community demand to provide important services to the Macedon Ranges community and beyond.

As a vital part of local service provision, Cobaw has a highly skilled workforce that is engaged with the community through a number of Victorian and Australian government funded programs. Cobaw works across the lifespan in delivering services for all ages with teams focused on Children, Youth, Community Wellbeing, Home and Community Care, Family Services and Housing Support.

In the past 12 months, the organisation has delivered:

  • 1800 hours of Health Promotion and Counselling
  • 2400 hours of Children’s Services
  • 3900 hours of Allied Health
  • 7000 hours of Social Support & Respite.

Recently, a client provided this feedback, “Having [the Cobaw staff member] to support me, gave me the strength to get to where we are today”.

The 30th anniversary celebrations begin with a revised logo recognising the achievement of 30 years of trusted services for a healthy, resilient community. During the year a number of special events will be organised to encourage the community to engage with the organisation and explore some of the community achievements. The production of a special annual report reflecting on the organisation’s history will be released in November 2016 at the Annual General Meeting.

“We are grateful to the community for their continued, generous support of Cobaw,” said Margaret McDonald, CEO. “Our 30 year journey has seen us develop from a small, specialised service to growing and adapting to meet the evolving needs of the community. Cobaw has embraced community health and wellbeing issues and has proved to have been a driving force locally for service innovation.”

“Most of all, I wish to acknowledge the great skills, expertise and passion of staff and voluntary Directors of the Board who together have contributed to maintaining local services for the community.”

Zero Discrimination Day

Zero Discrimination Day

Cobaw Community Health hosted a special Zero Discrimination Day Leadership Breakfast this morning, Tuesday 1 March. The WayOut team at Cobaw organised the breakfast to add a local voice to the Zero Discrimination Day events.

Zero Discrimination Day is an annual worldwide event that promotes diversity and celebrates everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity, regardless of all sexual orientations, gender expressions, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, abilities and health status.

Australian and international research continues to show that prejudice and discrimination are major contributors to the development of depression, anxiety and related disorders among same- and both-sex attracted people and intersex and trans/gender diverse (LGBTI) people (Writing themselves in 3).

Leadership and policy development is shown to influence community attitudes and have direct health benefits for communities impacted by marginalisation and discrimination. By bringing together community leaders across the Macedon Ranges and Government representatives, Cobaw aims to highlight the ongoing health impacts of discrimination towards LGBTI young people and celebrate the diversity of our community.

Cobaw’s WayOut program is funded by the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services through the Healthy Equal Youth program as a mental health and wellbeing activity. It is designed to support LGBTI young people and their allies in the Macedon Ranges.

Speakers at the breakfast included:

  • Rowena Allen, Victorian Commissioner of Gender and Sexuality
  • Mary-Anne Thomas MP, representing the Hon. Martin Foley, Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Mental Health, Equality and Creative Industries
  • Joel Radcliffe: Safe Schools Coalition Project Officer.

Thanks to Lakshal Perera for the great photo!

Cobaw champions diversity & supports Safe Schools Coalition

Cobaw Community Health (Cobaw), the organisation which fought to protect the rights of same sex attracted and gender diverse young people – taking their battle all the way to the High Court of Australia and winning, has spoken out in support of the Safe Schools Coalition following a highly publicised political campaign to undermine the program.

“Cobaw will always stand up for supporting every individual’s human right to dignity and respect,” said Margaret McDonald, CEO, Cobaw. “No matter how old they are, no matter what their circumstances, no matter who they love, or who they are. And we applaud our local schools who want to do the same.”

The Safe Schools Coalition, partners with the Cobaw WayOut program and Healthy Equal Youth Project, both of which work locally to support young people and their friends and family. The Safe Schools Coalition was set up in 2010 in response to educators’ requests for assistance to support same sex attracted and gender diverse students in their schools, ensuring their safety and protecting their mental wellbeing.

The program developed, which forms part of the anti-bullying program, has been supported by beyondblue, the Australian Secondary Principals Association, the Australian Education Union and the Australian Council of State School Organisations.

“Cobaw has, and will continue to, support the evidence-based work of Safe Schools Coalition. Their work is critical in supporting inclusive school systems which benefit all students regardless of sexuality, sex or gender. They have worked locally in our community with great success, and have 495 member schools nationally. Schools who believe they need this program can choose it – and the parts of it appropriate to their student communities.

“Safe Schools Coalition work directly with school systems to provide an inclusive school environment, which as we know has a positive long lasting impact on the broader community. The negative public ‘attacks’ on such a successful program with demonstrated positive outcomes is very concerning,” she said.

Ms McDonald said she hoped that the LGBTI community in the Macedon Ranges were not deterred by the recent media coverage.

“We want our whole community to know, including our LGBTI neighbours and relatives, that we support and care for them. We will proudly continue to provide support as needed around health and wellbeing for all in our community,” she concluded.

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