News & Events

Seeking your feedback

Each year we invite our clients and their carers, partner agencies, staff and community members to provide feedback on our previous annual report. Feedback received contributes to the planning for the next year’s report and directly contributes towards our quality improvement processes.

To view a digital copy of the 2015-16 annual report, visit:

Submit your feedback via the simple online survey at:

Job Opportunity – Housing Support Worker

Housing Support Worker
0.6 EFT (3 days a week) – 12 months Fixed Term

For more than 30 years, Cobaw’s vision has been to create a healthy, resilient community through excellence in health and wellbeing services for all in the community. What attracts, engages and unites our passionate staff is the desire and commitment to make a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable clients and groups within the local communities we serve.

The Housing Support Worker provides support to individuals, families and children who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness. This role will contribute to the provision of an effective and coordinated service response.

Position Description: Housing Support Worker PD

For further information about the position, contact Alex Prado, Housing Support Coordinator on (03) 5421 1666. A clear police check and current Working with Children Check are required. As an employer, we value diversity and encourage applicants from all cultures and backgrounds.

To be considered for the role, your application must include a cover letter, resume and responses to the Key Selection Criteria, which need to be submitted to:

Cobaw Community Health Services Ltd
PO Box 146, Kyneton VIC 3444

Applications close: 5:00pm, Friday 28 July 2017

Cobaw Walkers Celebrate 30 Years

Longstanding community group, the Cobaw Walkers celebrated their 30th anniversary on 28 June and are seeking new members to continue the group’s success across the Macedon Ranges.

The group started in 1987 when local residents united with Cobaw Community Health to discuss the prospect of creating a walking group to explore this beautiful region on foot.

The Walkers depart every Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30am from various locations across the Macedon Ranges, with no two walks ever being the same.

Shirley Hutchison has been with the group for 29 years and a strong advocate for the value of a social, physical activity group: “We’re a family who are always looking to welcome new people along to join.”

When starting the group, the Walkers also decided to keep track of their walks in diary entries. Such diaries have now become a piece of local history with their first entry dating back to 1987:

Wednesday June 17, proved to be a crispy winter’s day with some warm sunshine ideal for a walk through Lauriston Reservoir. Some were ahead, others further back, but all enjoyed the stillness of the pine forest, the carpet of pine needles underfoot and the red spotted mushrooms beneath the trees – K. Meehan

As the most common form of activity by Australian adults, the value of walking is significant. Not only is it appropriate for all fitness abilities and ages, it is a low impact activity and best of all, it’s free. The benefits of walking include improving heart health, joint and bone strength while increasing mental health.

Additionally, the Macedon Ranges region also has a Social Pedallers group, providing participants the opportunity to jump on their bikes and see townships through a different lens. To find out how you can join either group, or for a copy of their itineraries, contact Cobaw Community Health on (03) 5421 1666.

Here With You – Cobaw’s new video

Your opportunity to contribute: Healthy Community Access Hub information session

Cobaw Community Health (Cobaw) is hosting the first of many Healthy Community Access Hub information sessions, following the project’s major funding announcement in March this year.

The information session on Wednesday 28 June at 7pm at Cobaw’s main office in Kyneton will provide the opportunity for community members to engage in a conversation, share ideas for the hub and receive an update on progress so far.

Cobaw is committed to working with stakeholders to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the local community and is seeking to create a building that welcomes and supports community connections and activities.

“We are excited to be taking this first step in engaging the community in the planning for what will be a contemporary facility, addressing the growing demand for place-based health and wellbeing services,” said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO. “We invite interested community members to join us at this session, or register their interest in participating in future sessions.”

RSVPs are essential as limited places are available. RSVP to or 5421 1666 by 5pm, Monday 26 June.

Helping children and young adults to thrive

Parents of school age children are invited to a free forum at the Kyneton Town Hall which will explore ways they can help their children thrive through the development of gratitude, compassion and self-regulation.

The forum on Thursday 27 July from 7:00-8:30pm at Kyneton Town Hall is the third event hosted by Kyneton 4 Schools which comprises of Kyneton Primary School, Our Lady of the Rosary Parish School, Sacred Heart College and Kyneton Secondary College. Childcare is available if registering before 21 July and bookings can be made via (code tqzuc).

Organised by the Kyneton 4 Schools group in conjunction with Cobaw Community Health, the evening will be presented by Tom Brunzell from the Berry Street Childhood Institute, Victoria. Tom has over 15 years of experience as a teacher, school leader and education advisor in New York City and Melbourne. Currently Tom is the Senior Advisor of Education at the Institute and leader of the Berry Street Education Model. Tom presents internationally on topics such as transforming school cultures, high expectations for differentiated instruction, trauma informed practice, wellbeing and the application of positive psychology, and effective school leadership. He is also a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Graduate School of Education studying trauma-informed pedagogy, positive psychology, and their impacts on workplace meaning.

For more information contact Belinda Ryan at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish School on 5422 2056.

New training program to support the region’s response to ice

A new training program to support health workers manage clients who use ice is being delivered in Kyneton this month. The training is being provided in partnership between Penington Institute and Cobaw Community Health (Cobaw).

Ice, the crystalline form of methamphetamine, is causing increasing problems in regional Victoria dramatically affecting users, their families and friends, and communities.

Penington Institute CEO John Ryan said, “Although ice is most commonly smoked, a growing number of people inject the potent stimulant drug.  This type of use has particular implications for mental and physical health. As the police say, we can’t arrest our way out of this problem, meaning the health sector needs to be first responder when it comes to reducing drug use and drug harms.”

“People who inject ice are at the more serious end of the drug use spectrum, and frontline workers face significant challenges when providing services to them.”

“With ice-related ambulance attendances in regional Victoria growing rapidly (from 94 in 2011/12 to 467 in 2014/15) the release of the training and resources will help reduce the burden of ice related problems.”

Funded by the Victorian Government as part of the state’s Ice Action Plan, the aim of the training and the associated resources is to enhance the skills, knowledge and confidence of frontline workers in rural and regional needle and syringe programs (NSPs, also known as needle exchanges) and health services. The series also aims to improve access to NSP services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) people who are injecting drugs.

John Ryan said his organisation had developed the new videos, factsheets and training for NSP staff so that they can better respond to ice use.

“The education campaign, called Injecting ice in the Country – Healthier Approaches covers themes identified by rural and regional frontline workers as areas they wanted to learn more about,” Mr Ryan said.

“The videos present the views of NSP and other health experts about how they manage issues in their own workplaces.”

Topics range from ‘What is ice?’ to ‘Ice intoxication and withdrawal’ and the physical and psychological effects of ice use.

“For example, NSP clients who present intoxicated on ice will often be highly stimulated and may have difficulty concentrating. Conversely, when clients come to the service while in withdrawal they are likely to be depleted, disoriented and in need of rest and recovery,” Mr Ryan said.  “The response from health workers needs to reflect what’s best considering the mental and physical health of the client.”

Importantly, topics in the series also emphasise key public health and safety (or ‘harm reduction’) messages including not sharing injecting equipment to help prevent the spread of blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV.

“The videos, factsheets and training also reflect on the challenges for mainstream and Aboriginal services in meeting the needs of Aboriginal people who inject ice. Some Aboriginal people are reluctant to access Aboriginal health services due to shame, or for fear of their drug use being revealed to friends and family, while others find it hard to access mainstream services,” Mr Ryan said.

Colin Hatcher, Cobaw’s General Manager Health Services Development said, “Cobaw Community Health is a secondary NSP provider and also delivers alcohol and other drugs services across the Macedon Ranges. Our staff are looking forward to the opportunity to engage with staff from the Pennington Institute. We look forward to updating our knowledge of ice use and increase the organisation’s ability to deliver a responsive, informed service. We recently received funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to enhance our NSP service and this training will build on those improvements to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community.”

Crios O’Mahony, Project Lead from Penington Institute, who is delivering the training, said “NSP workers provide a vital service keeping their community safe and well.”

“This training and these resources will help workers to better understand ice use. They’ll also discuss practical strategies for meeting the needs of NSP clients.”

“Country areas can miss out on this kind of training which often happens in bigger cities. We believe that workers in regional areas will benefit from this project and we’re happy to be able to deliver this training directly to them.”

The topics come under four categories:

  1. Injecting ice use in the country
  2. Engaging NSP clients
  3. Safer injecting and harm reduction
  4. Physical and psychological impacts of ice use

There are two training sessions available, one designed for NSP workers in rural and regional areas, and the other specifically to support workers to engage with and support Aboriginal clients. Health services are able to access one or both of the training sessions, depending on their needs.

Penington Institute also has a resource for the public wanting to know more about ice:

About needle and syringe programs

NSPs are an essential part of Australia’s health system. The evidence around their effectiveness is well established – it is estimated that for every one dollar spent on NSPs, four dollars are saved in direct health care costs (for example from the blood-borne viruses prevented). The full return on investment to the community is $27 saved for every one dollar spent on NSP, including the saved productivity of prevented illnesses.

NSPs are confidential and non-judgemental places where, in addition to obtaining sterile injecting equipment, clients can access:

  • Information on the health risks associated with injecting.
  • Advice on safe injecting practices to reduce the risk of blood-borne virus transmission including HIV and hepatitis C.
  • Safe disposal advice and equipment.
  • Referral to other health and welfare services.

Student project helps women experiencing family violence

Kyneton Secondary College’s Z Club, a youth division of the Zonta Club of Kyneton, have made toiletry bags stocked with essential items to be given to women experiencing family violence.

The project came about last year following a visit by Margaret McDonald, Cobaw Community Health’s CEO, who spoke to the club about Cobaw’s role in supporting people experiencing family violence. The club wanted to do something practical to help the community and decided to use a donation from local businessman Peter Henderson to fund the toiletry bags.

It took five months to complete the project with Z Club members designing a logo and sewing the bags themselves. The bags include toothbrushes and toothpaste donated by Kennedy’s Chemist and other toiletries such as deodorant, hair brushes, shampoo and conditioner. Countrywide Window coverings donated the material for the bags.

The bags will be distributed through Cobaw Community Health where many of the people accessing services are presenting with issues related to family violence. Across all of Cobaw’s programs, identified family violence varies from 10-50 per cent of clients in services such as housing, children’s services, counselling and family services.

The Z Club was formed in 2012 and members meet fortnightly during their lunch break. At one stage, there were only Year 12 students participating so the group undertook a recruitment drive and there are now almost 20 members. Last year, the club also organised a White Ribbon campaign in the school, distributing white ribbons and arranging for pledges against violence against women in every class.

As part of the Z Club, members learn leadership skills including communication, public speaking, chairing meetings, publicity and planning, as well as gaining an increased awareness about people who have different life experiences and aren’t as “lucky” as they are.

For more information on the Z Club contact

Cobaw Celebrates 30 Years

Cobaw Community Health is celebrating 30 years of delivering health and wellbeing services in the Macedon Ranges with a community-wide celebration on Saturday 17 June 2017 at Kyneton Town Hall.

Sally Warhaft, journalist and author will feature as guest speaker on the evening. Sally will speak about what contributes to the strength of community. The evening will also include a sumptuous two course dinner catered for by the local fantastic team at Monsieur Pierre, live jazz music, an exciting video launch, and silent/live auctions with all proceeds going directly to Cobaw clients and customers in need.

The organisation is thrilled to invite everyone in the Macedon Ranges communities to join them on this evening.

“We simply want to take the opportunity to thank people who have contributed to the community and to Cobaw over the past 30 years. Throughout our operations over this time, the goodwill of the community has contributed through donations, volunteering, engaging directly with our services, supporting our advocacy for important social outcomes,” said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO.

“We have been celebrating our 30th anniversary for the past 12 months and have been looking forward to rounding off celebrations with a major event, highlighting the organisation’s achievements and recognising those who’ve contributed so much to our success.”

“Cobaw looks forward to the next 30 years of delivering local place-based health and wellbeing services in the Macedon Ranges and beyond, responding to our clients’ needs and achieving great outcomes for our community. Gather your friends, come along and hear from Sally Warhaft and be a part of an enjoyable community celebration.”

Tickets for the event are $80 and are available from

IDAHOT Day 2017

WayOut, a program of Cobaw Community Health that supports same sex attracted, bisexual, intersex, non-binary and transgender young people in rural Victoria, will be raising the rainbow flag at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute on Wednesday 17 May 2017 in recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

IDAHOT is a global celebration of sexual and gender diversity that aims to draw attention to and challenge the discrimination still faced by same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people. 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 (LGBTIQ+) people, with regional areas disproportionately affected.

The theme for IDAHOT this year is Families focusing on both recognising the role of families in the wellbeing of their LGBTIQ+ members, as well as the respect of the rights of LGBTIQ+ families (rainbow families). This focus aims to help strengthen the visibility and voice of LGBTIQ+ parents, rainbow families and children of LGBTIQ+ parents.

Research indicates that an inclusive community has improved health and wellbeing outcomes for LGBTIQ+ people and their families. The Macedon Ranges has a strong history of advocacy and support for LGBTIQ+ people that is strengthened through celebrating events such as IDAHOT Day.

“Raising the rainbow flag is a way to show support for our local LGBTIQ peers; young people, families, neighbours, colleagues and friends,” said Margaret McDonald, Cobaw CEO. “We are encouraging those who’d like to come along to add some colour to proceedings by wearing or carrying rainbow colours on the day.”