Social Justice Advocates Sapphire Coast


CWA Rooms 1/24 Toallo St Pambula 2549
Meeting commenced 4.32 pm

Jack Gray, Geoff Ward, Cheryl Dillon, Pete Gorton, Tracy Fleming, Arlene Cassel, Simon
Hoyle, Kerry James, Christine Welsh, Peter Buggy, Colin McPherson, Robin McPherson,
Christine Tynan, Geoffrey Manning, Jayne Boughton-Manning, Wendy Wait, Ray Tynan,
Robyn Kesby, Susan McGee, Martin McGee, Penny Oakes, Robert Kingston, Sharon Wellard,
Jo Riley-Fitzer, Denise Perry, Dianne Beckett, Sally Moylan, Peter Skelton, Pam Skelton,
Edwin Kelly, Mick Brosnan, Stuart Gyngell, Olwen Morris, Ailsa Seex, Helene Garratt, Zach
Hooker, Peter Reid, Russell Jennings (minutes) Wendy Wait, Lucy Little.

Let us start by acknowledging and paying our respects to the true owners of the land we
meet on today. We have dispossessed First Nations’ peoples of their land. I wonder if you,
like me, are reminded of this dispossession every time I am moved by the beauty of the Bega
Valley. When I am so moved, I’m always reminded that the true owners had to give this land
up. If that happened to me I would be utterly devastated. I think about how hard this must
continue to be for them. That makes me very sad.
So it is important that we not forget. And that we do what little we can to make amends to
the original owners, the First Australians.
The SJA always seeks ways in which we can attempt to make up for Australia’s unfortunate
past relationships with the true owners of this land.
Since our last meeting the SJA has donated $500 donation to the University of Wollongong
Bega Campus Scholarships for Nurses Program, with the specific request that our
contribution go to an Indigenous nurse trainee who plans to keep working in the Bega Valley
upon graduation.
Further, since our last meeting the SJA has donated $5000 to help cover BJ Cruse’s expenses
following his invitation to address the United Nations in Geneva. BJ will speak about historic
child abuse perpetrated by successive governments against First Nations peoples in
Australia. This is truth telling on a global stage. It is affirmation that the SJA continues to
believe in The Voice and in Truth Telling.

I welcome any newcomers we may have amongst us this evening.
Sharon Wellard, Kerry James, Cheryl Dillon, Geoff Ward, Geoff Manning.

Michael Pryke
Gavin Bell
Naomi White
Hugo White
Jan Reynolds
Dave Gallan
Wendy Gorton
Ann Wykes

Secretary has circulated minutes of 2023 AGM and April 11 General Meeting.
Chair moved they be accepted as correct.
Moved Peter Reid
Seconded Mick Brosnan
Tabled Peter Gorton
Seconded Peter Reid


  • Brilliant work by housing and homeless sub-group. Amazing results. So many vulnerable
    people kept safe and comfortable during transition to regular housing market.
  • Incredible effort by Bega group as we approached the referendum on the Voice
  • The refugee and multicultural group has put on so many functions that welcome migrant
    families to the sapphire coast, make them feel safe and comfortable here, and encourage
    them to settle in the Bega valley. Well done team.
  • The Indigenous group contributed so much to the referendum and, as mentioned, offered
    significant support to BJ Cruse for his trip to the United Nations.
  • The Bega Valley Advocates for Timor Leste have continued their fantastic work in helping
    improve life, especially for children, in Timor Leste, and in fostering cultural exchange with
    the people of Timor Leste
  • The environment group ‘Forces for Nature’ – so many tentacles out there. Always busy
    working for the environment in so many ways. Very much appreciated
  • The Lumen Christi chapter: Fantastic work by the teachers and students to keep the
    chapter alive and provide a pathway from the schools to the SJA Youth Group and then onto
    the mainstream SJA.
  • Youth Initiatives – doing great work on so many fronts. These enthusiastic young people are
    the future of community work in the Bega valley and we are so keen to nurture and support
    that group. Currently working hard to fit out a meeting / office space for the youth group on
    the grounds of the Grow the Future market gardens in Bega. We have paved the floor and
    will soon have power connected.
  • 2023 / 2024 has been a very successful year in terms of our partnerships with other
    community groups, our friends and supporters, our sponsors, and local businesses
    2023/24 a brilliant year for SJA. We have achieved a great deal for the community, and I
    thank every person who has contributed

In particular I wish to thank the SJA office bearers and sub-group convenors for their excellent work during 2023/24
I thank all our support people – our web page managers Ray Temmerman and Simon Hoyle who are currently sharing the role.
Our social media team, Russell Jennings and Kate Liston-Mills.
Special thanks also to our bookkeeper Robyn Morillas of Sapphire Coast Bookkeeping
Jayne Boughton-Manning who is looking after the SJA donation collection tin program.
And all the many people who take on specific tasks for us. Thank you all so much.
So ends another financial year – traditional time for re-election of office bearers.

Chair declares all SJA office holder positions vacant.
Mick Brosnan is presiding officer for the elections.
All members were informed that nominations should be directed to Secretary
Nominations were received by current office bearers – Chair, Deputy Chair, Treasurer, and

Mick Brosnan calls for nominations and seconders for

CHAIR Peter Reid
Nominated Jack Gray
Seconded Mick Brosnan
Accepted by Peter Reid

DEPUTY CHAIR Currently Anne Wykes (Absent Apology)
Nominated Mick Brosnan
Seconded Peter Gorton
Position to Be Confirmed

TREASURER Peter Gorton
Nominated Mick Brosnan
Seconded Wendy Wait
Accepted by Peter Gorton

SECRETARY Russell Jennings
Nominated Peter Gorton
Seconded Jack Gray
Accepted by Russell Jennings

Public Officer Position vacated by Pam Skelton. A motion of thanks was passed.
Peter Buggy has accepted role. Pam Skelton will arrange transfer papers with copy to
Please note that all the sub-group convenors will continue in their roles.

AGM for 2023/2024 ends.


CHAIR – Sub-Group reports have been circulated and posted.
Asks if any sub-group convenors wish to address sub-group activities.

Bega Valley Advocates for Timor-Leste (Dave Gallan) apology

Youth Initiatives Sub-Group (Lucy Little)

Indigenous Affairs (Olwen Morris)

Bega Group (Jan Reynolds) apology

Refugees / Multicultural (Gavin Bell) apology

Forces for Nature  (Wendy Wait)

  • Screening at Pambula Town Hall Friday 28/6
  • 9.30 Potoroo Palace WB Sat 29/6

Housing and Homeless (Mick Brosnan)

  • Next van goes out tomorrow
  • Sleeping 64 persons tonight in crisis accommodation tonight
  • Still collecting furniture and moving regularly
  • Geoff Prigg long-time caravan van repairer moving from area. Many Thanks. Looking for new person : please email secretary

See Youth report (website) for more information –

10 minute refreshment break before addressing general business.

As you’ve heard, Lucy Little and Jack Ewan Grey have agreed to act as co-convenors of the
SJA Youth Group. Both have been doing great work for our community and have some
excellent ideas for building long term sustainability into community work in the Bega Valley.
Thank you both for all you do.

Certificates of Appreciation awarded since last meeting :-

  • Bill Foxwell and Mark Smith, both of whom have been fantastic workers / supporters for Mick in the huge workload involved in the placement of caravans and demountables.
  • The team at Oaklands Cafe, who always display SJA posters, host a collection tin etc.
  • Mary Barker and James Cook at Auckland Street, Bega, who have kindly offered us space at
    their Grow the Future property so the Youth Group have a meeting place / Op-Cycle shop,
    office, general meeting place.
  • Stuart Gyngell who did that brilliant High Country bike ride and raised over $1200 for the
    SJA. Stuart is also doing great work in bringing SCAC and the SJA together – a big help as we
    continue to work to engage with the secondary schools in the Bega Valley. A possible new
    partnership between SCAC (Sapphire Coast Anglican College) Design & Technology Faculty to
    refurbish vans.
  • Dolphin Bowling Club and Club Sapphire for contributions to our homeless campaign.
  • Karen Tarpey for her great work in support of the local Indigenous community.
  • Roz Hansen, for her terrific pro-bono work in our on-going struggle to have the BVSC allow
    us to provide demountable housing for the homeless in the Bega Valley.
  • Sapphire Coast Historic Vehicle Club.

The SJA has made a $2000 donation to a special Lumen Christi Chapter project for the
Philippines. That money going towards the installation of a fresh water system for a small village.
Martin McGee thanked SJA on behalf of Sisters of Pontevedra.
Chair asks Treasurer to briefly run down significant donations to and by SJA since last meeting
SJA are always looking out for helpers. Often looking for people to take on specific, small tasks (many hands make light work).

Other Business:

  • Mick Brosnan a storage shed being constructed at Millingandi.
  • BVSC refusing to release legal advice On AUG 1 hearing to set a date for for
    further hearing.
  • Thanks Roz Hansen for pro bono advice on housing issues
  • Please Donate for PNG (see website).
  • Jo Riley Fitzer: Vale Claire Upton. Jo announced the sudden passing of Clair

CHAIR – thanks everybody for attending.
CHAIR –  NEXT MEETING 5.30 PM September 12 2024.
Meetings are generally 2nd Thursday every second month.

Antoinette Woods
Acting Assistant Principal – Lumen Christi Catholic College 
Meeting closed 6.30 pm

Sub-Group Reports

Bega Sub group

Next meeting 9th July 2024 5.30 pm Bega Uniting Church Bottom room
Last meeting 14th May 2024
Ross Williams Continuing to pursue details for the upcoming visit from Medecin sans Frontieres.
School visits and public meeting at Bega Uniting Church 6.30-8pm on the 2nd August 2024.
Free supper provided after the meeting.


Hi Folks , 
I must report that one of the longest projects of the SJA continues unabated . 
This small weekly food collection initiative and delivery to Eden is one simple way SJA directly takes action to
support the lives of some in the community. 
When delivered this food is either distributed immediately to locals, stored for future needs or cooked to
provide ready meals for some in the community . 
Many many volunteers are involved in this small project which has very significant and real impact on daily lives . 
THANK YOU to all who help in whatever capacity.  You are amazing!!!!
Of course we can always use more help especially in the collection end . 
Contact me directly or through our hard working secretary. 
Mick brosnan

Homelessness and Housing Sub Group Report June 2024

Folks lets start this report positively,

  1. For the first time in many years there has been a specific allocation to build social housing . The need for this
    public housing had been bloody obvious for decades as the existing public housing stock in the BVS of 342 is
    tired and often in need of urgent and significant maintenance . 
    So an aim to build 8400 social houses in the next 4 years is VERY SIGNIFICANT . 
    Along with 21,600 affordable and other housing just maybe the CRISIS IN HOUSING has resonated . 
    At least this is a target to address OUR CRISIS .
  2. There is a need for help to collect  and disburse furniture please . 
    SJA has been taking action in this sphere for the last eleven years . 
    The call in the last two months has been increasing back to old levels .
    This reflects some more housing rentals must be available !!! 
    Hence the demand for recycled furniture.
  3. Help needed to refurbish and move caravans please . 
    In the last two months the demand has quietened . Details of our numbers are below but we still have need to
    collect and deliver on a weekly basis.

Some repetition –
Dec 13 2023
At the council meeting councillors voted to wait until the State govt completed its two phase process of
looking at moveable dwelling legislation . 
Phase one has now been completed we believe . 
**Almost six months to that day of procrastination 
January 11 th 2024
We have lodged a GIPA Act 2009 freedom of information application to have the legal advice council claims
to have received released to the SJA . – formally paid on January 12 th 
Remember …
This legal advice council staff claimed to support the council refusing to support the use of our crisis transitional caravan moveable dwelling ( caravan ) units .
Remember this after we presented council with our SJA legal  advice stating that our units were in fact caravans and
therefore should be approved .
This on the basis of consideration from our consultation with our solicitor.
SO the retrospective DA demanded by the council which was lodged on December 8 2022 –   And following a
motion from councillor Cathy Griff fast  tracked –   Has still NOT been processed ?
560 DAYS and counting !!!!!!!!!! 2 year anniversary rapidly approaching??
THEN council rejected the GIPA application formally siting commercial confidentiality and potential future
legal challenges as the main reasons . – on February 5 . 
February 19 
SJA then applied through the IPC to have a review of this rejection of our GIPA application . Notification of
this review was with council on February 19 
May 16
IPC sent its review to council on May 16 . 
Whilst not mandatory, the council was advised to review its decision in the light of the reasons produced and
release the decision.
May 31 
the IPC review of the council’s GIPA appeal for information was again rejected  by council by council staff .
Similar reasons were given . 
So whilst six months has elapsed since council meeting of thirteenth Dec 2023, council obfuscation continues
despite considerable evidence, legal advice to the contrary and government entities advising otherwise . 

We move through another very active year 

  1.    A HUGE debt of gratitude to Roz Hansen AM  who has worked tirelessly using her more than 40 years
    experience to be the author of most of the applications and liaison person with our pro bono solicitor. Hours
    and hours of voluntary work .
    Thank you so much Roz – certainly without you this could not have happened . 
  2.   22 caravans last night and with our eight crisis transitional units we continue to help approximately 60
    otherwise homeless people in our community 
    Every night .
    We now have 8:—— yes eight community crisis transitional caravan units – moveable dwellings under the
    Further THANKS 
    I want  to thank Shauna Enoka for her patient and consistent support role in assisting the management
    I want to thank the management committee and it’s very hard working service provider members who
    continue to organise these units . 
    I want to thank Cassandra of Bega Realty who equally patiently organises the tenancy and rentals of our
    I want to thank the Bega Seventh Day Adventist Church for their fabulous furnishing cleaning and
    presentation of our units – makes a HUGE difference . 
    THANK YOU ALL – it is as a team you have made the units so very successful.
    What other crisis transitional accommodation is there in this shire ?
    Where does the immediate support for our current homeless and those so close to not having their next rent –
    who is supposed to support these folks . ????
    We need shelters —.   NOW NOW NOW not in two to five years ?
    Remember that Nullica Lodge remains vacant .
    Apparently our council ” has no formal role in the future of this site ” ??
     – June 19 2024 Emily Harrison : BVSC Director Community, Environment and Planning .
    An Eden community facility.
    What can I do ? How may I help ? 
    We must keep fighting for all people who need and expect the right to have a shelter called HOME.

Indigenous sub group report June 2024

No meetings since March however things have been happening!

 Our special envoy, Karen Tarpey, has been out & about in the Aboriginal communities!
On 5 June Karen (and others) attended the Tjaabi-Flood Country performance led by
Ngarluma man Patrick Churnside which had been organised by Bettina Richter, now
working with Country Needs People.
Karen is also again volunteering at the Biraga Bunaan event early next year. This year
we funded the supply of water for the dancers and other performers and Karen has
requested we do the same next year, to which we have agreed.
It is a special event for Yuin people to gather in a  healing ceremony sharing stories,
dance etc as part of their tribal Lore, songlines & customs. Non-indigenous are welcome
to attend and respectfully observe but not participate.

 Peter, Mick & I have been assisting BJ Cruse in his application to speak to the United
Nations. We heard last week that he has been accepted to speak under the UN
Speaking Rights in Geneva. I’ve been busy sending out media releases to all & sundry to
promote his visit. SJASC have funded him the amount of $5000 for flights &
accommodation. He will speak about historic child abuse perpetrated by successive
governments against First Nations peoples in Australia.

 Bega LALC is organising a community fun day for NAIDOC week on 12 July from 11am –
4pm at the Bega Uniting Church. I have sent an email to members of the Indigenous
Issues group requesting volunteers and supporters for the day. However all are welcome
to attend and/or offer their services!

Olwen Morris

Migrants and Sub Group Report 2023/2024

The Sapphire Coast has been the beneficiary of many new Migrant and Refugee families during the last Financial
The families have been supported mainly by the Sapphire Coast Aged Care Facilities and the Snowy Hydro
Scheme 2. These organisations have solved the 2 major challenges being Employment and Accommodation.
We will attempt to continue to provide support to these families directly and through other community members.
Refugee Visit
The Sub Group hosted another annual Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services, Canberra (MARSS) visit which
again proved to be of great benefit for the visiting families, and host families, alike. These visits are never without
some challenges, but through the goodwill of both parties and some maneuvering on the organisers behalf, it was
another resounding success.
This year’s event is being planned for late November, so I will put a call out in early September to gather some
Medieval Festival Day
For the first time, the Sub Group hosted a Medieval Festival as part of the February Rotary Market at Pambula.
We had great support from about 10 stallholders who formed a circular village to show off their wares and skills
including a sword fighting display, using real steel swords.
We estimate approximately 200 extra people attended the market day which made Pambula Rotary and the regular
market stallholders very happy.
We will try and make it happen again in February next year as well.
Other Community Initiatives
A big thankyou to Cayce Hill and Carol Holden for providing social outings at the Pambula CWA Hall. In addition
there has been a good response to a program called Hear2Help which has involved a good number of volunteers.
The Advocates have provided funding to train these volunteer tutors.
A big thank you to any volunteers involved in any of the above activities.
In closing
If anyone is interested in getting involved in the Migrant and Refugee Group, and may even have some ideas about
different programs or projects, your involvement and input would be most welcome.
Gavin Bell, Convenor, Migrant and Refugee Sub Group.

SJA Environment Sub Group Report – for AGM Thursday 27 th June, 2024

  1. Supporting Zoe Pentin with the organisation of The Franklin River Movie screening in Pambula
    We have been supporting Zoe in organising and promoting the screening of *The Franklin River Movie. This
    event aims to raise awareness about environmental conservation and the historical significance of the Franklin
    River campaign where people power changed an outcome. A panel of local activists will discuss what they are
    doing in our community and how to get involved.
  2. Potoroo Working Bee- Saturday 29 th June 2024
    A working bee is scheduled for June 29th to assist with the maintenance and conservation of the PotorooPalace. Tasks include beautification of the entry to Potoroo Palace, invasive species removal, and general siteclean-up. Bring along gloves and hard rakes.
  3. Support Youth Group with Paving the Bega Stables and developing a Youth Hub
    We are supporting the youth group to pave a section of the Bega stables, supported also by Grow the Futureparticipants and Cal Champagne. This space was generously provided by Mary and James Cook. This project willprovide a base, office, youth and op-cycle space for the SJASC youth Convenor and members. Materials have been sourced and work has commenced. Exciting times ahead.
  4. Solar Garden Project
    The Sapphire Coast Historical Car Club (SCHCC) has said that they are FOR establishing a solar garden on site atthe club in South Pambula.  A few strategic key players are currently preparing a proposal & presentation for theclub. We expect to have a draft proposal ready by the end of June.  The SJASC REP group will meet soon to goover the proposal.  Once the presentation is ready, a date and time with the SCHCC will be arranged to present our proposal.
  5. We are currently awaiting an update from Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) regarding the status of our grant application for the cattery project. The grant will fund the construction of a new cattery facility to support localanimal welfare efforts. Thanks again Marianne Kambouridis for writing this grant.
  6. Starting to Plan and Save the Date for SJA Involvement with Rising Tide Group at the November Newcastle- The peoples blockade of the world’s largest coal port 22nd -25th November 2024, Newcastle. You can book now so look for Rising Tide info on SJA Facebook.
    Preliminary planning has begun for our SJASC participation in the Rising Tide group’s protest in Newcastle onNovember 22-25th. The peoples Blockade 2024 will be a mass mobilisation of game-changing peaceful action for aclimate revolution. Join with others to demand an immediate end to new coal projects and an end of coal exports from the Newcastle coal port.
  7. Energy Audit workshop 24-25 th May 2024 Pete Gorton arranged for Jeff Knowles from ecofootprints ran a 2day energy audit, where cost effective practical ways were discussed to reduce your energy use and ultimatelyhave cheaper bills and use less energy. A win on all accountsAn energy audit of a SJA unit in the Reflections Caravan Park was conducted and rated well and 2 private homes were also inspected. Energy Audit course over view: Topic A. Building Fabric: Topic B. Fixed Appliances Topic C. DiscretionaryAppliances and other equipment Topic D. Learn by doing Topic E. Discussion and viewing of and ways in which it can be helpful going forward for SJA people working in this area.
  8. Helene Garrett will soon be asking SJA members via email to put forward their questions question to prospective applicants applying to be future Bega Valley Shire Council counsellors at the elections in September. These questions should be relevant to SJASC, e.g. be questions about one of our sub groups: Indigenous Issues,Climate/ Environment, Homeless/housing, Timor Leste, Refugee/ multicultural, youth so we can have that we canput to determine where they stand on these important issues. We will then present this information via social media and other media outlets.
  9. SJASC donation tins: Jayne’s report
    SJASC Collection Tin Report June 2024: In February this year we received our new bright blue collection tins.We placed them in several locations and collected the old tins to bank the funds. A total of $678 was depositedfrom seven collection tins in February 2024. We just did another collection round and have deposited another $436. A special mention to Black Daisy who raised $106 this collection. The two Michelle’s are continuing to ask for adonation for gift wrapping and they make a separate deposit to SJA every 6 months. Black Daisy also raised $395 from gift wrapping at Christmas. Another special mention to Katie from Bonnie Day Café at Spencer Park. Her little coffee van has raised $280 for SJA this year. Nicky and Ollie from Toast Pambula, and now Toast Eden, as well, have kindly put our collection tins on their front counters, along with flyers about SJA. Toast are doing a new Hot Batch Brew over winter and all the profits fromthe sale of the brew will go to SJA. And at the Hudson’s kiosk in the foyer of Bega Hospital is a wonderful woman Alicia, who has been collecting for SJA in a coffee cup. She now has a smart new collection tin and a flyer about what SJA does. We have some other locations for our collection tins, twelve in total.Including Wild Rye Bakery and Roastery who raised $127, Aqua Café, Cranky’s Café, Oaklands Café and The Pambula Collective and Pambula Fruit Market. And we’ll continue looking for good venues to place some more tins.
  10. Tee shirt and corflute research and purchase. We have purchased more tee shirts of various sizes and 8 SJASC corflutes.(signs)

Our Environment group as can be seen, is engaged in various activities always with the focus of environmental
conservation, preservation and community support.
We urgently need more active members and have recently aligned with the new Sapphire Coast Sea Shepherd group.
Your participation and support are vital for the success of our various initiatives.
Please reach out if you can contribute in anyway.

SJA June 2024 AGM – Youth Group Report

Lucy Little and Jack Gray

The Youth group has an extremely exciting announcement to kick off our report: work has
officially commenced on the SJA Youth Hub at Grow The Future in Bega! The pavers are down
and we’re now establishing more imperatives such as electrical outlets and insulation. We have
already received donations for certain furnishings and cannot wait to plan out the rest of the
interiors. Thank you to all who have jumped on board to contribute to the completion of the
Youth Hub. And thank you to Gavin Bell for providing an impeccable BBQ lunch.
The SJA Youth Instagram has had a recent refurbishment. We have expanded further from the
Climate Action focus and now encapsulate all Youth activities. This has proved highly beneficial
in reaching a wider audience in regards to the happenings of the group.
At the end of May, SJA Youth ran a campaign that aimed to raise awareness about the current
zombie DA that’s in place at the Tura Beach Nature Corridor. We created a loud buzz on social
media, with our informative Instagram post garnering over 80 shares and reaching over 500
people. We also created a template pledge for members of the community to utilise for their
submission to the State Government inquiry into Zombie DA’s. The Youth group conducted a
visit to the Tura Forest and took pictures and videos which were then used to raise awareness
about the pertinent environmental issue facing the forest.
At the beginning of June, SJA Youth collaborated with Sea Shepherd Sapphire Coast for a
beach cleanup in celebration of World Ocean Day. We held the cleanup at Short Point in
Merimbula and filled 4 large garbage bags in a single hour. We welcomed a few new members
and set a lovely precedent for future beach cleanups – they will all be in collaboration with Sea
Shepherd Sapphire Coast.
The LCCCSJA Group have been working away on a project that they’ve titled the Bega Walk of
Hope. This project entails an exploration into the history of Indigenous segregation in Bega and
will include an educational walk that takes school students to places of Aboriginal significance
around Bega. It’s in the foundational stages and the next step involves community consultation
with local Elders and Indigenous councils.

Work on the homelessness documentary – an endeavour currently being led by Lucy – has
rebegun. In conjunction with Mick Brosnan, I have been setting up interviews with individuals
who are keen to join the project and utilise the platform to share their stories. I’ve also been
meeting with Far South Film who have offered to provide a film crew. We’re now looking into
grants that will be able to fund the film crew hire.
Recently, SCAC High School hosted a winter sleepout to raise money for the SJA Housing
Subgroup. I had the opportunity to speak at this event about the overall mission of the Social
Justice Advocates and the specific efforts of the Youth Subgroup. We also discussed the
allocation of the funds raised. As of the night of the sleepout, the total amount raised was
nearing $6000, which is incredible. A massive appreciation goes to Zosha Fontaine, who raised
one-fifth of that amount on her own.
During Costa’s visit to the valley, I was invited to present at a discussion panel held at the Civic
Centre. The event was not only extremely interesting and informative, but the feedback from the
community about the input from SJA was remarkable.
A mentoring and networking event was held at the Fling Theatre in Bega during Costa’s visit.
The night was divided into multiple sections, giving all attendees ample time to meet various
local professionals and mentors, including Costa himself, from a wide range of arts-based
professions. The event provided young, passionate individuals with the chance to connect with
and learn from some of our area’s most inspiring leaders.
Finally, I want to mention the restructuring of the Youth Group. The SJA Youth Group originated
from a youth-formed group called the Youth Climate Action Group (YCAG). Noticing that many
YCAG members were also collaborating with the SJA, we decided to combine the two groups
into a new SJA Youth Subgroup.
Over the past few months, I have been working on an exciting development, and today I’d like to
announce it to you all. The ECHO program is a multi-coordinated localised Projects Hub for the
Bega Valley. The message it spreads is found in its name: “Engage, Connect, Help, Organise.”
Its purpose is to unify, manage, advertise, and simplify the process of project development in
our community. It aims to support locality, mentoring, and resources sectors backed by the
SJASC to encourage and streamline project development for those with the passion and ideas
to do so.

The idea for ECHO evolved from the concept of an events advertisement application initially
called CommUnity, which was later renamed “Local Loop” after two months of development.
The platform was designed to centralise local events, workshops, experiences, festivals, and
volunteer opportunities. However, the focus shifted from advertising to project implementation
due to greater demand within the Bega Valley. Consequently, the Eurobodalla-based application
program “canXsee” and the Bega Valley “Village Beats” program began to emerge with similar
ideas. Although the Local Loop program remains, its trajectory is likely to change, potentially
leading to a positive partnership with “canXsee” that prioritises the Bega Valley.
As a direct and continuing product of the SJASC, the youth group has now been integrated into
the ECHO structure. This decision aims to officially merge the SJA, the Youth Group, and
various other community projects that have been collaborating informally. This change will
enhance the effectiveness and growth of all groups as collaboration becomes more streamlined.
Several other projects have connected with ECHO in recent months to facilitate easier
collaboration. I am extremely grateful to announce the inclusion of the Bush & Us program, led
by the incredible Bianca Bellicanta, and the “Voice for Better Education” program, requested by
the NSW Department of Education and pioneered by myself.
To conclude, one of the most exciting aspects of ECHO is that all the topics discussed today are
documented within ECHO. If you want to know more about what we do, where we’re going, or
who we’re collaborating with, you can visit the ECHO website at
We’d like to finish our report with a little reminder about tomorrow evening’s film screening of
‘Franklin’ at Pambula Town Hall. Get your tickets at – we hope to see you there!