Most of us understand that councils build and maintain local roads, supply drinking water, collect our rubbish, oversee town planning and development approvals. Then there are the parks, gardens, and pools.
Here in Bundaberg, you might also think to mention the tourist attractions and grand civic spaces they operate, like the Moncrieff Theatre and art galleries. But the role of a Council is about much more than bricks and mortar. It’s what happens within those buildings and public spaces that is the mark of a good local government.
Connectedness is something Bundaberg Regional Council has a proud history of fostering. Within their parks, libraries and neighbourhood centres, residents of all ages, social backgrounds, cultures and genders come together every day for social activities, programs and events. They share their knowledge and learn from each other. These things happen quietly in the background, but form part of a larger strategy that is helping position the Bundaberg Region as a wonderful place to live, work and invest.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Gone are the days when a library was compacted rows of musty books with yellowing pages. Most libraries have moved into the digital age with thoughtfully designed spaces and a whole array of media available for borrowing, and yet something still feels delightfully old-world about walking into a city library.
Perhaps, as traditionally quiet spaces, it is that immediate sense of calm you feel once you step over the threshold, or knowing the space is home to more knowledge than any one person can hold. Maybe it is because each book that lines the shelves has its own history or that borrowing library resources has both an environmental and economic benefit.
Whatever the reason, a library is much more than just a home for information. The stillness and silence is not an indication of solitude or loneliness – the purpose of the space is quite the opposite. As with all civic spaces, libraries connect us to each other, but also seek to build our community and make it better. It would be hard to pinpoint any other space that attracts the range of people a library does.
The main focus for the Bundaberg Regional Council’s (BRC) libraries is to help improve literacy – not just reading and writing, but also to enhance residents’ digital understanding and cultural knowledge.
Bundaberg Library runs dedicated programs for under 5s, such as Minibeasts and The Reading Hunt. They offer free kids’ programs, such as Lego or Chess Club, Coders Club, a Gamers Group and Book Club, as well as regular school holiday activities.
At the other end of the spectrum are programs for adults and seniors, such as author talks, poetry café or workshops for writers. They teach the basics of computers and smartphones.
When the Federal Government introduced My Health Record, Bundaberg Library was one of the first to run workshops to teach people about digital health literacy and privacy. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic the library transitioned immediately to an online environment to replicate its in-person programs through Zoom. The Bundaberg Library also partnered with Jabiru to use its 3D printer to produce face masks for Queensland hospitals when global supplies were low.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
Neighbourhood centres serve to combat social isolation and build relationships. In both Gin Gin and Childers, the neighbourhood centres provide a space for community members to be active, participate in events, engage with others and find support in their time of need.
Jointly funded by Bundaberg Regional Council and the State Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, the two centres helped 193 families or individuals with emergency relief in the past financial year.
They delivered 39 projects and events to almost 2500 community members. This included playgroup sessions, pilates and tai chi classes, knitting groups and card games. The neighbourhood centres also serve as a base for Meals on Wheels and a household assistance program for people aged over 65.