Bittersweet Symphony

15 September 2022

Bittersweet Symphony

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Shelley Jones leading the choir.

It’s a warm, spring afternoon. Gradually, nervous harmonies give way to a strong, co-ordinated chorus. There’s so much more to this song, and this group, than the music.

Now several weeks in, the Finding Your Voice – Women’s Community Choir at Junction’s Hackham Community Centre is building rhythm.

The initiative comprises 28 women aged between 20 and 70. The group, which meets every Friday, includes participants from a range of cultures and backgrounds.

However, it’s their individual stories and experiences of family and domestic violence which brings them together.

“From the first week where it was very quiet, to now, it’s quite amazing to hear women go from whispering to singingly loudly and really proudly,” Hackham Community Centre Team Leader Tammy Elvin said.

“We have one woman who comes all the way from the other side of town. She’s hardly spoken at all but on Friday she got up and sang a traditional song from her home country in her own language. We all had goosebumps.”

Led by local artist, performer and self-care facilitator Shelley Jones, the group is focussing on sharing stories, learning songs, and understanding how to use their voice.

“Finding your voice is a metaphor for finding yourself."

“There’s a really collaborative approach to choosing the songs – music that means something to the women,” Shelley said.

Tammy adds: “When Shelley wasn’t there one week a couple of women stood up and led the group. They were nervous at first, but they did such a terrific job.”

Finding Your Voice has been made possible through a grant from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Local Drug Action Team. With a strong focus on early intervention and prevention, Tammy said the program was about the individual but also, the broader community.

“Research tells us women who have experienced dv are more likely to engage in risky behaviour like drugs and alcohol,” she said.

“We developed the program, so it is focussed on building capacity and relationships not just for the women attending but their children, extended family, and the whole community. It’s not just about managing risk but unlocking opportunity. There is so much potential here among this group and within these people.

“More than anything we’re seeing women recognising their own strengths and resilience and feeling more confident to face their challenges and fears."

“The vision for this choir is for it to be sustainable – community owned and supported. It’s a platform for these women to continue to grow and evolve. It’s clear they will also carry messaging around domestic violence and abuse and creating awareness about the issue wherever they sing.”

The short-term goal, however, is a concert on Sunday, November 27 at the Old Noarlunga Institute Hall from 1-3pm.

“The concert will be a wonderful celebration,” Tammy said. “It’s a bit of a journey and the songs will very much tell the stories from ‘this is where we’ve been’ to ‘this is where we are’.”

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Anne in her garden

Getting Back and Giving Back

23 August 2022

Getting Back and Giving Back

Anne in her garden

Anne in her garden.

Almost two years after her initial diagnosis, Anne is re-gaining strength, getting back to her hobbies and even giving back, where she can.

In late 2020, Anne was diagnosed with bowel cancer – picked up during an unrelated surgery. That November, Anne underwent surgery to remove the tumor and parts of her colon before starting chemotherapy at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The three-month process had quite an impact on Anne’s health.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be that intense” said Anne, “It has a high impact with big side effects.”

Anne is now entering a five-year surveillance period which consists of regular blood tests, CT scans and colonoscopies to look for cancer markers.

“They don’t really call it remission because it can potentially come back at any time, but more likely during the five years,” she explained.

Around the same time, both of Anne’s siblings received a cancer diagnosis and her brother passed away from the disease shortly after.

During such a difficult time, Anne credits the work of her medical team at the QEH – especially the oncologists who she was able to call for support at any time. But she would not have been able to do it without the love and support of her two children.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without them.”

Keeping in touch with loved-ones kept Anne going through her treatment and recovery. As she continues to regain her strength, Anne is looking forward to dining out at restaurants and getting back out into nature and the community. She also has since become a volunteer with the Cancer Council.

“I’m grateful I get to feel good and start to pick up my life again because not everyone gets that opportunity.”

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Breathe Again

18 August 2022

Breathe Again

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Arvinder (L) and Simran (R)

For Simran and Arvinder, settling into their new home feels like breathing again after months of struggling to stay afloat.

The newly-weds should have been looking forward to starting a new chapter of their lives. Instead, they were met with months of turmoil and uncertainty stemming from a crushingly competitive rental market.

“After the wedding – I thought we would be relaxing and unwinding. We were looking forward to focusing on our relationship and building our life together,” Simran said. “I had rented in Perth for over 10 years with no issue, so I was super confident we could find a home in Adelaide.”

Both IT Consultants with a perfect rental history, excellent credit and references – finding a new home during their relocation to Adelaide seemed like it would be ‘no trouble at all’. However, reality came as a complete shock. During the six months that followed, the couple applied to over 100 properties with no success.

“We never thought the rental market would be this crazy. There would be 20 to 30 people coming to each inspection and we weren’t getting any calls,” Arvinder said.

"We originally looked for nice properties in nice locations, but eventually we reached a stage where anything would do.”

Looking for a home had gone from an exciting new start to a rigid home-hunting regime run from hotels, short-term rentals, and Airbnbs.

“We would originally visit properties together. But we were attending so many that we had to split up to make the times,” Arvinder said. “We visited so many that by the end of the day I didn’t remember any of them.”

Eventually, after receiving only one offer for an old, mould-covered home in the northern suburbs, they felt like they had hit rock-bottom.

“We only lasted three days in that place. I physically couldn’t breathe because of the mould. I cried every night and thought to myself – is this really what our life has come to?” Simran said. When Simran received a call from Junction with an offer of a new home within our affordable housing portfolio, she “broke down out of pure relief and joy.”

The apartment is one of 10 Junction has purchased within the vibrant new precinct at West to provide long term, stable rental housing for tenants able to pay up to 74.9 per cent of market rent.

“We were living out of our suitcases.” Arvinder said. “Now, we’ve been able to buy furniture and make it feel more like a home. It’s clean, it’s comfortable and it’s in a great location. We feel so lucky to be here.”

“It feels like we’ve finally reached the shore after swimming for so long,” Simran said.

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Roger That!

8 August 2022

Roger That!

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Roger with one of his model yachts.

Building model yachts, plumbing and carnation farming are among Roger’s life experiences – but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing!

Originally from Port Lincoln, Roger, who now lives in Strathablyn, began his career at just 14, working as a plumber alongside his father in the family business.

Following the passing of both parents, Roger “bit the bullet” and began a carnation farm with his wife – something neither of them had any experience in.

“We started in ‘88 with only 400 plants,” he said. “We killed the bloody lot that year.”

Determined to learn from his mistakes, Roger and his wife spent the next several years building the farm into a success. By the early 90s, they were harvesting 1000 carnations per day (57,000 per year) and supplying to Alice Springs, Sydney and Melbourne.

Struggling to keep up with demand, Roger eventually sold the business. However, things took a turn for the worse with the new owners and the sale didn’t work out as positively as he and the family expected.

Roger and his family relocated to Strathalbyn. Despite being down on his luck at the time, Roger was still keen to give back to his community and that’s where his next big journey began. Beginning the ‘South-Eastern Modern Yacht Club” in ’92 and acting as the Commodore, the Club now hosts 33 regular members.

During this time, Roger was approached by a local high school and asked to use his building skills to engage young people who were struggling with traditional and academic subjects. Roger’s patience and personality was the perfect fit for this role and the rewards were astounding.

“Watching these kids come back after school to keep working on their yacht was such a treat,” he said.

“It was great to support these kids that had lost interest in school and watch them realise what else they can do.”

Now retired from teaching and his Commodore duties, Roger holds a lifetime membership to the club but these days spends most of his time gardening and catching up with friends and family – as well as caring for his pet dog, Milo.

“I’ve lived a good life,” he said.

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Star on the Rise

2 August 2022

Star on The Rise

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Amber showing us some of her clay art.

Life’s hectic for Noarlunga Downs resident Amber – and that’s just the way she likes it.

The 16-year-old is completing Year 10 – and Year 11 maths – while working part time in a local bakery and undertaking a barista course.

Despite her busy schedule, Amber’s hard work is paying off. She was awarded the Highest Performing Academic Student for the past two years at Willunga High school. This was in addition to being among the 2021 Community Housing ARTS (CHARTS) awards winners for her poem ‘New Moon, Consume’.

As part of Amber’s CHARTS prize pack, she won a three-day intensive course at the Adelaide Central School of Arts (ACSA). This provided her access to multiple artistic mediums and platforms, as well as first-hand insight and tips from some of South Australia’s most experienced artists.

Amber Poem

Amber’s Poem, winner of the Youth Artist Poetry and Literature category in the 2021 Community Housing Arts Awards (CHARTS).

Harnessing experience gained from using clay for the first time during the ACSA course, Amber has since refined her skills and started making jewelry and other nick-nacks.

“I’ve never worked with clay before,” she said. “It just came naturally”

Although Amber’s favourite subjects at school are maths and science, she has always enjoyed the creative freedom she derives from art.

Congratulations Amber! We can’t wait to see where your commitment and talents take you.

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A Happier Ending

29 July 2022

A Happier Ending

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Farzeen enjoying the view from her apartment.

Pride. Relief. Gratitude. This is how Farzeen and her partner, Satya describe, the feeling of settling into their new home.

It’s hard to believe the couple, both graduate architects working in local Adelaide firms, were – just a few weeks ago – facing homelessness.

They had been renting the same house for a few years before their landlord advised that he needed to end their lease to accommodate his own family soon to arrive in Australia from overseas.

“He gave us plenty of notice, and we started looking straight away,” Farzeen explained. “When we started renting in 2019, we found a property easily, so we didn’t think we’d have any trouble.”

Unfortunately, they were wrong. Despite having a decent bond, excellent rental references and stable incomes, the couple could not secure a tenancy. With every unsuccessful application, they became increasingly worried.

“The next step was a share house which we probably would have needed to go into with up to six other people or a backpackers’ hostel,” she said.

“They (property managers/landlords) couldn’t always disclose the reason why we missed out, so it was very frustrating and confusing.”

After contacting Junction early in their search for a home to rent, it was a return call in mid-June that saved Farzeen and Satya from falling out of stable housing.

“We had until June 20 to leave our rental and Julie (Allocations Team Leader, Junction) called us just in time,” Farzeen said.

"She was able to fast track everything so we could move in as our lease ended. It was a matter of days. We were so lucky.”

The couple is now settled in their home at West Lakes.

As part of our affordable housing portfolio, the apartment is one of 10 Junction has purchased within the vibrant new West project to provide stable, long term rental accommodation.

Farzeen said she wanted to share her experiences so others could learn from what she and her partner had been through.

“People think it is going to be easy, but it isn’t,” she said. “We don’t want others to have to go through the same stress as we did because this outcome isn’t where we were heading.”

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Junction Connect Winter 2022

16 July 2022

Junction Connect Winter 2022

We’ve got some good winter reading sorted! The latest edition of Connect – our quarterly neighbourhood and community magazine – is available now.

Too cold and wet to go too far from home? We’ll hit the road on your behalf! From Tanunda to Kingscote, we’re bringing community news and stories to you from across the State

Sit down with a warm cuppa and enjoy.

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You may spot Allen ‘catching waves’ near his home.

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A Better View

7 June 2022

A Better View

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Shak in her Apartment.

Those in our Melrose community will recognise the positive energy and contagious smile of budding young artist and musician Shak.

Having moved from Victor Harbor to Adelaide to pursue University studies, Shak now lives in our Fig Tree Apartments.

“I was homeless at 17 and was couch surfing for 7 months,” she said.

“I feel so grateful to be given this opportunity. I’ve been able to move forward with my life.”

Shak’s apartment is the perfect reflection of her personality – surrounded by instruments, artworks and poetry, it is easy to see where her passions lie.

“My dad was a big inspiration for me when it comes to art” said Shak. “I’ve been making art since I was 5, and focused on it through high school”

Beyond art, Shak is also an avid skater and models in her spare time. She has also started designing clothes and participating in poetry nights at the Social Hearts Club.

Starting a new part-time job has been one of the biggest changes in Shak’s life since moving to Adelaide, but it hasn’t stopped her from chasing her real passion.

“I would love to be a tattoo artist. That’s the goal”.

With so much now to look forward to, Shak shared a quote from a poetry book she loves – which helped her maintain positivity and determination through adversity.

“The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finishing line.”

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Kicking Goals Toward Reconciliation

11 May 2022

Kicking Goals Toward Reconciliation


Sharon Gaskin, the designer for the Reconciliation guernsey

Junction will partner with the Kangaroo Island Football League (KIFL) for the Association Reconciliation round on Sunday, June 5.

Every year the KIFL holds Association matches against the Southern Football League (SFL), bringing together the ‘best of the best’ from all five clubs across the Island in a Senior and Youth Squad to play SFL’s best teams.

This year the opportunity emerged to pair this event with the Reconciliation game to culminate in what is going to be a fantastic day of unity, cultural knowledge sharing and of course, footy!

To be held at the Dudley United Football Club in Penneshaw, the day will showcase two very skilled games of football together with Reconciliation activities running across the day.

There will be a Welcome to Country smoking ceremony performed by Mark Koolmatrie, bush tucker foods, childrens’ activities and the launch of the League’s Reconciliation guernsey sets – Senior KIFL team, sponsored by Junction and Youth Squad team sponsored by Headspace and Wellbeing SA.

The guernsey designs were brought to life by Sharon Gaskin – a proud Noongar woman from south-west of Western Australia who has made her home on Kangaroo Island.

Sharon has contributed to the development of the League’s Reconciliation rounds over several years together with Junction staff.

The guernsey design, brought to life by Sharon, tells the story of the five unique clubs on the Island meeting together at each other’s football grounds over the season to form one community.

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A Lifetime of Memories


A Lifetime of Memories

29 April 2022

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Renate (left) and Vicky (right).

Life-long friendships start from lightning-in-a-bottle moments – with people in the right place at the right time.

Renate and Vicky’s friendship began the same way and, 45 years on, is still a huge part of their lives.

“We lived on the same street and our kids played together, so we would also spend time together,” Renate said. “We’ve done a lot together.”

The two, who live in Junction’s inner southern suburbs, can recount a whole lifetime of memories.

Having raised their children together, worked together and played various sports together, Renate and Vicky have lived full lives ‘in each other’s pockets’.

“We can read each others’ faces now,” Vicky said.

“There are times I won’t need to say anything. I’ll just give her a look and she’ll know what I’m trying to say.”

“If she loses her keys, I’ll be the only one who knows where she’s put them,” Renate added.

Together, they have also extended their friendship to others in their neighbourhood, including a young man with a traumatic past.

“I met Michael on one of my morning walks. We just said hello to each other, and it grew from there.” Renate said. “He lives with his carers, so he lights up whenever we spend time together.”

Having taken Michael under their wing, they do all that they can to give him a sense of ‘normalcy’.

“Sometimes we help him out with things he needs. Other times, we just listen to him talk,” Renate said. “It’s about letting him know there are people that care. He really takes what we say on board too.”

Passers-by will often see them together, having a good chat and laugh.

“Renate will do anything for you. She’s always willing to give something up for someone else if needed,” Vicky said.

They both look forward to staying happy, healthy, and maintaining their friendships with those around them.

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