Benambra Six Years On

Opening-of-GAL-5Jackson, Dan and Ben have been living in the intentional community with their co-residents and housemates for over 6  years now. The community was opened by Her Excellency The Honourable Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, on 20 May 2013.

So how is it all going?

More than six years on the community is thriving. We have new members, continue to support each other through social events and get-togethers. Jackson, Dan and Ben are happy in their homes with co-residents and other wonderful support workers.

One way to see how it is going is to check our the two year anniversary photo book, which chronicles the community. You can also see how it was going at the 12 month mark by watching ABC Canberra’s “7:30” report on the project, which aired on 25 July 2014.

Also, here’s an article Sally wrote for the June Housing ACT newsletter which gives a summary of the year. And here is  one she wrote for the ACTCOSS Newsletter.


A-Place-To-Call-Home-CoverThere is also a book which Sally and her son Tim wrote, which explains Benambra’s history, structure, unique features and benefits. Click here to find out more about the book. To purchase the book, please get in touch. The book has been purchased by individuals and organisations from all over Australia and has gone to the United Kingdom and the USA.

Building Community

The community is working well. The events we have held over the past six years have helped with forging relationships and friendships. Not only do the intentional community members attend the various celebrations, working bees, meetings and musical afternoons but some families from the other non-intentional part of the community have also been involved in several of the events. They are always invited and very welcome as our aim is to build a solid, friendly, helpful community of residents and their friends and families who all know and support each other.

The best way to see how the community is growing is to check out the photo timeline and the latest news articles, but here is more detail about some of the gatherings.

A community that works and eats together builds together

gardening-May-25-Geoffrey-and-JethroWe have had 3 working bees for weeding, raking, sweeping, pruning, general tidying and handyperson work such as putting up trellises. These are always followed by a barbeque and socializing.





Music at Benambra

benambra-first-year-Kirrah-AmosaSeveral music gigs have been held by The Pocket Foxes, The Cashews, Lazy Harrys, Kirrah Amosa Trio, Random Notes acapella group. In June 2014 soulful singer/songwriter Emma Dryden played an acoustic blend of folk and blues. She was followed by a duo set with her partner Heya Gosper for a rockier, more funky set.

On July 6th the Ululele Republic of Canberra will be playing at Jackson’s house.

So we want to keep the music happening and the place jumping.

If you know of any musicians who would like to play at Benambra, then send them our way.

Traditional Celebrations

SONY DSCWe had a wonderful Christmas celebration in December and a very well attended Easter egg hunt with hot cross buns in April.

Good Neighbour Day was full of the joy of having good neighbours and there have been countless barbeques and afternoon teas.




benambra-first-year-Minister-Joy-BurchThe ACT Legislative Assembly Minister for Disability, Ms Joy Burch, came for a visit in March and we hope other ACT politicians will visit also. They are always welcome.






SONY DSCThe ACT Government Community Services Directorate (CSD) which funded and built the development was recognized by the ACT Real Estate Institute in 2013. The development was awarded the Judges’ Special Recognition for Community Service Award which was specially created for 2013. Sally and staff from the CSD were there to claim the prize.

The development was nominated for a Master Builders Award 2014.

The ACT Government Community Services Directorate (CSD) was nominated for an ACT Inclusion Award for the intentional community.

Workshops, Reference Groups and Conferences

Karen and Sally have been busy promoting the community and spreading the word. Below is a truncated list of some of the promotional work they have done.

Spoken or presented at:

  • The National Housing Conference, Adelaide
  • The ACT Downs Syndrome dinner, Canberra
  • The Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Sydney
  • The Department of Health and Aging Gala Ball and Dinner, Canberra
  • Hartley Lifecare’s Challenge dinner and presentation, Jindabyne
  • The ACT Housing Joint Champions Group
  • Disability ACT’s meeting for parents on transition planning
  • The Equity and Diversity Committee (members from Department of Premier & Cabinet, Treasury & Public Service Commission), Sydney
  • Imagine More Conference, Canberra
  • Manningham Inclusive Community Housing, Melbourne
  • Belonging Matters full day workshop, Melbourne

Been interviewed:

  • By Professor Jill Franz from the Queensland University of Technology
  • On the Richard Fidler program on Radio National

Met with:

  • Executives from the Illawarra Retirement Trust, one of Australia’s largest community based seniors lifestyle and care providers
  • Families of the ACT interested in the intentional community model of supported accommodation
  • Executives from Araluen Victoria which provides accommodation and day services to adults with an intellectual disability

On the panel of:

  • The ACT Innovative Housing Units advisory group

Written articles for:

  • ACTCOSS Newsletter on Co-Design of the Intentional Community (see here).
  • Housing ACT June newsletter (see here).

The community is growing

There have been two new members in the community; baby Alex and baby Ellie. They are welcomed with gifts, cards and lots of cuddles.

Where to from here?

benambra-first-year-Jackson-enjoying-the-musicMore of the same. More music, more barbeques, more gatherings, more working bees, more fun, more laughter, more meetings and greetings, more help, more smiles, more celebrations, more sharing of herbs and resources and time.

Visit the website regularly for the latest news and photos. Next photos will be of The Ukulele Republic of Canberra gig, Christmas in July and a TV feature on ABC 7.30 Report.

Jackson, Dan and Ben

Jackson, Dan and Ben are happy in their new homes and thriving in their new community. Jackson’s co-resident, driver and other support staff say things like:

“He is more often than not very happy to see me.”

“It’s difficult to explain but I know he cares about me.”

“As a work colleague, he is definitely better than some people I have had to deal and work with in the past. He is non-judgmental, very patient with me and doesn’t complain all the time about how things could be better.”

benambra-first-year-Enjoying-the-tandem“There’s a lot to learn through watching Jackson and understanding his noises, tones and body language.”

“His accepting and calming attitude influences my own mood positively.”

“I appreciate his many unique personality traits that shine through once anyone gets to know him.”

“I love to experience and integrate in the wider community with Jackson to promote him as a worthy friend as well as an all round fabulous and capable person.”

“My family has come to include Jackson as a part of our own. I am sure Jackson feels the same way as we have had many enjoyable adventures together.”

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