As part of our campaign to promote and protect Benambra, Sally wrote an article for the Housing ACT Newsletter. You can read the article below, or click here to download the newsletter PDF.
Benambra Intentional Community
Imagine this: live music events; barbecues; a Christmas party; an Easter egg hunt; Clean up Australia Day; afternoon teas; dinners with neighbours; friendly faces; a helpful community.
Where is this great place to live? It’s Benambra Intentional Community in Phillip, where 25 new dwellings were completed in 2013, providing homes for 25 families. Eleven of these families are part of a core intentional community which has been created around three young men with disability: Jackson, Dan and Ben.
These young men have settled in well to their new homes and new lives away from the family home. Jackson and Ben each live with a co-resident who attends to their daily living needs and contributes to the development of a supportive community.
Part of the co-resident’s role is to foster relationships within the community. Jackson and his co-resident, Adam, are generous hosts who enjoy inviting others to their home for a friendly meal. Jackson and Adam share their herbs and tools with others, and also tend to the communal vegetable garden. Jackson particularly likes to host a meal when one of his brothers or a friend or relative is visiting Canberra.
Jackson’s mother and Adam are working to create a musically rich environment in Jackson’s home. Their first house concert was a great success, as was the ‘Guerilla Gig’ event, which featured two local bands.
Ben’s transition into his new home has been a fairly smooth process and his mother believes this can be attributed to the fact that Ben and his co-resident get on so well. In Ben’s words, his co-resident is ‘a brother from another mother’. Ben also has a team of dedicated support people who work with him in all aspects of daily life. Friends and family members will often phone or drop in to visit Ben in his new home, or invite him out. This maintains rich connections with people in the wider community.
Since the move to Benambra, Daniel’s life has expanded considerably. He lives with his brother, who provides both assistance and companionship and receives some paid support from Disability ACT and Home and Community Care (HACC) funding. Daniel’s parents visit him every day to provide additional support and guidance. Daniel’s network of friends has increased enormously and he has benefitted not only from the support and friendship of Intentional Community members, but also from the other residents in the complex. This new social network has increased Daniel’s self-confidence and supported his ability to live as independently as possible.
Daniel has also received considerable support from the co-residents living with Jackson and Ben, and in a very natural way has been included in their activities. This has modelled inclusive behaviours for others in the community, assisting them to better understand how to include people with disability in their everyday lives.
The other tenants also moved in a year ago and the community spirit and feeling of togetherness has continued to grow. All the residents have settled in and many are active in involving others in events, social gatherings and working bees. There is a great sense of pride in the shared community.
If you would like to join this diverse and inclusive community, please visit the Central Access Point at Nature Conservation House in Belconnen, to register your interest. Current residents are keen to invite other friendly people to join them and add to the rich sense of community at Benambra.