Community Spotlight on Adele Heasman, President Community Northern Beaches

Adele Heasman has been a member of the Management Committee of Community Northern Beaches since 2002 and was nominated as President at the recent Annual General Meeting. As well as being a wife, mother and President, Adele also works in the Office of James Griffin MP for Manly as Senior Electorate Officer. We asked Adele to share a little about herself.

Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Adele Heasman addresses the recent Community Northern Beaches’ Annual General Meeting

Adele Heasman addresses the recent Community Northern Beaches’ Annual General Meeting

Adele: “I have lived in the Manly area since starting at Balgowlah Heights Public School in year 1 after my parents built their home in the new land release in the early ‘60s. Growing up with the bush as my backyard was idyllic – as kids we loved the flannel flowers and indigenous rock carvings which we considered our very own to look after.

My husband and I have made Manly our home since 1984 (he also grew up in the area) with our 3 now grown-up children. In many ways, my love for the area was my reason for running for Manly Council as a Councillor in 1999. My new role here in the Electorate Office is really an extension to that – without me being at the forefront!”

Q: What is your role at Community Northern Beaches and responsibilities does this role have?

Adele: “In 2002 I was elected to the Management Committee of the Manly Community Centre (now Community Northern Beaches) – having seen their work from afar since the 1970s. In the early days of being on the Committee, I was probably a quiet observer although I certainly took part in any roles that were asked of me such as helping with the Manly Corso stalls, fundraisers, projects and undertaking Vice President duties.

I was first elected President in 2014 and last year stepped aside for 12 months after serving for the statutory 4 years. This year I was delighted to be once more asked to run as President. Community Northern Beaches has seen so many changes these past few years, I feel that the staff and volunteers could do with some stability in the leadership and I am happy to assist with that.”

Q: What motivated you to choose a volunteer position in social services?

Adele: “I guess I like to see people’s lives change for the good. A lifetime ago I was working as a legal secretary for a senior partner in a prominent Sydney Law Firm – I then had a sea change and left to complete an Associate Diploma in Social Welfare at the Institute of Western Sydney. Now my life revolves around the provision of social welfare – I’m not a good counsellor! But in my role at Community Northern Beaches, and certainly at the Electorate Office, I am in a position to advocate for social services provision in and for my community.”

Q: Tell me about a particularly memorable moment during your time at Community Northern Beaches?

Adele Heasman pictured with John Kelly

Adele Heasman pictured with John Kelly

Adele: “Memories of volunteers working together to raise money for Community Northern Beaches, Jacqui’s farewell after some 37 years, and who could forget attending the moving funerals of Ellie Hunt (the first President and founder with us of the Manly Women’s Shelter) and Pat Boydell (the long-time chair of the Northern Beaches Mental Health Support Group), but also more recently meeting John Kelly (our new Centre Manager) and being amazed that we found someone who loves Community Northern Beaches as much as we all do!”

Q: What do you believe makes Community Northern Beaches special?

Adele: “I think its’ innate ability to ‘draw you in’! Once you see what the work is that we do and whose lives we change, there’s no getting out! I’m immensely proud of the reputation Community Northern Beaches has, not just within the local community, but with the levels of Government (Federal, State & Local) as well as our relationships with the Police and other stakeholders. Community Northern Beaches has been the driving force in the establishment of NGOs that are now thriving independently of us, such as Pioneer Clubhouse and of course the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter (formerly Manly Women’s Shelter) which now has formed Women’s Community Shelters and has 6 Shelters in NSW!”

Q: What would your advice be to someone looking to reach out for help but doesn’t know where to start?

Adele: “If a person comes into the electorate office we are fortunate as we can just walk people down to the other end of the street to Community Northern Beaches! I often suggest Community Northern Beaches as it’s a hub and the staff are really adept at summarising a person’s need and referring them to the best service to assist them. If people are capable, I suggest googling Community Northern Beaches and looking at our wonderful website to get an idea of how we can help.”

Community Spotlight on John Kelly

John Kelly, Manager Community Northern Beaches

What is your role?

My role is incredibly varied, I’m called upon to do everything in a real “all hands on deck” environment. I have a strategic and business focus to manage today and into the future to ensure we can continue to deliver services to the community. Building partnerships and relationships with government, corporate and other NFP’s is critical. We have managed to build the largest community hub on the Northern Beaches with 18 accommodated services in-house plus a number of other partnerships supporting programmes off-site. There is also mundane parts of the role like changing light bulbs, emptying rubbish and any heavy lifting! That helps me stay grounded in the role, as you can’t be precious with the work we do.

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Can you describe a typical day in your life at the centre?

A typical day can be quite chaotic as I never know what might be around the corner. Our varied client base certainly keeps us on our toes. Of course in my role I can never escape the paperwork but this tends to occur around ensuring clients, customers and accommodated services are all properly looked after. People come before paper. My quiet time is before and after we open the doors, and this is the opportunity to write reports and respond to correspondence.

What motivated you to choose a career in community services?

I chose a career in community services after working in local government where I spent 14 years across four Councils. I wanted to be in an environment where I had the opportunity to explore new ways to do things. Working in smaller, more under resourced environments makes you think outside the box, act with agility and a strength of purpose to achieve outcomes for your clients who are all having a worse day than you are.

Tell me about a particularly memorable moment during your time at Community Northern Beaches?

There have been many memorable moments since starting my role at Community Northern Beaches. From an organisational viewpoint changing our name, logo and marketing was a terrific team effort and a significant way forward to take us across the Beaches.

Getting DGR/PBI* status after many years of knockbacks was sensational for Community Northern Beaches and particularly our team who work so hard. Also, last year we held the first ever Client Festive Celebration, it was a truly uplifting experience for not only our clients but staff, volunteers and our great supporters The Clontarf Sisterhood.

What do you believe makes Community Northern Beaches special?

I think what makes our centre special is the people involved and the effort that they put in. If this was mirrored across the whole of society, we would be in a better space as a community and a country.

What would your advice be to someone looking to reach out for help but doesn’t know where to start?

My advice to anyone looking for help who doesn’t know where to start is to look for a community organisation first. They may or may not be able to address your needs but they will definitely give you the time and attention you need to help you begin your journey. The compassion and empathy is there with staff and volunteers, and this is often what people seeking support need the most.

*DGR: A deductible gift recipient (DGR) is an entity or fund that can receive tax deductible gifts

*PBI: A public benevolent institution (PBI) is a charity whose main purpose is to relieve poverty, sickness, suffering or disability.

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