The Gianna Centre

 

Dear Readers,

We are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce to you the services of The Gianna Centre in Bendigo. Our organisation has been very fortunate to have the support of many individuals, businesses, craft groups and church groups throughout regional Victoria since we first opened our doors in 2004. The Sandhurst Diocese and many of its parishioners have been wonderful donors and, in particular, the support of your Knights of the Southern Cross has been remarkable – what an amazing group of men who do so much for the community.

The Gianna Centre is a family support, education and referral service, which has evolved according to the types of support requested from our visiting families and individuals. We have a ‘no wrong door’ policy, which means we will endeavour to assist all who walk through our door.

Gianna is a registered charity and is run on an all-voluntary basis. Much of our work revolves around pregnancy (planned and unplanned), parenting, relationships, fertility, referrals, loss, grief, and health and wellbeing issues. It is hard for us to keep up with ourselves at times with so much going on!

Emergency assistance, such as baby formula, nappies and prescription medication, plus the provision of all baby clothing and nursery items, can really make a difference in a family’s life and the public are so very generous in providing us with many of these goods.

Education is one of our key interests and we run Parenting Education Programs for families and their children; these are really special days and our families are not only offered the expertise of incredible health or child specialist professionals, but we share a wonderful morning tea together and families get to take home beautifully presented packs filled with information from the day’s session and some special treats for kids, mums and dads as well.

Our education programs continue in secondary schools, for Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 students, with workshops which are all about relationships. The large majority of our students are eager to participate in anything to do with relationships; the challenges, the consequences of the behaviour we choose and how to establish our own set of boundaries. We have some really serious conversations, but also some wonderful laughs in a very relaxed, respectful environment. The Gianna Centre has had the privilege to present our various workshops to thousands of students over many years and we are pleased that 95–98 % of students cite our programs as having a positive impact on their lives.

One of the saddest areas we work in is through our Peer Support Groups. These groups are for families and individuals who have suffered loss which, of course, pertains to many of us. We care for those who have experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion or medical termination; and for others who have lost loved ones to suicide, accident, drugs and so on. It can be comforting to know that others who have walked a similar path are available in a friendly and confidential setting, to share their story and offer support to others. It is also wonderful to hear of ways we can honour our loved departed, which can help to restore peace and assist with healing. Our Gianna Memorial Wall was set up for this very reason – families can place a plaque in memory of their baby – it is special to acknowledge that these lives mattered, and in some way, have changed the world for many.

Of great excitement to our volunteers is our newly formed MensLink peer support group. Finally a place for men to meet with other men, open to all, cross-cultural and simply to offer support to each other in a friendly, relaxed and caring environment, no matter what the issue or struggle.

Finally, and it goes without saying, COVID-19 has placed a huge gap in our service delivery but, since restrictions have lifted, some of our support groups have resumed already, with many others planned for the near future. Although our tiny office is closed, we are still open for all support, one-on-one catch-ups, delivery of goods, etc.

If any readers would be interested to find out more about The Gianna Centre, to take advantage of some of our services, consider volunteering, or donating funds (we have DGR status), we would be delighted to hear from you. All enquiries can be directed to 0419 496 443 and our website is www.gianna.org.au

 

Cathy Holmes, 

The Gianna Centre