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Canberra Today 9°/15° | Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

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Two districts with a strong sense of community

CityNews speaks to some of Weston Creek and Molonglo’s successful business owners who want to share their skills and services with the region.

To Canberra’s west is Weston Creek and Molonglo Valley, a district with a strong sense of community and a variety of friendly businesses.

From health providers to community centres, Weston Creek and Molonglo Valley have everything the local community needs to thrive.


Family support services dedicated to building community

Sanctuary Aus executive director Kim Hefran-Webb.

Sanctuary Aus is a not-for-profit family support centre based in Holder that is purpose built for Canberra, says Kim Hefran-Webb, executive director.

“We have two goals,” says Kim.

“The first is to provide professional child and family services for vulnerable families. 

“The second is to build community.”

A lot of families parent in isolation in Canberra because it is such a mobile city, says Kim, so building community is important.

“We provide ‘circle of security’ training, which is an attachment based training program for families.

“We try to pick up the families who can’t access the current programs in Canberra, because they’re all during the day, during business hours, so we provide it at home, we’ll go to the families.”

Kim says they provide NDIS services including behaviour support services mainly for kids with autism, intellectual disability, ADHD, oppositional defiance, developmental delays with communication or genetic disorders that have not been labelled.

Kim says they also run support groups, one is Cool Kids, which supports children to manage their anxiety and learn coping skills. 

They also have a club called Club Mojo, which teaches children between seven and 11 how to understand their emotions or others’ emotions.

“And we run a beautiful women’s group each week,” says Kim.

“Give us a call,” says Kim, “we help families with lots and lots of stuff, we do not judge, it’s a really lovely team of people.”

Sanctuary Aus. Call 0431 449822 or visit

A proudly small and inclusive school

St John Vianney’s, Waramanga, is situated on spacious and well-kept grounds featuring extensive spaces for all students, says principal Peter Rodda.

“Our school follows the example of our Patron Saint, John Vianney, striving to do ordinary things extraordinarily well,” he says.

“Children, regardless of their needs or faith background, are welcome and every effort is made to support all students and families in our school.

“St John Vianney’s is staffed by highly-trained professionals, committed to providing the best of Catholic education.”

Peter says their teaching approaches are evidence-based and centred upon the key pedagogies of explicit and direct instruction.

“We place significant emphasis on literacy and numeracy as we believe these are important foundations for learning across all areas,” he says.

“We teach students to have a growth mindset and to recognise the importance of being a life-long learner.

“Our school is well resourced, with interactive LED boards in every classroom, and all year levels have access to their own iPad or laptop.”

Peter says students at St John Vianney’s participate in specialist classes in the performing arts, Italian, library and health programs.

“At St John Vianney’s all students are provided with an individualised education and all community members are treated as family,” he says.

“It is a very special place to belong to.”

St John Vianney’s, 91 Namatjira Drive, Waramanga. Call 6288 2383, or visit

Empowering tomorrow’s leaders

“In the heart of our state-of-the-art mechanical repair facility, amidst the hum of engines and the scent of grease, a different kind of transformation is taking place,” says Raffy Sgroi, co-owner, car mechanical services.

“It’s the My Portfolio Career initiative, a beacon of hope and opportunity for the leaders of tomorrow.”

Raffy says this program is not just about fixing cars, it’s about fixing futures.

“At My Portfolio Career, we believe in creating and fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace, where every individual, regardless of their background or abilities, has the chance to thrive,” she says. 

“Our program isn’t just for the academically inclined; it’s for everyone, including neurodivergent kids who may need a softer, more accommodating environment to explore their career aspirations.”

Through a blend of mentorship, practical experience, and hands-on learning, Raffy says students are equipped with the skills and confidence they need to navigate the complexities of the modern job market. 

“From resume writing to interview preparation, from understanding

superannuation choices to mastering TFN applications, we leave no stone unturned in preparing our students for success,” she says.

“It’s about instilling in them a sense of purpose and passion for their chosen paths. It’s about nurturing their talents, fostering their ambitions, and empowering them to pursue their dreams with confidence and conviction.

“At My Portfolio Career, we’re proud to be leading the charge towards that brighter tomorrow, one student at a time.”

Car Mechanical Services, 82 Kalgoorlie Crescent, Fisher. Call 6162 4111 or visit

Arthritis ACT CEO Rebecca Davey.

Exercise options to suit all abilities

No matter what type of chronic pain condition people may have, Arthritis ACT can offer support, says CEO Rebecca Davey.

“We run strength and balance classes at the Weston Creek Community Centre on Whitney Place, every Tuesday from 10am to 11am,” she says.

“It’s important to remain active at all ages, and particularly as we age, we need to ensure we maintain our balance and strength.

“For something different, for those that don’t like structured classes, we offer Nordic Walking instruction. We’re teaching people how to walk with poles, which is a great, low-impact aerobic activity for everyone.”

Rebecca says it’s also important to build strength in different areas of the body.

“We now run Pilates from both of our locations, Pearce and Bruce,” and, as an added benefit for Arthritis ACT members, “we have free, online exercise classes every week from Tuesday to Thursday.”

She says Arthritis ACT also offers services such as exercise physiology, disability support and meal planning to help people in managing their pain.

“People come to us because we know the condition. About 50 per cent of our staff live with chronic pain, so we understand how chronic pain can affect all parts of a person’s life,” she says.

“No task or question is too big or small for us.”

Arthritis ACT, 170 Haydon Drive, Bruce. Call 1800 011041 or visit

Catholic school brings tradition and wisdom

The construction of St Jude’s School began in 1974, with the first pupil intake in January 1975, says principal Cameron Reed.

Almost 50 years on, Cameron says the students still love learning.

“They are a joy to be around and they are supportive of each other,” he says.

“Unlike some other schools in the same area, we are well established. With that comes tradition, wisdom and an openness to purposeful growth in everything we do.

“We are a high-quality, community-oriented Catholic educational environment, where students thrive, staff are happy and parents are engaged.”

Cameron says the St Jude’s community believes in educating spirit, mind and body to embrace today and meet the challenges of the future.

“In 2025, we will celebrate 50 years of Catholic schooling and we look forward to joining with all our community to celebrate,” he says. 

“As a school we are known for creating a safe, caring and nurturing community. Our oldest students look after our younger students. “Academically, our students compare with the best schools in Canberra.”

St Jude’s has an education support dog, named Judy, to help with student anxiety.

“She is calm, caring and loving, a fantastic addition to our school community,” he says.

Cameron says with Molonglo continuing to grow, they are always open for new enrolments with their Open Day on Wednesday, May 8, 9.15am-11am and 4pm-6pm.

St Jude’s Primary School, Mulley Street, Holder. Call 6288 7688, or visit

Principal Tim McNevin with Galilee school staff.

‘Build and boost’ confidence in learning

Galilee is celebrating 25 years as a registered school, says principal Tim McNevin.

“We are what is known as a special assistance school,” he says.

“What that means is, young people, as they journey through life, they often encounter barriers to learning and engagement at school. For some, it is the social and emotional barriers that are the most significant in terms of their success at school.”

“Galilee School is designed specifically in support of those young people.” 

Given the right opportunity, the right environment and the right support, Tim says young people who have struggled in mainstream school environments can engage meaningfully with learning.

“We seek to maintain a staff-student ratio of 1:5,” says Tim.

“That staffing allocation is made up of teachers, youth workers, learning support staff and other support staff all of whom are organised around the particular needs that a young person has.”

Tim says that being owned, operated and governed by Communities at Work is a tremendous benefit to the school, because it means they are able to access the central office supports, including marketing, HR, payroll. 

“This means those services don’t need to be provided by the school,” says Tim. 

“We can focus on our core business, which is the education and support needs of our students.”

The Galilee School has two campuses, the main campus in Kambah, which has programs designed for years seven to 10, and the Holder campus, for students in year 11 and 12, says Tim.

Communities at Work, The Galilee School. 172 Dixon Drive, Holder. Call 6293 6314 or visit

Denman Village Early Learning Centre owner Lise Percival.

Growing together for children’s education

Denman Village Early Learning Centre has been open for two years, with five children’s rooms and outdoor and indoor play areas, says owner Lise Percival.

“I wanted to cater for the community,” she says.

“I have been an early childhood teacher for more than 20 years, and I wanted to create my own space and environment.”

Lise says the state-of-the-art centre not only provides high-quality education, but also feels like an extension of family.

“It takes a (Denman) village to raise a child, and everyone grows here together, both children and staff,” she says.

Lise says she enjoys children and has been told she has a natural ability with them.

“I enjoy seeing the children develop,” she says.

“Developing essential relationships and shaping the growth of your child drives our core philosophies.

“Our values are open communication, learning community, children’s rights and evolving needs.

“It’s been a great, really rewarding experience to see Denman Village Early Learning Centre come together,” she says.

“We have some committed early childhood educators that have been at the centre since opening.”

Denman Village Early Learning Centre, 7 Felstead Vista, Denman Prospect. Call 6287 3648, or visit

Cafe favourites with a healthy twist

“Everyone wants a hashbrown,” says EightyTwenty Cafe owner and operator, Aakash, “but our hashbrowns are baked in the oven then cooked on a grill plate rather than in the deep fryer.”

“We have all of your favourites made in that way, so you can get healthier options,” he says.

At Eighty/Twenty Cafe, Aakash says every menu item has at least five fruits or vegetables in it so customers can enjoy their favourite foods without compromising on sugar and carbs.

“All of it is real, raw, delicious food and we’re proud to have everything done in-house,” he says.

“It’s all made from scratch and in-house including granola, cakes, and our pastries.

“All our milkshakes are freshly made, so if you ask for a banana milkshake, it is actually banana, not syrup.”

Aakash says he loves food and grew up in a “foodie” family.

“I always wanted to work in the food industry, but I always wanted to make change through food, so people can actually enjoy the food and they don’t feel like they are just eating raw vegetables.”

EightyTwenty Cafe has six locations across Canberra, Aakash says, with the Belconnen site featuring a 100 per cent gluten-free menu.

“Our goal is to make healthier food more accessible across Canberra.”

EightyTwenty Cafe. 1 Fairhall Street, Coombs. Call 0450 220 890 or visit
for other locations and menu.

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