Unemployed older men gain helping hand from new BCHS support group

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Bendigo Community Health Service counsellors Dale Pymer and Patrick Cox discuss the new Bendigo Unemployed Older Men’s Group with Neil Gemmil.


Bendigo Community Health Services is extending a helping hand to unemployed older men in Bendigo.

The organisation will launch a Bendigo Unemployed Older Men’s Group on October 28 to provide support and education around issues faced by those struggling to find work.

BCHS general counsellor and group facilitator Patrick Cox said unemployment could be tough.

“This group is not aimed at getting you a job but providing the supportive environment and useful information to help you deal with the difficulties of being out of work,” Patrick said.

“Groups are a great way of people hearing others experience sharing knowledge in supported environment.  It assures group members that they are not alone and that there is hope.”

Patrick said the group would be overseen by BCHS counsellors and focus on issues such as financial stress, physical health, mental health, relationships and motivation.

Continue reading “Unemployed older men gain helping hand from new BCHS support group”

Families affected by ice, alcohol or other drugs use gain a helping hand


Families struggling with ice, alcohol or other drugs issues can gain a helping hand through a one-day Stepping Forward program on Saturday supported by Bendigo Community Health Services.

FDS Victoria spokesman Michael Miller said the free program was designed to provide practical information skills and support for families.

“Family Drug Support is a caring, non-religious, non-judgemental organisation and has helped thousands of families by providing up-to-date information and by offering support and skills to cope better and survive this ordeal intact,” he said.

The day will consist of three sessions.

Continue reading “Families affected by ice, alcohol or other drugs use gain a helping hand”

Bendigo school principal learns plenty during special Men’s Health Challenge


Girton Grammar principal Matthew Maruff learned plenty about his body during a special 10-week Men’s Health Challenge.

Matthew accepted a Bendigo Community Health Services invitation to take on the challenge to raise awareness of men’s health and promote the organisation’s Men’s Health Marathon from August 25 to September 4.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce and La Trobe University Bendigo lecturer Kirk Peterson also took on the challenge with great results.

“I used to think that the body was simply a carrier pigeon for the brain but now I realise it is more complex than that,” Matthew said of his Men’s Health Challenge experience.

“When I received a call from Bendigo Community Health Services in June my first thought was that my professional work would not allow me the luxury of training at Shape Health and Fitness.

“I was reminded though of a friend’s comments made to me when I started in my current role, nearly seven years ago: “Matthew, you need to get hold of your diary, or it will get hold of you”.

“Whilst this is a constant challenge for me, I made a commitment to complete the 10-week challenge, not only for myself but to fly the flag for men’s health.

“What I started to find was that the carrier pigeon may have been becoming a bit lighter, but the most sense of well-being, stamina and alertness were improving. So no I know that the relationship between mind and body is much more in line with the Roman notion of a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Continue reading “Bendigo school principal learns plenty during special Men’s Health Challenge”

Koalas, kangaroos win over Karen and Afghan students

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Patting koalas and feeding kangaroos were the highlights of a Bendigo Community Health Services hosted school holidays trip to the Kyabram Fauna Park for members of our Karen refugee Homework Club.

“The trip was a fantastic opportunity to introduce the children to our Australian native animals,” BCHS Settlement Services manager Martine Street said.

“The children loved the experience, especially feeding the kangaroos and patting the koalas.

“Thank you to our wonderful volunteers who made the trip with the children – this program couldn’t run without their support.”

The Homework Club runs in partnership with the Kangaroo Flat and Golden Square primary schools.

“It’s all about enhancing the English of the children through activities, story telling and games with our volunteer tutors,” Ms Street said.

A huge thanks to the Kyabram Fauna Park for spending time teaching the Homework Club children all about the animals on such a fun day.

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Can your support our Homework Club?

If you are interested in supporting our Homework Club, call co-ordinator Fiona Fenton on 5448 1600.



Clinic Central to open on Tuesday at La Trobe University Bendigo

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Bendigo Community Health Services men’s health male nurse practitioner Peter Strange and sexual health nurse Mary-Anne Richardson will work at Clinic Central. 


Bendigo Community Health Services will launch Clinic Central at La Trobe University Bendigo on Tuesday.

Clinic Central will offer a complete sexual health service for students.

A sexual health nurse will be available at Clinic Central each Tuesday afternoon.

Our men’s health male nurse practitioner will be at the clinic every second Wednesday.

The clinic is confidential and appointments are protected under Victorian privacy laws.

The clinic will offer sexual health services such as:

  • Sexual transmissible infection testing.
  • Blood borne virus testing.
  • Contraception advice.
  • Pregnancy testing and advice.
  • Unplanned pregnancy support.
  • Pap tests
  • Any other sexual health concerns

Appointments will be conducted in a relaxed atmosphere.

Come and see us if you have any questions or worries … we are here to help you.

To make a booking call 5448 1600 or email



Futsal tournament goes to KBDDF A Bendigo team



Bendigo team Karen Buddhist Dhamma Dhutta Foundation A has won the 2016 Bendigo Community Health Services Multicultural Youth Futsal Tournament.

KBDDF A defeated another Bendigo team in  Freedom by 8 goals to 3 in the grand final.

More than 100 people turned out for the event which attracted nine teams this year.

Western District Employment Access business development officer Ivan Crisp presented the Fustal Cup to the winning team, the runner’s up trophy and individual player of the tournament awards.

BCHS has already started planning the 2017 Multicultural Youth Futsal Tournament. If you would like more information on playing or supporting the event, call Zahir or Nay Chee from the Settlement Services team on 03 5448 1600.

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Western District Employment Access business development officer Ivan Crisp and Bendigo Community Health Services case worker Zahir Azimi hold the Multicultural Youth Futsal Tournament cup while BCHS settlement services community guide Win Naing and case worker Nay Chee Aung show off the runner’s up trophy.


Bendigo Community Health Services will host the third annual Multicultural Youth Futsal Tournament in Bendigo on Saturday (September 17).

Futsal is a modified version of traditional soccer and embraced around the world.

The popularity of the sport with Karen and Afghan communities in Bendigo motivated BCHS to start an annual Multicultural Youth Futsal Tournament in 2014.

BCHS Settlement Services manager Martine Street said the tournament had become known for great participation and fierce competition.

“Traditionally, 10 teams compete and approximately 100 participants. Lots of women and children come and cheer on competitors,” Martine said.

Martine said BCHS was delighted to welcome a new sponsor for the tournament this year.

“We are delighted Western District Employment Access (WDEA) is supporting the tournament, providing information on their services and generally joining in,” she said.

Martine said organising events such as the Futsal tournament was an important part of the Settlement Services work at BCHS.

“Participation in organised activities, social connection and physical activity are priority areas for the work done by our staff – it’s great to see that effort rewarded with events such as this and our annual Multicultural Soccer Tournament.”

WDEA business development officer Ivan Crisp said the organisation had a strong belief in supporting the local community.

“The Bendigo Multicultural Youth Futsal Tournament provided a great opportunity for us to back an event that brings people together in a fun and inspiring way,” he said.

“Many of the people participating have come from some very difficult backgrounds and by supporting the tournament it is our hope that we can bring some happiness and fun to everyone involved.

“Everyone should come along and pick a team to support … you never know how much fun you can have and the friends you could make.

“I look forward to the day and being a part of such a special event is inspiring and humbling.”

The Multicultural Youth Futsal Tournament will run from 10am to 3.30pm at the Flora Hill Indoor Sports Stadium in Ellis Street with spectators welcome.

The tournament is supported by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship under the Refugee Action Program.

To inquire about playing in the 2017 tournament call Nay Chee Aung or Zahir Azimi from the BCHS Settlement Services team on 5448 1600.

BLOG – Discovering BCHS: Paula devotes 37 years to helping ‘at-risk’ families in Bendigo


PAULA May is Bendigo Community Health Services’ longest-serving employee, devoting the past 37 years to helping local at-risk families reach their full potential.

At the age of 74, the family support worker has contemplated retirement in the past and once even started going through the early stages of the process.

“But I came out the other end and thought, no, I have still got something to offer. I love my job, I love the workers and our team and I feel good about staying at work.”

Paula grew up in a single-parent family and, through her own experiences, understands many of the daily challenges faced by the mums, dads and children she comes in contact with.

Having worked as a factory sewing machinist in her early life – including at Hanro Knitting Mills in the very building that houses BCHS’s central office today – she believes she was destined to work in the family services field.

“I am sure that most of the lessons I have had to learn in life have led me to this,” says the mother of four, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of one.

“It feels like this is what I was meant to do.”

Paula joined BCHS on June 15, 1979. She had returned to her home town of Bendigo after a stint in Melbourne and was working part-time in a grocery store when she saw a newspaper ad for a family support worker and felt compelled to apply.

She didn’t get the job. But soon after she received a phone call to say a second position had opened up if she was still interested, and she has been supporting local families ever since.

Continue reading “BLOG – Discovering BCHS: Paula devotes 37 years to helping ‘at-risk’ families in Bendigo”

Dementia study delivers valuable learnings for BCHS Community Connections project

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Bendigo Community Health Services has spent 18 months studying dementia through a new Community Connections project.

The project engaged people with dementia, partners, families and carers to learn how the disease impacts on lives and community.

“We developed strong, trusting relationships with a number of our community members. The community opened their homes to us, showed us their photo albums of memories and even introduced us to their family,” a BCHS Community Connections project team member said.

BCHS staff will present the dementia project findings during a free public information session at the La Trobe Visual Arts Centre at 121 View Street in Bendigo from 10am on September 29.

NOTE: Please note venue change from Capital Theatre to La Trobe Visual Arts Centre. All other details remain the same.

The session will include a presentation on what BCHS has learned from the study, videos from heartfelt interviews with families, information on how organisations can become dementia friendly and free help brochures.

BCHS staff will also showcase a dementia staff training system built through the learnings of the Community Connections project and experiences of people with dementia and their carers.

Alzheimer’s Australia will also deliver a presentation during the session.

Event details

When: Thursday, September 29.

Where: La Trobe Visual Arts Centre, 121 View Street, Bendigo.

Time: 10am to 11.30am.

Cost: Free.

RSVP: Please click here to register by close of business on Monday, September 26.




John Forbes spreads bowel cancer awareness message across footy finals

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IMPORTANT MESSAGE: John Forbes with Bendigo Community Health Services staff member and Bowel Screen Project Worker Sarah Tarquinio. 


Bendigo sporting legend John Forbes has thrown his support behind raising awareness of bowel cancer during the footy finals series.

Bendigo Community Health Services and its partners in the Bowel Cancer Awareness Project will use AFL Vic resources to promote the important health message through all finals played in local leagues.

Central to the message will be a personal story from John Forbes.

Mr Forbes wrote:

“Bowel cancer is an insidious disease whose whole aim to destroy the person who is carrying it.

“There is no question that early detection saves lives, but the basic problem we face is that the sufferers of bowel cancer do not take their queries to their general practitioner soon enough.

Continue reading “John Forbes spreads bowel cancer awareness message across footy finals”

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