The History of Kingston East Neighbourhood Group Inc.
From the aspirations of two students in 1984, Kingston East Neighbourhood Group Inc.(KENG) has grown and developed to become the centre it is today on the efforts of those that envisioned its need. To those we present the story of KENG, for the strength of the centre is based on the community that it sprang from and those that strongly supported and commited to its future.
Kingston is a suburb on the southern outskirts of Brisbane. Officially, it is in the new city of Logan, which came into existence in 1978. Logan has since become the fastest growing city in Australia and is now the third largest city in Queensland. Consequently it suffers the growing pains that such rapid development brings. Many families are migrants, both from overseas and interstate, with no extended family support, which has lead to increased demands on welfare services. The rapid growth in population and the slow response by bureaucracies to growing needs has resulted in a situation where many areas, particularly those in Central Logan (that is Woodridge, Kingston, Marsden and Loganlea) are grossly under-resourced. Read More>>> (PDF* 22kb)
As places to meet local people, the schools and shopping centres had limitations. Their catchment areas were much larger than the specific area in which we were working. To meet people of East Kingston we had to approach them in their homes. We were wary of how we would be received, so we made tentative plans to take around some sort of survey, to give us a reason to knock on people’s doors and to give us something to talk about. We soon found this unnecessary. People had seen us walking around the area and they were quite curious about who we were. When we knocked on their doors, we were welcomed in. Read More>>> (PDF*9KB)
Bringing People Together
To begin to address the needs of women with young children, we invited a few people around to the Brothers’ house for morning tea to discuss the idea of establishing a local playgroup. Three women attended and, with a little prompting from us, decided to hold a first playgroup at Margie’s home on the next Wednesday morning. Armed with this information, we all went out and encouraged other women to come along to playgroup. It was a great success. The group decided to meet weekly, each person taking turns at hosting the playgroup in her backyard. Read More>>> (PDF* 11kb)
The Formation of F.L.A.G.
The next step was to bring all these interested people together while the enthusiasm generated by the Fun Day was still fresh in their minds. This proved more difficult than we had anticipated. Although interested, people were reluctant to commit themselves to take an active part. Only five people came to the first meeting. Although we were with the numbers, much was achieved at that meeting. A group was formed – F.L.A.G. (Family Leisure Activities Group), and decided that its first project would be to run a school holidays programme in September. Since we needed money to run the programme, fundraising became F.L.A.G.’s first task – a stall at the Woodridge Trash and Treasure Market. The time we spent collecting, sorting, pricing and serving on the stall consolidated relationships and helped clarify purposes. Read More>>> (PDF* 15kb)
The Kingston East Neighbourhood Group
We decided that a name change was now in order. F.L.A.G no longer represented what we were trying to achieve. We became Kingston East Neighbourhood Group (K.E.N.G. for short) and F.L.A.G was then a sub-group of the larger committee, with the continuing role of organising family leisure activities. K.E.N.G’s first priority was incorporation. We had to formulate our goals and objectives, write a constitution and establish a formal committee. We decided to have official office bearers, but agreed that the work load be shared amongst all members, not just those who had the titles. Read More>>> (PDF* 14kb)
The Vital Meeting
Despite the preparation and rehearsals, there were many trembling hands, knocking knees and fluttering tummies on the evening of the 13th of November. There were a few apologies, but all invited groups were well represented, especially aspiring politicians!
We began by carefully placing ourselves beside each guest within the circle of chairs. After a welcome from our President, Sandra, we invited all present to introduce themselves and to explain their interest in the establishment of a community centre in Kingston. We asked for constructive ideas about how to achieve our objectives. As people made suggestions, we were very pleased to be able to demonstrate how effective we had been. One alderman advised, “First, you must write a constitution”. We replied, “We’ve done that.” Another followed with, “The next step is becoming incorporated”, to which we could reply, “We’re doing that.” Many guests were genuinely surprised at the level or organisation we had already achieved. Dropping their condescending attitudes, they complimented us on our enthusiasm and efforts so far, and offered support. Read More>>> (PDF* 9kb)
From Then Till Now
Late November signalled the end of our formal involvement as community workers with the people of Kingston East. Although in the beginning we had been the initiators and motivators of many of the event in this story, we were no longer central figures. We knew that K.E.N.G and all its associated groups were self-sufficient and would continue in our absence.
Of course the story of Kingston East did not end with our departure. The following year, 1985, we were replaced by another two Social Work students who were able to help with the writing of submissions for funding through Welfare Services and the Commonwealth Employment Programme. After much lobbying, K.E.N.G successfully acquired a block of land from the Logan City Council in June 1985. Unfortunately, the house promised by developers was not made available, and the long, hard slog that Sue foreshadowed in our first meeting has become a reality. The search for suitable building to place on the land continues. Frustration and disappointments have been many, especially when dealing with bureaucracies. The Justice Department managed to “lose” the constitution three times. In September 1985, eleven months after lodging the application, the group finally became the Kingston East Neighbourhood Group Incorporated. Read More>>> (PDF* 10kb)