From 29 April 2022, Compass Housing Services became Home In Place.

A local indigenous man with a disability will have greater connection to his culture and country thanks to an indigenous garden being installed at his Wallsend group home.

Home in Place teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Community Greening Program to build and plant-out a vegetable and bush tucker garden at the specialist disability accommodation (SDA) property it manages.

This garden also has artwork from local indigenous artist Saretta Fielding on a message pole made from recycled plastic.

Home in Place’s sustainability manager, Jandy McCandless, said community gardens are increasingly being used in public spaces, schools, in public housing, and for people with special needs to develop new skills. Ms McCandless said Home in Place has worked to deliver a number of gardens in its SDA properties focusing on sensory elements such as taste, smell and touch.

She said on a visit to the property Home in Place SDA relations officer Sarah Maudsley saw that one resident, known as Kim, had didgeridoo art in his room.

“Sarah asked his supported living provider about the 51 year old’s connection to culture and the idea of making a bush tucker garden was born,” Ms McCandless said.

“When looking at ways to incorporate art we discussed with our recycling partners at Plastic Police® about an environmentally sustainable and attractive way to build the raised garden bed and display the Aboriginal art on the newly launched Plastic Police® message pole.” she said. “We have been working with Plastic Police® since 2019 and have diverted over 152kgs of soft plastic from landfill and using recycled plastic products made from this very plastic contributes to a local circular economy”.

“Plastic Police® have provided the garden bed and Home in Place has funded the Plastic Police® message pole made from local recycled soft and hard plastics. We want everything about the garden to be sustainable, accessible and engage the senses.”

Kim, his three housemates, and residents from the adjoining disability group home, will be able to enjoy fresh home-grown lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and bush tucker such as lemon myrtle and lilly pilly.

“Not only can Kim have another way to be connected to country, but his fellow residents will learn more about Kim’s culture.”

Ms McCandless said community gardens are an important part of Home in Place’s tenant and resident engagement programs. She said in its other community gardens there have been positive results above and beyond the expected improvements in nutrition and social interaction.

“Community gardens are a really positive engagement tool and can help residents to develop life skills and bring residents together encouraging social inclusion and good health and wellbeing. This garden is an example of how we work with residents and their support workers to create homes for life.

Home in Place is a not for profit community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider.

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