Happy 10 year anniversary, Cherie!

Cherie, community programs manager

As you all know, Cherie is our amazing Community Programs manager, and she’s celebrating 10 years at the Community Centre this year!

Thank you, Cherie

Cherie oversees a magnitude of programs including the Byron Shire Volunteer Hub, the Seniors’ programs, the BCC reception and the Rough Sleepers Projects which include the Severe Wet Weather Shelter, the Byron Shire Showers Project and the Homeless Breakfast Hub.

Cherie, we love you and want to THANK YOU for everything you do every day in the Community Centre and for the Byron Community.

Cherie’s story

In December 2019, I was one of 37 who applied for the 10 hours a week job as Volunteer Coordinator, one of 5 to get an interview and one of 3 to have a trial with front reception extraordinaire Trish Denoon. I got the job. 

When Paul told me over the phone and asked what days I wanted to work, I wasn’t sure and he said “Well we can work it out later, as long as you are happy Cherie, we will be happy!” No employer had ever said that to me before. I’ve been pretty happy ever since.

The position was bumped up to 15 within 6 months and once the Volunteer Hub was formed in 2014, went up to 20 hours per week. With changes to funding and staffing, community programs were added to my responsibilities in 2018. The volunteer workforce at the centre has been an extraordinary phenomenon and for those staff who have the ability to coordinate and work with volunteers on a daily basis, their work is greatly enhanced. I’ve always said that “The volunteers make me look good” and I stick by that!

I signed my employment contract in early February 2010, so the actual anniversary has slipped by, but Pippy assures me there will be a party to celebrate all of the long-timers at the centre (eg Carl Taylor, Majida, Shamana, Surati, Jeannie to name a few). I particularly want to thank Pippy for all her support and commitment throughout the years as both a volunteer and staff.

Byron Community Pantry

The Byron Community Pantry is a Food Outreach Service made possible by Allygroup’s generous donation. The Byron Community Centre has been offering food outreach services for over 14 years. Due to the current health crisis and the new regulations which resulted in job loss for many Byron Shire locals, the demand for essential services like counselling or help with meals and groceries has drastically increased. 

About the project

Byron Emergency Pantry

The Byron Community Pantry is available to anyone unable to financially or physically shop. Food boxes can be provided with vegan, vegetarian and meat options to all people in need.

For this service, the Byron Community Centre receives hands-on support from Liz Jackson and her team from Liberation Larder. Moreover, the Byron Community Centre continues the great work of the Northern Rivers Pantry Project. 

Liz Jackson manages the food preparation including the management of cooks, staff and purchasing of packaging. Helen Hamilton, President of the Byron Bay Community Association, is initially coordinating this effort together with Byron Community Centre staff. The Byron Community Centre provides staff to assist with phone enquiries, food packaging and some volunteers for deliveries and administrative tasks.

Supporters and donors

Amrita Pantry Porject

We want to thank the businesses and organisations in Byron Bay and everyone who generously donated to the Byron Community Pantry. Your donations help us to support vulnerable community members.

First National Byron donated $3000 to this project and their staff are volunteering to be delivery drivers. Thank you so much for your support! You are amazing!!

Volunteers from the Byron Bay Amma group and the Amrita Pantry Project are contributing a generous amount of food and essentials as well as packing and delivering food boxes every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month. Thank you very much for your generous support, it is much appreciated.

Other major donors:

How to arrange delivery

If you would like to contact the Byron Community Pantry for food delivery in the Byron Shire, call 0482 787 552 between Monday – Thursday from 10am – 2pm to arrange delivery. 

Donate today

Support this essential service with a donation and help us help the community.

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  • Free phone counselling for Byron Shire residents

    Phone counselling

    In a previous post, we mentioned that we recently received generous financial support from Allygroup, a legal resourcing and management consultancy.

    We are grateful for this incredible contribution because it enables us to continue and expand our essential community services during these challenging times when most of our usual income streams have ceased, and community members are heavily impacted by the current health crisis.

    About the service

    Thanks to the generous donation by Allygroup, we are able to offer free phone counselling for locals experiencing distress due to COVID-19 pressures. This service is carried out by a psychologist and 4 trained, experienced counsellors for the next 3 months.

    A psychologist will initially triage and assess new calls and if appropriate, refer the caller to one of the counsellors. Counselling calls will last for 50 – 60 minutes and if needed, future support calls will be organised by each counsellor. All counsellors are qualified and covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance.

    This service is available to Byron Shire residents during weekdays between 10am – 2pm. 

    Get in touch

    If you have concerns for your mental health during this difficult time, we encourage you to make use of our free phone counselling service.

    Call 0415 322 064 from Monday – Friday between 10am – 2pm to make an appointment.

    A generous donation of $30,000 from Allygroup

    Today, we want to share some very exciting news with you. We just received generous financial support for our community programs which are currently impacted by COVID-19 and aimed at the most vulnerable members of the Byron community. 

    Allygroup is a legal resourcing and management consultancy and they are generously donating $10,000 per month over the next three months to help us to expand our existing services to meet urgent additional demand caused by the Novel Coronavirus. 

    The current health crisis has impacted many people in the community severely as work has stopped and businesses have closed. As a result of this, our community project workers have identified an increased demand for essential community services such as counselling or help with meals and groceries. 

    Allygroup’s Chairman, Bruce Clarke is a Byron Shire resident and says “I was confronted directly by the hardship of so many people through the impacts of COVID-19. I know the Byron Community Centre has its finger on the pulse of what the needs of the community are and we are pleased to contribute towards helping the mental health physical health of those who most need support. I encourage other organisations to do the same“.

    We are grateful for Allygroup’s financial support. This generous donation ensures vital community projects match demand and provide or expand much-needed employment so severely impacted by the health and economic situation,” says Louise O’Connell, General Manager of the Byron Community Centre.  

    Thanks to the generous donation, we are able to deliver the following for the next three months:

    1. The Byron Emergency Pantry which is a Food Outreach Service available to anyone unable to financially or physically shop. Food boxes can be provided with vegan, vegetarian and meat options to all people in need.  
    2. Part-time social worker contract for 2 – 3 days per week for referrals and assessments of increased numbers of community members presenting with mental health issues exacerbated by COVID-19. 
    3. Additional counselling services for COVID-19 induced (and other factors) mental health issues. A Psychologist will be available by phone to assess calls from community members experiencing mental health difficulties and refer to local experienced counsellors.

    In addition to these services, we deliver a range of other vital programs to vulnerable community members which also experience increased demand, e.g. the Women’s Shower Service, the Severe Wet Weather Shelter or the twice-weekly Homeless Breakfast. 

    We are hopeful that Allygroup’s generosity will inspire other organisations and individuals to support other Byron Community Centre programs in need,” says Louise O’Connell. 


    The Byron Community Centre is an independent organisation that receives no ongoing government funding. The Byron Community Centre operates as a not-for-profit social enterprise which means funds raised through the Byron Markets (through stall holder fees) and the Byron Theatre (through ticket sales) are used for essential community services and projects, e.g. the Homeless Breakfast or the Homeless Showers. With the Byron Markets and the Byron Theatre currently paused, the two main income streams for the Byron Community Centre have ceased. 

    Frontline workers at the Byron Community Centre predict an explosion in need of support services in the next two weeks. Early estimates suggest that demand will be increased 200% within two weeks. This is especially true for staffing and goods to meet current and future demand. 

    If you are in a position to support the Byron Community Centre, please visit our website for options to donate https://byroncentre.com.au/safetynet/

    If you would like to contact the Byron Emergency Pantry food delivery in the Byron Bay area, call 0482 787 552 from Monday to Thursday between 10am and 2pm to arrange delivery.  

    If you have concerns for your mental health during this difficult time, call 0415 322 064 from Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm. 

    If you need to talk to someone now, call LifeLine 131114.

    Women’s Counselling: For women needing extra support leave a message for Community Worker on (02) 6685 6807.

    The BCC building receives a face-lift this March

    The School of Art building in 1907

    The heritage-listed building which houses the Byron Community Centre, the Byron Theatre, the Byron Markets office and several local businesses, is due for refurbishment and some necessary renovation works. 

    The last major renovation works on the building were done in 1980/81.

    Refurbishment works on the facade of the building

    Byron Community Centre and Theatre management worked together with local design agency Whitewood on a proposal to refurbish the facade of the heritage-listed building. Byron Shire Council approved the proposal and works will commence in March. These works have been funded by grants received from the NSW Government Public Reserves Management Fund and more recently from Byron Shire Council for specific heritage projects. 

    The refurbishment works involve the washing of the building, new paint finishes on the external front of the building visible to Jonson St and replacing of the balustrade. The entry atrium area will receive new paint finishes. Finally, decorative lattice, verandah brackets and new signage will be added. 

    Putting the Byron Theatre in the spotlight

    Art Deco style 1939

    The new-look will increase the buildings’ presence on Jonson St and shows that it’s more than a community support hub because new signage will give pedestrians and visitors more clarity of the use of the building. In addition to that, one main objective is to increase the presence of the Byron Theatre on Jonson St and to provide ample opportunities to promote upcoming shows. 

    “My team and I welcome the refurbishment, as it will put the Byron Theatre in the spotlight and increase its visibility on Jonson St. We are right opposite the visitors and tourist precinct but visitors don’t know the theatre exists! The new exterior design will really give us more presence and the opportunity to broaden our market,” says Tanja Greulich, manager of the Byron Theatre. 

    Inspiration from the Federation era architecture

    The proposal honours the 100 years long history of the building and pays respect to its status as a heritage-listed building. 

    After renovation works in 1980/81

    “We drew inspiration from the original design of the building in 1907 when it was the Byron Bay School of Arts. It was important to us to incorporate elements of the Federation era architecture into our design plans,” said Julie King from Whitewood. “We worked closely with the Council to honour the buildings’ original character and its rich history.”

    The building was always the focal point of the town and the go-to place for the local community.  The renovation works will start a new chapter for the old building.

    “The refurbishment will give the building a new lease of life. The new-look will give the building a personality and presence on Jonson St.,” said Louise O’Connell, general manager of the Byron Community Centre. “We are very excited to reveal the new look to the public.” 

    Proud to be a part of BCC

    Annual Report 2018

    by Sarah Webb

    Hello, fellow community enthusiasts! I am glad you have joined us for this weeks post! Becauuuuuuuse, this post is all about the goooooood and wonderful deeds that we do here at Byron Community Centre and may I tell you fellow community enthusiasts – there is a lot.

    As you may know (and if you don’t, strap in your seat belts – because I am about to tell you) that BCC is a social enterprise, WHICH MEANS (drumrol.l.l.l.l.I) all the goods and services we provide, are provided for the community to promote cultural and social inclusion. And that’s not all, we are a NOT FOR PROFIT SOCIAL ENTERPRISE which means (we are awesome) THAT ALL THE PROFITS WE MAKE FROM OUR COMMUNITY GOODS AND SERVICES – we put straight back into the community, to better the lives of those in the community. What we do get to keep for ourselves is the joy we get for helping the community!

    The phenomenal work we do is completely mind-boggling, the figures from our good work are incredible. And honestly, as a fellow BCC volunteer (and community enthusiast) I am proud to say that we have reached some incredible goals in the year 2018.

    You can have a browse through our impact update of 2018 for yourself to experience complete mind boggle-ness, but, like the proud BCC volunteer I am – I am going to tell you (and also possibly yell them from BCC’S rooftop, so I hope you are all looking up!).

    The projects and services we run under our social enterprise are the coffee box (coffee, YUM), the Byron theatre (Theatre – good!),  Byron Markets (everything Byron and more – Byronlicious), and our venue hire (yay).

    All of the profits made from these areas go right back into the community. This means Coffee box’s coffee – to the Community! Byron Theatre tickets – to the Community! Byron Markets Stall Holder fees – to the Community!  Venue room hire’s room fees – TO THE COMMUNITY!

    The profits are then put straight into community mending projects such as the Homeless Breakfast and our Homeless showers which greatly impact our community!

    So, I must say – (hold my laptop while I scream this from the rooftop) “this is a social enterprise I’m VERY proud to be a part of!”.

    Let’s get serious, and when I say serious – I mean, I’m about to tell you some SERIOUS figures that will blow your mind (seriously).

    BCC overall invested ONE POINT EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS IN TWENTY EIGHTEEN in order to better the lives of those in the local community. THAT’S $1,800,000 in 2018. WOW.

    Some figures to also be EXTRA PROUD OF is the fact that throughout 2018 we provided a monthly average of 98 HEALTHY breakfasts and homeless showers to 56 vulnerable community members!

    Our Coffee BOX has an 8O% reported increase in community connection (That’s what we like to see!), 85% of coffee box training program attendees are NOW EMPLOYED, STUDYING OR VOLUNTEERING IN THE COMMUNITY (YAY!), AND 1OO% HAD A reported increase in self-confidence – wow, just wow.

    ANDDDDDDDD we have had 45 MARKETS which is made up of 14 Community Markets, 27 Twilight Markets and 4 Beachside Markets – WOWEE! These markets had a combined total of 6744 stalls! That’s a whole lot of stalls!

    And of course! we can’t forget OUR volunteers! In 2018 we had 334 volunteers subscribe to receive volunteer e-news and updates. GOOOOO TEAM!

    As you can see, this is a ‘social enterprise’ to be very PROUD OF. So jump on our website, take a look for yourself at the 2018 Impact Update and prepare yourself!

    You’re in for a shock (the good kind) ☺.

    Hooray BCC!

    Sensational Seniors Expo

    by Sarah Webb

    Who said reaching the age of retirement had to be boring? The 2019 seniors’ expo certainly challenged that assumption! The seniors’ expo shone a light on our golden years and has potentially redefined the age of senior-ism (totally not a word but sounds like it certainly should be) as our days of glory and something for the younger generations to LOOK FORWARD TO. And woweee, boy was there so much on show, let just say – I’m even excited to exchange my blond locks for something a little more… white.  

    video by Chris Knowles

    The 2019 seniors expo was sen(ior)-sational. It was light bright happy and FREE. And when I say free, I MEAN FREE. Everything at the expo was completely FREE and there was even GIVEAWAYS – Freebies! WOOO.

    23 informative stalls

    In the foyer upstairs is where all the seniors’ suited stall action was happening! And my oh my, what a display of chipper seniors enjoying the best of senior-ism (should be a word!). The foyer held a total of 23 stalls which were all focussed on promoting the better health and longevity of our wonderful senior community! And not only was the expo a popular hit for seniors, but it was quite a hoot for those youngens who were interested in seeing what their glistening future holds. Considering massages, food, giveaways and information on how to live the fullest life YOU COULD EVER LIFE – were all huge cards on the senior’s expedition table, It’s no question why this event was such a bubbling success!

    Sen(ior)sational activities

    The foyer wasn’t the only place which was red carpeted for our wonderful seniors, but our Byron Theatre also held all types of great activities and shows dedicated to this memorable event! Sen(ior)sational! Wow, the senior centred line up was seriously senior – rific! There was a Drumming Circle, Chair Yoga, Crystal Singing Bowls, comedy acts, talks, Bay singers and ukuleles and MOREEEEEEE. Some attendees even stayed in the theatre for the entire day. Yep, it was THAT good.

    Combine the 23 stalls of downright fun, a theatre full of performances, giveaways and smiling PEOPLE and et voilà you have the 2019 seniors expo!

    Anyone who may have missed this incredible event, the Byron Community Centre offers activities for seniors on a weekly basis. Calling all seniors! Think chair yoga, Ukulele classes and drumming and then think the Byron Community Centre! A place where the senior community can come together!


    Byron Shire Seniors Festival & Expo

    Seniors Festival

    ‘The festival for the NOT SO retiring’

    Nowadays becoming a senior (from age 55) definitely does not mean ‘retiring’. Today, being a senior is often a fresh start with more time to enjoy a whole range of new activities and pursuits.  

    The Byron Community Centre is hosting the Byron Shire Seniors Festival & Expo, in collaboration with NSW Seniors Festival, on Tuesday 19th February, from 10am-4pm.

    This day is dedicated to the wonderful elders of our community. The theme of the festival is ‘Love Your Life’ with activities to help you continue enjoying your life every day. We do not believe that becoming a senior means your life is over, instead we think that the rest of our lives are just beginning.

    The festival will have information sharing, entertainment, and lots of activities, as well as hand, neck and shoulder massages being offered throughout the day. Fearless Films ‘Growing Bold Not Old’ will be screening in a special viewing room.

    Relax and enjoy the Theatre Program, browse a range of exhibitors upstairs in the Cavanbah Room and informative verandah chats, including –

    • Health & Wellness – alternative health care and nutrition
    • Finance/Banking/Insurance/Wills
    • Aged Care Options
    • Understanding your Aged Pension – all you need to know about benefits
    • End of Life & After Death Care – demystifying your choices
    • Volunteering – live longer by caring for those in need

    The Seniors Festival will empower older people, their carers and children to lead fulfilling lives and achieve their potential in their community.

    Come along to the Byron Community Centre, 69 Jonson Street, on Tuesday 19th February or contact Pippy Wardell on 6685 6807 for more information.

    For full program see website www.byroncentre.com.au

    The Volunteers Had a Christmas Party!

    by Sarah Webb

    BCC Christmas Party

    Jingle bells, Jingle bells BCC had a party (sing to tune of jingle bells)

    Merry Christmas everyone! Even though Christmas has come and gone- the Christmas spirit is still very much with us at BCC BECAUSE we are all about giving! And at last year’s Christmas party, BCC gave back to volunteers, wahoo! Not only did we get foooooood (all kinds of delicious food) but the food was at a party! The VOLUNTEERS CHRISTMAS PARTY! YAY! And we also got presents, we got LOTS of presents! We were a little spoiled this year – it was great (He he)!

    We celebrated the merry season of giving in style!

    Think bonbons, presents, Lots. Of. Food, drinks and (this should really come under the food mention but) CAKE! Yes, a huge cake which is so wonderful it deserves its own mention. This cake was fit to feed Santa and his entourage of elves and may I tell you it was polished off by BCC vollies in no time at all!

    Christmas. Vollies. Giving and CAKE – what more could a Christmas party need? How about tables with Christmas hats, decorated with all things season-y, giggling volunteers and an atmosphere that is …. MERRY.

    And OF COURSE, the most important thing – we celebrated all of the achievements that we have done to help our community over a mince pie and a bon bon! HOORAY.

    Merry Christmas from BCC to all! Let’s stay in the spirit of giving all throughout 2019!


    Surfin’ Surf Flix

    Byron Bay Surf Flix

    by Sarah Webb

    Surfers, beach-(go)ers, film enthusiasts, marine conservationists – This is where I let you know how your worlds can collide. Surf Flix provides the perfect surf platform (like a surfboard and even made from similar material = good vibes), for anyone and everyone to jump on board and share the wave to support our local surf community and Byron’s blissful beaches.

    Surf film – new, old, local, not so local

    Surf Flix shows surf films, new, old, local, not so local – in order to celebrate and bring that surf community of Byron Bay together! It is also donating a portion of the funds to Positive Change for Marine Life, to help preserve our local beaches. Very cool.

    Surf Flix’s premiere surfed across BCC’s screens on the 18th December, and may I tell you, I was right in there- riding the wave of surf-social-inclusion with another 200 of Byron’s passionate beach enthusiasts who gathered to watch the screening of surf-film-classic: Mother of the Earth. Luckily for all out there, if you have missed this screening, never fret; this event runs on the 3rd Tuesday of every month, so you can also ride this perfect surf platform (made from good vibes) across the wave of classic surf films yourself! Surf Flix promises to bring you a constant tidal line up of surf studded films waiting for you to enjoy. So, my advice -high tail it down to the theatre and live it up while the surfs (films) up.

    Come and relax! The event boasts a very unique and social atmosphere, especially with the help of an added bonus = Mid. Show. Bar. Intermission. Very very cool. This way you can grab an ice cold drink and have a chance to get to know the surf community!

    Just to make the event even greater – there are guest speakers! Yay! That means, you can mingle with other surfers and maybe with some big names in surfing as well (he-he),

    Catching up with Rusty Miller

    I even got to catch up with surf legend and Mother of the Earth star, Rusty Miller! Holy moly, boy was I excited! I caught him for a brief chat and was keen-as-the-sea to hear the ins and outs of his surfing career. And by-golly, he kept me hooked on every word. He spoke very humbly about his very successful career and I listened very closely while trying to withhold my bubbling excitement (which I did very well – thank you!).

    I was instantly calmed by Rusty’s peaceful nature and as our conversation flowed, so did the more questions I wanted to ask!  “why do you enjoy surfing” I excitedly pressed, Rusty responded with:“ I love the closeness to nature”.  Yep, this gentle response had me hooked – tell me more Rusty! And thankfully – Rusty told me more! “The thing about surfing is you repeatedly get special occasions”, he said with a rush of admiration – he then continued to explain the cherished moments that he has had throughout his surfing career. He spoke with Joy and passion as he expressed the unforgettable times that he has had with friends in the waves and the precious moments that he has had with nature. What-a-(surf) legend (he he). I was enlightened by Rusty’s in-depth approach to surfing and was completely refreshed by our chat. Yep, refreshed! Rusty says that he is excited to come back and be a Surf Flix audience member, So, we will see Rusty again – phew – thank-surf-for-that!

    I also got to catch up with a couple of our blog audience winners who won tickets to the screening of Mother of the Earth (check out Spoilt for Choice at the Byron Theatre), Hooray! We shared a few giggles in the Theatre foyer before the film – and I must say that these sunny, surfy women were a complete breath of fresh air! Look forward to seeing these two ladies again at our next Surf Flix event (you know who you are he-he)!

    Every third Tuesday of the month

    So surfers, beach-(go)ers, marine conservationists and… EVERYONE, Keep your eye on the calendar! Look out for the Third-Tuesday-of-Every-Month, come and…  

    Save the marine life!

    Support surfing!

    Have a laugh!

    Watch a surf movie!

    Do a dance (if you really want)!

    And come and enjoy what Surf Flix life is all about.

    Tickets are $15 and can be bought from our box office (Mon – Fri 10.00am – 1.30pm), online or on the phone 02 6685 6807!

    SO jump on the computer or come on down to our friendly Box Office and receive a friendly wave from our friendly volunteers as complimentary with your Surf Flix ticket.

    See you there!