Message from the Manager

Hello everyone

Community Centres and Neighbourhood Houses exist to support our whole community and we can help you find where to get a parcel of food or information and referral to organisations who can assist with other issues you may be experiencing.

This year of lockdown and restrictions has given me a bit of time to reflect on a lot of things from my life that I’ve shared with you. One of those things is food – the thing we need to live and what should be available in healthy quantities to all Australians.

Life wasn’t an easy one for my family when I was growing up. My parents had moved to Australia from England in the early 1950’s and they worked hard, saved as much as they could so that they could start a family and get a house of their own. They had both known hunger and hardship through the war and were keen to give their children as much as they could.

I remember there was a very, very tight budget for food. I took on the role of shopping and housekeeping while mum worked full time. I was 12 at the time. I remember the shopping list, the money clenched in my hand and the absolute knowledge I could not deviate from the list – it was that tight. I know that mum went without many things to provide for us and I know she went without meals or she cut down on what she was eating so we could have more.

In spite of her sacrifice, I remember being hungry. My brother and I in one of our teenage growth spurts ate more cereal than we generally did and emptied the packet sooner than mum expected – we then had to ‘scratch’ around for something else for breakfast (or we just didn’t bother) and I can only imagine how mum felt at that time.

I thought this kind of struggle was something of the past. But right now, in this time, many families are facing similar choices – can I feed everyone in the family, or pay the electricity bill? The choice of whether everyone in the family eats three times a day, or one or more adults will skip a meal so that the kids will have enough food. And I know that there will is an element of shame and embarrassment associated with this – as mum had all those years ago too. But our current circumstances are not of our doing and no one should feel shame if they need to ask for support.

If you, or anyone you know, is skipping meals or is not able to provide three meals a day for their family, there is support out there.

There is information about the organisations that can provide support with food on our website via the link below. In the next couple of weeks we will update this with the contact details for organisations who are open over the Christmas and New Year period. If you experience difficulties in getting in touch with someone that can help, please contact us at the Centre and we will put you in touch with an organisation that can help.


If you would like to support people experiencing food insecurity in the community, consider donating non-perishable food items to the Festive Food Drive. There are numerous drop-off points within Hobsons Bay. For a collection point close to you check this FLYER.

Art, Craft and Other Things to Keep You Busy

Acrylic Painting Techniques

Covering 13 different acrylic painting techniques, the video is fairly short and straight to the point. 

Great for beginners or those wishing to those wishing to experiment with new techniques, it walks you through the process of creating a sampler sheet as pictured. 


Repair Cafe Volunteers

Have skills in repairing and mending? Repair Cafe Hobsons Bay is looking for Volunteer Repairers with skills repairing electrical items, clothing, bikes and furniture for a new repair cafe launching in Altona in February. We're also looking for Support Volunteers to help out on the day and to learn some new repair skills along the way! 

Keen to find out more? Join us for a virtual information session on Thursday 27 March 7pm-7.30pm | RSVP:

Kids Paperbag Shorts

This one comes from textile artist Lorraine Rogers who made these very cute shorts for her three-year-old granddaughter using an upcycled cotton shirt, together with some pretty fabric scraps and elastic.  

The pattern is available online, but Lorraine has modified the front pockets so they will hold her granddaughter's special collectibles.  


Digital Prints, Maps, Posters and Manuscripts

I successfully procrastinated for a good hour while looking through the immense collection of free to download digitised images available through the The New York Public Library.

Pictured above is the New and Correct Mapp of the World created by Samuel Thornton in 1702 to 1707. If you look closely Australia is thought to be connected to Indonesia. The map was one of many things interesting things to view, it's an eclectic and diverse collection that includes etchings, drawings, sheet music, ancient scrolls and much more. 

Images are free to download and available in high resolution suitable for printing. If you are looking for a gift, this site is worth checking out. 


Together Apart: Life in Lockdown

Together Apart: Life in Lockdown started as a conversation over the back fence between Altona photographer Jude van Daalen and her neighbour journalist Belinda Jackson.

The book features the portraits and stories of 60 people in their neighbourhood, giving a glimpse into the hope, frustration, humour and need for connection of Victorians during self-isolation.


The Humble Picnic

Altona-Laverton Historical Society

The humble picnic, a gathering and meal we sometimes take for granted which can be as simple or as elaborate as we wish. It is sometimes difficult to state which is more important, the meal taken outdoors or the idyllic scenic surroundings in which it is enjoyed. But where and when did this all start and where did the word ‘picnic’ originate?

The word appears to come from the French word pique-nique, whose earliest usage dates back to 1692 where the term was used to describe a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine.

The concept of a picnic long retained the connotation of a meal to which everyone contributed something. Picnicking was common in France after the French Revolution, when it became possible for ordinary people to visit and mingle in the country's royal parks. In the 18th and 19th centuries, picnics were elaborate social events with complex meals and fancy drinks that sometimes took days to prepare.

The word picnic first appeared in English in a letter from Lord Chesterfield in 1748 (OED), who associates it with card-playing, drinking and conversation. But elegant outdoor meals were probably first eaten during the Middle Ages, when hunting became a favoured pursuit of the leisure class. These medieval hunting feasts were depicted in artworks of the time, like the ballads of Robin Hood and the famous Bayeux tapestry.

Up until Victorian times, picnics were primarily a pursuit of the wealthy. It’s easy to understand why: Working men and women barely had enough means to scrape together a proper meal indoors, let alone pack up a feast to go. But the Victorian era saw the picnic cross class boundaries. Woven baskets have been used to port food from the very earliest times forward. The reason is they are light, they are sturdy, they are easily adapted for specific purposes. The largest ones seem to resemble trunks, and that might be where we get the picnic hamper from. Picnic basket kits as we know today — having placeholders for dishes and silverware and glasses and napkins — actually begin to appear at the very dawn of the 20th century.

So the next time you, friends and family sit down to a picnic just remember that you are about to partake in a 300 year tradition.

Garden Gurus Tips

Vertical Garden Walls

Discover how to expand your growing space with My Smart Garden in this session on building vertical gardens with rescued resources.

Learn a number of easy methods for using bare vertical areas of your garden, such as walls, fences and water tanks, to expand your ever-growing collection of plants.

Saturday 28 November, 10am to 11.30am


Habitat Gardening

Looking at the value of native habitat gardens in urban environments, these sessions from Hobsons Bay City Council and My Smart Garden are really worth a watch. Included is advice on how to begin planning and building a native habitat garden in your own backyard, courtyard or balcony. 



Buttered Rum Gingerbread Sauce

This recipe is an indulgent one! You can replace the alcohol with a rum essence or try it without any other flavouring – I think the ginger, cinnamon and vanilla will shine through. What a lovely gift this would make! 

Kim Reilly

This recipe is from Queen Fine Foods; you can download a PDF version of the recipe below.

  • 1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown
  • sugar
  • 115g butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup (60ml) dark rum
  • 2 tsp Queen Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or Queen
  • Cinnamon Baking Paste


STEP 1: Combine brown sugar, butter, salt and condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer to cook until all sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla, cinnamon and ginger, stir until well combined. Remove sauce from heat and stir in rum. Mix until well combined.

STEP 2: Pour sauce into sterilised glass jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.


Stuff to Keep the Kids Busy

Werribee Open Range Zoo

Hippos, giraffes, rhinos, gorillas and lions to mention a few! Werribee Open Range Zoo has reopened to the public and its simple to book tickets for zoo entry and safari tours online.

Children under 16 receive free entry on weekends, Victorian public holidays and Victorian Government school holidays.


Kids Handmade Christmas

Getting the kids into making gifts for grandparents, teachers and friends adds something special to Christmas. It teaches kids that gift giving is about the thought and love that goes into it – whether it's something you bought or something you or someone else has made. Our aim with the ideas below is to provide some options for Christmas that are inexpensive but thoughtful; that can be gifted to family, friends and teachers; and that will show kids that a gift doesn't have to always be bought from shop.


If your kids can't think of a gift for an adult or a friend, suggest they make a card and put a 'gift certificate' inside – a certificate for a play date, a special meal, or a small job the kids could do. 


Dramawerkz Youth Theatre

Dramawerkz Youth Theatre classes are open to young people aged between 13 and 25 and provide a hands-on performing arts program for participants to create, develop and rehearse both original and published plays for performance. 

The program runs in semester blocks on Saturdays from 10am to 12pm. Private lessons in drama and speech are also available for ages 8 to 25. For more information, go to

Wellbeing & Selfcare

Workplace Resilience Program

This free online program from AIA is presented by Olympian Alisa Camplin and looks at eight different aspects of wellbeing in the workplace, covering skills and tools that will help you manage challenges, stay positive and thrive at work. 

The program is self-paced and comes with resources to help you to work through the ideas. 


Local Business - Kumon Altona  

Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre supports a number of local businesses that provide services that support our community. One of these is Kumon Altona, which runs programs at the Centre on weekday afternoons and is beginning a number of new initiatives in 2021 aimed at supporting primary and secondary students in the community. 

Kumon Altona Education Centre

Kumon Altona Education Centre is a part of the trusted global Kumon Method of Education brand established 62 years ago in Japan and now operating in 51 countries. Kumon Altona started operating in May 2010 and we run classes in Maths and English for primary and secondary school students.

We had great plans to mark our 10th anniversary this year by giving back to our Altona community through a fundraising initiative for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) and starting an annual scholarship scheme to support a primary school child (Prep to Year 4) to study Maths or English with our Centre for 12 months.

Then COVID19 happened and we had to adapt to remote learning and put our community initiative plans on hold. In spite of that we did raise a little under $700 for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and we plan to institute our scholarship program in 2021.

Kumon Altona is taking enrolments through the summer holidays. We are also happy to offer homework and reading help for primary school students during the summer holidays as part of a community initiative run by one of the staff at the Louis Joel Community Centre. We’ll offer 6 virtual support sessions (30 minutes duration) per child.

For further information about our Maths and English programs and to book a free enrolment assessment please visit our FaceBook page. Call us on 0404898765 or email us at

Support Services Hobsons Bay and Surrounding Suburbs

If you, or someone you know, has been impacted financially by the pandemic or is facing issues to do with housing or family violence, there is a list of organisations that can provide support on our website.


Hobsons Bay City Council is also providing a range of support for individuals and community groups experiencing financial hardship. There is also a range of emergency relif and support available through Hobsons Bay Has Heart. See this flyer for details.



The Extreme Hardship Support Program is providing support to Victorians who:
  • are unable to access Commonwealth income support (including JobKeeper and JobSeeker) or the International Student Emergency Relief Fund
  • have very limited income, savings or community support.
  • and are a temporary or provisional visa holder, or undocumented migrant

Financial Counselling is a free service that can people assist in dealing with a range of financial issues including debts and fines, early release of superannuation, No Interest Loans, emergency relief and Utility Relief Grants. 


If you need support with something not covered in here, please get in touch with us and we can refer you to the appropriate service.
We acknowledge that we are on traditional lands of the Kulin Nation and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded, and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and, through them, to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Copyright © 2020 Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre, All rights reserved.

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