Illawarra faith-based organisations have given at least $9.7 million in social value annually
On Wednesday, 25th November, over 30 of our faith groups from different denominations and beliefs gathered at the Salvation Army Wollongong to attend the Illawarra Cinnamon Faith Action Audit report launch. Many more joined us on Facebook live as we revealed the results from the recent survey. Being the first of its kind to be released in all of Australia, there was much anticipation to see clear evidence of the impact of local faith groups on the city and region as a whole.
This event was hosted by Jude Hennessy (Catholic Diocese of Wollongong) who introduced Together For The Illawarra’s Community Engagement Task Force leaders Major Phil Inglis (Salvation Army) and Pastor Phil Bartlett (Lighthouse Church). These two became the driving force behind this initiative after a discussion with other collaborators under the Together For The Illawarra (TFTI) umbrella back in 2019.
Paul shared first, discussing the vision behind and insights gained, followed by Phil who broke open the findings from the report data. The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit (CFAA) brought forth a number of key reflections on why TFTI saw it necessary to undertake such a task. Firstly, the audit offered to embrace the whole faith community.
Secondly, it is an effective way to gather, quantify and measure our community engagement with empirical evidence. Thirdly, it's a stepping stone to further collaboration on future community engagement initiatives. One of the most surprising results was that Illawarra faith based organisations have given at least $9.7 million in social value annually and of 101 survey responses (over half of all faith based organisations in the Illawarra), 30 of the services were directed towards the need of material assistance— identifying it statistically as the greatest need in our region out of 15.
In the new year, TFTI is looking forward to continuing to draw together local ministries and organisations, using this report as a launching pad for discussions about ways we can join forces. We will continue our collaboration with Cinnamon Network Australia, whom we are currently working with to create a menu of easily accessible community engagement initiatives that any church or organisation can implement.
We concluded the release by hearing a few words from Nic Mackay (National Director of Cinnamon Network Australia) and the stories from two local initiatives, Peaceful Birth Partnership and Helensburgh Youth Centre — both uniquely serving their communities. Councillors Moria Hamilton (Shellharbour City Council) and Ann Martin (Wollongong City Council) gave their thanks on behalf of Shellharbour and Wollongong Council, followed by the distribution of the report.
Together For The Illawarra is looking forward to not only working together but also in partnership with our local government. The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit will be also provided to our state and federal MP’s. We are looking forward to having conversations with ministers and Christian leaders on how we can further collaborate off the back of this report, the first of its kind in Australia in order to have an even greater impact on the social wellbeing of the Illawarra.
“The support provided by faith based organisations and churches in Wollongong is felt
daily by our most vulnerable - from food and housing assistance, to family support.
I know the people of Wollongong benefit greatly from the churches and faith groups
who base their values on serving their God through serving others.
I am grateful to the many organisations that continually provide these services through their staff,
volunteers and donations.”
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradberry AM - Wollongong City Council
“Shellharbour City is very fortunate and thankful for the contribution of faith-based
organisations and churches in our city.
Many of these organisations provide physical and emotional support to the most
vulnerable when they need it most.
I have witnessed organisations coming together and working co-operatively for the benefit of the city at large.
I am also grateful for the moral support they provide for our decision makers in steering our city forward.”
Mayor Marianne Saliba - Shellharbour City Council
“Never before has the collective work of such a large number of people of faith in an
Australian region been quantified and collated as it is in this report. It is done not
to show off, but to encourage these good people to keep serving those in need and to
encourage others to join in!
The social and economic life of the Illawarra has been significantly impacted over
many years by the practical and spiritual commitment of the thousands of people of faith who call this
region home. They have contributed selflessly for the benefit of others, and now we see just how much it
is worth, both in dollars and lives."
Mark Sewell - Councilor, Illawarra Business Chamber