Seniors Christmas Lunch

(12.30pm, Wednesday 26 November 2014, Lower Town Hall)

Good afternoon, everyone. A very warm welcome to Town Hall.

We've been hosting this lunch since 2006, not only to mark the Christmas season but to pay tribute to you and the contribution you make to the richness and diversity of the Sydney community.

It's also an opportunity to bring you together from the various City-run centres to make new friends or reconnect with old friends.

So to all our Seniors, I wish you a very happy Christmas. I also want to thank our Meals on Wheels volunteers who give their time and provide support and help especially for those with a disability. Thank you also to our own City staff and community partners - the community service workers, the bus drivers, food services staff who keep things going here. I hope you'll all relax and enjoy today.

It has been a busy year in our various centres, with the Cliff Noble Centre, Alexandria - in particular hosting a huge range of events. These included a talk about the Home Energy Saving Scheme, which came with free home energy saving assessments - an important issue for all of us, with climate change and rising prices.

The centre celebrated its 49th anniversary, and for the eighth year, it hosted Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, a packed-out event raising $5000, with all items and morning tea generously donated by local businesses.

The centre also hosted some terrific cross-generational events. In March, a monthly Kids' Time started, with a group from the centre going to Alexandria Child Care Centre to read stories and do craft with the kids.

In May, Cliff Noble members got started on a mural project with young people from the Erskineville Youth Centre and in August they launched the Cook Your Own Pizza with the young people, an inter-generational sustainable cooking project.

In June, the Newtown Performing Arts High School students began a monthly visit to the centre to entertain members at lunchtime and in October, the centre hosted a morning tea for Can Teen kids living with cancer.

So it was a varied and busy year for members there, which concluded last month with the launch of the wonderful book complied by the centre's Creative Writing group which Council was happy to help fund with a matching grant.

The Centre in Kepos Street Redfern, underwent a major refurbishment, with new furniture for the lounge and game hall and the dining area.

It also hosted several intergenerational projects. There was Nanna Knows Best, with grandparents passing on their wisdom and skills on topics ranging from the art of conversation to baking and Chinese knitting.

There were also treats for the seniors though, when Redlands School students came to the centre for mah-jong and Chinese calligraphy.

There were also Intercultural Days with South East Sydney Community Transport where different cultural groups came together to share information, food and fun activities.

In Ultimo, there was a wonderful Getting to Know You event, involving the Chinese Seniors, the Friends of Ultimo Community Centre and the Spanish Community Care Group with food, singing and dancing - a great way to get to know each other.

In August, the Sydney Youth Orchestra held Toddler Proms to introduce young children to classical music and instruments and the Happy Chinese Performing Group celebrated their 10th anniversary with a well-attended concert.

Reg Murphy ran regular activities from acting classes to after-school children's activities. There were also workshops for tablets - the computer variety! And a weekend workshop on bottling, pickling and food preservation, keeping those traditional arts alive. There were bus outings to Cabramatta and the Blue Mountains, and craft and singing classes, among many other activities.

St Helen's members enjoyed a terrific Mother's Day cruise and in April, they held a special birthday celebration for their member, Nell, who turned 99 years old!

The Harry Jensen Centre, Millers Point, hosted morning teas for International Women's Day and Help C Awareness, as well as R U OK Day and barbecues for Men's Health Week and Mental Health Awareness.

An After Dinner Walking Group has been formed which ran an historical walk of Walsh Bay which attracted almost 30 people, and special walks for the VIVID festival and Art & About.

Seniors' Week was marked with free entry to the City's pools and a debate for Chinese Australians in Town Hall as well as many other activities, from a symposium on seniors and exercise to a comedy debate that "60 is Sexy" and a workshop on social media, among others.

So it has been a busy, and I hope fruitful year for you. I hope you've all enjoyed it. Thank you once again for your contributions to the life of Sydney, and enjoy the lunch.