Tag: COVID-19

This Christmas We Need to Share More Cheer Than Before

Participate in the Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal to bring joy to locals in need.  

The Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal is back this year and more important than ever due to the events and challenges of 2020. The appeal provides local families and senior citizens with hampers of basic meals and staples. In previous years, the appeal delivered roughly 700 hampers to those who needed a helping hand around Christmas time, and they also required fundraising efforts to raise roughly $70,000. But now there are many more people expected to need help during the festive season in 2020. In fact, this year’s fundraising target has now reached $100,000. 

Mayor Bob Manning says “This crisis has had an incredibly devastating impact on our city. Times are tough and people are hurting…we anticipate that the impacts of coronavirus on the community will result in an increase in demand for hampers. We would ordinarily provide 700 hampers; I would not be surprised if we had twice as many people needing assistance this year.”

The fundraising normally begins in October however locals need more help while experiencing the current hardships and losses caused by the pandemic. Because of this, fundraising had already been launched to make sure that the demand for hampers can be fully met. Now it’s time for us to give generously and support our locals.

How can I help?

You can donate $65.00 to buy a family a hamper or donate $35.00 to buy a senior a hamper. To donate a select amount you can visit the page for this appeal here. Every cent that people donate to the Christmas Cheer Appeal will go to buying food supplies for the hampers, which will go to the people that need our help the most right now.

Council will be working with 20 local charities and organisations to identify residents who are eligible for this festive cheer. This includes the Benevolent Society, Ruth’s Women’s Shelter, Uniting Care, Wuchopperen and Anglicare Homeless Shelter. Additionally, there are a range of great Cairns media partners who will be donating services, including Adhesive Communications, Adllins Media, Cairns Post, CityLife, Channel Nine, Cre8 Design, GoTransit Media, HitFm, Oasis Media, TripleM, Yfilms, and PakMag!

That’s right – we want to share the love this Christmas and give back to the community that we adore. We encourage all of those who are capable to do the same thing and help another person or family have the Christmas they deserve.

Increased support and generosity have been coming from members of the Cairns community recently: 

  • The Cairns Business Women’s Club have kindly offered their support at their September networking luncheon. They will be selling raffle tickets with prizes supplied by local businesses.
  • Thanks to the imagination and generosity of the Cairns hotel community the 5-Star Chefs for Charity dinner was born. The Hilton, Pullman International, Shangri-La and Pullman Reef Hotel Casino have come together with their head chefs to donate their time, expertise and work with their suppliers to provide all food and beverages at no cost. Every cent of the dinner ticket sales will go directly to the Cheer Appeal. This year’s dinner will be hosted by the Hilton. 
  • The Cairns Chamber of Commerce have selected the Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal as the chosen charity for their Christmas luncheon.
  • FGF Bitumen utilized their corporate event at the recent Cairns Cup day as an opportunity to raise over seven hundred dollars for the Appeal.
  • The Reef Hotel Casino are collecting donations on behalf of the Appeal and even local schools are contacting Council on how they would like to raise money with activities at their school.

Donate here. Every donation over $2.00 is tax deductible.

You can also find a list local charities and organisations where you can confidentially apply for a hamper.





Children Find Happiness in Current Situation

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of routines for families and young children has been made clear. During this time, Mary MacKillop Childcare North Queensland continued to offer quality childcare and education to all families across the Diocese of Townsville. They did so through their Early Learning Centres, Kindergartens and Outside School Hours Care services. Many centres were well aware of the differences in families lives. So, in addition, they put a number of programs in place to continue to offer support and care for the children.

The children at Mundingburra St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre shared rainbows as a way to spread joy and happiness. This was not only to those at the centre but to the wider community. “The children painted rainbow hand prints. Then educators decorated the trees that line our footpath at the front of our centre. The hope was to brighten the days of those in our local community as they drove by.” said Mandy Wassman, Mundingburra Centre Director.

“Bright colours brighten up a room. So why not share some brightness to the local community. This would let everyone know that we were thinking of them during this period.”

The educators used the opportunity to explore the meaning of the rainbow trail with the children. “The children were extremely excited to have people in our community see their group project,” Mandy said.

“Families that attend our centre and members of our community would walk by the decorated trees. They would all comment on how lovely and thoughtful it was,” she said.

Educators worked with children during the height of the pandemic to further enhance their abilities to express and show both empathy and compassion to others. By having children’s artwork on display, they demonstrated their resilience through these difficult and challenging times.

Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ’s Executive Director said “It was important for MMCNQ services to continue to operate during these challenging times. It provided families with support. And, of course, it allowed for children to continue their learning and access care.”

Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ Kindergartens are taking enrolment applications for 2021.

Email enrolment@mmcnq.catholic.edu.au to register your interest or call 4729 3299.


Read more from Mary MacKillop here. 




Give Your Hands a Little Help

Has hand washing and sanitising during the pandemic done a number on your hands too? Are your hands dry, irritated or cracking?

We’ve been trying to keep COVID-19 at bay with thorough handwashing and sanitising, but our hands are needing some extra TLC to cope with the effects. As much as sanitising is a necessary action, I’m feeling lizard-like with dry, suffering hands as all the good stuff is stripped away with the bad (germs) – and I know I am not alone. I moisturise, but it just isn’t enough to put back in- what I’ve scrubbed out. So, what can we do?

As we’ve upped our use of hand sanitisers…we need to up our moisturising game.

Our delicate skin barrier is so important. But, did you know over-using harsh soaps & alcohol sanitisers can cause damage to this barrier, making it even more vulnerable to bacteria? So, we need to make sure we are moisturising effectively too. A step… I often forget #mybad. This practice is a good one to adopt, not just for now (during the pandemic), but for always.

I’ve stumbled across a great Aussie Made Product called ‘Herbs + Heart’ – After Sanitiser Overnight Hand Mask which I have absolutely fallen in love with. Not just because of the magic performed on my hands, but because they use 100% Australian grown, natural ingredients… so you can feel even better about how good your hands feel after using it.

How does it work?

Massage a pea sized amount onto clean hands before sleeping, For deeper moisturising effects pop on a pair of their pure cotton gloves. While you’re sleeping, it will nourish, restore and hydrate your skin with its rich formula of soothing butters and powerful skin repairing plant oils. Think of it as your ‘Sanitiser Ally’… the two literally go ‘hand in hand’ to help you stay safe and germ-free, but Herbs +  Heart will keep your skin soft, hydrated and healthy too.  In the morning simply take off the gloves and rinse your hands in warm water and voila! Just like that you have reversed the damage you did the day before.

According to the Herbs + Heart website,  it’s 10 times richer than any hand lotion. And after one use, I was a believer. My hands felt 10 times more hydrated. Don’t just take my word for it… check out these before and after photos (with no filter), taken on my mobile.

The only difference between these picture is the lighting (natural, just at different times of the day).

There are more benefits than just providing moisture too. I don’t want to freak you out, but hands give away your age more than any other body part. I don’t even want to ask you how old you thought I was just from my hands in the ‘before photos’.  Experts recommend keeping your hands moisturised with thick creams – particularly overnight. And you are never too young/ too old to start. Most people don’t take action on aging until the visible signs appear. Except damage has already happened. I’m not going to tell you what to do with your life, but starting the healthy routine of moisturising daily to help your hands stay younger and healthier can only work in your favour right?  

You can purchase Herbs + Heart AFTER-SANITISER OVERNIGHT HAND MASK here. It retails for $24.00. The gloves are just $5.00.

Use code PAKMAG15 at checkout to receive 15% off and give the Overnight Hand Mask a go – offer valid till the end of August. 

That healthy hand feeling… totally worth it. Oh and don’t forget to moisturise with a hand cream during the day too. The more moisture- the merrier!

During this difficult time, don’t forget to take care of you and your hands 😊




The Thing Is…COVID-19! – With Bree James

I’ve never really been one to fit in or have many friends. As a result, COVID-19 life for me didn’t change my social (well anti-social) life much. I enjoyed having a simpler life for those few weeks. I finally had a rock-solid excuse for not having to get out of my pajamas and leave the house. The thing is, it’s been quite interesting living this ‘new norm’ as they call it. And I am finding myself having a laugh at what life was and is like thanks to this pandemic.

I have noticed a few things like my children’s banter about germs. Everything is “I don’t want to catch Covid, so I can’t… (insert task they don’t want to do)”. My child forgot his toothbrush for an overnight trip and he told me he couldn’t brush his teeth with his finger in case he caught Covid-19. Literally everything they can link with Covid-19… they do. They come up with more theories than any conspiracist on social media that I have seen. Our children are not only little greenies these days; reminding us which bin to put things in, they’ve started a war or germs and we finally don’t have to argue with them to wash their hands. Covid-19 has become the “dog ate my homework” excuse for the 21st century.

The next thing I found hilarious, or sad, whichever way you look at it, is; twenty years ago I was lining up for nightclubs. Now I am lining up to go into Bunnings, Bra’s and Things, and the pharmacy with the same sort of anticipation. Instead of getting excited it’s ‘happy hour,’ I got excited if I found seeds to grow my own food. Or some hand santiser and toilet paper!.

What the heck has happened to my life?

Then, I realised that I used to do anything to avoid taking the bin out. In ISO I was volunteering. This was just so I could get out of the house for an excursion and smell something better than my own family. Being in a house of boys is smelly business at the best of times. This is especially true when they’re eating our camping kit of baked beans because you’ve been avoiding going to the store.

Many of us thought we’d turn into farmers. I started gardening just in case food shortages got worse. All I can say about this phase is that if my family relied on my food growing ability, we’d be eating weeds as these are the only things I can’t seem to kill.

One thing I was great at though – was cooking.

ISO was a time where ingredients were low, and we had to become the MacGyver’s of our kitchen. Finding recipes to create without the key ingredients of rice, eggs, pasta, and flour saw me create some pretty cool dishes. I don’t know about you, but some of us have eaten waaayyyy too much and have become a little ‘cuddlier’ – as I like to call it. It didn’t really matter then as we didn’t see anyone, but now it’s like ‘ok…someone pull me out of these jeans.’

Due to this, many of us thought it was a good time to take up an old hobby. Of course, it involved exertion to try and burn some of those extra kilo’s from all of that cooking, eating and drinking. But we forgot that we are older, heavier and way less fit than we used to be. Medical professionals coined a new term “Covid Casualties” to deal with people who took up new sports like Mountain Bike riding and left with two broken arms not being able to wipe their own butts after their first attempt. I thankfully didn’t injure myself doing some of my old hobbies. I do think however that something like knitting is on the horizon for the future as I have said to myself many times these past few months; “I am too old for this stuff” with very sore muscles and bones.

My favorite thing is watching two people interact; trying to work out if they should shake hands, hug, fist bump or just awkwardly flap around each other like startled chickens, realising mid movement that they were about to touch and they shouldn’t.

Who would have thought life would ever be like this?

In the end, this pandemic has taught us a lot more than we could ever have realized. This includes a lot about ourselves and our resilience. Most importantly – we have learned what we value most and what is really important. Something I hope we remember as life starts resembling pre-covid normality. 


Read more of Bree’s ‘The Thing Is’ articles here



Catholic Schools’ Remote Learning Success Embedded for the Future

Everywhere that Cairns Catholic Education’s Executive Director Bill Dixon goes lately, he receives favourable comments about how well Catholic schools adjusted to the COVID-19 crisis to deliver remote learning.

Testament, he says, to the agility of leadership and staff in schools who stepped up with dedication. Additionally, validation of the huge investment in quality systems and technology that Cairns Catholic Education has made in recent years.

“Staff responded with professionalism to keep the welfare and learning of students at the centre of their actions.”

The technology in place made the transition that bit easier,. This is despite posing a steep learning curve for many, under less than ideal conditions.

Staff, students and families made huge leaps forward in their ability to use digital platforms for learning and communication during remote learning. The learning curve has been exponential. Fortunately digital learning environments have enabled the continuity of learning, communication and engagement.

Schools that were already incorporating digital technologies into their lessons found the transition to home-based learning much easier.

“By the time the coronavirus shutdown occurred, the Science Department already had Microsoft Teams in place as the system to interact digitally with students,” tells St Augustine’s College, Parramatta Park Head of Science, Jesse Zell. She says that students adapted very quickly to the online learning environment.

“You would never in your wildest dreams imagine a school thriving amidst such a challenge.”

But that’s exactly what the secondary college and other Catholic schools around the Cairns Diocese did. This includes St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch, which used their Digital Learning Environment as a digital hub for students to access all the learning tools they need,” explains the college’s IT Manager, Damon Thompson.

“The improved video conferencing and multimedia options now offered have excited our teachers. They plan to keep using their new skills with students going forward.”

Partnership with Parents

A strong relationship between the school and family has never been more important. Catholic schools recognise and value parents as the first educators of their child. We work in close partnership with them. The learning from home experience reinforced the importance of this relationship. It also ensured families felt supported by their school communities.

“The school supports all of my children and they have materials adjusted for their capabilities. They are busting to start their schoolwork every day and the quality of work shows just how dedicated the teaching and learning support staff are,” tells one parent at Holy Cross School, Trinity Park after the first week of learning from home.

Compassionate in Times of Need

COVID-19 has impacted all Far North families to some degree. Additionally, long after the country lifts restrictions, financial stress will linger, and we resume ‘the new normal’. Catholic schools are compassionate and accommodating to the needs of their existing and prospective families. They do this to ensure they do not deny a Catholic education to anyone due to financial constraints.

Tuition fee concessions of 100% are currently in place for those who are financially distressed. It will continue for all current and prospective families wanting a quality Catholic education.

“We are so grateful to Saints for how they fairly and proactively managed all aspects of the COVID-19 shutdown for our son and our family. The learning from home experience was well delivered and organised. Overall, we welcomed the removal of boarding fees during this difficult time,” tells one parent at St Augustine’s College, Parramatta Park.

In 2021, there will be no increase in tuition fees as our regional economy continues its recovery.

Setting Up for the Future

Catholic schools have a commitment to equip this next generation with the skills they’ll need as 21st century learners.

“One of the benefits of learning from home was that students had to develop digital literacy skills which will assist them immeasurably in the future,” tells Amanda Speziali, Year 6 teacher at Good Counsel Primary School, Innisfail.

Catholic schools are incorporating their learnings from this crisis to better position themselves for any future disruptions. It ensures that regular classrooms have the successes experienced during the period of online learning embedded into them so that students have enhanced educational opportunities. 

As Bill Dixon said in a special online coronavirus edition of Catholic Education’s Raise magazine, “No doubt there is still much more we can learn from our recent experiences and that has the capacity to greatly enhance how we think about schools of the future.”

When this generation graduates, the employment landscape will have evolved. Parents have a choice to find the right school for their child and can be responsive to their needs for the future. Catholic schools have proven they are up to the task.




Care Army Stepping in to Give Older Queenslanders a Hand

It’s great to see COVID-19 restrictions easing and our lives getting back to some sense of normality. The restrictions brought in to tackle the pandemic have been particularly challenging for older Queenslanders. We know it was hard for seniors not being able to spend time face-to-face with their family, friends and support networks.

Recently the Queensland Government’s Community Recovery Hotline has been calling seniors across the state to check on their wellbeing. The calls were to make sure they have enough food, medication and weren’t feeling too isolated. Overall more than 100,000 seniors have now received a call. The vast majority of seniors that spoke with us told us they were ok and receiving support from family, friends and neighbours. Around 2,800 of these seniors asked for help. These particular seniors were immediately referred to government agencies or non-government organisations to arrange food, medication or emotional support.

Care Army

28,000 volunteers are a part of the Care Army. They have also stepped up to give older Queenslanders a helping hand when they’ve needed it the most. This includes around 1400 dedicated North Queensland volunteers – in a wonderful show of support for seniors across this region. Furthermore, Care Army volunteers have been assisting with a range of tasks. These include delivering food, stocking shelves and calling isolated Queenslanders who are in need of social connections.

Townsville-based Youth With a Mission (YWAM) has been working with Volunteering Queensland and community organisations to help find roles for local Care Army volunteers where needed. The Care Army really has done an outstanding job across the state. Most importantly, they have made the lives of many older Queenslanders much brighter during this challenging time.

The latest advice from Queensland’s Chief Health Officer is that older Queenslanders can now leave their homes to reconnect with family, friends and their communities. This advice coincides with more businesses opening and more people going back to work. The extra help Care Army volunteers have provided has been invaluable to community organisations and seniors alike. I’m so proud of what the Care Army has achieved and what we will continue to achieve.

Story written by Coralee O’Rourke – Member for Mundingburra, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services & Seniors.