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Connecting Community

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Insights from Fiona Waring of Hawthorn Community House - 32 Henry Street, Hawthorn

The past two COVID-affected years proved that older, disabled and vulnerable members of the local community especially needed to remain connected and engaged.

Hawthorn Community House (HCH) is managed by Access Health and Community, who have been providing healthcare to vulnerable members of the community for 150 years. The education centre offers essential and fundamental, well-being focused programs for local residents.

HCH courses, which are specifically designed to fulfil the role of connectivity, have remained a lifeline for many throughout this time. Administrator Fiona Waring highlights some of HCH’s most popular courses and the benefits they provide.

Life Writing

Participants in the Life Writing course are encouraged to not only share, but also write about their personal experiences and life stories. Fiona commented that it had become one of the most consistently popular courses, highlighting the benefits of feeling well-supported when you’re sharing personal stories about your own life in your own words.

OM:NI (Older Men, New Ideas)

Fiona described how for older men, it can often be difficult to find a voice to engage with those around them, especially as men get older and retire, their friendship circle tends to decline. A course such as OM:NI encourages sharing life experience and building camaraderie with other men to foster new connections.

Physical and Mental Well-being Programs

The HCC receives a lot of positive feedback about their Thai-Chi and Pilates classes. In addition to these more physical activities, the Mindfulness Practices class allows participants to learn about the benefits of meditation. Fiona believes that these well-being-focused classes are, financially viable and give older members a chance to feel more active and physically capable. Fiona explains, it is things like having a coffee and a chat after pilates that participants really look forward to. It always comes back to connecting with others.

New Family Support

The HCC offers group activities for people with children who are in the post maternity, pre-kindergarten gap. This can be a time when parents often struggle and feel most vulnerable. Trained facilitators provide that little extra help for new families and carers in a welcoming environment.

Former nurse Fiona Waring has 16 years experience in the not-for-profit sector and six of those years have been with HCH. She is currently transitioning from office coordinator into the role of program coordinator.

HCH’s semester two beings in June. For information on classes and activities times and dates, visit or call 03 9819 5758.


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