The Northern Community Support Group (NCSG) is a community-led program that provides support to Muslim communities in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. The group operates out of the Preston Mosque and the Multicultural Youth Centre (MyCentre) in Broadmeadows.
The NCSG is grounded in strong community-based partnerships and is underpinned by social cohesion themes of belonging, social justice, acceptance and worth.
- employment, education and training
- ownership and sustainability
- social participation
- culturally and religiously appropriate support services
- community resilience, and religious identity.
Case study: an holistic approach to help young people reach their potential
In early 2020 a mother approached the Northern Community Support Group (NCSG) regarding concerns over the anti-social behaviour of her two sons, aged in their early teens.
The brothers spent a lot of time in their rooms on social media and playing video games. As a result the NCSG leadership organised for the boys to participate in several activities, including:
- religious presentations delivered by homegrown imams, and
- indoor soccer games at MyCentre.
Following this intervention, the boys’ mother was very impressed with the improvement in the mood and general attitude of her sons.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, their case manager altered intervention plans for the boys. They worked with the entire family to provide alternative engagement strategies, such as providing:
- home schooling support and advice
- online religious content from trusted sources, and
- alternative recreational activities such as board games.
The NCSG case manager maintained regular contact with the mother through video and voice calls, and connected her with various support services such as Halal Food Bank and the MyCenter food distribution project. The case manager also has regular discussions with the boys, about their studies, friends and social media.
This holistic approach in providing support to the entire family has had an enormous impact on the brothers. Both boys have now secured casual employment.
NCSG offers comprehensive case management and intervention for clients covering a range of areas including mental health, financial hardship and social participation.
It also works towards strengthening the community by hosting events to support employment opportunities, religious training and counselling workshops.
Case study: Akram's story
Akram* (29) has had a history of addiction related issues. In his teens he developed a methamphetamine habit which has plagued him ever since. He has regularly been in trouble with authorities, due to drug related offences.
Early in 2019 Akram’s father contacted the MyCentre religious adviser and asked for assistance for his son. MyCentre connected Akram with a Muslim Youth, Adult & Families (MYAF) clinician for one to one rehabilitation counselling and arranged suitable accommodation for him.
In addition to this, Akram receives regular religious counselling from the MyCentre religious adviser. Akram has also volunteered at MyCentre, assisting with tasks such as setting/packing up for activities and events.
This holistic approach in addressing Akram’s needs has changed his life for the better. He has now been clean for over a year, and his social worker has noted the progress Akram has made in a short period of time. Furthermore, through its contacts in the community MyCentre was able to arrange Akram part-time employment.
*Name changed to protect privacy
Activities provided through NCSG
NCSG delivers a wide variety of activities, encouraging the engagement and participation of all community members.
- school holiday programs and camps
- homework clubs and playgroups
- sports tournaments
- trivia nights
- book clubs, and
- a range of webinars on mental health and wellbeing.
Case study: sporting opportunities for Muslim women
In the early stages of the NCSG program, regular consultations with community members revealed a lack of sporting opportunities available to females, that were culturally and religiously sensitive. Muslim women were wanting to participate in sporting tournaments that encompass an element of recognition such as winning a trophy or medal. To address this the NCSG established a women’s sporting program to address the community’s needs.
It had humble beginnings. Women from Preston Mosque and MyCentre would come together once a week, and perform basic basketball drills and play casual matches, under the guidance of a qualified coach. In a short period of time, the program became very popular, and participation grew considerably. Due to the program’s success the NCSG project sites organised a women’s basketball tournament, involving 15 teams from across Melbourne, and over 100 staff, volunteers and spectators.
The tournament was a huge success, with planning in place to make it a regular event each year. The NCSG women’s sporting program has expanded even further and project sites have established an all-female basketball league consisting of teams from other community groups, including Himilo Community Connect and the Inner Melbourne African Australian Partnership (IMAAP).
The NCSG women’s basketball program has been very popular, providing females with an opportunity to improve their health and fitness. Besides the health benefits, participating in culturally sensitive, organised team sport has helped maintain connectedness and reduce social isolation, for many women in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
You can contact the below organisations for more information on the NCSG.