As we approach the end of 2018, with Christmas around the corner and 2019 hurtling towards us, it is a great time to reflect on the year that has been.
As a Community Development Officer, I generally review the opportunities which supported social connection and the enhancement to social and community infrastructure.
2018 has been an incredible year for investment in social infrastructure in Ripley. Social infrastructure means the combination of activities, programs, service, facilities, spaces or networks that together assist in enhancing the quality and liveability of the community.
To recap, we saw the first regional, brand new 1500sq m off leash dog park and children's playground opened on March 17 as Pebbles Park. More than 500 people and their pooches celebrated at the launch event, Dog Day Out, joined by more than 20 vendors including the regions very own Ripley Vet.
With our beloved dogs in the community appropriately catered for, two months later saw the $40 million first stage of the $1.5 billion Ripley Town Centre open its doors on May 26. No longer did residents need to drive out of their community to buy the essentials, get their hair done, grab a coffee, attend the dentist, get their scripts filled or have their animal's health needs taken care of.
The Ripley landscape changed and the core of the Ripley Valley long in the planning stages was finally a reality.
Ripley families have been well accommodated for in the region in 2018 with a suite of community events, new programs, and piloted initiatives being delivered across the region to enhance the liveability of Ripley.
In July the Building a Child-Friendly Ripley Valley forum was held at the University of Southern of Queensland (USQ). A collaboration between government, business, health, local cultural and community organisations, services, local families and children - the forum was an opportunity for key stakeholders to discuss and plan for delivering a road map for building a connected, and supported Ripley region for children to grow and flourish.
Parents making decisions around what school to send their child too became easier with the details of the new prep to grade 12 school now available with the school set to open in 2020 at South Ripley.
Parents with pre-school aged children were thrilled to learn that the Community Kindergarten and Childcare Centre 'C&K' would be opening early 2019, with 87 places for children aged 0-5 years.
Sports enthusiast were lining up to be a part of the inaugural Ripley Valley Football Club, a grassroots community managed soccer club which started in March. The club's management committee was formed by local parents keen to be involved in their children's sporting community and the teams are set to play in 2019.
Ipswich City Council saw the value in delivering its Active Breaks session to the regions active kids, in the June-July school holidays. The free program designed to assist children to engage in healthy physical activities in their local parks kicked off at the Ripley Town Centre and is now a regular school holiday installation at the new $5 million regional Faye Carr Park at Ecco Ripley.
Faye Carr Park opened in August to the delight of children across the region and has since seen a steady flow of casual gatherings, children's birthday parties, playgroup meetings and local residents engaging in healthy outdoor fun and fitness.
The Ripley Town Centre hosted its first Creative Kids session in October, a complimentary kids arts and craft activities delivered by the talented team at Brazil Grumble, designed to support local children and their caregivers to socialise and connect over some messy fun.
The session was certainly popular with 65 children joining in on the fun.
Social seniors also commenced its monthly sessions in October at the Ripley Town Centre - the brainchild of Eco Shot Owner Lindy Ralph who wanted to give back to the seniors in the community and provide an opportunity for seniors to mingle over free coffee and cake and make new friends.
The long-awaited announcement from Translink introducing the first public transport bus system in Ripley came in November. The region rejoiced in hearing that the Bus Route 531 will connect with trains at Springfield Central station and buses at Yamanto Village, making travel to Brisbane and Ipswich easier.
With 14 services a day (in each direction) and operating Monday to Friday, between approximately 5.30am and 10pm, our commuting households now have even more options and flexibility in how they get to and from school, work and activities.
The year that was 2018 has seen an incredible enhancement of social and community infrastructure in Ripley, and I look forward to flow-on effects these investments will have on our community in 2019 and into the future.
See you all next year.