Coffee with….Sue Dunn, Manager, Clota Cottage Neighbourhood House






Describe your work at Clota Cottage Neighbourhood House?

I manage a small community house in Box Hill (one of ten in Whitehorse). We offer child care, and training courses for people wishing to improve their skills or employment chances.

Our biggest program is our Social Activity group. As part of this program we have Tai Chi and Gentle exercise classes, morning and afternoon teas, social cards and games as well as trips to the movies, lunches and occasional bus trips. We also offer simple community lunches (soup, sandwiches etc.) with guest speakers, and low cost workshops and activities for people in the local community. We are currently running an Introduction to Office Skills and several computer classes. Our latest activity that is just about to start up is IT for Aid. People can book in for a low cost session with to sort out problems with their laptop, phone or tablet.

My role is to work with staff to develop and run our programs and ensure we meet our quality requirements across a variety of funding and regulatory bodies.

What sort of work were you doing prior to starting at Clota Cottage Neighbourhood House?
I have worked in Community Education and Community Development for over 10 years. I have a background in education, Business and Compliance. Before working at Clota I was a compliance officer for a community organisation, and before that I was manager of an Adult Learning Centre.

What excites and motivates you in your role?
I love it when the house is buzzing with people and activities. As a small organisation opeating on small premises it is very easy for people in different programs to mix together if they want to, and I believe that is important and beneficial both to the “Cottage” and our participants.

What motivates me is finding ways for Clota Cottage as an organisation to meet the needs of a variety of people and to see people grow and build a sense of community in our programs and then to move out with confidence and skills to offer in the wider community.

What is most challenging about your work?
Being across everything I need to know for the different programs we run, as well as keeping up with the day to day running of the business and raising our profile in the Community so more people can benefit from our services and skills.

What strengths do you see in the Clota Cottage Neighbourhood House Community?
The biggest strengths of Clota Cottage are its people: our staff, volunteers and committee are hardworking, dedicated and very good at what they do. We are all interested in meeting the needs of our participants.

Where do you recommend in Box Hill for Coffee/ Lunch/ People Watching?
I usually stop at Rubix Café to collect my coffee on the way to work. Sometimes I even get to drink it all before it goes cold.

If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?
I would like to see more kindness at an everyday level. The smile you give someone or nod of greeting costs little but might make an immense difference to that person. Refraining from yelling or abusing the person in the car that just cut you off might be hard, but it could prevent an ugly situation.

If you weren’t working at Clota Cottage Neighbourhood House right now, what would you be doing?
Although I often joke that my dream job would be the person who runs the craft course at Bunnings, I think I would be working at another Community House doing very similar things. Or retired and volunteering to run the knitting or embroidery group.

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

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