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This month, Complete Parts and @ The Coalface $500 Community Gift goes to Southlakes Inc. Over the last 10 years, this amazing local organisation has helped more than 1.5 million people.

Christine Mastello is the founder of Southlakes Inc. Through her work as a social worker, Christine knew many families were struggling to make ends meet and saw there was a desperate need in her local community for a food bank.

“The nearest two food banks were around half an hour away and neither were accessible by public transport,” said Christine.

“So, I started up Southlakes food bank in 2012 out of a building in Morisset. It was tiny and not very nice, but we made do because the community needed us. A couple of years later we were able to move to a space at Cooranbong Community Centre which is still our main location today.”

What started out as a small food bank has evolved into so much more. Southlakes now has a second food bank at Lake Munmorah, and they also provide food hamper home deliveries every week all over the region.

Christine said one of the reasons behind their growth was having to step up during Covid.

“All the food banks in the area closed but we stayed open. It was a tough time and many of our older volunteers could no longer come in. Luckily, other people in the community who were unable to work because of lockdowns volunteered. During the pandemic we delivered 26,000 free food hampers.”

The foodbanks and emergency food relief make up only a small part of the work Southlakes do. They have a school welfare program that currently assists ten local schools every week, a homeless outreach program, and a program that provides free items to children aged between 0 and 16. They also ensure that kids don’t miss out at Christmas.

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“Every Christmas we hold a toy drive and last year we provided toys for 2000 children. We also hold an annual Christmas party which is free to attend. It’s a huge event with everything from food to jumping castles, and of course, a visit from Santa.”

Another huge project that Southlakes has undertaken is their Community Hair Project which was established in 2017. Their customised van “Dottie’ travels to over 150 locations around Australia, including remote outback locations, bringing professional hairdressing services to those who need it most. Over 300 hairdressers volunteer their time, providing free haircuts and styling services.

The Community Hair Project also operates an Indigenous Hair Workshop, a program that teaches hairdressing skills to Indigenous people and supports them to open their own salons.

Southlakes Inc. has certainly come a long way thanks to Christine’s mission to make sure no-one in her community would go hungry. Her efforts were recognised at the 2023 Australia Day awards when she was a finalist for the NSW Local Hero category. Now an Australia Day Ambassador, Christine uses it as a platform to further the work of Southlakes.

“We are always looking for more volunteers and for more donations. Many of the organisations that people normally turn to are folding and so the demand is just increasing.

“People can help by donating money or items for care packages. They can come and shop at our food banks instead of going to the supermarket or they can volunteer. Everything helps.”

To find out more about Southlakes Inc. head to their Facebook page. If you would like to make a donation go to

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