ComLink CEO Feda Adra helps launch the project
ComLink CEO Feda Adra helps launch the project

Vitality to thrive in village

JOINING the Sunshine Coast's burgeoning health and wellbeing sector is ComLink's Vitality Village, with construction starting in late April on its Kawana location.

The five-level complex will house both the Queensland head office of ComLink as well as more than 400 people across a range of like-minded companies working collaboratively.

Innovator in residence Michael Doneman said these existing small- and medium-sized companies, or "villagers'', were not start-ups.

"They will be filtering ideas that actually come from their contact with their clientele," he said. "It's not just aged services, but health and wellbeing generally. We are interested in mental health, youth, homelessness and more because they all overlap because of the way people live their lives."

As these types of companies often don't have the money to conduct research, the Vitality Village hub will facilitate entrepreneurship, with the companies discovering ways of doing their existing business better or developing new revenue streams through new products and services.

Mr Doneman said the project would come together through four concepts: co-working, incubation, acceleration or taking the proven business case through to where the product or service was investment- or grant-ready, and commercialisation.

ComLink chief executive officer Feda Adra noted this approach and resultant diversification of these businesses would assist them to reduce their reliance on government funding, which was often used to help the businesses to continue operating.

 

ComLink's Vitality Village at Kawana.
ComLink's Vitality Village at Kawana.

 

Mr Doneman said engaging seniors with the village would be part of ComLink's bias.

"Part of our curatorial bias is to see ageing through an asset lens, not a deficit one," Mr Doneman said. "This applies to the village.

"Ageing is not a period of decline, decay and erosion. Ageing is a period of wisdom and integration. It's a period where new kinds of exchanges are possible with future generations.

"If we can see ageing people in that way, Vitality Village is not just about fixing broken people, it goes beyond healing and making people better.

"It's also about optimising the life that you are leading."

The village will not be a residential care facility. While it will be for the whole community, seniors will benefit greatly from the village approach to care.

Its community garden and adjacent cafe, which will be staffed by a three-hat, no-waste chef, will encourage community members to work and learn about nutrition.

"It will become a social space for garden clubs, churches and schools, and an intergenerational meeting point for elderly people and where heritage varieties will be planted and discussed, stories gathered. We are very big on stories and storytelling," Mr Doneman said.

Technology will also be used to enhance the experience of this space, Ms Adra said.

The idea of a webcam set up in the garden area could allow seniors who are unable to visit the garden to see what was happening there at any time.

"ComLink will be in there along with a disability provider and some really creative companies that are working on the latest project with virtual reality," Ms Adra said.

The village is due to open on May 21, 2021.