Our History

The Early Morning Centre (EMC) is a project of the Canberra City Uniting Church congregation. For over 10 years, we have provided essential services to people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and people experiencing social isolation.

Identifying needs

A Service and Outreach Reference Group was formed in October 2003 to explore directions for outreach and to identify specific needs. A scoping study of key services and businesses identified homelessness as the primary need to be addressed.

Getting up and running

Discussions with the Chief Minister’s Department led to the successful award in December 2004 of a Community Inclusion Fund grant for three years to set up an early morning breakfast facility.

Trial run

After a trial run during the post-Christmas week of 2004, the Early Morning Centre opened in February 2005 under the management of the EMC Management Committee.

The EMC opens

The Early Morning Centre was officially opened by the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Mr John Hargreaves MLA on 7 July 2005.

More funds, more staff, more services

In December 2007, the EMC received a further 3-year operational grant that enabled us to employ an additional staff member and extend our areas of activity.

UnitingCare established

In February 2008, UnitingCare Canberra City was created to facilitate gaining Tax Gift Deductibility Status and to strengthen the brand identity with the Uniting Church. The EMC operates under this entity.

Massive upgrade

Following a consultant’s report commissioned by the ACT Government in November 2007, the ACT Government announced in 2009 a capital grant of $789,000 to enable the refurbishment and upgrade of the EMC facilities.

With this grant, it was possible to upgrade the kitchen, café area and office space and to provide new shower, toilets, laundry facilities and lockers. The refurbished EMC was opened by the Minister for Community Services, Joy Burch on 6 July 2011.

Friends of the EMC

On 19 February 2014, we launched our Friends of the Early Morning Centre program, where members of the community can sign up to receive our quarterly newsletters as well as invitations to special events.

You can click here to subscribe to our Friends mailing list.

Health care centre opens

Funding from the ACT Government announced in January 2014 allowed us to establish a Primary Health Care Centre at the EMC. The Centre got off to a great start in April 2014 and was officially opened on 22 July 2014, by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. 

You can click here to view the WIN News Canberra story about the opening of the health care centre.

Mosaic unveiling

The EMC’s late Director, Ms Chris Stokman, saw the concrete pillar dividing the centre as an opportunity for something beautiful; a community mosaic.

With the support of Canberra mosaic artist Kim Grant, guests, staff, volunteers, local politicians and service providers all contributed to the mosaic’s creation. In March 2017, we welcomed the ACT Deputy Chief Minister, Yvette Berry, and other guests as our EMC mosaic was officially unveiled.

New computer centre

Thanks to a grant from Hands Across Canberra, in October 2017 we were able to purchase 3 new computers and 6 new tablets for our guests.

Extended hours and services

As a result of the additional funding from the ACT Government, on 30 October 2017 the EMC extended its opening hours until 2.00pm (previously 11.30am). The Deputy Chief Minister, Yvette Berry launched the extended hours arrangements on 20 November unveiling a new A-frame sign for the EMC. The additional funding also enabled us to employ extra staff to support the extended hours.

Weekend opening

The ACT Budget released in February 2021 allocated additional funding to the EMC to trial opening seven days a week. The 12-month trial will allow the EMC to open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 1pm as of Saturday, 17 July 2021. 

The Saturday and Sunday opening will include access to all the Community Hub services and facilities such as computers, phone and showers. We will also be providing morning tea for guests.

Read more about the trial in our media release.

Read more about the Early Morning Centre…

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