Regularly, we will feature a member of the HBNC team, giving you a chance to Meet the Neighbours. The goal is to highlight and celebrate the people at the heart of our organisation, who work tirelessly to make the Wide Bay Burnett community a stronger and more resilient one.

This week, we'd like you to meet Christian Berechree, Operations Manager.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve lived in Hervey Bay for about four years with my beautiful wife and two kids (plus our black and white cat, Sox!). Before moving here, we had a stint in Kingaroy and Roma but we both grew up in Sydney. I’m a big fan of music and performing and have been singing and playing instruments (mostly piano and trombone) for as long as I can remember. These days I mostly do that at Hervey Bay Baptist Church, where my family and I have been part of the church community since moving to the Bay. I love keeping fit and you can usually find me at Parkrun on Saturday mornings.

What is a quick summary of your professional background? 

Before starting at HBNC, I was a journalist and newspaper editor in various parts of regional Queensland (hence all the moves!) In Sydney, I worked in digital marketing, magazine publishing and conference production. I studied media and music at university and completed my Masters of Journalism in 2016. I made the switch to the not-for-profit sector in 2020, starting as the Operations Manager at HBNC. It’s been a wonderfully challenging time and I have grown significantly since working here, both professionally and personally.

What drew you to work with the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre?

I loved my career in media and marketing but I always knew I wanted to get into a line of work with more of a community focus. I’m a purpose-driven person and this extends to my professional life. A close friend of mine worked at HBNC for some time and could not recommend it more highly as a place to work. When the role of Operations Manager was created, I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring. It was a daunting but exciting opportunity to change careers, while continuing to use my skills in communication, team management and strategic planning.

How do you see your role making a difference in the lives of the community’s most vulnerable?

This is always an interesting question for administration and operations staff, because our roles are not on the “frontline”, so our impact is often more subtle. I have the privilege of running the marketing and social media efforts for the organisation, so a big part of my job involves letting the community know about the amazing work we as an organisation do. I also oversee the Kindness Garden and Bless Box, which provide simple moments of dignity for those sleeping rough in the community. Of course, the buildings we manage are such valuable community spaces, so keeping them up to the highest possible standard is one of the main ways I serve the community through my role.

What’s one thing you hope to see happen or change for our community?

I believe community connection needs to be a major focus. So often we hear things like “there’s nothing to do here” but I’ve come to believe the issue actually lies in our increasingly individualistic society. It’s easy to place the blame on activities, events, facilities etc but I think encouraging genuine connection and friendship will lead to real change. That’s why I’m so excited about The Neighbourhood Collective – our community hubs model, with four community hubs all working towards one mission. The Hervey Bay Community Centre, The Neighbourhood Hive, The Urangan Community Wellness Centre and Reconnect Youth Centre all provide safe spaces where the community can build connections. I hope more members of the community make use of these spaces in new and creative ways.