Community wellbeing retreats aid recovery

Community stories: 1 July 2019

Jindivick is a rural dairying community in the south-east of Victoria renowned for producing Jindi cheese and local gourmet produce. It is a small community striving to become put itself on the map as a popular tourist destination to strengthen its struggling local economy.

In 2009, Jindivick was affected by the Black Saturday bushfires – destroying homes, farms and local infrastructure. Residents and the surrounding communities worked hard to reconnect and recover from the devastating aftermath.

As the recovery effort evolved, it became apparent that it was going to take more than just repairing and rebuilding local infrastructure to restore the community. The bushfires had taken an enormous emotional toll on residents, and it was time for the community’s mental wellbeing became the recovery priority.

The Jindivick Progress Association developed an initiative to address the long-term effects of stress and grief that had plagued the local community, hosting five Community Wellbeing Retreats using a Grants for Resilience & Wellness grant of $14,750 funded by VBAF. Creating the promotional material, flyers and invites, the Jindivick Progress Association attracted 88 participants from the three local communities, Jindivick, Labertouche and Drouin West.

The retreats were able to provide the tools for relaxation and stress reduction techniques, education about nutrition, health and psychological wellbeing for the local community and were inclusive to men, women, young, older or disabled participants. The fifth retreat enabled Jindivick Progress Association to run a leaders retreat to reward community volunteers for their tireless work in the community.

The Jindivick Progress Association was able to engage the local community in the development of the retreats, supporting local business in the provision of catering and venues. Feedback from the events suggested that participants realised the importance of relaxation and caring for oneself, along with community engagement and connection. An overwhelming majority of retreat participants were supportive of the events continuing in future with one participant saying “I have had the value of community reinforced and enhanced. The value of support in times of struggle is inestimable.”