Community stories COVID Recovery: 23 February 2022
When COVID restrictions hit Woomelang, the tiny Victorian town with a population of 201 was already struggling after being hit by major drought.
More than half the residents live alone, with many people having chronic diseases and some having mobility and travel issues. The closure of the town’s primary school and football club has reduced the interaction and connectedness of families and left community members fragmented. People on farms affected by the drought were working hard and spending a lot of time alone. So there was a clear need to create opportunities for social interaction.
A grant from FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) program, funded by the Australian Government, allowed Woomelang & District Bush Nursing Centre to do just that.
The Centre used the $5,000 grant to create ‘Meet, Eat and Play’, in an effort to relieve the social, emotional and financial stress facing the community.
The grant enabled the group to fund venue hire, staff and catering to create several lunchtime and evening social gatherings, which included themes such as Feast and Film, Xmas in September, Biggest Morning Tea, volunteer lunches, COVID clinics, Crafty Ladies and a Women’s Health Morning Tea.
Centre Manager Carol Paech said idea behind the project was for people to ‘meet, greet, eat and have fun’. It meant single people did not need to eat alone. COVID restrictions meant they couldn’t hold all the planned monthly gatherings but over the course of 2020-21 they were able to host a variety of catchups.
“The project was so challenging because of lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions. We ended up doing a lot of home deliveries, and part of the deal was that the residents were encouraged to wear a festive outfit or have Christmas decorations to get into the spirit of things, just to make it a bit of fun,” she said.