Community stories: 28 September 2022
The small regional town of Katanning, in the ‘heart’ of the Great Southern agricultural region, 287 kilometres south-east of Perth in WA, has a shire population of just 4,200 people. While the area is essentially known for agriculture, the town is a regional centre that offers a range of government, health and education services. The Katanning community also prides itself on its multicultural diversity.
This small community was impacted by a bushfire in February 2020, with rebuilding efforts hampered by lockdowns soon after. The community identified that it needed to find ways to engage their younger residents and keep them connected and supported.
The Katanning and Districts Pool Association Incorporated partnered with the Katanning Hub Community Resource Centre (CRC) and the Shire of Katanning to run a Youth program, inviting young people on a Friday night to come to their pool hall to socialise, learn new skills and share a meal. The program has been an overwhelming success with 35-40 young people attending each week.
The hall opened in the late 80s and did not include any kitchen facilities. Requests to use the hall from other community groups had been slowly increasing, as it is one of only a few indoor spaces available in Katanning. Providing catering facilities would make the venue a more suitable location to support these additional groups and their events. With the changing nature of the activities held at the hall, it was time for a refresh. To create a more usable space for community groups to meet, it was decided to add a kitchen area to better support the Youth program in preparing and serving these meals.
Other groups that use the hall were also supportive, including the local men’s group who expressed support for a kitchenette to make a cuppa and make their own events more welcoming for its members.
Thanks to a $10,000 Strengthening Rural Communities grant, funded by IKEA Australia, the Katanning and Districts Pool Association was able to revamp the ageing pool hall and add a meal preparation and serving area.
Local volunteers provided amazing support for the project, contributing more than 80 hours of labour to the renovations and 20 hours to fundraising each month, ensuring the project’s success.
Since finalising the renovation works, the association’s membership has increased, volunteers have been inspired to become more active and the use of the hall by other community groups has expanded. With the improved facilities making the hall more welcoming, friendly and a safe space for people of all ages, the Katanning community is feeling more connected with access to a space tailored to enjoy each other’s company.
The Katanning Police now drop by during the Youth program and challenge the young people to a game, further strengthening these important relationships. Badgebup Aboriginal cooperation is interested in partnering to deliver the Youth program into the future and the Katanning community are proud of what has been achieved, voicing it regularly in person and via social media.