Final South Coast roadmapping workshops: Ripple effects of IRCF

Community stories: 20 June 2024

The IRCF program is designed with roadmapping, community facilitators and capacity building at its core. In the NSW South Coast, the program is culminating in 2024, so the team took the opportunity to codesign four final roadmapping workshops using techniques learned at the Art of Hosting workshop.

A strong learning from the IRCF program around how to connect with busy volunteers who juggle many balls and wear many hats, is the art of invitation. For these workshops our invitation was ‘Lets celebrate our collective effort & explore how to continue the momentum in our community’.

These workshops embraced the opportunity for the groups to review the roadmaps, explore what else may be done, and of course to network. We took a supportive approach to enable the groups to delve into collaborative projects that will benefit the entire community – which will be the focus of the remaining funds generously provided by the Snow Foundation and Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise foundation in the communities.

Attendance at the workshops was strong, with FRRRhosting 55 people. When everyone had gathered, we opened with a check in question at each location: “Can you tell us about a benefit you have personally felt or gained from the IRCF program?”

The sharing that came from this considered question was much richer than any survey could have gathered. Carolyn Ardler, South Coast Program Manager for IRCF, said, “Using Art of Hosting techniques to delve into deeper conversations has been such a strength of the program.”

The groups shared that they now felt more connected to and aware of the NFP community. They have formed stronger relationships within this community and they can now see who is doing what and who has similar needs and common struggles. Not only that but they had formed friendships. The sharing of the skills they had gained was outstanding, with some sharing their growth following opportunities such as the Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter, Regenerate residential program and the Changemakers program, all of which focussed on leadership skill building and connection.

Other learnings were the wide range of capacity building workshops and opportunities throughout the four years. The joy of getting to know people and learn so much from one another without following a cookie cutter approach was one of the biggest benefits of the place based program.

On more than one occasion, people shared that this was the “first time they had popped their head up to see what else was happening.” One Rotarian who has been involved since the beginning of the program said that, “It gave Rotary an opportunity to look at our organisation differently, as well as the opportunity to work with and support other organisations.” A lovely comment was made by a volunteer that it provided “camaraderie – that we all are striving to improve our society.”

The IRCF roadmaps all identified that the NFP sector has a desire to connect with cultural services and better understand the competency journey that comes when connecting more deeply to local first nations culture and people. A participant shared that she has now “a deeper appreciation of indigenous culture.”

The exploration of where we can build on this momentum was different in each community with some groups emerging focused on how community can collectively address important national issues such as homelessness, regional transport and deeper first nations connections, whilst other groups are building alliances across the sector to advocate for funding. The emergence of backbone organisations that support the sector is a strong theme, with one organisation already embedded deeply after four years and wanting to establish more processes and networks to support the volunteers in community.

The workshops were a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the ripple effects that the program has had and to enable us to capture the importance of networking. It provided a space for openness and generosity of the people in the room to shine – creating the opportunity to renew connection and trust in the communities.