Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

More than $1.5M earmarked to support ongoing recovery across the Kinglake Ranges following the 2009 bushfires has begun to roll-out through the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W) – Kinglake Ranges program. Two projects have received funding, both of which will be important pathways to further local investment.

Following a consultation process as part of the Kinglake Ranges Community Planning Project, a suite of 27 priority projects and initiatives were identified that the community would like to pursue. This planning was developed by Regional Development Victoria (RDV) in consultation with the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF) Panel, Murrindindi Shire Council and community representatives from Kinglake, Kinglake Central, Kinglake West, Pheasant Creek, Toolangi and Flowerdale.

To help fast-track the development of the priority projects, Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House (KRNH) will host a part-time Community Development Officer for a year. This person, who has recently started in the role, will support local groups across the Kinglake Ranges to refine the project ideas identified through the community consultations. A Steering Group will provide strategic support, and FRRR will also provide a high level of support and advice to the Officer regarding the grant application process and eligibility.

“The 27 priority projects are now at the point where they need more detail, their feasibility needs to be tested and resourcing requirements determined. So FRRR will work closely with the Community Development Officer to support local groups involved in the consultation process to develop and progress these projects to application and delivery stage,” says Program Manager Recovery & Resilience, Emma Thomas.

“Eligible organisations will be invited to apply to the Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W) – Kinglake Ranges Program in March 2020.”

An additional project funded by FRRR in support of the community planning will see Kinglake Ranges Business Network Inc (KRBN) engage a contractor to lead the development of the Kinglake Ranges Economic Development Program. Stage 1 of the development program will involve surveying the local business community to identify their training needs, and the results from the survey will be presented and discussed at an Economic Strategic Session with the local businesses. This will then inform a calendar of industry-focused development activities for 2020.

Ms Thomas says that the 2009 disaster negatively impacted the local economy and the mental health of business owners, so additional support is important.

“The fire affected local tourism, the local environment and changed consumer patterns. Local businesses have struggled to create a new normal and overcome loss of income and level of change, while dealing with their own personal recovery. Local business owners, therefore, need support, and FRRR looks forward to supporting this development as it progresses.”

Further details about the projects funded are below.

Organisation

Project

Location

Awarded

Kinglake Ranges Business Network Inc.

Kinglake Ranges Economic Development Program – Stage 1

Strengthen the local economy in the Kinglake Ranges through scoping the training needs of local business and creating a calendar of industry focused development activities for 2020.

Kinglake Ranges

$17,637

Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House Inc.

Kinglake Ranges Development Fund – Community Grant Development Officer

Increase support for community organisations in the Kinglake Ranges to develop project ideas to grant application stage in order to access the Kinglake Ranges Development Fund.

Kinglake Ranges

$74,031

 

After the devastation of Bushfires, it is often the volunteers who help bring rural communities back to life. The Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House (KRNH) Inc coordinates more than 50 volunteers to run the Op Shop and regularly participate in activities at the Centre.

To better support the volunteers and encourage others to get involved they established the Volunteer Murrindindi Resource Centre, an online portal providing an easy to use platform for connecting volunteers and organisations to request and find volunteers, with huge success.

They sought funding to update the online portal and engage a person to embed the policies / procedures, establish an evaluation framework, train existing staff and further connect KRNH with outside volunteer engaging organisations.

Community meetings held at the Neighbourhood Centre have identified that many community groups are struggling to provide support in terms of training and governance, leading to problems recruiting fresh volunteers and retaining existing volunteers.  The VMRC have developed Volunteering Policies and Procedures with the aim of supporting both the neighbourhood house and to share with local community groups. These need to be embedded into KRNH to ensure sustainability of the VMRC as an integral part of the KRNH.

With a Community Group Futures grant of $19,532 funded by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund the KNRH were able to improve the online portal Volunteer Murrindindi within the broad scope of the Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House structure. We have developed the majority of the Policies and Procedures around the Volunteer Resource Centre and established annline presence through our Volunteer matching portal – www.volunteermurrindindi.com.au

In the many years it takes to rebuild a region following a disaster like the 2009 Victorian bushfires, success in driving tourism back to the area can be make or break. It takes a concerted effort from a cohesive community to start seeing positive growth again.

In the Kinglake Ranges, the Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, held for the second time in 2015, achieved both of these important factors of recovery – driving community engagement while supporting wider economic development in a unique and exciting way.

The three day festival held last October (16th – 18th) attracted 1,500 attendees, 70% of which were visitors to the region. It included a Bush dance, music workshops, Bluegrass concerts, local produce, local talent, street performers, community concerts and a beard competition to support the Charity White Ribbon to raise awareness and funds to help stop violence again women. It brought local musicians back out in the open and connected a huge range of groups in the area, from the Kinglake CFA and Police to the Mountain Pickers Association of Victoria and the Australian Bluegrass and Old Timey Music Association. Many local food and accommodation businesses were booked out or sold out of products.

President of Foggy Mountain Inc, Brad Quilliam, said, “Overall we were extremely buoyed by the positive feedback from all involved and the festival achieving so many of its goals. The micro businesses in our area had rave reviews from all visitors which enhanced their confidence.”

Funding support came from a variety of sources – from the Rotary Club of Kinglake Ranges, CERT, CFA, SES, Kinglake Neighbourhood House, Kinglake Foundation, and Kinglake Lions, with in-kind support from local organisations and businesses, and an estimated $6000 of volunteer labour – vital to the festival’s smooth operation.

Children given a voice through song

Foggy Mountain Inc applied to FRRR’s Grants for Resilience and Wellness program (GR&W) in order to run a special part of the music festival program – the song-writing program for local primary schools, which would culminate in 100 students performing their songs at the Sunday Community Concert at the Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival (with free entry all day to ensure the whole community could participate.)

GR&W granted $4,850, funded by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund, to support workshops for six primary schools in the region (Kinglake East, Kinglake West, Middle Kinglake, Strathewan, Toolangi and Flowerdale Primary School) as well as a sound engineer to record the children’s songs and stage for their performance, as well as chairs and an MC for the Community Concert. The workshops gave their students the opportunity to learn song writing skills and were facilitated by the acclaimed Carter and Carter.

“The workshops give the children a voice through song and in 2014 the children wrote about what they had lost and now what they have gained” Mr Quilliam reported.

Mr Quilliam said the students were the highlight of the day!

“It was a perfect platform to encourage participation, give self-confidence and show the work that the students had done in the song writing workshops leading up to the festival. The children were so excited to be performing to a capacity crowd in the main marquee.”

The community day also included workshops to learn new musical skills, benefitting up and coming musicians of all ages, and a Gospel Concert. Organisers are already talking about running a program for youth in production and video to expand on the value the festival can give to the area’s young people.

“This part of the program gives the locals a sense of pride and optimism,” Mr Quilliam said.