Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Daylesford is around 105 km north west of Melbourne. Like any small town, some children struggle with certain aspects of their learning, which can have a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Following an assessment of student literacy skills, the Daylesford Primary School identified a number of children whose reading was below the expected literacy standard. To support these students, they implemented a research-based one-on-one initiative to develop their students’ reading and comprehension capacity outside of the regular curriculum.

The MultiLit (Making Up Lost Time in Literacy) program also seeks to build self-esteem and confidence. The School first received an FRRR grant for this program in 2013 and saw significant improvements in the children. The program has attracted regular support ever since, including a Tailored Grant this year for $25,000 that enabled another 18 students to participate in the program.

Once again, it delivered great results. One child started the year having to have text read to him. By year’s end, he was reading independently. Trevor Edwards, Principal of Daylesford Primary at the time, explained that the learning confidence gained by these children had transferred into other areas of study.

“We are most proud of the fact that we not only provide a highly effective and individualised learning program but an environment where students’ wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence is enhanced and nurtured. “The most challenging component is determining who can participate in the program, as there are many students who need this individual assistance. We prioritise and support those children with additional reading needs, but the generous funding has everlasting impact.”

When the Centre for Participation (CP) purchased a food van, named the ‘Harmony Van,’ they knew straight away that with the right tools they could address a lack of job ready hospitality trainees in a new and innovative way.

A lack of job ready hospitality trainees was a big issue for the community. Whilst tourism and hospitality are identified as key drivers of economic development in the Council and Regional Strategic Plans, local businesses were impacted by a shortage of trained cooks, chefs, baristas and food service assistants. By providing training and experience in hospitality, food handling and barista skills to marginalised groups, CP would able to address a skills gap and ensure that trainees were likely to gain employment in the community.

The Harmony Food Van allows CP to deliver workshops and training that supports migrant and refugee families in the region. This enables them to contribute financially to their families, to assimilate into the community through work and volunteering, and to express their culture through food, art, and service. Even better, participants get to go on the road and cook food from their cultural roots- so everyone gets to try something new!

A $4944 grant from FRRR, funded by The Ross Trust and the Portland House Foundation meant that the van could be equipped with a coffee machine, milk jugs and other accessories to allow trainees to gain barista skills alongside their hospitality training.

With the funding, CP was able to hold weekly training from April 2019 as part of their Hospitality Workforce Pathway Program. They attended over 40 community events, with eight volunteers supporting paid staff at a total of 97 trainees; 85 migrant community members and 12 young people with a disability. Project Coordinator Robert Millar said; “Whilst there are multiple benefits to our rural community as part of this funding, the most successful to us was that 8 migrant ladies and 2 young people with a disability who have gained employment as a result of taking part in the program.” Not only is the project is still running, and the early success has enabled them to open their own social enterprise café, ‘The Laneway.’ Migrant women and young people with a disability are welcome to take part in working at the cafe, creating opportunities particularly for disadvantaged people to break into the workforce, grow their skills, make new social connections, and get involved in the community.

Yackandandah is a quaint village located in the valleys of the Stanley State Forest in North East Victoria. Known for its gold mining history, the town is well preserved and popular with tourists. However, the impending closure of the towns medical centre looked to be a big blow for full time residents, particularly those living in the Yackandandah Bush Nursing Home.

Without a local ambulance and limited public transport options, older and younger residents alike had their health put at risk by the potential closure of the local medical clinic. Yackandandah Health, who also run the nursing home, stepped in, assuming ownership of it and setting about ensuring that the residents could receive the care they needed.

The clinic was not in the best condition and was only able to operate 1.5 days a week, which is why a $37,367 from FRRR as part of the Caring for Ageing Rural Australians was so important. With a fresh coat of paint and new seats that were safe for the older residents to sit in while being attended to, and a new doctor, the clinic is now able to offer medical care in a comfortable setting five days per week.

Annette Nuck, who is the CEO of Yackandandah Health told the FRRR team; “Yackandandah was at risk of losing their medical centre. This project has enabled us to provide a modern general practice for the community. In the 12 months of operation, we have grown the business to now support two doctors providing care 5 days per week. The practice has also added midwife care services after the community requested this in a survey. We have a practice nurse, practice manager and receptionist – all local people gaining employment in their town.

“The community has supported and embraced the practice. We have over 700 patients registered, with ongoing community support with fundraising to further improve our services.”

Outcomes like this for rural areas are incredibly important. On average, Australians living in rural areas have much poorer health outcomes, live shorter lives and are unable to access the healthcare they need due to distance or availability. Clinics like the Yackandandah Health Medical Centre are vitally important to closing this gap and increasing wellbeing and health outcomes for our ageing rural Australians.