The Mirror News

Gardiner Foundation funding windfall

TWELVE community groups from the district are thrilled to be getting a generous injection of funding from the Gardiner Foundation.

The organisations, ranging from Fish Creek Bowls Club to Meeniyan Pre-School, have won funding totalling $57,000 from the Gardiner Foundation in the third and final round of community project funding offered through the Lower Tarwin Valley (LTV) Project.

The grants are in the range of $1,000 to $8,000 and were presented to community groups participating in the LTV at a community celebration at the Tarwin Lower Mechanics Institute Hall last Thursday night.

The recipients and their projects are as follows:

Fish Creek Football & Netball Club – seed funding to begin implementing the in-progress Terrill Park Master Plan;

Fish Creek Bowls Club and Meeniyan Golf Club – both received grants to help them build safe and accessible toilet facilities for players and visitors;

Meeniyan Dumbalk United Football & Netball Club – purchasing and installing a digital projector and screen to enhance the facilities available to clubs and other users in the community;

Meeniyan Recreation Reserve – seed funding for leveraging with other funders to implement the recently completed Meeniyan Recreation Precinct Master Plan, commencing with a pathway linking the rec reserve to the rail trail and town;

Meeniyan Pre-School – a shade sail to enable the district’s young children to play outdoors on hot sunny days;

Tarwin Valley Sustainability Centre (auspiced by Meeniyan Art Gallery) – in principle funding for leveraging with the Victorian Government, to undertake an independent economic feasibility study for the proposed centre.

Dumbalk & District Progress Association – in principle funding to establish a ‘Community Heritage Hub’ showcasing the rich dairy farming history of the area, together with computer and internet raining facilities for residents, upon confirmation of a suitable site;

Venus Bay Community Centre – partnering with local volunteer groups to trial the provision of a free shuttle bus service carrying passengers to Venus Bay’s beaches during peak holiday season, to reduce traffic congestion and reduce environmental and emergency risks;

Tarwin Lower Primary School – resurfacing the car park and landscaping the gardens with the addition of new fruit trees for the children and community;

Tarwin Lower Mechanics Institute Hall – installation of solar hot water system for the hall;

Tarwin Lower Community Health Centre – an oral history project to capture and perform the stories and characters that have shaped the district over many years;

Combined with awards in the first two rounds of funding, the grant total to the Lower Tarwin Valley communities now amounts to $117,300. As the community groups gained momentum and identified more local priorities, application proposals increased, with total funding sought more than doubling the funds available through grants.

This is the culmination of two years of LTV project activities – including the development of six community plans, regular network meetings, three grants programs, and free training in key areas like grant writing, project development and management, food handling and first aid.

Gardiner Foundation Program Manager Kate Randall reflected: “It is fantastic to see some beneficial partnerships developing between community groups and across town boundaries. This project is showing that when small communities work together, they can have impact much greater than the sum of their parts.”

Project Facilitator Marzia Maurilli and Venus Bay resident Alyson Skinner summarised the achievements of the communities during the project’s first two years. Alyson said: “The Lower Tarwin Valley project is all about local people working on local issues. The project has started us thinking not just as residents of small Victorian towns, but as part of the wider Lower Tarwin Valley community. We hope that in the future the links remain strong so we can continue and build on the great things we have achieved so far.”

It was also announced that a further $35,000 in Gardiner Foundation funding will be committed to one or two larger-scale projects in 2013, to be developed in partnership by the majority of the eight communities in the LTV group. Through the project’s District Advisory Network, the communities will decide upon and scope up to two projects that have far-reaching benefits for the district, with potential for matching funds from the state government. “This is a rare opportunity for us to think big, and make something really amazing happen for our communities,” said Alyson.

In conclusion, South Gippsland Shire Council’s Community Strengthening Manager, Ned Dennis, paid tribute to the volunteers in the communities for their dedication and hard work, and said that people are getting used to working with each other.

“The aim for next year is to consolidate the gains made during the first two years of the Lower Tarwin Valley project, and to firm up the networks between the communities into the future, particularly engaging the business community and young people,” Ned said. He acknowledged the partners – Gardiner Foundation, GippsDairy and the community organisations – and particularly thanked the South Gippsland Shire councillors and senior management who he said had been exceptionally supportive throughout the years and had enabled staff to “get out into the community and make a difference”.

The Lower Tarwin Valley project – supported by the Gardiner Foundation’s Strengthening Small Dairy Communities program, the South Gippsland Shire Council and GippsDairy – is helping residents plan the future of their towns and bring their vision to life. The communities of Buffalo, Dumbalk, Fish Creek, Koonwarra, Meeniyan, Stony Creek, Tarwin Lower, Venus Bay, and the area in between, are participating in the project.

With around 200 small communities supporting the dairy industry in Victoria, building the sustainability of these communities is a key priority for the Gardiner Foundation. A second Strengthening Small Dairy Communities project is now getting underway in North-Eastern Victoria’s Mitta Valley.

For more information on the Lower Tarwin Valley Project or to find out how to get involved, contact Community Facilitator Marzia Maurilli on 5662 9805 or email [email protected].



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