The Mirror News

Gardiner Foundation grants help small communities achieve big things

FROM food in Venus Bay to films in Fish Creek, five grassroots community projects have won funding from the Gardiner Foundation. The grants, ranging between $3,500 and $10,000, were presented to community groups participating in the Lower Tarwin Valley Project at a special function at the Meeniyan Gallery and Pause Café in Meeniyan last Tuesday evening.

Meeniyan-Dumbalk United Cricket Club received a grant of $10,000 to build accessible toilets and change room facilities at the Meeniyan Recreation Reserve club rooms for the benefit of all users.

Venus Bay Community Centre won funding of $10,000 to further develop key activities in its successful ‘Food Culture’ program, which builds social connections in the community through practical workshops on growing, cooking, preserving and sharing food. This grant will help elements of this program to become sustainable and ongoing.

The Prom Coast Film Society’s grant of $6,000, auspiced by the Foster Amateur Music and Drama Association (FAMDA), is for the purchase and installation of quality projection and audio equipment at the Fish Creek Hall. This equipment will support the film society’s monthly screenings (first Friday of each month at 8pm) and will also provide a significant community asset that may be accessed by a range of local groups.

Meeniyan Mechanics Institute Hall Committee received a grant of $5,800 to paint and refresh the kitchens and supper room after the extensive renovation works currently underway at the hall.

The Grants Only Group (GOG) from Tarwin Lower received $3,500 to purchase a laptop and other portable IT equipment for their project ‘GOG gets mobile.’ This will assist them provide a grant finding and grant application writing service to other community groups in the district.

Gardiner Foundation Chief Executive Paul Ford presented the grants and invited each recipient to talk about their organisation and the impact their project would have on the wider community.

He said: “Strong and vibrant communities are essential to attract and retain people in Victoria’s dairy industry. This project is not just about winning grants, it’s about building volunteers’ capability to identify priority issues, form multi-skilled teams, and manage projects that develop sustainable dairy communities.”

South Gippsland Shire Council’s community strengthening manager, Ned Dennis, said that a very pleasing aspect of this round of grants was their diversity.

“Five separate towns are directly represented by recipients, with the individual groups generally providing services of value to a wide geographic area in the Lower Tarwin Valley. We also see a very diverse range of interests covered, with grants going to recreation, cultural activity, food security, assistance for key community meeting venues and for broad spectrum community support. We need this wide range of community interests to be supported and to flourish if we are going to maintain a vibrant and resilient district. Council is looking forward to working with the successful groups as they implement their new projects.”

A third round of Gardiner Foundation grants for the Lower Tarwin Valley Project communities will be announced in the coming weeks.

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.

Through the three-year project, community members have undertaken a number of free skills workshops on topics including project planning and management, grant writing, First Aid, food handling, and more. They have developed visions and plans for their communities, with many now pursuing a range of projects identified in those plans. A youth network is being established to identify and action priority projects that will support and engage young people in the district.

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 marziam@southgippsland.vic.gov.au

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