Annual Program – Community Projects

In 2021, a new Community Projects component was introduced to our Annual Program, providing an opportunity for participants to undertake a community focused project and engage in a learning format that is both active and experiential. Participants were able to develop new skills, grow their capabilities, broaden their networks and create an impact within their community.

Supported by mentors heralding from our Annual Program Alumni, each Community Project focuses on achieving measurable outcomes that provide benefits to the region, in alignment with the Ovens Murray Regional Partnership Strategic Plan.

Project teams undertake project management training, and then work together to thoughtfully develop project concepts, scopes, timelines, budgets and risk assessments. Upon acceptance of their Community Project by AVCL, each team undertakes the work on their project over the course of the Annual Program, providing regular reporting throughout the process, and concluding with a closure report and presentation at Graduation.

Below are the outcomes from our Community Projects, supported through seed funding generously contributed by the Kyamba Foundation and Hugh Williamson Foundation.

2023 Community Projects

The Parsley Collective | Growing Your Food Security in Northeast Victoria

Overview: The team undertook a story telling project to inspire viewers to begin their own home food growing and sustainability journey through simple, achievable gardening projects. By connecting with their own communities and families, the project team told stories of lived challenges and success in growing their own food.

Outcomes: The project team developed an engaging and locally created video, providing people with relatable, achievable, and inspirational stories that centre on growing your own food at home. The story was distributed as a video through regional food networks across Northeast Victoria. Viewers were informed of the health, environmental, and financial benefits of gardening.

An online launch event allowed attendees to hear the stories of making the video, and to hear more through a Q&A session after the inaugural viewing. The intent was to inspire viewers to grow a garden, to get involved with a food share, to think about where their food came from. The project team intends for the video to have flow on effects for those who watch and share it; food growing is a tangible and brilliant action that we can all take towards being healthier and the planet being healthier!

The project team have grown and learned a great deal through this project – and through AVCLP. In part these are skills in group work and leadership, and in part, this is the inspiration that comes from delving into food growing and all the good reasons to do it.

Opportunists | If I Can See It, I Can Be It

Overview: The objective was to provide upper primary school aged children in rural locations with an opportunity to visit a diverse local enterprise and gain insight into the variety of careers required to make a large organisation successful. The long-term outcome was to provide students with educational aspirations by focusing on what employment and higher education pathways staff have undertaken to reach their career goals.

Outcomes: The Opportunists led a pioneering ‘Project Day’ that provided upper primary school aged children from Myrrhee Primary School, Everton Primary School and Carraragarmungee Primary School with a unique opportunity to explore the operations of a prominent rural enterprise, Brown Brothers Family Wines. This immersive experience enabled students to delve into a diverse range of careers through hands-on workshops, facility tours and engaging guest speaker presentations. The resounding success of the day lay in expanding young minds awareness of the myriad of career options within one organization and showcasing the diverse education pathways available to achieve these aspirations.

During the event, students actively participated in a variety of age-appropriate job simulations, including sensory perception (smell test), laboratory testing, barrel maintenance and tours of the kitchen garden and packaging plant. Notably, the Project Day fostered collaboration and interaction among students from the different primary schools, evident during the heartwarming sit down lunch, where lively conversations flowed as everyone enjoyed a well-prepared nourishing meal.

Overall, each member of our team took something away from the project and we are delighted to be able to plan and deliver such a successful project, which we hope will generate many future conversations for the children who attended. Special thanks to Brown Brothers Family Winemakers for their contribution in supporting the delivery of this project.

Pirates | Boronia Place Community Space

Overview: The objective was to co-design and deliver an engaging outdoor community space that facilitates mental and physical health benefits to the tenants of Boronia Place, a social housing space located in Wodonga for tenants over 55 years of age.

Outcomes: The project team facilitated a detailed engagement plan involving a range of stakeholders, including landlords of Boronia Place (the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing) and the tenants themselves. Through an inclusive and participatory process, the project team were able to undertake a co-design process such that DFFH were able to provide input and approval to the plan, whilst tenants had a great deal of contribution and buy-in to the end deliverables achieved.

The collective stakeholder group settled upon an outdoor community space, which was achieved through a working bee made up of the project team, tenants, and other stakeholders. The result is an outdoor space that provides seating, garden beds and chickens. It is a welcoming and vibrant alternative community space and fosters physical and mental wellbeing through an enjoyable greenspace environment. With this space activated, the residents have a place to come, talk and engage with each other, which in time strengthens or generates friendships, recovery, and resilience.

The active engagement with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing as owners of the land was critical to the success of the project. This model has been flagged to be replicated in other DFFH spaces, a testament to the successful outcomes of the conversation, the engagement with residents and the garden space that was created. Feedback from DFFH stakeholder, Kylie Wheeler, has validated the need and positive impact of the project: “The community garden and especially the chooks have been a tremendous success. The residents have provided feedback as to what a change to their days it has been, giving them something to focus on and look after, even a reason to get out of bed and get going of a morning.”

Thank you to Peard’s Nursery in Albury for their contribution to the project.

4 Peaks | Youth Mural

Overview: This project provided the opportunity for connection amongst young people from around the region through a collaborative and creative project. With the guidance of local mural artist Lisa Bishop, three mural panels were designed and painted, and are now installed on the walls of NESAY building in Rowan Street, Wangaratta.

Outcomes: The project team partnered with NESAY (North-East Support and Action for Youth) to develop and deliver a project that provided opportunities for positive social involvement for young people in the region. The intent of the project was to help young people: develop a sense of connectedness through the painting workshop, develop pride in their culture, ethnicity, and gender through the inclusive design of the mural, and give them a voice that would be enshrined in the permanent display of the mural.

Over two days in September, thirteen young people from Alpine Shire, Indigo Shire and Rural City of Wangaratta came together in Chiltern, in the atmospheric outdoor studio space of artist Lisa Bishop. With a base design in place, young people were invited to take up a favourite colour and begin enlivening the three panels. Conversations and connections emerged; new friendships formed through the shared experience. With shared meal breaks, incidental conversation and stories flowed.

The second day allowed for detailed design elements to be added by young people, who were coached and guided in the process. The final mural is installed on the walls of NESAY building in Rowan Street, Wangaratta. Thank you to Alpine Shire, Indigo Shire and Rural City of Wangaratta for the support provided in engaging with the participating young people, and to NESAY for their role in the project, including a significant financial contribution that made the project possible.

Green Fingers | Sensory Garden

Overview: This project is a collaborative effort with Aspect Riverina School in Albury, supporting students living with Autism. The project involves planning and build a sensory garden to support students living with Autism.

Outcomes: Engaging with students, families and staff of Aspect Riverina School, the project team co-designed and installed an outdoor space with garden beds, colour, movement, and scent, providing a sensory experience for all students within the grounds of the school.

The intent behind the idea of the garden was to provide an outdoor space with multifaceted uses and impacts, including providing students with an outdoor space where they can come together to increase their health and wellbeing.

Green Fingers consulted with an Occupational Therapist who specialised in sensory processing for advice regarding creation of the sensory spaces. Central to the sensory garden was the construction of three Food Cubes, which are prefabricated wicking beds. Each cube was filled with plants and objects relating to the senses of sight, smell, and touch.

Aspect Riverina School agreed that once installed, the garden would be maintained and further developed by students and members of the wider school community, allowing ongoing strong connections and a place to work together to achieve wellbeing and resilience across all ages.

Several local businesses were engaged with to secure in-kind donations to support development of the garden. Thank you for the wonderful contribution made by the following organisations and local businesses who so generously donated either time, material or goods that made the sensory garden possible:

  • Members of the Myrtleford Men’s Shed who assembled the cubes on our behalf.
  • Brown Brothers Winery for supplying a retired wine barrel which was then upcycled to plant citrus trees.
  • Hennessy Home and Garden of Rutherglen who supplied most of the plants/seedlings required at a hugely reduced cost.
  • Bunnings of Albury who donated garden gloves for each student, tools, potting mix and seedlings.

2022 Community Projects

Connect 5 | Food System mapping for the North East

Overview: Connect 5 undertook a story telling project to highlight some of the outstanding community food projects within the North East & Border region, to be utilised as exemplars of success on the Australian Food System Directory “Sustain” website.

Outcomes: With a collective passion for connecting and supporting people through food, Connect 5 used their skills and contacts to develop a discrete project that has added value to a much larger North East & Border region food system mapping project.

The group coordinated three, high quality case studies featuring local community food projects in Mt Beauty, King Valley and Albury Wodonga. The case studies will be featured on the “Sustain” website, providing individuals and other community food project groups with insight, guidance, inspiration and connection opportunities around different food projects. These films also provide an opportunity for the community organisations featured to create and utilise for their own context, including for marketing and funding purposes.

Connect 5 also contributed to the design and development of a data collection tool which allows mapping of relationships between food system groups and organisations. This work will support Gateway Health and Sustain to better show how our food system connects and supports our region and is being utilised to capture the mapping project alongside Sustain.

Green Tape | Activating the Great Valley Trail

Overview: Green Tape’s project raises awareness of the limited ability for businesses to provide food, drink and other services that improve the visitor experience on the North East rail and cycle trail network.

Outcomes: Green Tape successfully hosted an event from 9am – 1pm on Tuesday 4 October on the Great Valley Trail in Freeburgh. A coffee cart, Muzza’s Mugs and Jaffles, provided coffee, drinks and food throughout the morning to attendees.  All of the community was invited to participate, with 70 visitors through the site on the day, many stopping for a drink and a rest.

As part of the event, Green Tape provided an interactive presentation to key stakeholders including MP Tim McCurdy, Alpine Shire Council Mayor Sarah Nicholas, Alpine Shire Council CEO Will Jeremy, and Tourism North East CEO Bess-Nolan Cook to highlight the barriers to activating the Great Valley Trail, and some options to address the problem which affects rail and cycle trails across the whole of North East Victoria. This allowed stakeholders to view and experience the issue first-hand and discuss pathways to finding a solution and was a very positive and collaborative event.

Green Tape successfully achieved their project objectives, with the issue acknowledged by the decision makers that attended the event.  While it is beyond Green Tape’s scope to solve the issue, we look forward to supporting government and applicable organisations on working through the next steps towards a solution.

Team 360 | SNAP IT!

Overview: SNAP IT! is a participatory project taking place across North East Victoria supporting positive health and wellbeing impacts of students grade 3-6 following two adverse events (pandemic and bushfires) in the region. The project aimed to connect with small primary schools across the North East, equipping students with a single-use camera, and asking them to respond to the question “What do you love about where you live?”, inspiring belonging, a greater sense of self and pride of place.

Outcomes: Through a consultative process, the team engaged with Mitta Mitta Primary School, Myrrhee School and Eskdale Primary School to undertake the project. Team 360 developed individual camera kits for the teachers and students, each including the single use camera, some photography guidelines and information as to the purpose of the project. 33 students participated, each responding to the ‘what do you love about where you live’ written prompt and also further telling that story through their images taken.

Team 360 had the images digitised, and then worked creatively to produce a photobook, representing all students involved. A copy of the photobook was provided to all participating schools providing the opportunity to share the stories with others across the region.

Team United | A Chair To Share

Overview: Team United aimed to create a Park Bench, also known as ‘A Chair to Share’, to advocate for Mental Health in individuals of all ages across the North East. The objective was to create a space and tool for community members to sit, alone or with a friend, and reflect, speak up and be present. The park bench would be engraved with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to incorporate the sentiments of a different community project created by local members, and link in the importance of speaking up about mental health struggles.

Outcomes: Team United exceeded their objective and delivered not one, but three park benches located throughout Towong Shire in Corryong, Indigo Shire in Yackandandah and the Rural City of Wangaratta in Murmungee. Team United engaged with the local Yackandandah Men’s Shed and local crafts men from Corryong and Beechworth to construct the park benches, and worked alongside the three individual local councils to ensure the placement of the park benches throughout our towns. The park benches have each been engraved, with the quote “You’ll Never Walk Alone” which outlines and advocates for the battle against the stigma of mental health and provide the views and users support information through a QR code and brochure. Team United celebrated the project with a small event at the Corryong park bench, located in Corryong CBD , with locals coming together in support of the project outcomes.

Click here to access more information and resources for the “A Chair To Share” project.

2021 Community Projects

Acorn | Ready, Set, Life

Overview: Team Acorn’s Community Project focused on delivering an interactive workshop on developing the financial literacy skills of young people, to assist them in their transition to adulthood and enable them to make informed decisions about the next steps in their journey. The aim of the project was to empower and connect our future leaders.

Outcomes: Team Acorn engaged with Mt Beauty Secondary School, and arranged the facilitation of a financial literacy skills workshop for a group of Year 10 students. The workshop was delivered by The Mandala Project in August 2021. The success of the workshop was such that there is now scope for further workshops to be delivered, with planning underway for delivery to take place in Term 1 of 2022.

Click image for digital version of the Small Change Big Impact calendar.

Chrysalis | Small Change, Big Impact

Overview: Chrysalis utilised a process of storytelling and capacity building to inform the development of a 12-month calendar which shares stories of everyday regional people who do small things that collectively reduce our footprint on the earth. The process of gathering information strengthened relationships and connections between people and their community, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. The final product will celebrate individual action and inspire regional people to reduce their carbon footprint to address climate change.

Outcomes: Chrysalis were able to connect with a range of individuals across North East Victoria, learning more about their sustainability efforts and how small efforts can create a large impact. Using the initial seed funding provided, Chrysalis engaged a graphic designer to develop a reusable monthly calendar featuring these stories, and were able to produce hard copy calendars, on enviro-friendly paper, to be distributed across the North-East. The digital version of the calendar is also available to download by clicking here.

Jaspa | Diversity and Inclusion Mural

Overview: The goal of this project was to create a vibrant mural in Wangaratta with a theme of diversity and inclusion, cultivated through a process of youth consultation and engagement. Consultation with young people is a key part of the process, helping to draw out ideas and create conversations that contribute to the development of the theme of the mural. These themes will be interpreted by a carefully selected artist and translated into an image for the mural.

Outcomes: Jaspa were able to collaborate with Yarrunga Primary School, with an appropriate space for the mural being identified on one of the school buildings. Through a consultative and inclusive process, Team Jaspa engaged with local artist, Chris Henderson, to undertake a two staged approach to develop and paint the mural which was completed in December. Jaspa were also successful in obtaining additional funding through BendigoBank and AlayaCare, ensuring the project was able to be completed in full.

The Quintets | Bringing Communities Together

Overview: Originally, the Quintets had planned to host and publicize an event at the 2021 Wangaratta Show that encouraged and supported diverse volunteer organizations within the Rural City of Wangaratta to set up information stalls to connect with the public for the purpose of telling their stories, sharing information and attracting new volunteers. The Quintets aligned themselves to collaborate with the Grit and Resilience Project, to produce a guide that can assist local community groups to develop and host their own community gatherings. Gatherings and events in the communities will strengthen connection, improve mental health and reduce suicide.

Outcomes: Working with the Grit and Resilience Project, the Quintets are currently developing a  comprehensive manual that will be an integral part the Grit and Resilience program community lead initiative for communities to have more community events. Supported by The Rural City of Wangaratta, the guidelines will ensure community groups are best placed to develop and host a successful event.

Ohana | Unspoken Words

Overview: Ohana’s Community Project originally focused on gathering the stories and experiences of people in Corryong. Under the advice of AVCL, they then pivoted to profiling graduates of the AWECC M-Incubator program, understanding the stories of the multicultural community members of Albury Wodonga. After frequent setbacks due to COVID and timelines, Ohana have re-developed a project sharing their own journey of challenges, delivering a community project outcome and working with a remote team during times of frequent and uncontrolled change.  

Outcomes: Ohana have developed a presentation outlining key learnings related to working in a team, the project management experience and trying to develop and deliver project scopes during Covid that will be presented at the 2021 Graduation. They hope by telling their story, others will relate and learn from the experience when facing the challenges of delivering projects in the community.

Below is a recording of the Community Projects presentations as given by our 2021 Annual Program participants during the 2021 online graduation event.