Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Thoona first town to improve resilience

Benalla Rural City's community-led program will strengthen resilience in four district towns.

May 30, 2014 3:33am

Thoona residents Tony Rak, Pauline Brown, Jodie Wells and baby Tia, Daniel Wells and Bill Sammon with Benalla Rural City resilient communities coordinator Jan Osmotherly (third from left).By Monique Freer

Residents in Thoona are strengthening their resources and community resilience thanks to a pilot program from Benalla Rural City Council.

The rural town is the first of four towns selected to engage in the community-led Resilient Community Program, which is designed to build community resilience in the face of natural disasters, serious accidents and other significantly disruptive events.

As reported in the Ensign on December 18, 2013, Benalla Rural City received $110000 of Victorian Government funding to build capacity, preparedness and resilience in four rural communities.

The other three communities participating in the project will be Baddaginnie/Goomalibee, Tatong and Goorambat, with the project rolling out across the next 12 months.

Benalla Rural City Council has appointed Jan Osmotherly to the role of resilient communities co-ordinator, in a role designed to ask questions and listen to people’s stories and ideas.

Ms Osmotherly said while resilience involved bouncing back from adversity, rural communities faced extra challenges in doing so with ageing populations contributing to a high proportion of vulnerable people.

‘‘Many of the older people say that there used to be a stronger sense of community spirit that helped them to bounce back, but that has been sapped over time by things like shops, schools and pubs closing, the decline of sporting clubs and young people moving away,’’ Ms Osmotherly said.

She said the project was about reinvigorating community spirit as well as being prepared for natural disasters.

She hoped her background in education, training and community arts would help her work with communities to come up with creative ways to get people’s ideas flowing and have them be heard.

‘‘There are many people who are very keen to be involved, and there are people who have a rich local history to share,’’ she said.

The grant was part of the government’s $143000 Local People Making Local Solutions pilot program, which was funded by the Resilient Community Program.

Alpine Shire also received $80000 for its Building Resilience in Businesses program from the government’s Resilient Community Program, while Mansfield Shire received $49500 for its Community Resilience Leadership Program.

For more information about the program phone Jan Osmotherly on 57602600.

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