The Working in Dairy Communities (WIDC) Small Grants program, which is run in a partnership between the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and Gardiner Dairy Foundation, has awarded $121,584 in grants to support 26 projects in Victoria’s three dairy regions.

Now in its 18th year, the WIDC Small Grants program offers up to $5,000 to support community-driven projects that strengthen Victorian dairy communities through enhancing community infrastructure and local capacity.

Dr Clive Noble, Gardiner Dairy Foundation Chief Executive, said this year the Working in Dairy Communities grant program is supporting projects that support early childhood and adult education and stimulate economic recovery. These projects will have long-lasting benefits for these communities.

“Things have been tough for small towns reliant on dairy. These grants will help communities on their renewal journey by supporting projects that will encourage community engagement and social connectedness.

“The diversity of the projects reflects the differing needs of dairy communities too. For example, in Murrabit, a street beautification project will boost morale and add cultural vibrancy, while the funding of children’s activities at the Tarwin District Auto Festival should help to bring families into town for the November event.”

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said the longstanding partnership with Gardiner Dairy Foundation has been so successful because both Foundations share the belief that local groups are best placed to know what their community needs; they just need some support to turn their ideas into reality.

“Working with Gardiner Dairy Foundation over the past 18 years we’ve seen just how passionate and dedicated local not-for-profit groups are in meeting challenges and creating their own opportunities.

“This year the program is supporting some fantastic initiatives to rejuvenate and extend the capacity of community spaces so that locals have access to high quality facilities – including the addition of an all abilities access ramp at Scotts Creek Hall, gas heaters to warm the many elderly citizens who use the Girgarre Hall, and audio visual equipment to improve local film nights at Yanakie Recreation Reserve and Public Hall.

Since the launch of the annual Working in Dairy Communities (WIDC) Small Grants program in 2002, Gardiner Dairy Foundation has invested more than $1.8 million in this program and has supported a total of 471 community projects.

The 2020 Working in Dairy Communities Small Grants program recipients are:

·     Anglican Trusts Corporation of the Diocese of Gippsland

·     Boisdale-Briagolong Football Club Inc

·     Foster Primary School

·     Grants Only Group Inc

·     Leongatha Community Pre School Centres Inc

·     Manna Gum Community House Inc

·     Venus Bay Tarwin Lower and District Men’s Shed Inc

·     Yanakie Recreation Reserve and Public Hall Reserve

·     Campaspe Shire Council

·     Cobram Community Cinema Inc

·     Cobram District Children’s Services Inc

·     Cobram District Children’s Services Inc

·     Gannawarra Shire Council

·     Girgarre Community Group Inc

·     Girgarre Development Group Inc – Girgarre Hall Committee

·     Kindred Spirits Tatura Co-Operative Limited

·     Murrabit Promotions Committee Inc

·     Rochester Secondary College

·     Bostocks Creek Public Hall

·     Coragulac & District Kindergarten Inc

·     Friends of St Brigid’s Association

·     Purnim Mechanics Institute

·     Scotts Creek Mechanics Institute and Free Library Reserve

·     Simpson & District Community Centre Inc

·     South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve

·     South Western District Restoration Group