Projects’ efforts recognised

By Benalla Ensign

More than 50 people attended the Age Friendly Benalla Community Update at the Sir Edward ‘‘Weary’’ Dunlop Learning Centre on Tuesday, February 26.

The Age Friendly Benalla project started in 2017 as a partnership between the Benalla Rural City Council, Cooinda and the Hume Primary Care Partnership of Benalla.

That involved setting up of a strong, active and diverse steering committee of older members of the community from Benalla and its surrounding rural areas.

The project received generous financial support from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The 2016 Census showed 42 per cent of Benalla’s residents were aged 55 years or older. This equates to 5875 people within the Benalla region.

The proportion of older residents is steadily rising despite there being no significant overall population increase.

The Age Friendly Benalla Steering Committee initially carried out a survey, which included 15 per cent of Benalla residents aged 55 and over.

The data from this survey was analysed and from it three projects evolved. One of these projects was a number of community led initiatives, which were supported by the Age Friendly Benalla Steering Committee with a grant of $500.

At the Community Update event the audience heard from seven recipients of the community led projects.

These included Linsday Thomas who talked about the successful IT Tutoring/Coffee Club, which was held at CWA House.

Vanessa Grant from Cooinda spoke about the Walk and Wake Up to Dementia community awareness event, which was held in September last year.

Maeve Larkin informed the audience about Coffee, Cake and Dance, which was a project initiated for dementia patients in the Benalla community.

Vikki Bickerton spoke about the Lake Nillacootie 50th Anniversary celebration at Lima South, which welcomed back many former residents, while Doris Billingsley told the audience about the Benalla High Tea event.

Frieda Andrews spoke about the Community Plan Implementation Committee and also the Benalla Unpacked Bus Tour.

The final project presented by Bev Lee provided an overview of the Wisdom and Experience art exhibition held at North East Artisans in October last year.

Bev also launched the new website for the Benalla Community Plan entitled ‘‘Creating Benalla’s Future Together.’’ To find out more, visit

The evaluator of the Age Friendly Benalla project Jan Osmotherly gave a synopsis of her evaluation report, which showed the strengths of the project and also some of the challenges encountered.

Jan also identified a number of key issues that could be explored in the future. Copies of Jan’s report were available for members of the audience. Copies of the evaluation report can also be obtained by phoning Benalla Rural City Council on 57602600.

The final speaker was Kathleen Brasher, principal lead of Age Friendly North East Victoria, who provided a short overview of ‘‘From Local to Global’’ in an age-friendly world.

Benala Rural City councillor Peter Davis congratulated the members of the Age Friendly Benalla Steering Committee, council staff and community representatives on a successful event.