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Dereel People – Caroline Everett

1caroline1. How long have you lived in the area?

Most of my life. I grew up here and have been here ever since except for about 15 years. Just before I turned 18, I moved to Melbourne for a little over a year to work, then to Ballarat and Maryborough. In 1996 I moved to Queensland for a couple of years and finally decided to came back home. (You can take the girl out of Victoria but you can’t take Victoria out of the girl! ).

2. What’s great about living here?

The sunsets, the people and the fresh air.

3. What do you feel passionate about?

Painting, drawing, photography, the environment, home-grown vegies. Being creative. And of course, my partner!

4. What do you find joy in doing?

Experimenting with my camera and drawing – it’s difficult to choose which one to do on any given day! Spending time with my partner, socialising and volunteering with the CFA team.

5. What is your current pet project?

Preparing for the Golden Plains Arts Trail, getting enough work together to display.

6. What community groups are you involved in and why?

Dereel Community Hub – I’m very keen to see community development in the area.

Although no longer involved due to health reasons, I was a founding member of CERT and I loved it. I was involved because I saw the need for a medical emergency service in the area.

CFA – I have been involved for 20 years and they have become a second family to me. There was a house fire at my parents’ home when I was 15 and I saw what a great job they did. I wanted to contribute. I joined the Dereel Brigade before I moved to Queensland and re-joined upon my return. The CFA do an amazing job and I like the feeling of being able to do something useful in the community.

7. Tell us about your best community experience.

There were a couple of events – firstly, when I was joint proprietor of the Dereel shop and it burnt down, and then after the 2013 fire. The way the community rallied together was breathtakingly beautiful, I still get choked up thinking about it. Just by providing basic needs and moral support, looking out for each other, and caring, people were no longer strangers and friendships grew.

8. How could you see more of this happening in Dereel?

Through people maintaining social contact rather than waiting for a crisis, so that it becomes a habit rather than a one-off. That way the level of compassion remains, and we get a better understanding of each other in everyday interaction. That would sustain positive and beautiful outcomes within the community.

9. Describe a future vision of Dereel that you would like to see.

I would like to see a place where people feel safe, contented, happy and comfortable – and no-one feels alone or left out. Where positive energy is with everyone. I’d like to see the village environment I remember as a child, where we didn’t even have to ask for help because people knew you and knew what was needed. It will need a strong support system, that happens by default – I would like to see it as “just the way things are done” and not only as an emergency response. People helping and supporting people, because they are all people.

10. What would we do as a first step to realise that dream?

The starting point is getting together on a regular basis, with community events where everyone is welcome. Food is a great basis to bring people together. When we share food we talk. This enables people to share ideas and get to know each other better. It’s an easy way to connect. This would go a long way towards establishing a level of comfort and safety. Through this experience, people could feel it’s OK to say what they need to say, and just sit back when they need to, and not feel threatened or nervous about what others might think or say because we would all know each other much better.

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