1. How long have you lived in the area?
Officially since January, but we got the house over 12 months ago and have been coming up for weekends whenever possible.
2. What’s great about living here?
I am loving living close to nature, and having space. I like the idea of having a community and like what I have seen so far. It’s good that the area is affordable, yet also close enough to Ballarat for work.
3. What do you feel passionate about?
Acceptance – of all human beings, no matter what they have been through or where they are from – and particularly asylum seekers with how things are now. I also feel strongly about community – people helping people, being there for each other.
4. What do you find joy in doing?
Helping others… and hearing people’s stories – everyone has a story. I love giving older people a chance to share their stories. I enjoy listening to inspiring people and their stories – just regular people who have been through extraordinary circumstances. I’ve recently been involved in talking with an asylum seeker on film about her incredible journey.
5. What is your current pet project?
I’m working on the Harmony Fest, coordinating the events at the Mining Exchange for the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council.
6. What community groups are you involved in and why?
Having just moved from Melbourne, I have left the groups I was previously involved in, but now:
Grandmothers (& friends!) Against Children in Detention
Multicultural Breakfast – to educate the community about the importance of cultural diversity
Dereel Community Hub – to meet people and be part of this community, I’m very much community-minded
7. Tell us about your best community experience.
I used to belong to a housing co-operative; the philosophy and idea of a co-operative is brilliant in theory. We had a wonderful community and we all worked well together. It was run by members and was very much about equality, with equal voting rights, and enabling members to learn skills in running the co-op. One girl came on to the board and within a year was the chair – and did a wonderful job of it. It brought benefits of cheaper housing, but with real ownership.
8. How could you see more of this happening in Dereel?
With any community, the challenge is participation. And people wanting different things. I also miss just having a meeting place any time of the day – we need to have an informal, non-threatening environment that can be available at any time.
9. Describe a future vision of Dereel that you would like to see.
It would be good to have a meeting place of some kind, with the feel of a community that you might get at a cafe, a pub or a church – not necessarily in that form, but with the same feel. Maybe we could have a drop-in centre taking turns to be there to keep it open. It would be great to see the town built up a bit more, a more self-sufficient small town. I would like to be able to shop here for fruit & veges, and groceries, etc. It would be great to be a hippy town, maybe with a cafe and few stalls. I would love to see these owned and run by a community co-operative. I would like Dereel to be a village.
10. What would we do as a first step to realise that dream?
First, find out who else shares that vision by opening communication, e.g. with a survey or a town meeting. It is very much a community development activity.