Projects funded by Connect Well East Gippsland + Wellington were in the spotlight during a recent visit by Steve Dimopolous, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health.
Mr Dimopolous visited the Sarsfield Recreation Reserve and was shown nesting boxes made by a local Cub Pack. This project, funded by Connect Well, sought to make a small change to local animal habitat and empower local children to make a positive change within a bushfire affected community.
The Cub Pack built a total of 17 nesting boxes and throughout this project the Cub Pack children learned about animals that use nesting boxes and the impact of bushfires on wildlife. Simon Hof, from the Sarsfield Community Association explained many of the positive outcomes for the children during this project. “Watching the installation of the boxes gave the Scouts a strong sense of connection between the problem and solution,” said Mr Hof.
Mr Dimopolous also visited Gippsland Jersey at Lakes Entrance where he talked with local farmers who appeared in the Lay of the Land calendars and the Beyond The Fire documentary series along with Gippsland Jersey owners Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds, Director of the Beyond The Fire series Danielle McAlpine-Johnson and Connect Well partners. Mr Dimopolous heard firsthand from those who have been impacted by drought and the Black Summer bushfires and how their recovery is going.
Sue Medson, CEO of Gippsland Lakes Complete Health and a member of the Connect Well Partnership said those who participated in the Lay of the Land calendar and the Beyond The Fire series had an opportunity to tell their story. “It helped to talk about the drought and fires through the calendar and TV series, and encourages others to open up about their experiences,” said Ms Medson.
Mr Dimopoulos noted the community connectedness within East Gippsland and the resilience of those who live here, “There is a real sense of community in East Gippsland and these projects have helped raise awareness of mental health among rural residents.”