Ramp Up Resilience was first conceived under the direct guidance and request of Adam Fennessy in his former role as Parliamentary Secretary DELWP and Craig Lapsley in his former role as Commissioner, Emergency Management Victoria.

Their vision acknowledged the vital role communities play in addressing environmental and emergency challenges. This raised the question of how to effectively interact with regional communities, to mobilise local leadership, in relation to a shortfall of government resources.

In response to this, and with our own experience in the field, in 2016 we conceived and proposed a user-friendly program to raise discussion and build capacity, adopting a bottom-up approach. First by listening, then by supporting community-led initiatives to address challenges such as climate change, health and well-being, environmental protection, social disadvantage and emergency response.

 The early work

From 2017 to 2018 we developed and delivered the first round of events and activities in the Bendigo region under the banner “Greater Bendigo’s Curriculum for Change”, made possible thanks to supporting partners: CFA, Bendigo Health, North Central CMA, City of Greater Bendigo, La Trobe University and Golden City Support Services.

The program included an interactive engagement asking people ‘What resilience means to you’, the response to which informed the full development of Ramp Up Resilience.

All locals and organisations from the Greater Bendigo region were invited to participate in many ways – online, via email, coming along to special events for a cuppa and good discussion, taking part in training programs to forward projects or even running a special event, as part of the Curriculum.

This 18-month initiative included 8 broad communications campaigns, 6 capacity building programs, 650+ participants, and reached thousands more through 60+ media and news stories. It also uncovered and supported 80+ community led projects addressing themes such as:

  • Building stronger connections and looking out for each other
  • Creating active healthy neighbourhoods, connecting with our environment
  • Gearing up for the future and a changing economy
  • Encourage new ways of thinking on travelling for work, study or play
What happened in 2019

This year, we expanded the footprint to include Campaspe and Loddon Shires with thanks to partners: Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, Bendigo Sustainability Group, Coliban Water, North Central Catchment Management Authority and Bendigo, Loddon and Campaspe shires.

A new program of engagement activities and events was developed recognising that communities play a critical role in addressing climate change challenges and well resourced communities are already responding with their own unique solutions.

Understanding that the issues of climate change are huge and complex, that more collaboration across sectors is required, and more people need to be involved and take action, we set out an ambitious program of activities to include face-to-face and online engagement as well as events delivered across the three shires:

The program resulted in 571 responses to surveys/questionnaires online or in person, info mailers sent directly to 4000+, direct engagement with 70+ organisations, 140 people attending events from across 7 shires, media stories presented in 7 traditional media platforms and social media reach of more than 16,000 people.

Of those attending events, 99% who completed evaluations said they came away inspired to take action, make a change and expand their impact. Also 99% said they were likely to tell their colleagues and friends about the event.

As a result of this work we were able to present at the State Government Parliamentary Inquiry on Climate Change where we advocated for more investment in communities and better collaboration.

Through these activities we brought together a range of sectors including: Local and state government; health; tourism; agriculture; Landcare; community houses; education; environment; not for profit groups; business; and community and emergency services. This provided the opportunity to increase collaboration—a key driver of our work to enable effective change.

A wide variety of projects were uncovered and supported to include:

  • Planting and seed farms for the future
  • Girgarre Community Cottage, nursery social enterprise
  • La Trobe University clever weather project
  • Women Chainsaw Club Program
  • Ready 2 Go, building recovery ready communities
  • Reducing food waste
  • Innovative regenerative farming practices
  • Young people advocating for change
  • Youth advocacy leadership training
  • Promote sustainability in community
  • Workplace zero waste program
  • Industry climate change event aiming to involve community
  • Activities to empower youth, building optimism about the future
  • Activating a composting scheme that connects rural farmers with urban residents
  • Creating a ‘cooler’ main street to welcome incoming tourists and support local business in hotter seasons
  • Transitioning an entire Shire to adopt renewable energy with solar farms and solar gardens
  • Building a green team and starting a community garden for Rochester
  • Student lunch group
  • Zero waste to landfill
  • Community garden
  • Better communication tools and messaging to young
  • NRM leaders about future roles they can play
  • Social partner dance project
  • Reducing/getting rid of roadside litter/rubbish.
  • Cooler and connected Newstead
  • Bendigo separated cycling lanes
  • Bendigo family hub – Building communities
  • Healthy soils, food and people
  • Support families living in cold poverty
  • Insulating poorly insulated houses
  • Eaglehawk community garden
  • Equipping local residents to work for change
  • Freedom trikes to help people enjoy the environment around them
  • Adapt Loddon Mallee
  • Community projects in Inglewood and Bridgewater

Note this does not include other projects supported/ uncovered previously or through other spin off initiatives

The feedback received from participants has been extremely positive.

“The CVGA partnered with Make A Change in 2019 on the Ramp Up Resilience program. I was very impressed and pleased with the approaches to community engagement that MACA adopt. It is clear that when it comes to engaging on difficult divisive topics like climate change, that they are leading the way!” Rob Law, Executive Officer, Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance.

“From this event I gained enthusiasm and a renewed vision to pursue action on climate change & sustainability.” Outside the Square participant

“This event has empowered me and others to step out of our comfort zones to start the ball rolling!” Expand Your Impact participant

“I have gained more connections, shared resources and the motivation to move forward.” Let’s Nut it Out participant

Congratulations on being a leader in resilient communities. Your program has provided many opportunities to many communities, many families and many individuals. Meaningful discussion that leads to action and empowerment does not just happen, it requires skill, compassion and commitment. Well done.” Craig Lapsley, former Commissioner, Emergency Management Victoria

We have gained many insights along the way and see that there is a strong case to continue this work into the future. We are currently working on creating the next steps and enlisting additional support. Please get in touch if you would like to be a part of this next iteration as we build momentum and action for a better future.

With thanks to the following organisations for their support in 2019:

And local partners:

Echuca Neighbourhood House, Lockington Neighbourhood House, Echuca Regional Health, Rochester Community House, Girgarre Community Cottage, Inglewood Community House, Inglewood District Health Services, Raywood Post Office, Rushworth Community House, Kyabram Community House, St Matthew’s Church Long Gully, Loddon Plains Landcare Network, Bridgewater on Loddon Dvpt Group, Wedderburn Community House, Wedderburn Lions Club, Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group, Raywood Hall Committee Woodvale Progress Association, Bendigo ACF

Ramp Up Resilience in 2019 was a series of thoughtful programs about climate, how it impacts us and what we’ll do about it. Find out more about Ramp Up Resilience: https://makeachange.org.au/ramp-up-resilience

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For enquiries contact: Karen Corr at [email protected] or 0419 006 243
For more information about Make a Change Australia, visit www.makeachange.org.au