A State of variety

» Broadacre Estates » Maidstone & Braybrook » Latrobe Valley » Doveton & Eumemmerring » Long Gully & Eaglehawk

Long Gully & Eaglehawk

Building community through shared action

Long Gully and Eaglehawk are in the City of Bendigo, a hundred and thirty-seven kilometres from Melbourne. The residents are predominantly Anglo-Celtic in background. Many of them have lived at Long Gully or Eaglehawk for a long time.

Shared Action was a three-year community development project by St. Luke's Anglicare, a welfare agency based in Bendigo. The project ran from 1997 to 2000, and emphasised people's ability to be their own agents of change.

During the project the residents of Long Gully held recruitment drives, often modeled on Tupperware parties, and strategic planning meetings, often disguised as barbecues, devoted to community formation and social capacity building. A popular Sports and Recreation Club was formed and a series of concerts was held. There was also an artists-in-schools program and a family recreational park was built of colourful mosaic pavers and other ceramic installations.

Promoting Harmony

The success of Shared Action led directly to the Promoting Harmony Project.

Community members nominated domestic violence, teenage hoon behaviour and disputes between neighbours as important issues. These can be explosive issues in people's day-to-day lives. The residents advocated long-term community capacity building via social harmony rather than confrontation.

Theatre of Transformation, the first of the two major cultural products of the Promoting Harmony process, was the result of work with eighteen Year Ten students at the Eaglehawk Secondary College. The teenagers underwent an intensive five-day workshop and rehearsal of material based on real-life stories and issues relevant to their target audience. Bryan Derrick used techniques devised by Brazilian theatre director Augusto Boal.

After the performances, members of the audience could suggest alternative courses of action in the scenarios presented. The scenario would then be re-staged with audience members encouraged to come on stage and play roles. Further alternative scenarios would then be discussed and possibly acted out. Theatre of Transformation was performed three times at the Eaglehawk Secondary College and then at The Star Cinema in the Eaglehawk Town Hall.

The second product was the short film The Dirt on Squirt. More than sixty students and older residents collaborated with writer and director Kirk Robson in the making of the film.

Cindy Lethlean, member of the Community Reference Group, and Jenny Hogan from St. Luke's Community Capacity Building Unit, have turned film producers and directors. Cindy says she became involved through a Neighbourhood Renewal program. A flyer was put into (our) hands, and it said you have talented children, bring them along. So we took our talented children along, and our talented children got a bit of a back seat, actually, because we all got involved.
ABC Radio, Central Victoria, 24th September, 2000.