The place for a village

TRANSITION Village Wallan (TVW) has received the nod of approval from VicRoads and Mitchell Shire Council for land on the outskirts of Wallan to build a sustainable village for the homeless.

The TVW is based on conjoining the principles of permaculture and sustainable living with the primary focus on climate change.

The project was inspired by work in the US from organisations like Dignity Village and Sanctuary Village.

TVW CEO and Founder Judy Clarke is hoping to provide grassroots community support for people who have recently become homeless in and around Wallan.

“We’re using the village to help people because it’s against all community and personal values to have someone who hasn’t got the basics,” she said.

“We’re trying to use materials that are sustainable, or at least don’t need repairs or painting. We’re putting in productive gardens and being off grid as much as we can using grid connect solar systems, composting toilets and water tanks.”

Transitional housing residents can stay for up to 12 months and are provided support for a safe, sustainable and better connected way of life.

“In our village people will be encouraged to fix things themselves, go to the repair cafe in Seymour or start one here – we want them to learn resilience,” Ms Clarke said.

“It’s about teaching how to bulk buy and cook and how to use grains. The final piece of the jigsaw is all around climate change – you can cook healthily and not think about climate change but you can’t look at climate change and cook unhealthily.”

Ms Clarke believes this kind of living can provide a more wholesome experience for those who have suffered.

“Homelessness is everywhere. People think that it’s not around here but many people go into the bush where it’s safer,” she said.

“I’ve spoken to people who have been homeless who said if they had something like this it would have saved them years of homelessness.”

TVW are not focusing on retrenched homelessness with mental or health problems but rather those who have recently transitioned.

“That leaves resources for those who really need intensive care.” she said.

“Some people think that it’s going to be like a shanty town but it’s not, it’ll be a nice village and we’ll hopefully do tours once a month.”

“Residents will be thoroughly screened. I live in a street and am surrounded by three rentals – I don’t know who they are but we will know and have an interview panel decide.

With a $200,000 grant from the state government and an upcoming cabaret fundraiser, the village is expected to be finished around August.

“I think people want to do good but just don’t know how to – this upcoming fundraiser allow people to help,” she said.

“This village is a trial, we have to make it succeed. Then hopefully other areas might implement our template.”

For more information on TVW or the cabaret fundraising event on February 16, please visit @transitionvillage on Facebook or call 0404 740 261.