By Max Davies
Bendigo Bank last week held a Grants Night and Community Forum in Wallan, bringing together a wide range of community groups to celebrate grants and identify key priorities.
Facilitated by NorCen Financial Services at The Grove in Hidden Valley, the event marked the first community forum held by Bendigo Bank’s Wallan, Kilmore and Broadford branches and was aimed at bringing light to issues and areas that would benefit from funding.
The night was also an opportunity for people to celebrate grants awarded throughout the year and show appreciation for the work of different community groups.
NorCen community engagement and marketing officer Lee Day said the idea for the forum came from a desire to support projects and groups that the community needed.
“We wanted to know how we’re going to be able to contribute to the community in a more beneficial way and how we can benefit the community as much as we can,” she said.
“We wanted to know from the community what other areas aren’t we contributing to that we’re not aware of.”
The bank asked three questions of the community groups that attended: What does our community need? How can we strengthen relationships? How can the Community Banks help?
Members from different community groups worked in teams to brainstorm ideas for projects and improvements that they felt the community needed, such as a wider variety of recreational activities for elderly residents and the establishment of a neighbourhood house for Kilmore.
The ideas are expected to be used by NorCen to guide future investment.
“It was us just sitting back and thinking, ‘we’ve got some significant funds coming up, what are we missing?’,” Ms Day said.
“The community is changing as well. Wallan’s changed a lot and so has Kilmore, and it all rolls on so we wanted to ask about things that we may not be aware of.”
Grant recipients for 2022 were also celebrated, including community groups such as Kilmore Men’s Shed, Mitchell Rangers Soccer Club, Camp4Cancer, Love in Action and the Variety Children’s Foundation.
Attendees also had the opportunity to learn about other community groups and their work, with building relationships and making connections a key focus for the night.
Ms Day said NorCen would look to continue hosting community forums in the future as the needs of the community change.
“We want to work on building the connection and the relationship between these community groups and the bank, and also connecting other community groups together as well,” she said.
“There’s areas like domestic violence that we want to help with, but also things like the arts are areas we’ve identified as things we’d like to contribute more to moving forward.”