Streatham Mininera Westmere

View linked slideshow images:
Slideshow image #1

Festival connects communities

The inaugural Firey Creek Festival held in 2005 at the Streatham Community Centre (Fireworld) was instrumental in strengthening relationships between the Streatham, Mininera and Westmere communities.  Says Secretary/Treasurer of the Streatham/Mininera/Westmere Community Development Committee, Dorothy Dunn “the three towns hadn’t worked together on an event before”.

“We had a number of organisations from across the three towns working on the project. It was a good opportunity for everyone to develop their skills and knowledge, but also to benefit their own community through fundraising,” Dorothy said.

Community groups involved in the 2005 and 2006 festivals included the SMW Rovers Football Netball Club, Streatham, Mininera and Westmere fire brigades, Mininera Recreation Reserve Committee and the Streatham Hall Committee. Other attending organisations included East Grampians Health Service, Uniting Church, Lake Bolac College and Ararat Rural City Council.

Each festival featured fun for the kids including a jumping castle, as well as musical entertainment, barbecue, community sports, mini golf, children’s art competitions, health checks by East Grampians Health Service, a special fireworks display and a toured guide of the Firey Creek.

The festival also had a strong historic aspect, Dorothy says.

“Firey Creek was the original name for Streatham. It was part of Reg Ansett’s first bus route between Hamilton and Ballarat. We once had police barracks, vege shop, and railway. The creek walk pointed out various locations specific to the town’s history, as well as its local inhabitant, the platypus.”

The Firey Creek Festival was an accessible event for the entire community, and provided an alternative to the usual weekend sport.

“We wanted to provide a low-cost, inclusive community event that was gold coin entry and free for the children,” Dorothy says.

“It even attracted young families who had been living in the district and nobody knew about. It really brought the community together.”

Part of the Streatham/Mininera/Westmere Community Action Plan, developed in conjunction with Ararat Rural City Council, the Firey Creek Festival was borne out of a survey to 150 district households.

Streatham/Mininera/Westmere Community Development Committee was the driver of the event, and applied to VicHealth for funding. It received $4,000 for the 2005 festival and $3,000 for the 2005 festival. Funding of $1,000 has since been contributed by Pacific Hydro for the 2008 festival.

“The organising was pretty efficient - it wasn’t terribly difficult to do,” she said.

“Each organisation told us how they’d like to be involved and we put together the program and managed the overall event. We sent monthly newsletters to the community to keep them informed.”

Dorothy said each festival attracted around 400 people, which was considered a great result.

“If a community group is given responsibility for something and allowed to deal with it their own way it happens a lot more efficiently,” she said.

“The Community Action Plan is very valuable to the community. In the past we have reacted rather than planned. If you’re able to establish priorities and you have them documented in an efficient way, then everybody understands things a lot better. Smaller communities are getting a much better go.”

President of the Streatham/Mininera/Westmere Community Development Committee Fay Meek said the Firey Creek Festival was a win-win situation.

“As a small community, fundraising is important to keep things going. If you can have something like this festival, you can offer the community something while gaining money for local organisations.”