There is nothing more powerful than a community that not only knows its aspirations, needs and wishes but also understands ways on how to realise them. The community strength multiplies when residents connect together to apply their skills, knowledge and experience to make their wishes and dreams come alive. The outcome is truly magical.
One fantastic example of a community that has found its voice is Diggers Rest Neighbours Network. Birthed in 2015, the Network started with the effort of one volunteer who initially brought 7 neighbours together. The focus of the group was to have the Diggers Rest community connect more deeply, welcome new people moving into the community, share information, concerns and issues and advocate them to the relevant body. The members wanted to build safe and confident community. The Diggers Rest Neighbours Network members’ today stand at one hundred and eight.
The neighbours use their skills and experience not only to suggest but also to plan and own events, programs and projects for the benefit of the community.
In the last three years since Diggers Rest Neighbours Network blossomed, it has organised events successfully such as Diggers Rest Pet Show, Girls Night In Cancer fundraiser, Community Safety Day, Halloween Walking Bus, Easter Parade and more…
Many members run programs such as Diggers Rest Playgroup, Greenies Group, Friendship Group and have suggested numerous programs/workshops requested for by the wider community.
The members have consciously worked to connect the new residents moving into the area with the previously settled ones through door knocks to invite them to the Network and other community activities.
As Sally Gersbeck, one of the members says,
‘Being involved in the Neighbours Network, I have had the chance to meet and get to know people in Diggers Rest I would never have met otherwise. I have really enjoyed being involved in the Pet Show and Girl’s Night In.’
Diggers Rest Neighbours Network has played a critical role in identifying community concerns and advocating for positive changes. When safety became a concern, the Network called for a Safety Forum to be organised with the local police and other service providers. Realising there was no safe space for pets (dogs) to exercise, the Network voiced the need for a Dog park and got it sanctioned from Melton City Council.
The Neighbours have contributed their thoughts significantly in the Melton City Council’s Vision and other consultations as well as played an active role in spelling out to the council how they would like the Diggers Rest Recreation Reserve upgrade to look like. It is amazing to watch different community members take leadership on different items based on their skills and experience.
‘Neighbours Network is a great way to give input into what changes one would like to see happening in Diggers Rest. It is an important outlet for the community to connect, share, showcase their skills and be happy’, says Kathleen Codognotto, an active neighbour.
If you would like to see people in your neighbourhood come together and develop the magic neighbourly kinship then please contact Inderdeep on Inderdeept@melton.vic.gov.au