Happy Easter! We have had a wonderful start to the year at Highways and Byways having received some really exciting applications for our Small Grants Program for 2023 Healing and Growing Together. The Projects Committee and Board all agreed that our regional and remote communities across Australia are still suffering the after effects of drought, bushfires, floods and Covid19. We wanted to ensure our grant support was available to those attempting to heal and grow from these challenges, particularly to restore social and ecological well-being and to continue fostering indigenous identity and cultural connections. We thank all of you for your generous support of these programs through your donations and messages of encouragement – each one makes a real difference!
Our longer term programs in Roma and North Eastern Tasmania are all on track to make significant developmental changes for their local communities. I was fortunate to visit Tasmania in January to meet with both Todd Dudley who runs our Restoring Nature and Communities program and Tani Langoulant from Free2b Girls.
Restoring Nature and Communities
Todd showed me the vast area of land the project has restored across the Break O Day municipality. I met with some of Todd’s team and could see the positive impact that both the employment and work itself has had on their lives. I’m so impressed by the way such a relatively small project can have such a big positive impact on the community as a whole; the people, the environment and all those who hear about it. The project is a great example of taking a wholistic ecological perspective on how we can live; benefiting the people, the land and the local economy of a small community.
It was also wonderful to meet Tani who is running the Free2b Time program in 2023 with Highways and Byways. Tani has been growing the Free2b Girls organisation for the last few years, supporting teenage girls who are isolated by their remote location in St Helen’s Tasmania, by providing a safe space where the girls can connect with supportive adults in a group setting. The program has been so effective that other small communities have replicated it and asked Tani to develop and run training for them. The Free2b Time program has developed in St Helen’s to respond to the need of many of the girls for more 1:1 support, especially as they face the end of local schooling which finishes at Year 10, adding extra pressures of leaving home to continue their education or find employment. Tani’s passion and vision for the work is inspiring to say the least!
Seeds of Connection
Our Seeds of Connection program in Roma (South East Queensland) has again received generous grant support from Mary MacKillop Today for three of its projects in 2023. Megan will run the first Healing and Belonging through Culture program for indigenous women at the sacred site of the Yamba in Mitchell. The women will be welcomed and invited to connect with each other, to have the rare opportunity to share their life stories and hopefully experience the healing that comes from sharing about the struggles they have faced in maintaining and passing on their cultural identity, language and practices, particularly regarding women’s business.
Finally, I would like to advise that the Board of Highways and Byways has appointed Helen Casey as a new Director. Helen brings a wealth of experience across all areas of business, from her many years in both the corporate and not-for-profit sector. We are very grateful for the contributions she has already made, and look forward to 2023 and beyond.
IMAGES, Main: Jane Collopy with Todd D udley. Insert top: Jane Collopy with Tani Langoulant. Insert botton: Helen Casey.