Spotlight on the Central Victorian Rural Women’s Network

Logo for the Central Victorian Rural Women's Network
Each month we will help women ‘Get to Know’ an existing women’s Network in Victoria. If you have a network you think we should get to know, please drop us an email at VRWNetwork@gmail.com

The beginning

The newly formed Central Victorian Rural Women’s Network (CVRWN), evolved from the former Loddon Bendigo Rural Women’s Network (LBRWN).

The Loddon Shire and City of Greater Bendigo established the original network in 2008 during the Millennium drought. Since then the network has provided an invaluable support, benefitting hundreds of rural women across these two municipalities.

In late 2016, the Central Victorian Rural Women’s Network (CVRWN) replaced the LBRWN, auspiced by Community Leadership Loddon Murray, to share opportunities with an extended community across six municipalities in central Victoria.

Membership

Currently the network has about 300 subscribers to a monthly e-news and over 500 followers of a combined ‘Rural Women Leading Change’ and ‘Central Victorian Rural Women’s Network’ Facebook page @rwlchange CVRWN has an advisory committee comprising community and local government representatives from each of six municipalities.

Main activities

Initiatives include:

  • Chicks in the Sticks event.
  • Inglewood Dinner – 50 attendees in 2016, 70 in 2017 and aiming for 100 women in 2018.
  • Simplify Your Life (19 August 2017) in partnership with ‘Wild, Wacky Wonderful Women’ aiming to deliver a wellbeing opportunity (based on the CVRWN vision and mission) while fundraising for future projects.
  • Relief from Dairying (13 October 2017)  supported by Murray Dairy, Campaspe Shire and the City of Greater Bendigo.

The network was successful in applying for a Gardiner Foundation Grant (March 2017)

Major priorities

The Central Victorian Rural Women’s Network aims to:

  • provide opportunities for diverse rural women to connect with others locally, across the region and the state of Victoria
  • identify gaps in the delivery of services for rural women
  • encourage leadership development, develop an inclusive network for all women across the region that provides mutual support and fellowship
  • support and deliver high quality events for rural women to develop new skills and share them in their own communities
  • advocate to Local, State and Federal Governments about issues affecting Central Victorian rural and regional women

This project aims to develop and deliver a day for women who are connected to, or working in, the dairy industry and let them focus on themselves, through personal, professional and creative development.

Proudest achievements

An increase in the number of women attending the Inglewood ‘Age Is No Barrier’ Dinner.

The successful Gardiner Foundation ‘Working in Dairy Communities Small Grants Program 2017’ application enables the network to  address a specific need in the local community. The project ‘Relief from Dairying’ aligns with International Day of Rural Women and will be held on Friday 13 October 2017 at the Yarrawalla Recreation Reserve Community Hall from 10am to 3pm. The day will commence with an inspiring keynote speaker who understands the complexities of the dairy industry. Two concurrent sessions and a closing panel will follow. This project aims to develop and deliver a day for women who are connected to, or working in, the dairy industry and let them focus on themselves, through personal, professional and creative development.

Biggest challenges for rural and regional women

Women in regional, rural and remote areas are more likely than women in urban areas to experience domestic and family violence, due to a number of factors such as their geographical location, the cultural and social characteristics of living in small communities. Other factors include financial pressures, extreme weather conditions (drought), commodity markets and water markets. There are also impacted by rural demographic shifts which can all affect families and their livelihoods – increasing stresses, compromising mental health and eroding personal wellbeing.

Healthcare and its accessibility is an issue, as are the limited opportunities to access public transport, workforce opportunities nearby (majority of jobs require travel to larger regional centres and towns), and infrastructure such as childcare which prohibits women from remaining in or re-entering the workforce or obtaining further education.

Keeping in touch with members

A monthly e-news  goes to CVRWN subscribers, and the Facebook page Rural Women Leading Change @rwlchange posts interesting local opportunities and stories.

The network’s e-news is sent to a variety of other regional and local networks for their circulation, aiming to increase visibility, reach and subscriptions.

The network also has a dedicated website 

Hopes for the Vic Rural Women’s Network  

CVRWN hopes to partner with or deliver on behalf of the VRWN, a variety of local and regional opportunities for women within Central Victoria that address our mutually identified outcomes. Given the number of women’s networks across Victoria, most of which rely on volunteers, it would be terrific if the VRWN could consider:

  • awareness of grant opportunities
  • story sharing
  • network information sharing.
  • regional events or audio visual connectivity with events held in Melbourne..

Network funding

Community Leadership Loddon Murray (CLLM) auspices the CVRWN, with the City of Greater Bendigo providing a one-off, small seed-funding contribution in 2016/17 to assist with the CVRWN’s establishment. To remain viable the network must raise its own funds.

Future plans

Plans are to increase the membership base and partner with other organisations and/or groups to deliver opportunities that are current and relevant to the connecting needs of rural and regional women.

Visit CVRWN website or social meda @rwlchange

Tell us about your network so we can feature it in our newsletter and on our website. Send your name, network and contact details to VRWNetwork@gmail.com

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