The last 6 months has seen many changes in both the community and our agency, with many staggering figures to report, along with some fabulous outcomes. We are so very appreciative of all the partners, supporters, and volunteers that we work with in strengthening our community. Our impact continues to grow through these amazing collaborations.
In all areas of emergency relief there has been exponential increase in demand, not just on our services, but across the sector and other agencies we partner with, especially those in the food relief sector. Within DVCS, the figures are demonstrated below as to the growth that has occurred across the past two years.
As shown below, the numbers of ER presentations to the DVCS Greensborough office have increased, along with the numbers of new clients – or people seeking assistance from our service for the first time.
Across the community sector, it is consistently reported that there are more people who are reaching out for financial assistance for the first time, and greater numbers of the “working poor” who are experiencing mortgage crisis, along with the alarming increase in those experiencing homelessness.
Similarly, the number of people experiencing food insecurity and relying on food relief services has grown exponentially. Since 2020, the number of food relief services and access points across Victoria have increased, and in the LGAs of Banyule and Nillumbik, there are 3 new client facing food relief access points, and a network of 7 stand alone food pantries that have been established to try and help meet this need.
Prior to March 2020, DVCS did not offer food parcels directly from the office, but instead relied on referring clients to Diamond Valley Foodshare. As the figures below show, there has been a huge increase in the number of food parcels now also being distributed from DVCS. This is in conjunction with the many families accessing other food relief services in the area including Greenhills Neighbourhood House, Diamond Creek Rotary Second Bite, Banyule Support and Information Centre, CareNet in Manningham, who are all supporting approximately 80 – 100 families a week
Of note, two other areas of need that have significantly increased in terms of numbers of people presenting for assistance and agency spending, are transport assistance (petrol and PTV public transport passes) and health care / prescription assistance.
Projects, Programs and Success Stories
In August 2022 we launched our Advocacy Program. Staffed by community support worker volunteers, the program has enabled more time to be spent with those clients who have complex needs and require greater support in terms of needing application forms completed, follow up support like advocating with housing, family violence, NDIS agencies. In the 6 months since the Program was launched, 56 individuals were assisted over 80 sessions spanning 87 hours of face to face support. This is not inclusive of the time spent outside of appointments completing grants, researching, and doing paperwork on behalf of clients.
Also in that six month period, the advocacy team applied and were successful in obtaining 22 Queens Funds Grants, with an average $380 for each one totalling $8360. Additionally, there were 3 Artist for Kids Culture Grants awarded for 5 children, totalling $7500 for activities including music lessons, and drama and art classes.
Sustainability Victoria Grant
Last October The Food Collective Project was one of 39 successful projects in the second round of the Circular Economy Communities Fund.
The Food Collective Project is a joint initiative founded in 2020, by DVCS and CareNet and in partnership with many other fantastic local groups and organisations. The Next Level project aims to support the needs for the organisations involved in The Food Collective Project for the period covering 2023 – April 2024 with items including food, staff coordination, freezers and shelving, petrol, and other operational expenses.
The Food Collective Project will create opportunities for residents to participate in a circular economy initiative focused on food rescue, reducing food waste, and diverting organic material from landfill. The project will also address food insecurity, building on the existing Food Collective Project model.
The objective of the Circular Economy Communities Fund is to assist Victorian communities to transition to a circular economy by providing grant funding to solicit creative solution for issues and gaps in the current waste management system.
It is estimated that this project will result in approximately 1,500kgs of food being rescued and redistributed weekly and the diversion of approximately 78 tonnes of food from landfill annually. This project will strengthen the regional food relief sector, provide food relief to thousands of community members, and create volunteer and employment opportunities.
CareNet is the main Logistical and food receiving/distributing partner in the Project and has been integral in increasing food rescue volume through a range of sources including FareShare, Second Bite, FoodBank and local supermarkets. As demonstrated below, the volume of food now moving through the Food Collective has significantly increased and has already reached our 12-month targets for this deliverable.
This project commenced in Dec. 2022. Our initial data is:
In February 2023 we activated the next stage of the Project in which we are working to raise community awareness and dialogue around the issues of reducing food waste and addressing food insecurity in our community. We are using channels including a social media campaign and a community based cookbook to help achieve this.
Our cookbook will contain sections for recipes and tips that are aimed towards helping those with smaller budgets, and with a variety of cooking resources, tools and capacity, with view to make produce go further. These include: • Microwave only recipes • Recipes with 8 or fewer ingredients • Recipes of how to use a food item in a
variety of ways. • Creative ways to use leftovers • Money Saving Tips when grocery Shopping • Handy Hints on Food Storage We have engaged with schools, councils and community groups and already had responses from schools and local radio.
Christmas Gift Appeals
DVCS were an integral partner in delivering to Christmas Gift Appeals again in December 2022 – the Banyule Childrens Gift Appeal and the Diamond Valley Gift Appeal. The Gift Appeals source community donations of new gifts, toys and money and distributes them to local children aged birth to 16 years of age whose families are experiencing financial hardship during the Christmas season.
Banyule Childrens Gift Appeal has been delivered for over 20 years and was delivered again this year in partnership with Banyule City Council, 3081 Angels, BANSIC and Banyule Community Health. The Diamond Valley Gift Appeal was delivered in partnership with the Lions Club of Nillumbik and the Vine Baptist Church. Many, many donation partners, supporters and individuals donate their time and effort and gifts to the appeals to make these projects possible.
As shown below, they have a great impact for many families across the region.
In February 2023, our Volunteers Hub team launched their pop up /outreach service, visiting four locations every month throughout the Banyule and Nillumbik region to support and connect volunteers and volunteering organisations with their volunteering needs. Assisting the community through Volunteering is part of our Community Development Strategy that serves to support the community sector, as well as supporting our community members through increased participation opportunities in the community.
To see the Pup-Up calendar, please -> click here
The DVCS Cheer Squad
Throughout the last six months the Cheer Squad team have been hard at work undertaking many projects focused on bringing more cheer to members of our community that are doing it tough. This has included Father’s Day and Mother’s Day Pamper Packs, Easter Gifts and Christmas Toy Hampers. The Cheer Squad Projects are part of our Community Development and Strengthening Strategy that focus on increasing wellbeing and connection that complement our Emergency Relief programs.
Volunteering Awards – Celebrating our Amazing Volunteers!
In early 2023, we had the opportunity to celebrate three of those volunteers in the receiving this year’s Jagga Jagga Volunteering Awards! Congratulations to three of our wonderful team members: 𝗟𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘀, 𝗠𝗶𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝘆.
In the past 12 months we have steadily grown the activities in our Social Enterprise arm in order to support the sustainability of our agency, and to help us meet the community demand. Our Social Enterprises form a key part of generating an income to sustain our community, but also as a way to engage our community in different ways.
Op Shops – Diamond Creek and Macleod
Macleod Op Shop 10th Birthday!
Macleod Op Shop celebrated its 10th birthday in December 2022! The Macleod Op Shop has contributed an incredible $572,000 to community programs in its time, which have gone straight back into our community programs.
Both of our Op Shops are managed and run by an amazing team of volunteers who fulfill a variety of roles including coordinator, supervisors, retail stockings, window display teams, donation sorting, events promotion, social media promotion and more. The proceeds from the shops go directly to support the community, which included our education assistance program (at approximately $60,000 annually) that supporting families with children at school and in supporting those in need with material aid items. Thank you and well done, to all our volunteers who are involved in both shops today and in past years.
Ivanhoe East Market
Our first Ivanhoe East Market was held in March 2023, working closely in partnerships with St George's Anglican Church and Ivanhoe Primary School.
This market will operate a couple of special events through to Sept and then if successful may become a replacement for our Elder St market and operate monthly.
In closing, we want to thank all our volunteers, partners and supporters for making the forementioned outcomes, impacts and progress possible. With recent budget announcements and community need expected to continue to grow in the areas of housing and financial relief in particular, as the cost of living increases, we expect that such collaborations will continue to be integral to our work together in Strengthening the Community.
Kerri Wellington Operations Manager
Diamond Valley Community Support Inc.
Shop 378a Level 3
Greensborough Plaza, Greensborough, Vic. 3088
(03) 9435 8282 firstname.lastname@example.org www.dvsupport.org.au
Strengthening our Community Since 1972