“So often Growing Lachlan will find a common ground to make something happen where it may not have without it. They’re essential; they’re the glue that brings a lot of stuff together."
Growing Lachlan began in 2014 with a request from Lachlan Shire Interagency Groups for a dedicated resource to improve communication and collaboration between services, increase service uptake and influence government funding to address local needs.
Over the first year, it developed into a community initiative that sought to identify and action opportunities that locals see as important to build on the Shire’s strengths.
Across 2015 and 2016, the team gathered data on key indicators of community wellbeing, conducted surveys and held a series of community conversations to understand how the community is faring, and identify key challenges and opportunities across the Shire. The information came together in the Growing Lachlan report which measures the vitality of the Shire and details the community’s shared priorities towards improving wellbeing for Lachlanders and building a thriving Shire for all; Community Renewal, Economic Development, Community Safety and Caring for older and younger generations. Across all four priorities is Cultural Recognition, Respect and Genuine Participation.
Since 2017, Growing Lachlan has worked with all Shire communities, supporting a wide variety of people, groups and services to activate their ideas towards advancing the community priorities. It is not a service provider itself but rather plays a unique linking and supporting role, and encourages new ways of working and collaboration, challenging groups to think and act on how things can be done better, and better together.
“Growing Lachlan is breaking down barriers that have been existing for years, and being strategic about how you do that - just keeping under the radar where they can keep things moving along and make sure they’re working together.”
Growing Lachlan has been successful in achieving systemic changes in the community in:
How community priorities direct investment
- Hearing and elevating community views
- Wider and more effective use of data
- Bringing in extra funding to the region
How the community works together
- Breaking down long standing barriers
- Joining the dots to fill service gaps
- Finding common ground
- Catalysing new conversations and activities
The capacity of the community to drive long-term change.
- Asking hard questions and challenging long held practices
- Building new skills in many organisations
- Getting more out of what we have and doing more for ourselves
Growing Lachlan’s key contributions to the Lachlan Shire are:
- Provides a centralised evidence base about wellbeing in Lachlan Shire
- Facilitates community priority setting in response to the data and community knowledge
- Improving quality of engagement with Lachlan communities – conducts authentic and ongoing exchange with locals to seek their views and experiences
- Works alongside community to frame solutions that will positively impact them
- Supports a great variety of community groups action the priorities set
- Brings community voices into decision-making
- Improves communication and collaboration between services across the Shire
- ‘Joining the dots,’ assisting service collaboration and accessibility to maximise efforts and avoid duplication
- Facilitating information flows about needs and services to regional, state and national agencies
- Effective community engagement, facilitation and social innovation skills
- The strategic configuration of the Growing Lachlan Alliance allows for local needs and intelligence to reach regional, state and national influencers.
While small, Growing Lachlan has been a pioneer of community-led place-based initiatives in NSW; a growing movement across Australia that has recently started receiving greater attention and funding from all levels of government. Over six years, Growing Lachlan has developed into an important community asset, with plenty of work left to do and the trust, relationships and skills to do it.
“We want our say. We want our mark on it, and that’s been the big change now - that community is always being consulted whether it’s through elders, or through the youth.”
In addition to their Growing Lachlan work over the last 18 months, the team have been instrumental in the development of the Regional Innovators Network, an award-winning model of regional capacity building, with TACSI and CAPP Dubbo. Growing Lachlan now holds sophisticated skills in authentic community engagement, community co-design and facilitation methods.
It is growing a culture of innovation in the Lachlan Shire by supporting local groups to ‘test and try’ new approaches to addressing community priorities. Growing Lachlan has supported, partnered with and in some cases catalysed a range of locally specific innovations that have improved outcomes for individuals, families and the wider community.