GEEVESTON, TASMANIA

For the women of Geeveston in southern Tasmania’s Huon Valley, opportunities to get together to learn new skills and meet new people have been few. As one of Australia’s most southerly towns, Geeveston is in an area of relative isolation with limited services and fluctuating economic conditions. But a small grant from Highways and Byways and a program recently delivered by the Geeveston Community Centre has gone some way to towards bridging this gap.

The ‘Women of the Huon’ project brought women from all walks to life together for a series of workshops to develop their creative skills, improve their knowledge and enhance their physical and mental wellbeing, all the while making new connections and forming friendships with other local people.

The Community Centre surveyed the community so that it could deliver activities that the residents wanted and would attend. It also did a call out to build its bank of skilled instructors. The result was a year-long program of diverse and engaging workshops, including cooking classes, a book club, photography lessons, craft activities, and sessions focused on mindfulness, women’s health and yoga. Its most recent workshop even introduced participants to beekeeping and included a lesson in woodworking where participants constructed their very own beehives.

Program coordinator Lucy Whitehead noted the positive community partnerships that were formed through the program, including with disability and mental health support organisation Wellways, Women’s Health Tasmania and Huon Valley Domestic Violence Service. She also reported that there is now greater awareness in the community of the wraparound services offered by the Centre, such as workplace literacy, work ready programs and budgeting and financial support.

Despite the formal conclusion of the ‘Women of the Huon’ project, it won’t stop here. Geeveston Community Centre now knows what locals want and it has plenty of ideas for future workshops. Cheesemaking is one possibility. So too is the creation of honey and beekeeping cooperative.