Places available in Mitchell & Murrindindi Shires for a free social enterprise training program

Bendigo, 3 April 2017: Got a great idea? One that will change your region, your town, your community?

If you live in Victoria's Mitchell or Murrindindi Shires, there’s now an opportunity to get the skills and support to make it happen.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) is partnering with the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF) and working with Mansfield Adult Continuing Education (MACE) to deliver two Social Change 101 programs, one each in Mitchell and Murrindindi Shires, each with 12 sessions running between June and November 2017. There is no cost to participate.

Natalie Egleton, CEO FRRR, explains that FRRR has worked with VBAF since the Black Saturday bushfires to support communities in recovery and renewal. This is the latest in a long list of programs designed to create stronger, more vibrant and resilient communities.

“The Social Change 101 program is designed for socially-minded individuals looking to develop an idea or grow an existing social venture. It's also suitable for those innovating from within an established organisation, looking to transform a new or existing program into a social enterprise.”

Ms Egleton explained that a social enterprise tackles social problems, improves communities, or benefits the environment through a business model, with profits being used to further the enterprise cause, reinvest in new programs or increase employment opportunities, for example.

“These are the second and third of three programs we are running in the 2009 Victorian bushfire-affected regions to support the development of social enterprise and economic recovery. The program is a great opportunity to learn new skills and become part of a dynamic network of fellow social innovators, community leaders and support organisations that will provide vital inspiration, encouragement and connections through the program and beyond. You will even walk away with an enterprise business plan that has been critiqued by experts. Take this opportunity with both hands!” said Ms Egleton.

The program is facilitated by Sue Gold who is an experienced business consultant, mentor and educator with extensive experience in business, community and social enterprise sectors. She is a highly supportive and collaborative facilitator, helping people to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence so that they can make informed decisions about the effective leadership, management and growth of their enterprise.

To be eligible for the program you must be at least 18 years of age and have lived in the Murrindindi or Mitchell Shire at the time of the 2009 bushfires or have moved to the areas since 2009. Applicants will also need to demonstrate passion, drive and commitment to their idea and show how it can support broad public benefit around economic and social outcomes for the community and region.

Jan Ryan from Quercus Beechworth (formerly Beechworth Community House), was a participant in the 2016 Indigo/Alpine Social Change 101 program and during the program took the opportunity to work on development of an online platform for the Community Bookshop and subsequently on the Connecting Beechworth Project.

“We’ve been able to get the ideas out of our head and into a business plan.  Without the Social Change 101 network of fellow social entrepreneurs, mentors and business experts who have provided inspiration and advice, I doubt we’d be as far along with our concept as we are now,” said Ms Ryan.

Jackie Thompson also participated in the 2016 program. She said that she believes social enterprises can play a significant part in helping lift people out of social disadvantage and wanted to learn more about them.

“More and more consumers want to be socially responsible in their purchase decisions and I believe they are attracted to enterprises that give back in some way. People are willing to support these businesses as they can directly see how their purchase can benefit a local community. So delivering community projects and services via a social enterprise is a good way to help fire affected communities get back on their feet.”

To register your interest, go to You can also contact Sue Gold on 0411 094 165 or Those who register will be invited to attend a round-table to learn more about the program. Session dates will be confirmed shortly, and held in late April 2017.


About VBAF

The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund was established on 8 February 2009 by the Victorian Government in partnership with the Federal Government and Australian Red Cross, to support individuals and communities in towns and suburbs affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history. When the Appeal officially closed on Friday, 17 April, 2009, $379 million had been raised. The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund Independent Advisory Panel is made up of community leaders who oversee the Fund's operation and the allocation of funds, based on a number of criteria for payments. VBAF works with FRRR to distribute funds via a number of grant programs. To find out more about VBAF, visit

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