Local change makers put forward social enterprise ideas

The Social Change 101 program is ticking along nicely, in its second year, and currently operating in the shires of Mitchell and Murrindindi. The initiative is the second in a series of long-term disaster recovery programs supported by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF), supporting regional Australians to grow a social venture to drive change in their community. (The first program was run in the Alpine/Indigo region and their graduation ceremony was held in November 2016).

The Social Venture workshops that were held in June at Clonbinine Hall and Kinglake Pub revealed the ideas of local change-makers, including a proposal to build a village of tiny houses to fight homelessness and climate change in one fell swoop, and a mobile enterprise providing in-home professional storytelling and craft activities for children's parties – improving literacy and creativity through social experience.

Social Change 101 workshop Social Change 101 workshop Social Change 101 workshops


Tammy Atkins and Sue Gold, facilitators of the workshops, sent us this update about the ideas from Block One participants in the program.

Tiny village comes from a big idea

Judy Clarke is the convener of Transition Village Wallan Inc. (TVW), a group of volunteers who are working to support local homeless people by building a village of tiny houses to provide safe, supported short-term accommodation for people who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

“I believe that a total community change, to a low carbon economy, is necessary to strengthen our communities so they can face climate change; and this village of tiny homes can become a model for that transition.”

Judy wants to address some of the problems facing vulnerable members of her community by providing housing and support for local homeless people. She aims to do this by designing a model for sustainable design and living to overcome rising housing costs and a high carbon dependency.

As well as providing basic shelter and safety, TVW will make opportunities available to residents for personal growth and will help them to re-engage with the community through job training, personal, financial and physical health assistance, and by demonstrating their presence and acceptance in, not outside of, her local community.

Judy is grabbing the opportunity Social Change 101 offers with both hands.

“Transition Village Wallan is a large complex project and, as convener, I need to learn the skills and to develop the networks which will lead to a successful outcome for the project. I’m confident that the Social Change 101 program’s going to be a great help in getting us started.”

A new way for children to enjoy books is coming to you

Mitchell Shire resident Michelle Fusco wants to set up a service for children that will encourage reading as a fun activity and which will also ultimately contribute to literature-based organisations, making an even bigger difference to literacy in Australia.

“Our personal service provides an opportunity, not yet available to children and families in our area and I sincerely believe ChataBook will increase interest in literature and creativity through the social experience.”

Michelle works with special needs children at a local primary school.  She has a passion for inspiring children to have fun, especially while they learn and this is where her idea for ChataBook was born. ChataBook is a friendly mobile enterprise that provides in-home professional storytelling and craft activities for children's parties. Michelle’s aim is to promote and encourage a love of books, as she assists little authors and illustrators read and make their own.

Michelle has seen first-hand how imagination and improved literacy can broaden the lives and experiences of the Shire’s children. Her work brings her into close contact with children who have learning difficulties, autism, anxiety, dyslexia and who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. She wants to reach out to them, especially, in a fun and engaging way:

“Currently there are limited services within our Shire for these families,” says Michelle. “It is my hope that ChataBook will provide children with special needs an opportunity to celebrate their special occasions with their families in a way that accommodates their specific needs. I sincerely believe ChataBook will increase interest in literature and creativity through the social experience in a party environment.”

Michelle's creativity and enthusiasm for engaging children is infectious, and with this spirit - and the support of the Social Change 101 program, Michelle is excited to launch ChataBook later this year.

She has put a lot of the thinking into ChataBook, but she freely acknowledges that she lacked the business skills to really plan it out. That is why she asked Social Change 101 for assistance.

I really need assistance with formulating a business plan and finding out what is required to set up a business.” she stated in her application.

Over the next few months, Michelle will work with the Social Change 101 program to test her thinking with business and marketing specialists, financial and grant writing experts, lawyers and social impact researchers. By the end of the year, ChataBook will have an ambitious, yet achievable enterprise business plan to hit the ground running.


The Social Change 101 program will see these ideas and others fleshed out over the next few months through workshops, action learning and mentoring to assist participants in developing realistic business plans. Learn more about it all here

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