Getting back on the move in Loch
A near-new bus is assisting community members of Loch Sport in Victoria’s Gippsland region to travel both near and far, with the funding support of the Ian Rollo Currie Estate Foundation and FRRR’s Caring for Ageing Rural Australian’s (CARA) grant program.
Located 58km from Sale, community transport had been facilitated by the local health service; however, when it was deemed that it was no longer viable, many residents of Loch Sport were left without the vital service. Loch Sport Community House stepped in, purchased a bus and ensured that residents could get to where they needed. With a population whose average age is 64, and with no local taxi service and a bus service to Sale that only runs three days a week, the community bus became a vital link for the Community House’s 181 members and other residents.
When the Loch Sport Community House bus was nearing the end of its life, the organisation, which employs two staff and is supported by 15 volunteers, sourced a new bus to enable residents to participate in local activities but also travel further afield for medical appointments, shopping and regional events. Along with the $25,000 CARA grant, a raffle and generous donations from within the community, the trade-in of the old bus and a discount from the local Toyota dealership enabled Loch Sport Community House to purchase a new bus.
Rosie Boyd, Loch Sport Community House President said that the CARA grant proved to be a catalyst for their fundraising efforts.
“It has enabled us to get the bus far sooner than we could have dreamt of. We originally envisaged this to be a much longer-term plan. Having received the grant, it encouraged other community organisations to support us financially to obtain our goal.”
The bus is keeping Loch Sport Community House’s members socially connected and active by continuing trips to Sale for swimming, exercise and social interaction beyond the isolated location, while other trips beyond Gippsland toward Melbourne for special events are also able to be undertaken.