From an educational school garden to inclusive community events and upgraded facilities, here are just some of the good causes in the Lithgow area, around our Mt Piper site, that received a boost last year with a Community Grant.
A garden for the senses
The motto at Capertee Public School is ‘Where We Widen Horizons’, and the school is doing just that with its current Community Grant-assisted project: a sensory garden at the front of the school that will incorporate native plants and an Aboriginal yarning circle.
The school is one of six groups in the Lithgow area who were awarded an EnergyAustralia Community Grant in 2018, an initiative aiming to improve educational outcomes and boost social inclusion in communities we are a part of.
Capertee students have been closely involved in the project, researching suitable plants for their garden and selecting specimens that link to the senses. Capertee is also working with the Lithgow Aboriginal Education Community Group and creating space within the garden for a yarning circle, where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students can gather for storytelling. Once the project is complete, students will learn how to maintain the garden.
As we prepare to award a new round of Community Grants, we look back on some other important projects our Lithgow recipients undertook in 2018.
Feeding the community
Since 2017, Anglicare has been offering a fortnightly distribution of both fresh and non-perishable food for a nominal sum to low-income Lithgow residents through its Mobile Community Pantry program, which operates out of a van. “Lithgow has one of the highest unemployment rates in New South Wales, which affects the entire community’s economy and mental health status,” says psychologist Peta O’Meley, who helps manage the pantry. “By providing [low-cost] food to those on Health Care Cards and others experiencing financial stress, we are taking some of that pressure off the community.” Using their community grant, Anglicare were able to improve the safety of the community accessing the Mobile Pantry by purchasing new shelving and fencing. Over summer, their new freezer blankets have helped them keep fruit and vegetables fresh in the heat.
Protecting land and culture
The Mingaan Wiradjuri Aboriginal Corporation is deeply involved in the Lithgow community, as Elder Helen Riley (known as Aunty Helen) explains. “We go across the board with everything,” she says: “we do a lot of work protecting our sites and the environment, we have meetings for our young people and we hold workshops.” The corporation used a Community Grant in 2018 to purchase a desktop computer and printer for one of its local offices, which will boost its productivity in the years ahead. Riley says it’s the latest chapter in a long-running collaboration between EnergyAustralia and the corporation. “We’ve got the motto: ‘If you look after the land and the rivers, the land and the rivers will look after you’. EnergyAustralia helps us with that.”
Looking after the bear necessities
The Lithgow Bears Rugby League Club is one of the area’s most cherished institutions, having been a part of the community for more than 35 years. Last year, the not-for-profit club’s shed was showing signs of wear and tear, so its members applied for an EnergyAustralia Community Grant to bring the facilities up to date. The newly painted and refurbished shed features an all-new female change room to better serve the club’s growing membership and hopefully attract more women and girls to join. There’s also new tables and seating, new signage and important new equipment such as a first-aid kit and water bottles. And, because the shed is used by multiple local groups, the grant’s impact will be felt widely across the Lithgow community.
Safeguarding a mine’s heritage
The Cullen Bullen Tidy Towns Committee has for many years played a major role in preserving the area’s coal-mining history. In 2014, it officially opened the Skip Line Rest Area on the Castlereagh Highway to commemorate the old Invincible Colliery, which for decades was the economic lifeblood of the town. The rest area features a memorial wall, a plaque, a garden and an original mine skip complete with coal and a miner’s hat. Beside the rest area is the old skip line, which was used to haul coal from the mine to the nearby railway siding. In 2018, four years after the rest area was completed, the NSW State Government gave the green light to reopen the Invincible Mine – a move that was widely welcomed by the local community. That same year, the Tidy Towns Committee applied for an EnergyAustralia Community Grant to reseal the rest area, which had begun to deteriorate as a result of heavy foot traffic, preserving the historic site for years to come.
Building community spirit
The New Year’s Eve celebration at Lake Wallace is fast becoming one of Lithgow’s favourite events, bringing together families from across the region for an afternoon and evening of musical entertainment, market stalls, jumping castles, face painting, games, snow cones and fairy floss. There’s an economic benefit, too, with local organisations such as The Wallerwang Baseball Club, Portland Scouts and Men’s Shed hosting barbecues and hot dogs stands to raise funds. In 2018, the celebration culminated in a spectacular fireworks display that was organised by the Wallerawang Lidsdale Progress Association using Community Grant. The fireworks were a fitting way to signal EnergyAustralia’s continuing commitment to the Mt Piper region in 2019.
Applications for Round 1 of EnergyAustralia’s 2019 Community Grants will be accepted between 1 March and 29 March 2019. Visit energyaustralia.com.au/mtpiper for more information.