Our Approach to Programming  – through a COVID-19 lens



Men's Shed - maintenance and improvement program: opportunity to explore mental health/suicide prevention links

Art Group - opportunity to strengthen and support this group (currently inactive)

Writer's Group - opportunity to strengthen and support this group (currently inactive)

ART Attack/Circus - project has strategies in place, re-commencement to align with easing of restrictions

FoodisFree - expansion, improved facilities: partnerships with Anglicare Victoria, Second Bite, FoodisFree, Daylesford Good Grub Club and Hepburn Shire Council

Open House Deliveries - increased sustainability, now delivering 60+ meals a week including ‘Together’ meals that have been paid forward: pivot support by Hepburn Council

Yoga, Qi Gong, Clunes Trekkers - health and wellbeing: pathways to and from employability and health/wellbeing programs such as ‘Weight off Your Shoulders’ and ‘Rebound’.

During a pandemic, it's not unreasonable to take time to go back to the basics and think about what we do, and why we do it. Operating in a COVID-19 world means safety measures, restrictions and uncertainty about the wisdom/permissibility of any activity that involves large gatherings. It also means a world where deficiency needs will be acute, potentially so acute that they eclipse or inhibit people's ability to focus on growth needs. As we move into the second half of 2020, we opted to look at our approach to programming to determine how we can best meet our strategic objectives in this new world.
At Clunes Neighbourhood House our vision is for a community that cares for it's people and place. To achieve this vision, our mission is to engage our neighbourhood with diverse opportunities that strengthen and connect our community. To do this, we deliver a range of programs and our approach has been guided by Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Given the diverse socio-economic nature of our population, and the fact that we are a town with many active community groups, we've focused on those target markets that are not typically represented. This means that our core programs focus on the first, second and third levels of Maslow's hierarchy - physiological, safety and belonging needs.

Levels 1 - 2: Physiological and Safety (defined as basic needs, arising in response to a deficiency)

During this pandemic it is not surprising that these needs have been primary and will remain so for some time. With careful implementation of safety measures, great collaboration with volunteers and a few modifications, many of these activities are currently operating. COVID-19 means that there is greater awareness of these needs and as a result, several of our activities are well placed to be extended or enhanced (ideally in ways that are sustainable and better strengthen people's ability to care for people and place) through emerging partnerships or new initiatives (see italics).

Levels 3: Belonging (defined as a growth need, arising in response to aspirations)
Essentially these activities build connection and as a result for those not in immediate crisis, the need for belonging has been steadily rising as the pandemic has dragged on. Following easing of the first stage three restrictions, the more formal groups (such as the Men's Shed) moved quickly and effectively to resume operations and where necessary, continue to focus on their future direction. More informal groups moved slower, but as confidence builds and risk decreases we will see these activities resume OR adapt. In some ways, if these informal groups are able to adapt while risk levels still remain uncertain, then the resilience of these groups will be enhanced. As a result, this will be a focus area for our program support.

Levels 4 - 5: Esteem and Self-Actualisation
Typically we've sought to address these levels through major events or mass gatherings. It is unlikely we'll be able to safely, and wisely (reputation damage) in the next 6 - 8 months. This has already impacted on our community, and will directly impact Christmas in Clunes in December 2020. Consequently we need to think creatively about how we meet these needs. Inclusivity is key for Clunes Neighbourhood House, so doing this in a way that brings people up the hierarchy will be important. It will also be important to involve as many individuals and groups as possible in this discussions.
It will strengthen our ties with people in the community who may not be typically involved in our other level activities, attract new volunteers or partners to Clunes Neighbourhood House and support collaboration and resource sharing.


Demonstrating our ability to effectively pivot in order to not only meet deficiency needs but strive for recovery will not only benefit our organisation and those we support – but it will provide others with an opportunity to see what is possible.

Clunes may be a community with more than its fair share of socio-economic disadvantage; even before this pandemic. But we are also a community with innovation in our DNA.

- Accessible and provide early childhood facilities
- Links to early childhood and family support
*Identified in the Clunes Community Plan, 2015 as a key priority

Partial funding secured Hepburn Shire Community Planning Implementation Fund. A collaboration with the Clunes Mens Shed will enable us to deliver the balance – including donation of a tram which will be refurbished as part of the toy library.

Click the photo to read more about Our Toy Library

Improved employability outcomes for people in Clunes through:

- Wellbeing centred approaches

- Community-based delivery models

- Supporting local economy


Partnerships established and local program designed. Components first trialed in 2017. Seeking funding. Grant submissions pending.  Partial funding secured.  Fingers crossed.

PUBLIC_ Rebound.jpg

Click the photo to read more about Rebound

Nurturing belonging and creating support networks through:

PUBLIC Toy Library .jpg

Improving the potential for local prosperity through:

- Support for local businesses

- A whole of community approach to economy building

- A strategy for recovery

Partnerships established and local program designed. Seeking funding. EOI submission pending. Fingers crossed.


Click the photo to read more about BOOM: Clunes Business & Employability Centre