Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley are diverse communities, with unique opportunities and challenges for the people that live within them. Privatisation of the power industry in the 90s took its toll on the Latrobe Valley’s economy, but this is being countered by passionate and well informed residents who are determined to restore the region’s vivacity beyond what it has ever been. KSF takes keen interest in a number of these initiatives, such as Indigenous health and reconciliation programs, parenting and immigration support for Sudanese refugees, and the Big Red Kidney Bus project, envisaged by Latrobe Valley locals.

Bass Coast/South Gippsland Reconciliation Group promote reconciliation within the Phillip Island, Mirboo North, and Wilsons Promontory areas. They meet once a month to share knowledge, art, music, history, current affairs. The more non-native Australians can learn about Indigenous culture, history, and traditions, the better we can grow together as a nation.

They hosted an Indigenous health forum in Inverloch this year, including Aboriginal Health Training advice, Outreach advice, and influential guest speakers. Education empowers Indigenous Australians to better their lives, their communities, and their positive links with the rest of this country. KSF sponsored filming of the forum, aimed to build awareness of Indigenous health issues and teach healthy lifestyle options. We look forward to the release of the DVD with great anticipation!

“Across the world, millions of people are being displaced by war, population pressures, climate change, and civil conflict” (Hauxwell, 2013). The Latrobe Valley offers affordable housing and a country lifestyle which continues to attract refugees. Rhonda’s company, Latrobe Valley Bus Lines, is the key public transport provider in the region, and she recognises the need to support these new members of the community. Although these people have fled the poverty and widespread violence, their arrival to Australia brings a new set of challenges. For example, Sudanese children must try to learn completely new approaches to manners, discipline, and social etiquette. Jenni Jenderson explains the difficulty understanding one set of rules and habits inside your home, and a completely different set when you step outside your front door.

KSF fund the Parenting Program through the Parenting Research Centre. The program, delivered in partnership with Gippsland Multicultural Services, encourages parents to respect their home country’s traditions, while developing an understanding of their new country’s culture. The success of this program is underpinned by mutual respect and learning, and by the sharing of teaching methods. Respecting the importance of maintaining Sudanese cultural identity and a feeling of independence allows for meaningful learning, which is then passed on to the broader refugee community. By developing an understanding of their situation, Sudanese parents feel empowered and relaxed, allowing their children to settle confidently and peacefully into their new way of life.