Women who Mean Business selling Gippsland 's Finest
  Project Update & Progress Report

Summary Report - Prepared by Belinda Brennan, May 2006

In February 2004 - $379,000 was granted through the Victorian Government Community Support Fund for the project
Women Who Mean Business …..selling Gippsland's Finest.

The project was launched in Sale by Deputy Premier and Minister for Victorian Communities John Thwaites in February 2004.

The Women Who Mean Business project set out to address the needs of women in Gippsland.

  • To realise their full potential
  • To develop greater self-esteem
  • To be more involved in promoting Gippsland
  • To increase business and employment opportunities

Stage One Project Establishment January - June 2004

  • Project Management Committee established
  • Project Officers and Project Networking Officer were employed
  • Production of first quarterly Newsletter - 1300 distributed
  • Website established wwmb.org.au
  • Establishment of 8 regional working groups - 170 participants
  • Orbost & District
  • Buchan & District
  • Stratford / Maffra
  • Latrobe Region
  • Warragul & District
  • Leongatha / Meeniyan
  • Yarram & District
  • Swifts Creek / Omeo
  • Women who Mean Business expressions of interest and data base - 240
  • Database Gippsland Women's Network - 1200
  • Women who Mean Business Email List established - 160

The groups were asked to develop their own database of contacts to expand the Network and Diaries of the project process and stories were created and maintained throughout the projects.

GWN History CD, Website & Presentation in Queensland History CD, Website & Presentation in Queensland.
As the project grew and networks expanded requests were received from groups wanting to hear more about the history of the Gippsland Women's Network. A presentation was created on CD and made available to Government and community groups.
GWN President Mary Salce was invited to Charters Towers in Qld to showcase the history of the Gippsland Women's Network and the projects including the WwMB as an example and an inspiration for other groups wishing to establish similar projects to empower women in their own communities.

Stage Two Skills Development Workshops July 2004 - March 2005

The Women Who Mean Business project presented an exciting opportunity for women of all ages, economic and cultural backgrounds to come together from all over Gippsland to develop talents in leadership, business and the arts through a series of workshops.

Over 885 participants have contributed to 50 skills training workshops and more than 200 have been directly involved in the community projects.

Prior to commencing their community projects, each group took part in a series of similar workshops and later more defined areas were addressed according to each individual project.
Some of these workshops were funded by Victoria University.

Primary Workshops included:

  • Two Day Skills Development
  • Working with the Media
  • Business Planning
  • Events Management Workshops

Other workshops requested by individual projects included:

  • Digital photography
  • Creative writing
  • Interviewing
  • Submission writing
  • Sculpture
  • And Mosaic

Stage 3 Putting Theory into Practice July 2004 - December 2005

Each community project received $10,000 and were expected to raise another $10,000 either in grants or in kind. Each group developed detailed project plans including budget, timelines, stakeholders, strategies and actions.


  • Creation of a quilt celebrating the diversity of women in South Gippsland, the ages, stages and paths that bring them together, creating a blanket of support for all
  • Development of a register of all youth activities in the Mirboo / Boolara / Thorpedale districts with assistance from local community groups in those areas, the south Gippsland shire council and the Mirboo district youth network.


Arts Discovery Trail in Linear Park - over 50 bollards have been painted and erected along the path, each depicting a theme from Gippsland's heritage. All painted by local groups or people.

Major Outcomes:

  • Group became incorporated as the Women's Compass Network
  • Website for Gippsland Artists
  • Working with the local shire, schools, community groups and businesses
  • Group participants are learning public speaking
  • Shire has undertaken capital works to improve the beauty and safety of the Linear Park Trail including installation of lighting
  • Group of about 30 artists involved in making bollards
  • Participated in the 'Warming Up for the Commonwealth Games'
  • Submitted a three year plan to the Shire regarding future plans


Garden for Humanity. The Garden, a place for locals and tourists to gather for recreation and enjoyment

Major Outcomes

  • Learning new skills including garden design, sculpture & woodcraft, business skills etc
  • Learning to work with and within committees
  • Developed networks with community groups, landcare organisations, local council & businesses
  • Learnt skills and gained experience in dealing with the media for a positive outcome
  • Researched & recorded aspects of local history
  • Developed awareness and understanding of Koori culture and heritage
  • Provided an opportunity to link Rail Trail to Maffra, Sculpture Garden and Town Walk

Latrobe Valley

Tucker 'n Tales - recipe and story book

Major Outcomes:

  • Confidence
  • Skills Development
  • New Businesses & Products
  • New Networks including Tourism
  • New Learning Opportunities
  • Working with Media
  • Involvement with Commonwealth Games
  • Project as base for Community Development unit at Monash Uni
  • Assisting other Community Groups with Fundraising

Buchan Project

Art & Craft Gallery - Buchan Gallery Inc

Major Outcomes:

  • Communicating with community, bringing people together
  • Negotiated with Shire
  • Incorporation of the Group
  • Skills training inc Risk Management, Legal Documentation
  • Communicating with media and submitting media releases
  • Received funding from Shire for fire affected areas.
  • Grant Submissions
  • Set up own website
  • Connection with Tourist Operators
  • Setting up Opening & running of a gallery

Swifts Creek/Omeo Project

Traveling Photo & Art Exhibition.

Swifts Creek, Omeo project had three parts

  1. Enhancing the Back to Back Wool Challenge,
  2. Staging a photographic exhibition of the challenge and then
  3. Taking local artists and their works to the city.

Major Outcomes

  • Photographic & Art Exhibition which was shown in Gippsland and in Melbourne
  • Learnt the process development of a project and making the transition from goal to achievement
  • Women learnt the importance of planning and being open to ideas
  • The role of reflection in approaching problem solving creatively
  • Working with existing events - back to back - to promote tourism and community participation & plans for ongoing involvement
  • Developed networks both locally and in Melbourne
  • Organising of own workshops
  • Overcoming personal fears to exhibit own artwork in the city
  • Developed confidence to go on to bigger and better things
  • Realisation that things are more accessible than previously believed - you just have to give it a go
  • Learnt the value of others and their willingness to help and to be involved

Orbost Project

Magical Garden Community Pathway. At Orbost they've created a Magical garden and community walkway that incorporates
native plants and sculptures.

Major Outcomes:

  • Liaised with Shire, Parks Victoria & Local Businesses for funding
  • Obtained in-kind contributions & participation from community
  • Meetings & negotiation with DSE & Parks Victoria
  • Assisted in preparation of plan with Shire
  • Planning a landscape and assisting with drawing up of plan
  • Working with Koori art group
  • Participants taking responsibility for tasks
  • Research & Negotiation skills developed & improved
  • Learnt how to compromise and gain consensus
  • Increasing artistic skills and completing workshops
  • Increased Confidence & Self Esteem


Spring into Art Festival - a four day festival held over Melbourne Cup weekend to celebrate the arts in various locations around the district..

Major Outcomes

  • Marina Prior
  • Conducted a highly successful Festival that attracted a wide range of people to Yarram & District over 4 days
  • Utilisation of the old Court House after helping to get the renovations underway
  • Developed network with the organising committee of the Annual Tarra Festival
  • Established database of Artists within the Region
  • Developed brochure, website & extensive advertising for the Festival
  • Worked together with local hospitality businesses, shires & the community to promote the district
  • Developed a strong volunteer database

Stage 4 Showcasing and Celebration September 2005 - March 2006

Launch of each Project


  • Spring Into Art Festival - 28th October - 1st November 2005. Over 2000 people attended.

Omeo Swift Creek

  • 12thJune, Omeo International Wool Challenge Back to Back. Over 400 attended
  • 29th August. Back to Back Photographic Exhibition. Over 30 attended.
  • 15th October 2005. Omeo/Swift Creek Connections Exhibition opened by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Victorian Communities, John Thwaites at the Queen Victoria Women's Centre, Melbourne. Over 80 attended.


  • 1st October .The Launch of the Garden for Humanity, officially opened by the Hon. Joan Kirner. Over 200 attended.


  • 28th January 2006 - Launch Baw Baw Arts Discovery Trail Over 100 people attended


  • Magical Garden (to be opened after Forum)


  • Buchan Gallery (to be opened after Forum)


  • Tucker and Tales book - to be launched late February

Showcasing Forum - 17th & 18th February 2006.

  • 120 participants across the two days
  • Presentation by each Project
  • Key Note speaker - Joan Kirner
  • Marketing Forum
  • Workshops
  • Art & Craft Market
  • Celebration and Entertainment with Food


The project evaluation has taken a number of forms:

  • Evaluation of workshops
  • Feedback to Project Management Committee
  • Interviews with participants (documented report)
  • Evaluation of Forum (documented report)
  • Survey in Final Newsletter - overall project.

Final Report

The final report for the Women Who Mean Business Project is due in late July 2006. It will be a showcase of the great achievements of the project, the key learnings, the outcomes, evaluations and where the groups and projects are heading after the project.

A double page spread for each project including photos will highlight the project outcomes and share some of the experiences along the way.

The report will be handed to the Community Support Fund at a luncheon in late July in Sale.

Belinda Brennan
Brennan Facilitation and Management Services
17th March 2006

The Statistics

  • Over 3000 people involved in/attended project activities
  • 58 workshops, 920 participants
  • More than 170 media articles
  • 160 Govt, Business & Community groups participated
  • Seven of the groups donated more than $10,000 in kind support
  • Cash grants from Gippsland Shires totaling $12,700
  • Small Volunteer Grant $2500
  • Much more in in-kind support from right across the region
  • 330 Members on the WwMB Email List
  • Approx. 800 on the mailing list database
  • 1000 Newsletters being distributed quarterly

And that is just the beginning

Top Ten Golden Rules for Successful Community Development Project

  1. Effective communication is vital
  2. Community projects mean working together
  3. Accept the Group will take time to develop - use the time wisely
  4. Have a Plan, Write it down, update it when necessary
  5. Keep good written records
  6. Enjoy the project - its challenges, the personalities, the setbacks and the achievements
  7. Recognise that everyone in the team has great skills
  8. Look after the people in the team - they are your greatest asset.
  9. Share resources, the workload, the excitement and the disappointments
  10. Keep it in perspective

Overall Project Outcomes


  • Improved confidence and self knowledge about what one can do and would try
  • Learning from others through newsletters as well as personally
  • Increased confidence of women to get involved
  • Increased confidence in dealing with organisations for community benefit.
  • Raising profile of local women via newsletters and media.
  • Recognising the importance and acknowledging diversity in personal skills, abilities and interests.


  • Development of skills - both personally and as a group
  • Communication, research, business, submissions writing, budget management, event management, negotiation, media, mosaicing, digital photography, strategy planning - the list goes on)
  • Development of understanding of mechanisms of government and how to work with them for community benefit.
  • Awareness and greater understanding of Koori culture and heritage
  • Skills developed being utilised for other community projects
  • Skills developed being utilised for business ventures
  • Establishment of websites


  • Establishment of ongoing partnerships and linkages with range of government and non government organisations
  • Expansion of networks and opportunities for cooperation
  • Strengthen relationships with local Shire and community groups
  • Forming new support networks


  • Greater involvement of women in other local projects
  • Women taking on new roles, and opportunities for other projects
  • Increase in women taking on leadership roles in community organisations
  • Promotion of community projects and achievements - across Gippsland and the State
  • Development of friendships


  • Three of the project committees have incorporated and are working on new projects in the community
  • The money raised from the sale of "Tucker 'n' Tales will be directed into other community projects
  • Establishment of new business ventures by women involved in projects
  • Increase in women involved taking up new employment
  • Community members and project workers
  • Both part time and full time work
  • Economic benefits to local communities especially when events held. (over 2000 in Yarram for Spring into Art Festival)
  • Increase in tourism opportunities for project sites and local towns
  • Increase in publicity for tourism opportunities

Women Who Mean Business Project Ends with a Bang (and a toot!)
Media Release 20 Feb 2006

Last Friday & Saturday over 100 women gathered in Sale to showcase and celebrate The Women Who Mean Business - Selling Gippsland’s Finest Project.

This was the culmination of the $450,000 - three year project.

After showcasing the eight projects across the region, former Premier of Victoria, The Hon. Joan Kirner responded. Mrs Kirner said "It's fantastic to see what you're doing; one of our next steps is to make sure that we have the capacity to share that with other women, not only rural women but urban women as well, to say this is what we can do"

Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan made a brief appearance to reiterate his support of the project. Mr Ryan said "the women of our community are so often the leaders in the way in which Gippsland functions. The program today is a testament to the remarkable diversity of women in Gippsland"

The event at the Esso BHP Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre in Sale also featured an Art and Craft Exhibition giving participants an opportunity to display and sell their products.

Police Inspector Jill Wood spoke at the dinner on Friday night about how the role of women in policing had changed over the last thirty years.

The “tooting” came under the instruction of Jill Gael, Co-Founder of the Centre for People Development. Jill had dinner guests and project participants “tooting their own horns” in recognition of the incredible contribution each person has made in one way or another towards the development of the projects and the training and empowering of the people involved in the WwMB project over the last three years.

Workshops were held on Friday and as a result already women are making plans to set up share market groups, develop more distinct business plans for their workplace and further investigate the use of websites to promote their community groups and businesses.

The Marketing Forum on Saturday with Jill Gael, Sophie O’Neill - a specialist in food marketing, Linda Bertoli - Sage Technology’s Managing Director and Dr Sharron Dickman, - general manager of Pathfinder Marketing proved to be an outstanding success as the speakers revealed not only the positive aspects of marketing but also pitfalls from their own experience. Participants were disappointed when question time came to an end because of time constraints.

Women participating in the projects are keen to expand the network that’s been created and to share their experiences with other women in the region and beyond.

There are still 3 of the projects to be officially launched. The Latrobe group’s book Tucker N Tales will be launched at the Toongabbie Hall on Tues 28th February from 7pm, the Magical Garden at Orbost will be officially opened on Anzac Day and the Buchan Art Gallery group is waiting for confirmation of a date from the office of Minister John Thwaites and the Hon. Joan Kirner.

The evaluation of the project will continue with a final report to be presented to Minister for Victorian Communities, John Thwaites.

Three photo albums are available for viewing though they may not work well with slower internet connections.

Project Background

The WwMB project, sponsored by the Community Support Fund, has been empowering women both in their personal lives and in community leadership roles. Stage Two of the project, attracted more than 750 participants – above all expectations.

Thanks to the project officers at Omeo/Swift’s Creek, Buchan, Orbost, Stratford/Maffra, Warragul, Latrobe Valley, Yarram and Leongatha for working so hard towards this achievement.

We held 44 workshops which included two-day Skills Development, Business Planning, How to Manage the Media, Submission Writing, Event Management and Promotion, Photography, Interviewing and Creative Writing.

After a lull, the Leongatha group has started its project while continuing with skills development workshops. We acknowledge the Victorian University for providing and sponsoring the high quality training workshops. This support reduced costs and enabled our committee to deliver further training when requested by the working groups. I extend appreciation to Robert Cugno, workshop presenters and everyone in the community who has offered support.

Many of you will remember Jill Gael. We are hoping she will join us early next year when we celebrate the completion of the WWMB project. Jill has been nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Award (well deserved) and we wish her all the best.

Stage three of our project is about putting theory into practice and, as you will read in the project updates in this newsletter, the ground work is well on the way for all eight projects. During this ground work stage the groups are still identifying the different skills that are required to complete the project and arranging workshops as necessary.

All these workshops are open to the public. By doing the hands on work many women are acquiring amazing new skills and accomplishments. They are making clay tiles, wood carving, cementing, drawing and planning to scale. They are mastering photography, marketing, lobbying, submission writing, reporting, media, creative writing, testing food recipes, seeking work quotes, artistic designing, advertising and booking exhibition spaces in Melbourne to promote their region.

They are gardening, sculpturing, painting, arranging meetings with local shires to discuss inkind support and seeking sponsorship. All this and more is happening as individually and collectively women head down journeys of self and community discovery.

Outcomes to date vary from setting up new businesses to someone gaining the self-esteem to join in with local the community. We will start sharing outcomes in our Spring newsletter (see details in June’s message).

The evaluation process has begun and a brain storm will take place at the next WWMB project meeting on July 19 at Maffra. For the project evaluation we have the support of the Victorian Rural Women’s Network and the project evaluator, Jenny O Neil, employed by WwMB.

The Women Who Mean Business newsletter is a great way for women throughout Gippsland to keep up to date with what is happening throughout Gippsland. All up, 1000 copies of the newsletter are distributed around Gippsland.

The newsletter also can be downloaded here. Beth Harris continues to update the website as monthly reports come in and our e-mail list has grown to 195. To be included please advise Beth, info@anchorweb.com.au

In this newsletter you will find articles by John Jago and Loretta Leslie, encouraging more women to stand for Local Government election, when many municipalities go to the polls in November this year. Let’s encourage and support Gippsland women to take a stand.

Over the years I find that we are being asked more and more to make a choice to give up the right to choose and I always remember a quote from Martin Luther King “Our lives begin to end when we say nothing about the things that matter” – have a go.

For more detailed updates visit each project page.

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