Women who Mean Business selling Gippsland 's Finest
  Stratford / Maffra

About the Stratford / Maffra Project

A Healing Garden indeed!

What a fabulous day we had on October 1 at the opening of the Garden for Humanity in Stratford. Wonderful food stalls, craft, live music from the fiddle orchestra, sculpture making activity, wine, information stalls and Amnesty International banner, making stall and foot and hand massages.

All this and more. Many thanks to the school communities of Airly, Meerlieu, Bairnsdale Steiner school and St Patrick’s, Stratford, for supporting the event as well as all the women who displayed their wares for sale.

The garden looked a treat as the sculptures are all in place – just a few casualties in the last clay story plaques that were .red but we managed to get a printed versions of the stories there in their place as a temporary measure.

The welcome to country by Sandra Neilson, on behalf of the traditional elders, was followed by an introduction to Joan Kirner by Cr Charles McCubbin – a self confessed environmental lobbyer of Joan Kirner.

Joan opened the garden and spoke passionately about the importance of strength in women and in community as well making reference to the value of community partnerships.

Many Landcare members were present as were representatives from the Stratford Historical Society. The day ended with some energised and able assistance in packing up then, with the assistance of an officer from Sale traffic police, a small group of riders were escorted over the bridge, under the railway viaduct and to the start of the Maffra Stratford Rail Trail.

Thanks to Roger Woolsten and Hilda Rhodes we made it to Maffra just after the Rail trail opening. We were just in time to help the Greening Australia and community team to plant some trees on the site. The fame of Garden for Humanity lives on the many references made to it by Joan Kirner in nationwide events since the opening!

Previous Update

Outcomes So Far:

  • Learnt new skills
  • Dealt with media
  • Working in groups/group dynamics
  • Working with Committees
  • Decision making
  • A different look at committee meetings and better ways to work as a team
  • Negotiation
  • Research Partnerships and key stakeholders
  • Developed media strategy and budget
  • Participant profiles
  • Developed networks - Landcare, Greening Australia and Historical Society
  • Participants learnt new art skills - mosaic
  • General research into garden and design
  • Workshops - clay sculpture, wood turning and mosaic
  • Relationship with Avon Landcare
  • Media interviews
  • Met with Shire and prepared plan/planning approval by Shire
  • Project co-ordination
  • Inkind support from Wellington Shire
  • Event Management for launch
  • Developed risk management strategy
  • Made connections with Koori people in regard to sculptures
  • Catchment Management Authority - planning permit
  • Site layout prepared
  • Radio interviews
  • Gathered lots of volunteers
  • Yarning Circle of wider benefit to the community - use by elderly group from Sale
  • Historical element - joined with Historical Society
  • Negotiation
  • Database and email list.
  • Awareness and understanding of Koori culture and heritage
  • Bringing together knowledge of local history, indigenous plants and art
  • An opportunity to link Rail Trail, Sculpture Garden and Town Walk - Commonwealth Games Link
  • Research the ways tiles are used to tell stories.
  • Part of the historic walking trail.
  • Joan Kirner - to do the official opening
  • Liaison with local government ongoing
  • Ongoing articles and press releases
  • Process of dealing with facilities
  • Sourcing equipment and wood
  • Awareness and understanding of Koori Culture and heritage
  • Bringing together knowledge of local history, indigenous plants and art
  • An opportunity to link Rail Trail, Sculpture Garden and Town Walk
  • Garden attracted a great deal of interest from local neighbours
  • People are already using the Yarning Circle
  • Positive comments from people using picnic table in its new location
  • Garden used by Wilson's lodge for afternoon tea.
  • Local neighbours are very happy with the enhanced neighbourhood and visual aspect.
  • Children and other people seen to be playing on the elephant sculpture and reading the stories on the fence.
  • Company who does the river heights and water testing at the site are happy to write some information about the purpose of the instruments located at the site. This could go onto permanent signage.


Media Workshop - with Deb Bye

On Thursday 17th March, Deb Bye held a fascinating workshop for the women from the Stratford/Maffra Women who Mean Business group. Deb is an engaging speaker with a wealth of knowledge. She provided the group with many useful tips on: writing media releases; being a spokesperson and dealing with the media in general. One of the most entertaining and useful parts of the workshop was when she gave participants hands-on experience being interviewed. It is amazing how different it feels to have to speak into a microphone. It was invaluable to be able to play these interviews back and discuss points raised in the way participants responded to the challenge.

In the evaluation participants reported gaining new skills in the workshop as well as refreshing old ones. Some of the key points appreciated included:

Media release key points

  • Radio interviews, media information applicable to my business
  • Tips from an interviewer's viewpoint
  • Media contacts - deadlines etc very useful for promoting my new venture
  • Very practical advice - great examples. Will use in a range of ways. Handouts appreciated.
  • Great opportunity to refresh information that I need for work
  • How to do lots of things correctly
  • Information about media releases
  • The radio information was interesting
  • A very interesting evening - a pleasure to be a part of


Events Management Workshop

Maggie Maguire wowed her audience in Maffra recently where twenty two women attended her workshop on Event Management / Marketing and Promotion. Maggie is an extremely entertaining and knowledgeable presenter who is very easy to listen to. One of the first things we did was to discover the range of community interests in the room. As well as the WwMB Project there was: the Long Lunch; a number of arts based events; the Sale Turf Club; Landcare; the Maffra Agricultural Show; the Briagolong Improvement Group; National Water Week; Open Days for local businesses and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. It is great to know that the skills acquired in this workshop will be spread so widely throughout the community.

We discussed common challenges, common solutions and the problems raised by the sheer number of Events being staged nowadays. There is a huge degree of competition and we need to be tough when evaluating our events and their worth.

We discussed Risk Management and how essential it is in today's litigious society. It was stressed that, even though we may have Public Liability Insurance for events, this may end up being worth nothing if we have not shown responsibility and care in our planning. One of the main ways in which we can do this is by developing, and following, a Risk Management Strategy as part of our standard business practice. Despite being a daunting subject it can be boiled down to answering three questions:

  • What can go wrong?
  • What will we do to prevent it?
  • What will we do if it happens?

If we can work out a strategy built around the answers to these questions then our projects, participants and the community in general will be safer. This is the message that came through most strongly for me and it has already had a profound effect on the way our project is managed. It is also worth noting that there is much assistance available, through the Shires and other sources.

After lunch we then talked about marketing and promotion. Points raised here included: the importance of clearly identifying the market; having measurable objectives; and knowing where to position your promotional materials. All in all it was an extremely useful and stimulating workshop.

Some of the feedback from Maggie's workshop is included here:

  • Great opportunity to attend a workshop with such an experienced and great presenter
  • Well presented and informative - thanks!
  • Great speaker - did not get boring
  • Very well paced - a good mix of presentation and participation
  • It's really great to hear from a professional 'hands on' person

Media Workshop in Maffra
Ann Andrew - Media Workshop
Matt Yule (SRW) - Media Workshop



Business Planning Workshop with Belinda Brennan:
The Maffra / Stratford Business Planning Workshop was held at the DPI Building in Maffra on Tuesday 21st September 2004

Issues arising from the Business Planning Workshop:


  • More than one place
  • Lets do something that is all inclusive
  • Something for everybody
  • Open to all in community to attend
  • Environment is an overwhelming concern
  • Caring for women
  • Sense of fun
  • Art
  • Learning creative skills
  • Garden / herbs
  • Develop package to utilise as model for other communities
  • Caravan could move from place to place
  • Success stories
  • it is in multiple locations
  • whole communities involved
  • there could be an individual component per town
Benefits the project should have:
  • Fun
  • Sklills development
  • Networking
  • Multiplier effect
  • Spending time with friends
  • New friends
  • Small business development
  • Information
  • New connections
  • Keep your mind active
  • Opportunities
  • Community development
  • Ongoing economic benefit
  • Increasing skills
  • Stop and spend money
  • Decrease in mental health
  • Utlising current skills
  • Generation gap - involving youth
  • Making an idea a reality
  • Getting out of procrastinating mode
  • Out of comfort zone
  • Strength of units

The Business Planning Evaluation Summary can be found here (pdf)

2 Day Skills Development Workshop with Jill Gael

On Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th August, a total of 33 women came to a wonderful seminar in Maffra. It was conducted by Jill Gael and covered topics ranging from conflict resolution, reaching consensus, decision making, setting and achieving goals - the list goes on.

Jill has a wealth of experience as a business management consultant with Centre for People Development o CPDBIZ, however what makes her stand out as a facilitator is her commitment to people-centred solutions.

These two day workshops with Jill are a major focus of the Women who Mean Business Project, with good reason. It is during these workshops that participants gain valuable skills and insights into the processes that they will use as they work together on their chosen community project.

Towards the end of the second day the group held a discussion about what they wanted to work on together. As it was quite a large group there were many suggestions, however there seemed to be three distinct themes that emerged: learning and education; a physical lasting presence (ie a sculpture or a 'place'); and linkages and connections within the broad community. This was also echoed in a strong desire to share the project around geographically. Two other elements that were very strong were the environment and the arts.

Ultimately what the group decided on was to design and implement a series of workshops to enhance skills and networks. This outline will be further developed in the upcoming Business Planning workshop on 21st September.

The women who attended came from as far afield as Bairnsdale, Seaton, Briagolong, Sale, Heyfield, Stratford, Airly and Bengwarden and brought a wide range of skills, needs and expectations to the workshop. One thing they had in common though was a desire to play a part in their communities.

This workshop, while being part of the Women who Mean Business Project, also provided the participants with useful, transferable skills which they can take back into their communities and put to immediate use - whether it be in their work in community groups, business or personal life. They were also provided with a great book containing much of the ground covered in the workshop.

There was some very positive feedback, some of which is included below:
  • Wonderful presentation
  • Not a moments boredom. Loads of info delivered with laughter
  • Strategic planning session - made easy.
  • Very practical ideas - dynamic, holding my attention the entire time - spot on
  • Jill drew our disparate ideas together to make it something that you felt you could still contribute to and gain something from
  • Good forum for me to feel ok about myself and to pull down some emotional barriers
  • Excellent planning and strategy info
  • Jill facilitated the process so that everyone could say what they thought without fear
  • Great notes and booklet
Key information learnt
  • The steps relevant for the development of a project
  • The affirmation of the skills/knowledge that I possess already
  • Awareness of my mode of operation - eek!
  • Process of making transition from goal to achievement
  • The importance of planning and openness to ideas
  • Generally giving skills for living, both at home and in the community
  • Problem solving creatively
  • What constitutes leadership
  • Looking at the effect of a problem first then from there finding solutions
  • Importance of reflection

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