Community-Led Flood Recovery in the Loddon Mallee

Recognising communities as the best architects of their recovery, Women's Health Loddon Mallee provided financial support for place-based flood recovery projects that engaged hundreds of women across the region.

Women’s Health Loddon Mallee (WHLM) understand that natural disasters exacerbate existing gender inequalities and cause unequal health, social and economic outcomes that disproportionately impact women, including an increase in gendered violence. Considering the unique challenges that the 2022 Victorian floods in our region presented for women, WHLM responded with a multifaceted approach to support gender equality and women’s wellbeing approaches in emergency planning and management.

Recognising communities as the best architects of their recovery, WHLM fostered partnerships and collaboration, providing financial support for place-based recovery projects that engaged hundreds of women across the region. A total of $90,000 in community grants was made available to not-for-profit organisations and groups operating within the Loddon Mallee to lead projects and activities centered around women’s mental health and wellbeing, connection, and recovery.

Taking into consideration the unique needs of regional communities in disaster recovery, grants were distributed to support 19 projects across 8 LGAs (Rural City of Mildura, Loddon Shire, Buloke Shire, Campaspe Shire, Gannawarra Shire, City of Greater Bendigo, Macedon Ranges Shire and Central Goldfields Shire).

Funded organisations included Neighbourhood Houses, Community Health Services, Landcare, Country Women’s Associations, and other local community groups who utilised the grants to support a broad range of projects, including disaster planning and recovery leadership capacity-building for women, opportunities to connect to nature, art and healing workshops, food relief, theatre, music and dance projects, and a range of social activities that encouraged community connection and wellbeing.

More than 1100 community members impacted by floods were reached by the 19 funded projects.  A broad age range of participants benefited from the funding, including children, teenagers, young adults, adults and aged 75+ participants, as well as inclusion of LGBTIQA+ community, persons with a disability and carers.   

“…being in nature, talking, crafting and planting with like-minded women, will bring much happiness to everyone involved…[and] inspire some of us to spend more time going for walks, enjoying the calm and healing nature brings to the mind.

Women by the Water, Loddon Plains Landcare Network

“This was in a safe space for women to express their feelings, find emotional support, and build relationships with others facing similar challenges.  It is important for the women’s health and wellbeing to know they have not been forgotten and they are not alone.”

Zonta Bendigo, Rochester Ladies Lunch 

Supporting women’s mental health and wellbeing was prioritised as a key outcome throughout the funded projects, ensuring women impacted by floods were connected with mental health and wellbeing resources and services.  The opportunities to reconnect, reset and recover made available through this funding were highly valued and Women’s Health Loddon Mallee have been impressed with the quality and reach of the funded activities.

“Rochester was severely impacted by the 2022 flood, with most of the community displaced. Creating events that bring community members back to Rochester and connect them back in with their community will positively impact their mental health and wellbeing.”

Rochester Women’s Week, Rochester and Elmore District Health Service. 

“The Mad Hatters High Tea is about having fun and seeing the lighter side of life, at the heart of the day we want to share a message of support and appreciation for the courage and strength the women in our community demonstrate again and again.  We had such an interesting mix of people attend the event, not our usual crowd. We had visitors from other towns, who have taken the idea back to their communities.”

Mad Hatters Tea Party – Wedderburn Community House

“Everyone who participated has expressed how wonderful they found the painting and enjoyed the food. It has been reported that some of the teens who participated are still practicing tai chi” 

“Providing the community lunches at the Neighbourhood House each month has given many community members predominantly females, an opportunity to come together.  The lunches have been actively promoted to new community members who have come along and met others in their community.” 

“The four participants were able to quickly connect and revel in practicing their artistic skills. They got along so well that they have chosen to continue to meet up on a regular basis at BRIC – Boort Resource and Recovery Centre.

“Our projects have built community resilience by providing women and girls with an opportunity to be more socially connected, and it has encouraged individual and community wellbeing and cohesiveness to help strengthen our communities for every day, as well as extreme, challenges.”

Working on Women’s Wellbeing, Birchip Community House. 

This project was made possible with funding from Women’s Health Loddon Mallee and the Victorian Government Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Read more about the Women Rising: Empowering Flood Recovery Program in the Loddon Mallee.

Learn more about the Women Rising project deliverables and outcomes in this short video presentation: