Push for community township

Residents from Sassafras, Ferny Creek and Tremont held a meeting to generate community township group. Picture: Unsplash Hannah Busing

Shamsiya Hussainpoor

Residents in Sassafras, Ferny Creek and Tremont gathered on Monday 25 March for a community meeting to discuss about the region while also giving an input to form a Township Group.

Close to 45 people attended the event which was held in the evening at Sassafras Mechanics Institute with light refreshments.

Township groups are independent community organisations created by and for the community – they often advocate for local issues, provide a forum for sharing information, lead and support community projects as well as applying for Grants for events and projects.

In the meeting each group chose their area of focus which included emergency planning, festivals, events, advocacy, markets and more.

Currently there are no representations in Sassafras, Ferny Creek or Tremont and a few locals.

The main purpose of the meeting was to generate some interest in establishing a sufficient township group for the Sassafras, Ferny Creek and Tremont area.

Yarra Ranges Council provides insurance, mentoring and a quarterly network where Townships can share ideas and gain funding.

Yarra Ranges councilor Andrew Fullagar said he was delighted to see so many people turn up to the meeting.

“We thought we might get half that number, but that just shows people are interested up in the hills,” he said.

“We work through questions like what’s important to people, what they love about living in the Dandenong and in the hills.”

A newly invigorated group has recently been established for Belgrave and Tecoma and they have plans to support a centenary for Tecoma this year as well as many other projects.

There are also existing township groups in the Hills region in Upwey, Kallista and Kalorama with other groups further afield in Montrose, Kilsyth, Lilydale, Mooroolbark, Mt Evelyn and throughout the Yarra Valley.

In the meeting each group chose their area of focus which included emergency planning, festivals, events, advocacy, markets and more.

“What stood out for me were the passion and the energy in the meeting and following from that I think there is some strong interest to take the next step which will be to generate little projects or interest groups,” Cr Fullagar said.

The group is an incorporated association with an elected committee empowered to make decisions and provide leadership in the area.

There were advocacies for this region to have better telecommunications, improved response in natural disasters or support events that get people together in the strong community spirit.

Cr Fullagar said the people he meets are generous, thoughtful and community minded.

“Sassafras, Ferny Creek and Tremont are amazing communities filled with creativity, rich history, strong environmental principles and advocacy for a better future.”