October 2022 Our Town update: Gathering to look backwards and forwards

TACSI recently hosted an innovation gathering of the six regional/rural Our Town communities; a chance for towns to reflect on their learnings about innovation over the past three years and write their own Innovation Playbook to use in their own communities.

6 October 2022

The TACSI Team

2022 has been a big year for Our Town

The six Our Town communities have spent 2022 sharing stories about the diversity of their towns, testing and learning about their ideas, and continuing to form the foundations of trust, team forming and governance that underpin their work over 10 years.

Shaped with regional communities for regional communities, Our Town aims to build the capabilities of regional towns in South Australia to develop community-based responses to mental health and wellbeing with an eye to scaling what works, and influencing regional policy.

The initiative gives towns and regions the power and opportunity to define what’s best for their community, so that they can reclaim their mental wellbeing.

Find out more about Our Town
Image 1: L-R: Maree, Maria, Shane, Wilfred, Sean and Julie sit in deep conversation
Image 2: Joke and Shane connect over coffee
Image 3: Our Town convening around the yarning circle

Our Town Cummins

This year, Cummins has had a strong focus on youth and peer connection.

They have started the first LGBTQI network on the Eyre Peninsula, offered eCPR training to their community, opened an inclusive youth space and hosted tough conversations around alcohol – all while prototyping peer support models.

Sean from Cummins shares his experience at the Gathering
Sean from Cummins shares his experience at the Gathering

Our Town Kimba

Our Town Kimba has focused on facilitating and supporting connections across their community. They’ve hosted a number of safe connection spaces and a youth group, and are busy scoping and testing their idea to launch the ‘Greatvine’, a more personal community directory. They also have a strong focus on connecting with the Barngarla people and weaving reconciliation across their town.

“We are like light bulbs, and when we are vulnerable other people light up too”

Dale Baldock, Our Town Kimba

L-R: Erin, Dale, Jez, Chelsea and Cassie from Kimba

Our Town Berri

Our Town Berri has formed a powerful range of partnerships across their town, each closely aligned to their Insights. They’ve launched a volunteering program with Volunteering SA engaging hundreds of local school kids. They have tested a Nunga Driving program with incredible early impact on local Aboriginal teens. Berri has also trialled a story and history telling project, working across schools and many community groups including local Aboriginal groups.

“Innovation is about people, purpose and passion”

Julie Ahrens, Our Town Berri

Berri team member Julie in conversation with Jess from TACSI at the workshop

Our Town Mid Murray

The Mid Murray Our Town team has had a focus on a Blue Tree’s initiative, as well as prototyping a micro-granting process where the community both pitched and voted on ideas to fund that enhanced connection. They’re working closely with local schools and Council to activate change and test their insights.

“I love that in Our Town it’s okay to fail, if it doesn’t work it’s fine. Normally if it doesn't work we lose our funding, but here we can do beyond what looks good on paper.”

Joke Wenske, Mid Murray Our Town

Mid Murray team member Amie sits with Maree from Kangaroo Island
Mid Murray team member Joke
Mid Murray team member Joke

Our Town Ceduna/Far West

Our Town Ceduna/Far West has been exploring how they connect across divides through a range of mechanisms- gardening, the inaugural Indigenous Round in the AFL and netball and trialling a series of participatory grants for community ideas. They’ve also been offering Mental Health First Aid training with an Aboriginal lens across their community.

Ceduna/Far West team member Sandy shares her ideas with other town teams and TACSI CIO Chris Vanstone (L-R: Erin, Shane, Jenna, Maree, Sean, Chris, Wilfred, Sandy, Amie)

Our Town Kangaroo Island

Our Town Our Island Kangaroo Island had a pause on their work on Our Town in the wake of the bushfires, but this year have listened closely to their community to develop a series of deep insights on the culture change they want to see on the Island. They’ve also been thoughtfully working on how to set themselves up as an entity, and are on the cusp of expanding their team.

Kangaroo Island team members Kate and Maree share a moment of reflection.

Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to be the first to read an end-of-year celebration of the impact stories in Our Town communities. If you’d like to connect with any of the Our Town communities about their work, get in touch and we can share your request with them.

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