Dumbalk & District Progress Association
The Dumbalk & District Progress Association (DDPA) was formed in 1980 with Ed Hanley as its inaugural President.
Current President, Toine Bovill explained that “the initial idea was to give a voice to this area of South Gippsland, particularly for farmers going through tough times due to the economic situations thrust upon them by factors outside of their control. Over the years, many issues affecting the town and local districts were resolved through hard work and negotiating with the appropriate organisations and a lot was achieved by and for the people of Dumbalk and the local districts.”
When the local kindergarten closed in Dumbalk in 2005, the DDPA recognised immediately that there was still a need for the use of this building within the community. They secured a short term lease from the Shire and developed it as a community centre: for small group gatherings, social events like ‘biggest morning tea’, meetings of the CFA and DDPA, workshops, craft activities, card playing groups and housing historical artefacts and community resources. The Mirboo North & District Community Foundation provided some support for the development of this community space over the years including notice boards, technical and office equipment and providing a reverse cycle for heating and cooling the larger room.
‘It’s great to have a place for small groups to get together in a relaxed atmosphere for socialisation’ says Bev Hanley, Secretary of the DDPA.
About five years ago, the Shire considered selling this building, but the DDPA and the community continued to explore its potential for the local community, having sought professional confirmation that the building was solid as a rock. With the use of the main meeting room well established, there were still a number of rooms underutilised and the DDPA realised that they were well suited to the creation of professional consulting suites for use by healthcare professionals and others to visit periodically to service the community.
Currently the requirement to travel across to regional towns or even to Melbourne for medical appointments is quite burdensome. In one instance an elderly person had to travel by public transport taking over 4.5 hours (due to connection issues) to be told they were 20 minutes late and may not be seen. The consultation did go ahead followed by the return travel of 4.5 hours to Dumbalk. The consulting suites have the infrastructure and technology in place to deliver this service, preventing such scenarios.
The DDPA designed, costed and applied for grants to cover the costs of nearly $120,000 needed to refurbish the building. They were delighted to receive a large and generous grant from the Foundation of Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR) late in 2014 and the upgrading of the building began in earnest. After a lot of hard work by all involved, (too many to name individually), in-kind donations, successful grant applications and support for the vision held by DDPA, the re-purposed building, was officially opened in October 2016 by Mr. Russell Broadbent, MHR, Federal Member for McMillan.
The Dumbalk Community Centre (DCC) comprises a main room for meetings, courses and small social gatherings; an office; a store room; kitchenette. At the other end of the building, the previous Maternal and Child Welfare section, there are 2 professional consulting suites, a waiting room, receptionist area, kitchenette and cleaning room for small medical procedures clean-ups.
Both consulting suites have body protected power points, and one suite has an electrically adjustable treatment table. A toilet, and disabled toilet and shower are located between the 2 sections and accessible to both. A generator inlet has also been installed, enabling the building to be used during a power outage.
The hiring fees for the facilities provide funding for maintenance, and running courses in the Centre.
Through support from a number of different philanthropic organisations, the building is also kitted out with office furniture as well as internet availability. The South Gippsland Shire Council also gave support in various ways including increasing the lease from 1 year to a 5 year + lease.
The final piece of the renovation was the installation of 3 split system air conditioners in the consulting suite section. The DDPA were successful in receiving a grant in the Mirboo North & District Community Foundations’ 2016 Community Grants round, which covered the cost of these.
Without the support of philanthropic foundations such as the Mirboo North & District Community Foundation much of this would not have been possible and the DDPA and DCC committees are extremely grateful for the enormous support on all levels over the years received from the Mirboo North & District Community Foundation.
This fine building has been given a new life through hard work and thinking outside the square by a strong community organisation that wasn’t prepared to give up.
If you are interested in using the Dumbalk Community Centre for gatherings, meetings; or if you are an allied health professional, accountant, music teacher, the list goes on, who is interested in hiring the consulting suites periodically; please call the Dumbalk Community Centre on 5664 4474.
Dumbalk and District Progress Association