Key projects for the community

The following was provided by the Member for Lara, John Eren ….

As we near the end of the year, I thought it would be a great time to update everyone on some significant State Government projects that are underway in our community. There is so much happening in our wonderful northern suburbs at the moment.

As I mentioned last edition, the State Labor Government has provided $8.5 million toward the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub (NACH), a state-of-the-art facility which will bring health and wellness benefits – as well as local jobs during construction.

Construction of the new multimillion-dollar 30-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Corio, aimed at helping locals recover from substance use, is well underway. The service should become operational by the end of this year.

Construction has also begun on the $3.6 million state-of-the-art Kids Rehabilitation Centre at the McKellar Centre. The build, funded by the Barwon Health Foundation Kids Appeal, will take approximately six months to complete and will provide a purpose-built space for children and adolescents to undergo rehabilitation.

Recently, I was able to officially announce additional funding for local not-for-profit organisation Northern Futures.

I am proud to have been involved with Northern Futures since 2007, when it was founded by myself and Richard Marles, the Federal Member for Corio.

As part of the Jobs Victoria program, our government is investing in education and support for about 150 jobseekers, through training in Geelong led by Northern Futures, thanks to this funding.

Northern Futures is an important Jobs Victoria partner in our local community and works closely with local employers, with its ‘Skills for Success’ project equipping jobseekers with tailor-made training and personal support.

The Government has invested $619 million into Jobs Victoria to support people looking for work and connect employers with the staff they need. A massive thank you and congratulations to the whole Northern Futures team for their tireless work and commitment to this fantastic program.

I was also pleased to recently announce funding to two local schools in my electorate of Lara. These two local projects are part of 34 projects across Victoria that will share in $70million under Round 3 of the Non-Government Schools Capital Fund, which is delivering new schools, increasing capacity and providing modern facilities, as well as supporting the removal of asbestos and cladding.

Holy Family School (Bell Park) will receive $2million for the next phase of its masterplan, including refurbishment and replacement of existing facilities.

Covenant College will receive $2.8million to go towards construction of general purpose learning areas (GPLAs) providing generalist and specialist learning spaces with associated student and staff amenities.

Our local sporting clubs are also beneficiaries of State Government funding.

Soccer has been given a boost in Geelong’s northern suburbs, with $250,000 towards a pavilion upgrade at Hume Reserve from the government’s 2020-21 World Game Facilities Fund. The reserve is home to the Corio Soccer Club, which has seen growing interest in recent years, however the outdated facilities have stopped the club reaching its potential.

Shell Reserve Corio, home to Corio Sporting Club, has scored $500,000 towards a female friendly change facility redevelopment. This boost will go a long way to support the growing number of people in Geelong’s north keen to get involved in local sport and recreation.

The Victorian Government has invested more than $1.1billion in community sport and recreation infrastructure since 2014 to help make sport and recreation more accessible, welcoming and inclusive for more Victorians.

Friends of Cowies Creek

The following was provided by the Friends of Cowies Creek …

Spring is here and there’s so much to pay attention to at Cowies Creek.

Wattles are in full bloom; reptiles are coming out from hiding to bask in the warm sun. Birds are busy finding nesting materials and singing different songs in the hope of attracting a mate.

And during lockdowns there are lots of people getting down to the creek to take a break from life’s stresses and be amongst the happenings of nature.

Friends of Cowies Creek have been busy too, and were really lucky to avoid the lockdowns and host three public tree plantings this winter. More than 50 local community members showed up to give back to the creek and the creatures who call it home.

Together they planted more than 1500 plants, enhancing native biodiversity and connecting with like-minded neighbours who care deeply for our place. There will be many more future opportunities for folks to get involved in caring for the creek. 

They include:

  • Sunday, October 10, 10am-noon, when there will be a beach clean-up hosted at North Shore, Moorpanyal Park. 
  • Sunday, November 7, 10am-noon, when there will be a clean-up at The Fountain of Friendship Park. 

There are also the Weekly Creekly Walks, every Friday morning, meeting at the Peacock Avenue Bridge at 9.30am (when restrictions allow). 

All are welcome to Friends’ events, even if you just want to come down for a chat.

Do you have any stories to share about the creek or what you’ve been observing lately? Feel free to contact us via our Facebook page or email address: 

Looking into school lunch boxes

Researchers at Deakin University want to talk to parents and caregivers of primary school aged children about packing school lunch boxes.

Honours student Kimberley Watson-Mackie’s research project is “School lunch boxes: are parents and caregivers under pressure?”

“The project aims to explore the experiences of lunchbox preparation by parents and caregivers in Victoria, and their adherence to the school policies,” Kimberley said. “This research will shed light on the lunchbox options of primary school aged children in low-income families, including any challenges in creating healthy lunchboxes.”  

Participation in the research involves an interview, lasting approximately 30 to 60 minutes, that is conducted either remotely or in person.

Parents and carers will be invited to talk about managing their child’s tastes, working with school policies, cost pressures and trying to make the lunchbox as healthy as possible.

Participants will receive a $20 voucher to thank them for their time.

If you receive the Parenting Payment or JobSeeker Payment, have children in primary school and would like to participate in an interview about the pressures associated with lunch boxes, contact the research team.

For more information, contact Dr Fiona McKay, phone 9251-7183 or email

Vaccination booking and transport help

Do you or someone you know want a COVID-19 vaccination and either can’t use technology to make the booking or don’t have any transport options to get to a vaccination centre?

Volunteering Geelong’s Community Transport service has regular bookings, Monday to Friday, at the Barwon Health Community Vaccination Hub in Norlane.  They can assist you to get to your vaccination appointment with a team of helpful, friendly volunteer drivers.

The service provides a reliable transport option to eligible individuals within the Greater Geelong and surrounding regions.

To book a vaccination, check your eligibility and type of vaccine and then call Volunteering Geelong on 5221-1377 and they will help book your appointment and transport.

Determine which vaccine you will receive by calling the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 or check the eligibility tracker online ( Remember, the vaccine is free and will help protect family, friends and the most vulnerable Victorians.

Help with skills and pathways to work

Have you been applying for job after job and hearing nothing back?

Are you underemployed and tired of asking your boss for more hours?

Perhaps you’ve always loved the idea of working in a particular job but just don’t know where to start?

Are your kids all at school next year and it’s time to think about your future?

Or perhaps your children have finished school and they need some advice about what to do next?

Maybe you just need a bit of help to dust off your old paper resume and apply for jobs in the new online world we are living in.

If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then the Gordon Skills and Jobs Centre can help.

Skills and Jobs Centres provide free, confidential, independent help and advice about careers and training options for all Victorians. They help unemployed or retrenched people, women returning to work, recent migrants and refugees, apprentices and trainees – in short, anyone who is interested in talking about their future. They also have computers and free internet available.

The Gordon Skills and Jobs Centre is also home to Reconnect, a program funded by the Department of Education and Training Victoria.

Reconnect is a specialist program that works one-on-one with eligible participants. Its key objective is to support participants to identify and achieve their work and learning goals by helping to break down any barriers in their day-to-day life.

The program is available to anyone in the Greater Geelong region aged between 17 and 64 years of age who is not engaged in any training, education or employment for a period of six months or longer. It is also for people who have significant barriers in accessing and staying engaged in training, education and employment.

For more information about Reconnect and the Gordon Skills and Job Centre, call 5225-0700 or email

Safe Seats, Safe Kids program

Are you a parent or carer with child car restraints in your car? Do you know if they are correctly fitted?

The Safe Seats, Safe Kids program is available in Corio to check and put your mind at rest. It delivers a state-wide series of events where parents and carers can book in for a child car restraint safety check.

Correctly fitted child car restraints and booster seats play a crucial part in protecting children from serious injury and death in the event of an accident.  Alarmingly, 70 per cent of them are not correctly fitted or used, making injury around seven times more likely.

Professional fitters are engaged to perform the checks to ensure child car restraints are installed and are being used correctly, as well as to educate families so they are equipped to check that their child is safe in the car every trip.

The next session at Cloverdale Community Centre, in Purnell Road, Corio is on November 18. A session will also be held at SpringDale Neighbourhood House in Drysdale on November 26.

To book and appointment or to pre-register your interest in future dates, go to:

These events are hosted by Kidsafe Victoria in partnership with Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, with support by the Victorian State Government.

Miniature railway plan for Corio

Corio Norlane Lions Club is asking for community and business support for a proposal to build a passenger carrying miniature railway at Sutcliffe Reserve, in Plantation Road, Corio.

The club is a driving force behind Geelong Miniature Railway Club’s plans to gain City of Greater Geelong approval to develop an adventure playground and attraction at the Reserve.

Secretary Richard Walter said the project will also include construction of a fabrication workshop providing opportunities to teach trade-based skills including welding, metal fabrication, electronics, spray painting and small engine repairs.

“Both the Lions and railway clubs have a great interest in our youth and want to engage with local youth and teach them trade skills that will give them an advantage when applying for trade-based apprenticeships and employment,” he said.

“The project will also bring together older members of the community with an interest in trains and the above skills. We also want to support mental health by providing an interest or hobby for all ages.”

Richard said the time is right for the northern suburbs to have its own tourist attraction.

“We want to create something special for the area that will be a tourist attraction and much more,” he said.

“We believe the project has the capacity to earn an income that can be directed back into community projects every year. For now, we need help to build interest, secure access to the land and raise money to build the project.”

As a first step, community members are asked to sign a petition asking the council to lease the land to the group. It is available online at: or at the following organisations:

Cloverdale Community Centre, Rosewall Community Centre, Northside Salvation Army in Cox Road, Corio Lions Op Shop (55 Alkira Avenue, Norlane), or Corio Roadhouse (385 Princess Highway, Corio).

Business support will also be needed to bring the project to fruition. Any business interested in learning more can contact Richard Walter, phone 0408-409-895 or email

“This is a long-term project and will cost a lot to set up, but we believe there are many community benefits,” Richard said. “Please sign the petition and help us get it started.”

Making a difference to many

As lockdowns continue to impact everyone in the community, some people have taken on important roles in supporting others. Through many different types of contributions, big and small, they’ve become lockdown heroes to others.

At Cloverdale Community Centre, Issara Daim never stops helping others.

Issara is the driving force behind the centre’s successful Thai meals program which plans and prepares affordable, delicious meals most Thursday evenings. The meals are advertised on the centre’s Facebook page, where orders must be made by noon on Wednesday.

The meals program began by bringing together a group of mostly Thai women who were experiencing vulnerability during the 2020 lockdowns. It has since grown to a broad group of volunteers who help out each week.

In addition, Issara provides wellbeing support to the community and conducts education programs including helping others work towards the Australian citizenship test.

Centre manager Liz Bonner said Issara is emerging as an important leader at Cloverdale and in the broader community. “Her willingness to learn, then share her time and knowledge with others is quite amazing,” Liz said. “She is a very important member of our team, which also includes many volunteers who are so generous with their time and effort.”

At Norlane Community Centre, Sandra Whitson is a lockdown hero.

Centre Co-ordinator Esther Koning-Oakes said: “Sandra is a highly valued volunteer and member of the Norlane Community Centre. She attends the craft, mosaics and Tai chi and put up her hand earlier this year to join the Board of Management to share in the governance of our centre.

“During every lockdown, Sandra comes in to tend the gardens, plant seeds and collect produce. She distributes the produce to members of various groups in the community and was instrumental in touching base with people during this time.

“She continues to do all this without a car – bringing in her trusty shopping jeep and never complains or let anything get in her way. She is always friendly and happy to have a chat and help lighten a load.

“Sandra has joined the team to pack boxes for food distribution and will often picks up things she knows people around her would use. Her care for our community, keeping them connected, her commitment to growing fresh healthy produce in the garden and distributing this to the people around her makes her a lockdown hero.”

Do you have a lockdown hero?

Is there someone in your life who has helped you through tough times, especially during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021?

You’re invited to send details of your lockdown hero for mention in our next edition. We want to know who they are and what they’ve done to help you. Send your information to

Friends of Cowies Creek

The Friends of Cowies Creek (FOCC) committee of management has a range of activities planned to encourage residents to enjoy the area and contribute to its care.

Weekly Creekly Walks are held every Friday morning, meeting at the end of Peacock Avenue at 9.30am for a 9.45am start. This is an inclusive group for anyone wanting to connect with their local community and place. 

A clean-up is planned for the area in front of the Wathaurong Co-op in Morgan Street on Sunday, June 13 from 10am until 1pm. The FOCC committee of management said: “Wathaurong people have been caring for this land for countless generations, this is a chance say thanks by cleaning up some rubbish that’s building up near their facility along the creek.”

In July and August, Geelong Landcare Network will hold three public tree planting days in support of Friends of Cowies Creek. The dates and locations are:

  • Sunday, July 4, 10am-1pm, on the banks of the creek closest to the end of Nowra Court. Park on The Boulevard near Arunga Avenue and access the creek from there.
  • Sunday, July 18, 10am-1pm, on the banks of the creek closest to the end of Moran Place, near Thompson Rd. Park near 29 Moran Street and access the creek path from there.
  • Sunday, August 1, 10am-1pm, on the banks of the creek closest to the end of Peacock Avenue, over the other side of the bridge.

“All are welcome at the planting days, all ages and abilities,” the committee of management said. “Even if you don’t feel up to planting any trees just come along for a chat it would be great to meet you.

“There’s always lots happening on Cowies Creek. The ground is moist as we move into winter. Things feel pretty lush. Mushrooms are popping up from under leaf litter, some migratory birds have arrived, such as the Golden Whistler. Wattles are set to start flowering soon. Keep an eye out for the yellow puffs. “What have you observed on the creek? We’d love to know. Contact us on Facebook or email”

Country music with a charity focus

Norlane resident Eric Cook has been sharing his passion for country music for almost 24 years, at the same time raising money for charity.

Eric said he’d always enjoyed listening to country music and discovered Geelong Country Music about 30 years ago. “I was raising my four boys on my own then, and as well as getting to enjoy country music, I got a lot of support from people in the group,” he said. “I found my community there.”

Initially, Eric wasn’t a performer but concentrated on helping the club stage shows for walk-up artists, giving them a chance to perform and enjoy the music. 

“I started singing and playing guitar about 20 years ago,” he said. “I thought I’d give it a go. Back in those days everyone was supportive, so I took that step.” 

For almost 24 years Eric has been running Pleasant Sunday Country events for walk-up performers. A house band supports anyone who wants to “come and have a go”.

“I never know where they are coming from,” he said. “They might come from Geelong, Melbourne, Shepparton, Bendigo, Ballarat and anywhere in between. It’s just a fun day.”

Proceeds of the monthly shows are donated to charity and profits this year will be donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

Pleasant Sunday Country shows are held on the third Sunday of the month at The Sphinx in North Geelong. The show runs from 1pm until 5pm and also includes raffles and door prizes. Entry is $8. Doors open early and meals are available.