Some of the 2021 projects to strengthen the community are an all-ability exercise hub, a renewable energy hub, digital literacy classes and grocery shopping bus trips.
Formerly named Avenel Action Group before becoming incorporated earlier this year, the group has 50-plus members across its numerous projects but would like younger people to join the movement.
“We are predominantly retirees and we would like to draw more younger people to get involved,” chairperson Jen Arnold said.
The group meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 7.30 in Avenel Memorial Hall, Queen St, and welcomes ideas on what residents think will advance the community’s lifestyle.
“We have a lot of things on the go at the moment,” Ms Arnold said.
All-abilities fitness hub
Recent achievements by working with the Jubilee Park Committee include the $50,000 fitness hub in Jubilee Park funded by Strathbogie Shire Council, officially opened on July 9 along with the nearby federally funded refurbished tennis clubrooms.
“The all-abilities fitness hub can be accessed by people who have had hip or knee replacements, as well as those in wheelchairs,” Ms Arnold said.
Solar hub and heat refuge
Avenel Active sub-group Renewable Active Energy (RAE) is working towards making Avenel an off-grid solar hub, starting with a solar-powered heat refuge for vulnerable residents in summer.
RAE has secured $29,000 via Strathbogie Shire’s Pitch My Project funding to install solar panels and battery at Avenel Memorial Hall.
“We are aiming towards making Avenel a solar hub so we can be secure when there are power outages in summer,” Ms Arnold said.
“We have had three outages over the last three years, with one lasting five days; these cause a lot of distress to businesses and households. Renewable energy is the way of the future.
“The hall could become a heat refuge for vulnerable people to go and be safe in summer.”
Ms Arnold said the solar panels would allow the hall to generate electricity for use of airconditioners and refrigeration.
“Before this solar initiative was planned the Shire intended that the hall would be wired to enable the running of a diesel generator, but the necessity for this may be under review if the solar generated electricity proves effective during heat crises,” Ms Arnold said.
“Going forward, Avenel Active is investigating how to establish a stand-alone Mini Solar Battery Grid in Avenel which the hall would also be able to feed into.”
Get Me to the Shops
Avenel residents needing support with their grocery shopping, or simply a social outing, can access a weekly bus service to and from Seymour thanks to Avenel Active volunteers and Strathbogie Shire Council.
The Get Me to the Shops bus service started this year and is partly funded through the Community Activation and Social Isolation Initiative (CASI). A subsidy from Seymour Coaches has reduced the cost for passengers who pay $5 for the return service.
Passengers are picked up and dropped off at their homes by Avenel Active volunteers who can also assist with carrying groceries and helping people on and off the bus.
“Passengers love the trip; they enjoy the companionship and the convenience,” coordinator Jim Billings said.
He said while the Avenel Active initiative was popular with older residents, passengers of all ages were welcome on the Thursday morning shopping excursions.
“Some people use the service to get to medical appointments, or just for an outing to have a coffee in Seymour,” Ms Arnold added.
Be Connected digital literacy classes
Avenel Active is running digital literacy classes for people aged 50-plus, after gaining philanthropic funding from the Good Things Foundation and Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR).
The digital literacy class is guided through the Be Connected program, an Australian Government platform aimed at assisting older people with digital devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and computers.
“Even if you think you are already computer savvy, you will always learn something in this program,” Ms Arnold said.
The free classes are held at Avenel Memorial Hall between 10am and noon on Tuesday or Friday mornings (bookings pending).
“We teach from the simplest things, starting with e-safety, such as paying safely online, and protecting your passwords,” Ms Arnold said.
“Some people say, ‘My grandchildren can do this in a flash’, so this course is about gaining confidence as people learn and practise doing things themselves.”