News

Victorian seniors festival moves online

By John Lewis

The long-running Victorian Seniors Festival will move online this year in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings.

The annual celebration of older Victorians, now in its 38th year, will present three broadcasts each week showcasing some of Australia's brightest talent under a new title: Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined.

The month-long festival has also been turned into a six-month virtual party, with broadcasts continuing until October.

Entertainment will include music, stand-up comedy, Bollywood dancing, stories, interviews and a special showcase from Yorta Yorta opera singer Deborah Cheetham — all presented through online platforms, including Zoom.

Greater Shepparton City Council Aged and Disability Services team leader Kirsty Prothero said previous Victorian Seniors Festival events had always been a popular drawcard for older people in the region.

“There was always lots of local events, such as cultural bus tours and musical performances, which often drew older people from outside the region as well,” Ms Prothero said.

She said a digital version of the festival was a good idea.

“I think having the capacity for online engagement is definitely the way to go now,” she said.

Ms Prothero said council would support the festival with its own website links to events by local artists.

Shepparton Villages executive manager community engagement Jo Breen said the festival's move online could have advantages for Villages’ residents.

“In the past, we’ve had very limited participation for our residents as locations are usually not suitable, but there are some video clips and concerts we could download from the digital offerings. So for Shepp Villages, this might be an increased participation based on digital offerings,” Ms Breen said.

The festival, under the theme "In The Groove", will be hosted by Tristan Meecham and Bec Reid, founders of Victorian theatre group All the Queens Men and frequent partners of the seniors festival.

Victorian Disability, Ageing and Carers Minister Luke Donnellan said the festival was an important event on senior citizens’ calendar.

“We wanted to ensure the reimagined festival had a mixture of activities and broadcasts for everyone to enjoy, and by extending the festival to six months we're keeping people connected for longer,” Mr Donnellan said.

For more information and to watch performances go to: seniorsonline.vic.gov.au/festivalsandawards

For more seniors festival information from Greater Shepparton City Council go to: greatershepparton.com.au/community/grants-and-funding/seniors-festival-grants