Lockington lands a $100,000 rural aid makeover

By James Arbuthnott

LOCKINGTON’S about to get a $100,000 makeover.

The little town that refuses to give in has received a $100,000 grant from Rural Aid’s Ten Town Makeover – an initiative which highlights the impacts of natural disasters on rural communities.

Already a blueprint community for hanging in there, with its community owned service station and now hotel, Lockington was chosen from 60 other Victorian towns to receive the money.

Town leaders will allocate $90,000 for maintenance projects alongside Rural Aid – and with the help of its Farm Army – while the remaining $10,000 will be used for a workshop with experts on long-term town renewal and sustainability.

Lockington Planning Group chair Wendy Sims said the “unbelievable” news of Lockington being singled out from all the other communities showed just how tough her little town was.

“It’s really nice Lockington has been appreciated,” Ms Sims said.

“We’re going strong and it’s just so nice that we’ve been recognised as a town that’s not lying down, so it’s great to get that feedback.”

Between 50 ando 100 Farm Army volunteers are expected to descend on Lockington in the first week of operations and materials will be sourced locally when possible.

“If you’re feeding between 50 to 100 people for a week then that’s already an injection into the community,” Ms Sims said.

“I am thrilled to be part of the Lockington community. Being a recipient town of the 10 Town Makeover Initiative with Rural Aid is a great privilege.

“Getting outside assistance with projects is exactly what our volunteers need. The belief shown in our community as being viable and worthwhile will be a great boost to the town’s morale.

Projects will include walking tracks and increasing awareness of what Lockington has to offer to visitors to the town.”

Rural Aid helps regional and farming communities in times of natural disaster and its relief programs range from the nationally recognised Buy a Bale campaign, donation of musical instruments to regional schools and mental health counselling.

Rural Aid chief executive Charles Alder said while their focus was largely on the impact of the drought on farmers and their families, equal attention should be given to the impact on rural communities.

“Small country towns play a critical role in supporting the social and economic fabric of their local communities,” Mr Alder said.

“This initiative will lift morale and inject much needed capital into the local community,” he said.

“Small towns have a unique symbiotic relationship with the farms located around them.

“Those farmers rely on their local town for off farm income through employment, farm employees and services from the local doctor, teachers, dentists, accountants and government support staff.

“Then there’s the small businesses, such as the local pharmacy, grocery, butcher, bakery, bank and rural supply company.

“Take these towns out of the equation and the local ecosystem is impacted forever.”