Place-Based Resilience: Community Driven response and recovery in a time of COVID-19


Greater Shepparton Lighthouse is a collective impact, place-based initiative in Shepparton in northern Victoria. Created in 2014, the initiative involves 50 local leaders in decision-making and has the support of more than 450 volunteers and 100 plus partnerships. Together they work to systematically improve wellbeing and educational outcomes for children 0-24 years in the 65,000 strong community. Projects are being undertaken in 26 discrete settings and include hubs and safe havens for teens and toddlers, literacy, school engagement, industry linking and transport initiatives. Decision-making is driven by data (Lighthouse co-funded and co-designed a platform with Seer Data & Analytics) and community consultation with the 1000 Conversations model created by Lighthouse now in widespread use.

Lighthouse’s biggest success to date is creating a catalytic movement that uses existing social capital and capacity in the wider community to leverage change for children. There is evidence of cohort level improvements in engagement, literacy and criminal behaviour with many initiatives being brought to scale and in the pipeline. Lighthouse is supported by a mix of philanthropy and Victorian Government funding and extensive in-kind resources.

Supporting the system through partnerships and coordination

In March 2020, at the commencement of the first Victorian COVID-19 restrictions, Lighthouse called a meeting of about a dozen local community organisations to work together and coordinate efforts. This morphed into the community arm of the Greater Shepparton Response involving the Committee for Greater Shepparton, Greater Shepparton City Council, the Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative, the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District, and a range of other organisations. Since March the committee has met almost weekly to discuss the needs of various cohorts, identify and minimise risk, share ideas, resources and volunteers, and use connections to secure resources, advocate and raise issues of concern, prepare and disseminate locally appropriate messaging and disseminate resources and information.

One of the first things the Greater Shepparton Response identified was the need to make services as safe as possible for both staff and the community. Through a partner organisation Infection Control Training was sourced and delivered creating an opportunity for early learning and strengthening practice before anything else was available. Early research was commissioned on the availability of masks, sanitisers, and flu vaccines for the Greater Shepparton community which informed the group’s under