This post concentrates on one of the criteria for eligibility: your status as a town. There have been many conversations in the information sessions about this - which is understandable when questions about statistical definitions arise. This topic is briefly addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions section but we hope this post provides greater clarity for those unsure of their status.
Firstly, let’s recap the statement in the guidelines and then focus on how you determine your eligibility via the resource provided:
Proposed outcomes must be for a Victorian regional small town of population less than 2,000.
Small Town Transformations is an initiative specifically for small regional Victorian towns. To be eligible, small towns of population fewer than 2,000 must be located within the shire councils listed in the Regional Development Victoria Act 2002. Towns outside of these council boundaries are not eligible. The full list of eligible councils is on Page 13 of this Handbook.
Regional Arts Victoria uses the Australian Government Census as the measure of population. The most recent Census data is from 2011. Clarification of your locality’s status as a ‘town’ can be obtained from your local shire or council’s website.
It is important to be clear about the status of your town. There are a number of statistical designations used for different purposes in local, state and federal government but the one we are using as a benchmark, as there needs to be a benchmark, is Urban Centres and Localities (UCL). The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) use this as a way of defining population centres and thus the idea of ‘towns’.
Using the link provided in the Guidelines to the ABS reference page – also HERE – you can check that your town is designated under Urban Centre/Locality (UCL) – here is a screen shot of an example using a previous eligible applicant:
The last selection in this list is the UCL designation. And here is what that selection returns:
This is the benchmark which will confirm your eligibility.
However, some local councils also designate that some areas with only an SSC (State Suburb) classification (as seen in the drop down list above) are also towns. This is the reason we advise in the guidelines that you inquire of your local council if you are unclear – some SSC designated areas will be locally classified as towns and are thus eligible to apply, and others will not.
An example below is Whitfield in Rural City of Wangaratta – they only have SSC status but the council does designate them as a town and they are thus eligible to apply for Small Town Transformations:
Whilst shire councils do have some structural differences, in enquiring of your status we advise that you start with the Planning Department or local equivalent. This will only apply to a small number of towns and we are here to help you navigate this. If you have established that you are designated as a town through your shire then please ensure this is stated in your application.
If your town is designated as an Urban Centre/Locality (UCL) and has a population less than 2000 people, then you are eligible and there is no need to provide us with any further detail in your application.
If your town only has State Suburb Classification (SSC), then you need to contact your local council to check whether they recognise your community as a town and, if they do, this must be stated in your application.
If your town does not have either UCL or SSC confirmed town status, then please contact us before proceeding with your application.
Inspiration: Farmers Towers
Our inspirational project this week is from our own backyard! Many would have already seen the national coverage of the small town of Brim in the Wimmera district of Western Victoria, where an artist has utilised four disused silos as a canvas for this magnificent artwork.
Danielle Grindlay at ABC Rural has written an excellent article about the work, the process behind its creation and its impact on the town:
"Guido van Helten has turned the tiny town of Brim, with a population of about 100, into a tourist destination overnight, and social media is cluttered with photos of his work.
"People are in awe of the four characters, standing 30 metres tall, on the iconic Australian structures."
This project was supported by Regional Arts Victoria through the Regional Arts Fund along with Yarriambiack Shire Council, and local contributions of cash and materials. The Age's Carolyn Webb paints the whole picture of how the community came together with a little outside help to realise something fantastic:
"The project came to Brim out of the blue. Van Helten has done similar giant portraits in Ukraine, Norway, Italy, Denmark and Iceland, and he asked street artist management company Judd Roller to find him silos in Victoria.
"GrainCorp came up with a disused set at Brim, which dominate the town facing west over the highway. Funds were provided by Regional Arts Victoria and the Yarriambiack Shire Council, paint was donated by Taubman and Loop Paints, and the local caravan park and pub provided free accommodation and meals."
This project is an excellent illustration of what a Small Town Transformation project might look like: it has the support of the community and involves multiple project partners including local government, it used innovative technology to map and plan its execution and it brought artistic expertise into a small rural community. As a result, it has created a point of pride for the town and drawn national and international attention, putting Brim on the map which will hopefully have a flow-on impact for local business.
Small Town Transformations offers the opportunity to think even bigger than these 30 metre silos - if this was one project, imagine what impact your big idea will have over multiple projects and two years.