Robinvale is a small rural town of approximately 8,000 – 10,000 people on the banks of the Murray River in North Western Victoria. Robinvale Network House is at the heart of this community.
Robinvale is a food bowl, growing 5% of the world’s almonds, 70% of Australia’s carrots and is the largest exporter of table grapes. Immigrants settle and work in the agriculture industry, making the community rich in diversity. Robinvale Network House plays a significant role in bridging community gaps, providing education programs and creating a vibrant place to live.
In early 2020, Jack Dang commenced the role of Co-ordinator of Robinvale NH, following in the footsteps of long-standing Co-ordinator and community leader, Carolyn Martinussen
Jack’s introduction to the Network House was as a learner in the boat license course, where he quickly realised the community value of their offerings. Jack volunteered for the house, enriching connections through his ethnic background. His principal aim is to practically help more immigrants settle and continue Carolyn’s great work.
In the 90’s the demographic of their community changed rapidly with a range of nationalities settling in the region to work on farms. Community cohesion and acceptance were big issues, and Carolyn saw the opportunity to support, welcome and bring new communities together.
Carolyn’s vision culminated in the development of the multicultural program originally called ‘Nachos, Gnulli and Nasi Goreng’ (Nachos for short) to help bridge multicultural gaps in the community. The program brought people together from different backgrounds, to learn cooking skills, engage in ACFE English language conversation classes and form friendships. The program was run by staff and volunteers and has been recognised as an invaluable asset by government agencies, employers and the community. Consequently, Robinvale NH’s profile lifted and everyone started coming to the house for guidance, education and support.
The program has initiated multicultural community festivals and secured funding through the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) for mental health events.
Robinvale NH is now recognised by large employers, government agencies, and community members as the place for real connection and action. Their work focuses on helping community members access resources, build knowledge and engage in ACFE English language programs.