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Helping hands.

Here we are, the end of 2020, we've been through a bit, and like you all, we've had a few hurdles to jump.

Feb 24, 2021


Words: Michael Duncan
Images: Gippslandia

Here we are. December. Undoubtedly one of the toughest years many of us will ever experience is now largely behind us. Whilst many have been hanging for the year to end and a fresh start to begin, I’ve been cautious not to wish my time away. It’s optimistic to believe we’re all going to wake up on January 1 in a Covid-free, ‘normal’ world, but the reality is that pandemics and economic concerns don’t celebrate New Year’s and there’s no guarantee that 2021 will be rosy, however much we wish it will be.

Twelve months ago we celebrated our third birthday and the launch of our cookbook in a room filled with Gippslandia’s nearest and dearest. Who’d have thought that 2020 would play out like this? It’s been an exhausting year and I’m not sure that our fourth birthday is one we’ll celebrate overly hard, but we should: the sheer fact we’re still around is bucking an industry trend.

We’ve been through a bit to be where we are today, and like you all, we’ve had a few hurdles to jump, which this year have included:

Being ineligible to receive the JobKeeper allowance, due to our business structure;

Committing to this publication all year, despite some of our great partners/advertisers having to bow out, either through financial hardship or closure;

Sadly falling through the cracks for most business support grants, and for those we’re eligible for, we’ve been unsuccessful;

Investing a lot of time and effort into developing an online store to support the region, but with the introduction of the government-backed ‘Click for Vic’ campaign (we support this great initiative), we found ourselves competing to entice makers on board;

Being unable to tap into Federal Government advertising spend, due to not being eligible to join the body that controls this funding.

Our hardship story isn’t our own, it’s being felt in all corners of the region from businesses across many industries and these hardships are not confined to business. In this last period, I’ve had more friends reach out and speak up about their challenges than at any other time in history and I’m thankful that they did.

It’s the combination of the challenge presented by tough times and the continual need for positivity about our region that is keeping this engine running. It’s people like Madeleine Preece and Bessie Kay who have moved to the region, engaged with and advocated for Gippslandia with great enthusiasm that make it worthwhile. It’s the continual support and guidance from people like Jodie Vogt, Chris Constantine, Jason Panozzo-Tilé and Rodney Gilham who encourage the next issue, and the unwavering support from Bank Australia, DFP Recruitment, Gippsland Social Enterprise Collective, JG King, Star of the South, Telstra and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority that inspire us to keep going.

But they alone won’t keep the engine running forever; the hurdles we’ve faced have certainly put a strain on the passion, and that’s what drives this engine. I recently spoke to another publication that started and finished in 2020, which is incredibly sad for the region. One comment really stuck with me, “Nobody shares their appreciation and gratitude until you tell them you’re done”. How sad is that? How true is that? It’s easy to shoot things down, critique or feed the negative but, somehow, a challenge to take time to share the positive.

I’d like to think that it’s not all doom and gloom. Especially as, as we are closing out the year strong, we are garnering more financial support for this edition than ever before. It’s a great boost to have new supporters recognising Gippslandia as a valued voice and a vehicle to share their valuable story with our growing family of readers. This is encouraging in so many ways – most of all to see that local businesses are thriving once more. We‘re also seeing our followers engage more frequently through our social media channels, and, importantly, not only with us, but with each other.

We’ve worked hard throughout the year to find ways to make it easier for our passionate fans to support us; we’ve always had our partners and advertisers, and our subscriptions. In 2020, we opened Gippslandia - The Shop, which represents many of our region’s amazing makers, artists and producers. We also launched a new website that showcases local creative talent like no other. We’ve come too far to go back now.

So how can you support Gippslandia, so we can keep sharing your positive stories?

If you’re in a position to subscribe, purchase an item from The Shop, make a donation or advertise with us — that’d be huge, thank you.

But money isn’t everything, especially in a supportive community. So, it’d be amazing if you can:

  • Simply share our content;
  • Continue sending your emails and comments of support;
  • Drop a positive review on Facebook;
  • Scream our praises from the proverbial rooftops! This stuff really does make a big difference.

As we close out 2020, whilst it’s been a struggle for so many, I hope you all find the time to stop and reflect on the positive. For me, I’ve never spent so much time with my family: my boys have developed a stronger bond than ever before, forced to be each other’s full-time best friend; we’ve been engaged in our grade one’s school work; I’ve seen a new energy of people starting businesses and pivoting existing businesses; and we’ve been forced to slow down and re-evaluate where we spend our time.

I’m certainly hoping to get out, see, connect and explore in 2021, but I know that regardless of what life throws at us, we Gippslandians are a resilient bunch. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.

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If there is something in particular that you wish to know or discuss, please get in touch and I’ll either address it here in a future column or via email at md@gippslandia.com.au.

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