Plenty of attitude for      those ageing in Clunes

February 14th, 2021Plenty of attitude for those ageing in Clunes

THE Clunes Senior Citizens Centre in Fraser Street had been central to the needs of its older residents since the early 1970s. Sadly 2020 and the restrictions on social gatherings brought about the dissolution of the centre and a 50-year chapter of community history came to a close. The building, with its range of meeting rooms suitable for a whole range of intellectual, physical and artistic pursuits lay empty and silent.

But the void left by the closure was not to remain that way for very long especially since more than 23 per cent of the town’s population are 60 years or older. Members of this community soon approached the Hepburn Shire Council arguing that there was still an ongoing need for this valuable social resource to be maintained and used. And out of this need came Attitude – Ageing Well in Clunes.

“The governance responsibilities of the centre had gradually eroded their capacity to run a full program of activities and there had not really been a succession plan until Clunes Neighbourhood House (at the behest of the council) put out the call to take up where they had left off. Suddenly there was a heap of people in their early 60s keen to have some sort of a program. However they didn’t want it to be under the banner of the Clunes Senior Citizens Centre,” Attitude coordinator Lois Nichols said.

The over-60s who call the Clunes area home are made up of a mixed range of people – some multi-generation locals, others treechangers coming from large towns and cities, some are retired, some working and from all backgrounds. And while most are content with the change of pace that comes with age, they certainly didn’t really think of themselves as senior citizens just yet. And at the first meeting on the subject at the neighbourhood house, people were keen to create something that reflected that attitude.

“One of the locals, a girl called Christine Rowe of Tourello, south of Clunes said: ‘Why don’t we call it attitude? Because we’ve all got it.’ Everyone said: ‘OK, that’s as good a name as any.’ Then Sue Gubby said: ‘Well I don’t care what we call it, but all I want to do is age well in Clunes.’ So we called it Attitude – Ageing Well in Clunes.”
Attitude will operate in a similar fashion to the men’s shed, under the auspices of the Clunes Neighbourhood House who will look after the governance. It also means if someone comes to the neighbourhood house with an idea for a class or activity aimed at older people, they can be referred to Attitude.
With more than 40 active community groups within the Clunes area, there is a great scope for the group to grow. In the few short months since those first meetings Attitude has now developed a full program of activities for February, March and April. To ensure people know about it, the schedule will be distributed to letterboxes, available at the library, advertised on social media and in the community newsletter.
Just some of the events coming up in February include: Something to Talk About – a chaired talk session about refugees in Australia, Goldfields Track Walks, Mid Week Movies, Historical Walking Tours around Clunes, and Winery Tours. Several of the activities have been created with help from the Ballarat chapter of the University of the Third Age.
“The association with U3A is very strong,” says Lois. “And that was something that came up when we were first discussing ideas. Someone said U3A has some pretty good courses so we asked them if they were interested in doing some at Clunes. They have agreed to partner with us and now there are various activities including ukulele lessons, decoupage, Australian literature, practical philosophy and permaculture which will run through U3A but be hosted at the centre in Clunes.”
Link: https://www.clunesnh.org/attitude

Pictured above, left to right, Christine Rowe, Helen Weber, Maureen Ward, John Weickhardt, Sandra Nichols, Gill Jedwab, Gary Sharp, Mick Sullivan, Doug Gellately, Jon Lock and Tess Brady

Image: Lois Nichols

Above: Attitude – Ageing Well in Clunes coordinator Lois Nichols
Image & words: Tony Sawrey

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