“PEOPLE around here are willing to help their neighbours.”

It’s a telling statement when examining a community’s sense of wellbeing and belonging and the Mirboo North community can be justifiably proud.

A recently released report produced by the Mirboo North & District Community Foundation and the Mirboo North & District Community Bank, found 92 per cent of residents agreed with the statement that people around here are willing to help their neighbours, compared to the state average of just 74 per cent.

The Mirboo North 2020 Report Vital Signs is a snapshot of how the community is faring in key quality of life areas: health and wellbeing; education and learning, economy; and environment and belonging.

The vital signs are good across the board, but the Mirboo North community is not one to rest on its laurels and is, instead, encouraging residents to think and talk about how they can do even better.

Described as the first major collaborative project of the two bodies who have a shared vision to foster strength and prosperity for the community, the report asks people to discuss the issues they care, what data surprises them, what they could do to make a difference, and whether the data would change the focus of their community organisations.

Mirboo North & District Community Foundation executive officer Ruth Rogan described the conversation phase as “the critical point where we use the evidence we have gathered as a community to ask, ‘what do we want to tackle with the resources we have?’.”

Unsurprisingly, the conversation has been delayed by COVID-19 restrictions.

“This delay is not only due to the challenges of having face-to-face group gatherings, but it is also about allowing some time for us as a community to adjust our perspectives and develop an understanding how the impact of COVID-19 affects the community’s priorities,” Ms Rogan said.

“There is no doubt that our challenges around mental health and family violence will only have increased under the current circumstances, but we are also aware that the strength of belonging in our community has really come to the fore in the support being shown for our local businesses, organisations and community members.”

In an example of building community wellbeing, Mirboo North Secondary College teacher Bec Woodall listened to year nine students who asked for Mental Health First Aid training and added it to their Community Breakout Program.

A copy of the report has been sent to every household in the Mirboo North district.

Key findings

The report found:

* The number of jobs in the region has grown but not as fast as the Victorian average.

* The unemployment rate is lower than the Victorian average.

* Mental health, alcohol consumption and family violence are vital issues for the community.

* Health behaviours are contributing to rates of obesity.

* Wellbeing is a strength across the district.

* The area provides many educational opportunities from early learning to life-long learning.

* Fewer young people go on to tertiary education than other regions, but those that do have a high participation rate in vocational education and training.

* Maintaining the region’s biodiversity and managing the impact of climate change is a priority for the local community.

* People find connections by volunteering, helping at the school, or as a member of a local arts, historical, sporting, environmental or music group.