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​Coastal Connections’ is one of 135 projects to have received funding through the Bass Coast Shire Council Resilience Grants Program COVID 19, announced during the week beginning July 13, 2020.

The project is a response to the impact of COVID-related social isolation and hardship in the community. The aim of the ‘Coastal Connections’ project is to support a process of community reconnection, resilience and recovery, bringing people together through a framework of creative engagement and intercultural collaborations.

The Coastal Connections project is designed for COVID times, bringing people together through creative collaborations that respect social distancing requirements. Community members will have an opportunity to collaborate across different artforms and cultures.

Project activities include creative writing, musical composition and film-making, with a focus on the local natural environment. The project will result in an exhibition and the development of seven short films about local people and their special places. The new works will showcase the community’s creative gifts and the beauty of its local natural environment. 


Photographs of the Bass Coast Region: Terry Melvin

The ‘Coastal Connections’ project is being hosted by the Gippsland Singers Network and its auspicing body, Community Music Victoria (CMVic), both of which have extensive experience in facilitating broad community outreach and being responsive to the social distancing requirements of COVID regulations.

Jane Coker is a Singing Leader with the Gippsland Singers Network and Community Music Victoria. ‘I have been a Community Music facilitator my whole adult life’, she says.

‘I believe that music takes us to a primal place where we are able to recognise our collective potential. Music gives us a voice to express what we are feeling and puts us in touch with ourselves, our grief and our humanity.’

Jane leads a number of choirs in the Gippsland region and facilitates the Climate Calamity Choir, which brings together people from Gippsland and beyond. During the COVID era, she has switched to facilitating community singing on-line.

‘There are many changes we are dealing with in our society’, Jane says, ‘and we need to develop creative, nurturing ways of dealing with them.’

The Gippsland Singers Network and Community Music Victoria have successfully managed a number of intercultural and environmental arts projects in the Bass Coast region, including Harmony Day in Wonthaggi 2018 and the Island Whale Festivals in 2018 and 2019. Since 2017, Community Music Victoria has been hosting an annual Music Camp at Grantville. In line with COVID restrictions, the 2020 Music Camp was conducted on-line, culminating in an ‘Extraordinary Virtual Street Band Parade’, led by Inverloch-based community musicians Lyndal Chambers and Brian ‘Strat’ Strating.

The ‘Coastal Connections’ project is being coordinated by Dr Laura Brearley, who has been facilitating community arts projects in the Bass Coast region since 2012. ‘Community participation will be warmly welcomed in the project’ she says.

‘The design of the project draws on the links between community well-being, creative engagement and connection to the natural world. We are looking forward to bringing people together in creative and sustaining ways, with the community collaborating across different artforms and cultures.’ -  Dr Laura Brearley


Coastal Connections Working Group

A working group, drawn from a cross-section of the community, will steer the project. Members of the group will decide on a selection of pieces of creative writing for incorporation into the short films, the library exhibition and for future publication.

Coastal Connections Working Group Members:

  • Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir - Boon Wurrung Elder and language specialist, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL)
  • Cr Geoff Ellis - Bass Coast Shire Deputy Mayor, Councillor, Editor, The Waterline News
  • Matua (Uncle) Arnold Tihema - Maori Elder, cultural advisor, singer and multi-instrumentalist
  • Rev Ian Turnnidge - Minister, St John’s Uniting Church, Cowes
  • Jon Dixon - Manager, Wonthaggi Branch, West Gippsland Regional Library Corporation
  • Anne Davie AOM - Co-chair Bass Coast/South Gippsland Reconciliation Group, conservationist, advocate for refugees and arts
  • Jan Bourne - Former coordinator, Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre
  • Dr Oli Hinton - Coordinator, Community Music Victoria
  • John Howard - Secretary, Community Music Victoria
  • Terry Melvin - Film-maker, photographer, former psychologist
  • Dr Laura Brearley - Project coordinator, creative researcher, singing leader, Gippsland Singers Network



Stage 2: Music for Special Green and Blue Places: Call Out to Composers and Musicians

The Coastal Connections project is now commissioning original musical compositions for a series of six short films about people’s special places in the natural world.

In the first stage of the project, community members from Bass Coast were invited to write 150 words or less about a place in the natural world that was special to them. Thirty-six creative contributions were submitted and the project’s Working Group has selected fourteen of the submissions to be incorporated into six short films. The films will incorporate footage of the special places as well as interviews with community members about what their special places mean to them.

An overview of the films can be seen here.

Composers selected for the project will be commissioned to compose for one of the six films. Music may be instrumental or may contain lyrics that relate to the content of the submissions. Collaborations are welcome, provided musicians from Bass Coast are actively involved. Film-makers and composers will collaborate throughout the creative process.

A fee of $500 will awarded to each composer. Additional funding is available for musicians and sound engineers involved in recording the compositions.

If you would like to be considered for a commission to compose music for one of the films, send a CV and an mp3 sample of three previous compositions to the project coordinator, Dr Laura Brearley, by COB Friday, 9th October 2020. The Coastal Connections Working Group will assess the CVs and samples and contact successful applicants. Please email Laura Brearley if you have any questions.

Photos by Laura Brearley and Terry Melvin

Stage 1: Special Green and Blue Places: Creative Writing Submissions (August)


During August 2020, Bass Coast community members were invited to contribute short pieces of creative writing (150 words or less) about a place that is special to them in the natural environment of Bass Coast, with an accompanying photograph or artwork of the place. Fourteen submissions were selected as the subject for six short films, for which original musical compositions will be commissioned (see above). The creative contributions from the community will be  included in an exhibition which will be displayed across libraries in Bass Coast. Contributions are also being serialised in the Bass Coast Post and The Waterline News over the coming months. 

View the Coastal Connections summary of Creative Writing submissions 

A seventh 15-minute film, also with original music, will be produced about the natural environment of the Bass Coast region and will incorporate and extend elements of the 6 short films. The films will provide an enduring legacy for educational and environmental purposes and make a positive contribution to local ecotourism.


1: The Places We Love - Bass Coast Post  17.09.20
Featuring Shack Bay by Judy Vrandenburg; Corinella, by Lyndell Parker; and Rhyll, by John Buttrose.