Communities Transforming their World: Stories of Empowerment and Change



Communities Transforming their World: Stories of Empowerment and Change - Evaluation Report

How do people change their communities? What are the ripples beyond their actions? What does it take for a community to push back against global forces to secure their own sustainable future?

In this public event, we explore these themes with Denis Ginnivan of Voices for Indi (V4I) and Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY). Denis will share the story of how a small regional community transformed their town, Yackandandah, in the face of climate change and economic challenges to become a leading example of community self-determination and energy sovereignty. The Yackandandah story will highlight the social experience of community transformation toward sustainability and empowerment.

An expert panel who will provide complementing and contrasting perspectives from research and practice will follow Denis’s talk:


About Denis Ginnivan:

Denis was raised in farming communities in the beautiful foothills of the Australian Alps, near Benalla in north-east Victoria. His undergraduate studies majored in human behavioural sciences; with postgraduate studies and qualifications in social work, agricultural economics and mediation.

Denis has always lived and worked in rural and regional Australia. He initially found direct-service work in disability and community services; rehabilitation, support services for farmers in financial difficulties. At the University of New England’s Rural Development Centre he was Director of the National Rural Counselling Program, which now has over 100 direct services and undertook research in changing social and economic circumstances of farming communities. For 22 years, he was the foundation director of an innovative regional neuro-trauma rehabilitation service. He also undertook research projects with the National Rural Health Alliance.

In 1991, he undertook a Winston Churchill Travelling Scholarship, which focused on challenges and opportunities for farming communities in the US and Canada. His subsequent report on farm debt mediation lead to the introduction of mandatory farm debt mediation schemes in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Totally Renewable Yackandandah, a voluntary community group has the achievable goal to be 100% net renewable energy by 2022. The local community is very supportive of a wide range of strategies achieve this!

Voices for Indi is also community organization based in the Federal seat of Indi in North East Victoria. It was formed in 2012 to nurture ways in which people could engage as citizens and participate in our democracy. It has developed a range of processes and resources to bring people together and activate their interests and responsibilities as a good citizen.

Events That Matter is an event management business, which develops and implements strategies for effective engagement and strategic community building in rural Australia.


About our panelists:

Charlie Prell, Farmers for Climate Action Deputy Chair

Associate Professor Carolyn Hendriks, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Dr Carolyn M. Hendriks is an Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. Her research examines democratic themes in contemporary governance, including participation, deliberation, inclusion and representation. Most recently, she has been exploring the participatory aspects and democratic implications of social enterprises and civic innovations, such as energy cooperatives. Email: or follow on Twitter: @CarolynHendriks

Edwina Robinson, Chief Executive SEE-Change

Edwina Robinson is the Executive Officer of SEE-Change and started the role in mid 2017. Edwina has worked as the Communications Manager with the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and project managed wetland design, construction and community engagement for the ACT Government. She is passionate about sustainability. Her particular interests include: design of tiny houses, permaculture principles (combined with landscape design flair), active travel (she tries to ride her bike most places in Canberra), co-housing and sustainable clothing. In 2017 she commenced a year of not buying any new clothes to assess the impact it would make on her life. She studied Landscape Architecture and Resource and Environmental Management at the University of Canberra.