Princes Court

Mallee’s Living History Grows to 60 legendary tales with publication of fourth book capturing the life stories of Sunraysia elders

Mallee’s Living History Grows to 60 legendary tales with publication of fourth book capturing the life stories of Sunraysia elders

Everyone has a story. Every story is important, but not every story is told

A life-changing community project to capture the histories of everyday senior residents in the Sunraysia region has reached a new milestone with the publication of the fourth book of precious, local memories, bringing to 60 the number of personal tales that have now been immortalised to print in the past four years.

Supported and sponsored by Mildura’s leading aged care provider, Princes Court, where many of the project’s storytellers live, ‘The Mallee’s Living Histories’ project has also marked the release of Edition Four to launch a fundraising campaign that aims to raise $15,000 by January 4, 2023, to establish a website so all 60 stories can be freely accessed by the public.

The success of the Sunraysia venture has inspired similar endeavours in other regions and has raised awareness more broadly about the need to raise respect for elderly citizens.

Organisers of ‘The Mallee’s Living Histories’ project say the growing anthology of memories has delivered benefits far in excess of expectations, with many elderly storytellers becoming healthier and happier after sharing their memories, and enhanced social connections in aged care facilities and in the general community unfolding in the process.

The coordinator of The Mallee’s Living Histories, Vernon Knight, from Mildura, said the impetus for the project in 2019, when the first book of stories was launched, was to combat the profound loneliness and isolation many elderly people suffered. “Many older people feel ignored and forgotten and are seen by many as just a bundle of medical issues,” Mr Knight said. “But what we found when we asked elderly people in the region to share their life experiences was that they felt more valued , important and joyful when telling their tales and then seeing their stories published in a book,” Mr Knight said. “You should have seen their eyes sparkle when we asked them about their lives as kids and onwards. It was precious.

“The health and wellbeing of many of these people has improved as a result and families who had no idea about these stories have become closer. Many grandchildren can now learn about the lives of their grandpas or grandmas through these published stories long after the voices of their grandparents have fallen silent. These colourful stories of lives lived through the ages also engender greater understanding between the generations and open windows to past realities we cannot imagine today.

“The stories told of how life once was are many and varied – from tough livelihoods etched on the land to war, depression, floods, droughts and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20. When many of us are in our later years, we may well be sharing our experiences with Covid 19! We all have stories to tell and it’s important that they be told. The benefits are endless, as highlighted in a 2020 Monash University assessment of the project, with enhanced social engagement and a closer and a more meaningful relationship between carers and residents, as Princes Court has found. We all crave connection and validation and this project supports that, creating beautiful lasting legacies it the process.”

Mr Knight said the project had proved richly rewarding for he and his fellow volunteers who interviewed the elderly residents and wrote their life stories with many lasting friendships formed.

Princes Court resident, Marg Kelly, whose life memories are included in The Mallee’s Living Histories narrative, said: “I enjoyed telling my stories so much. What a fantastic idea – such a great thing to do. I want everyone to tell their stories.”

The former Chief Executive Officer of Princes Court, Jenny Garonne, who oversaw the Mallee’s Living Histories project from the start in 2019 to last month, said the aged care facility was proud to be the chief supporter of the project from the start. “It’s just so amazing to read about the rich history of our residents and others that unfolds in the pages of these four books,” said Ms Garonne.  “These stories need to be captured for posterity. They reaffirm the importance of everyone’s lives, deepen our understanding of our region and enrich the connection between our staff and residents.”

The not-for-profit Mallee’s Living Histories project is self-funding thanks to the support from volunteers, community partners and book sales but Mr Knight said it was vital that the project’s 60 lived and living tales be shared more widely through a website, with $10,000 of the $15,000 needed by January 4, 2023, so far raised through a ‘Kickstarter’ fundraising campaign.

* Donations can be made via http://malleelivinghistories.com/

Editions one to four – each containing around 15 real life stories from older residents in the Sunraysia region – can be purchased from the ‘Shop’ page on the Princess Court website – www.princescourt.com.au – and also from the Visitor Centre and Collins Bookshop in Mildura.

Established in 1957, Princes Court is a major, not-for-profit community providing for 100 aged care residents, 76 independent living residents and a growing number of clients who benefit from Princes Court’s new domestic support services in their own homes. In 2020, Princes Court received a prestigious, national award for Excellence in Age Services from Leading Aged Services Australia.

Princes Court Ltd
27-29 Princes St, Mildura
03 5022 1022
www.princescourt.com.au

Media contacts:

Vernon Knight, Chief Writer, Mallee’s Living Histories, 0418 502 957
Andrew Mevissen, Rock Solid Marketing, 0431 883 057