DTE Community Development Fund 2020


Confest is an alternative lifestyles festival held annually each Easter, at Woorooma, near Moulamein NSW. Down to Earth Cooperative (DTE) is a force for social change, and the organisation responsible for Confest. DTE also has a property between Deniliquin and Mathoura (Bylands), which is currently home to an ecology project. More information about Confest, DTE, and the Bylands project can be found at www.dte.coop and www.confest.org.au.

The DTE Community Development Fund (CDF) was founded in the spirit of saying thank you to the local community in the places where DTE’s projects are facilitated. The project aims to support community groups located within a 100km radius of either of the Down to Earth properties to develop and achieve their goals for their local community. Using the CDF, we aim to foster connection within local communities through the sharing of knowledge, the bringing together of people, and through creating small changes within the community.



I first became aware of the CDF in August 2019. I learned that $1 (previously $2) from every Confest ticket sold is put aside for the benefit of local community projects. I discovered that up until 2017, the money had been donated to the Moulamein 200 Club, and that the DTE volunteers managing the CDF had lost energy for the project, hence the 2018 and 2019 funds had not yet been dispersed.

I noticed that there seemed to be little awareness of the CDF amongst both Confest attendees, and people residing in the local area surrounding Moulamein. I also observed that the 200 Club tended to fund larger projects, and often required the recipient to produce 50% of the total funds to be spent. Communication with the larger community regarding the CDF had been limited, from both DTE and the 200 Club. It became apparent that there were several local groups who were unable to meet the criteria of the 200 Club, who could benefit from small grants for their community projects.

In consultation with DTE Director Robin Macpherson, I developed the following objectives for the CDF:

- to provide funding to community groups who may not be able to access it through existing local channels

- to extend funding opportunities to groups in the areas surrounding both Woorooma and Bylands properties

- to increase awareness of the CDF amongst the DTE/Confest community and local geographical communities surrounding DTE properties

- to place the decision of how CDF money is spent with representatives from the aforementioned communities

- to encourage communication and cooperation between representatives from the aforementioned communities



In November 2019, I hosted an initial meeting for the CDF project, at Riverina Remedies in Moulamein. This meeting was attended by myself, and Robin (DTE Director), as well as representatives from three local groups seeking funding, a representative from a group of local farmers seeking a platform to speak about water issues, and four community members who expressed an interest in participating in or following the progression of the CDF. Of these ten attendees, five including myself and Robin volunteered to form a committee to execute the CDF project in 2020, under the name ‘Confest Community Grants’. Robin specified that his role would be to oversee the committee, and he would not be actively participating in decision making processes.

I sought involvement from DTE members, and had two briefly join who had to later leave due to other commitments. Eventually DTE director Kathy Ernst volunteered to participate in the project, making it much easier for me to liase with DTE members via Confest Committee (CC) and Organising Committee (OC) meetings.

The first task undertaken by the newly formed CDF committee was to overhaul the application form written in previous years. We changed the catchment area to a 100km radius of either DTE property and increased the maximum funding amount from $1500 to $3000. We looked at community grant application forms from other organisations and added quite a lot of detail to the breakdown of how projects would be funded and how funds would be spent. We also added an acquittal requirement, to ensure we would receive data on how successful the CDF had been, as well as giving us information to share amongst the relevant communities and networks.

A decision was made to keep one year’s worth of CDF in the bank in case of extreme circumstances, and to seek applicants to receive the amount remaining from the other year. It was estimated that there would be about $12000 to spend from one year, as we believed that $2 had been taken from each ticket. We later learned that this amount had been dropped to $1, so we had a little less than $6000 to distribute this year.

Once the forms were completed, the project was advertised via Facebook, in buy swap sell and noticeboard groups for the local area, as well as in the Moulamein Wongi town newsletter. I had initially intended to distribute posters in all of the towns within the catchment area, as well as contacting all local media, however the committee felt that this may lead to excessive applications which would be difficult to manage with our limited funding. I also found that I did not have the time or energy to undertake this extensive advertising campaign on my own.

Applications opened on 01/01/2020, with a closing date of 01/03/2020. We received 10 applications in total, from the following community groups: Moulamein Community Development Association, Moulamein Men’s Shed, Moulamein Art Gallery, Koondrook Lawn Tennis Club, Barham Local Health Trust, Moulamein Preschool Inc., Golden Rivers Theatre Group (2), and Moulamein Country Women’s Association (2).

The application form was a Google Document, which could be reached via a link on a Weebly website, and sent via email. Paper applications were also accepted. It is noted that several applicants had difficulty with the process of locating, printing, filling, scanning, and sending the forms. It would be preferable to use a fillable online form in future (we did have plans to do this this year but it did not eventuate).

The received forms were digitised and sent to CDF committee members, at this stage myself, Robin, Kathy, and two local community members – one from the Swan Hill area, and one from Deniliquin. We each individually reviewed the forms, then met via zoom to discuss our preferences. It was unanimously decided to give funds to the following projects, as the committee felt that they were of greatest benefit to the community:

Barham Local Health Medical Trust (BLHMT): laptop for secretary or treasurer

Moulamein Preschool Inc.: resources for country kids

Moulamein CWA: split system reverse cycle air conditioner for heating and cooling community/workshop space

These selected projects were presented to a DTE meeting by Kathy, and approved for funding. I sent letters of approval and rejection to all applicants, including terms of acquittal to those who were successful. I made a poster announcing the successful recipients and shared it on facebook – in the Confest group, as well as the page made specifically for the CDF project. This received positive feedback, especially from Moulamein locals.

The funds have now been sent to the recipients. We have received an acquittal statement and photograph from the BLHMT but are yet to hear back from the other two groups. The write up from BLHMT has been published on the CDF page at www.dte.coop,


Moving Forward:

I feel it is essential to distribute the outcome of this year’s CDF project amongst local community networks. I intend to use the acquittal statements and photographs sent by recipients, and publish these in the Moulamein Wongi, as well as online.

Given the cancellation of this year’s Confest due to COVID19, I believe it is appropriate to utilise the remaining year’s worth of CDF money for another round of applicants in 2021. I intend to make an application to DTE to do this.

Reflecting on this year’s rollout of the CDF, I believe that the most efficient way to execute and seek community consultation on the project is to have a small team of volunteers managing the application process, in combination with a thoughtfully chosen selection panel, comprised of community members from both DTE/Confest, and the local geographical area. Considering that there will be less than $6000 to spend again this year, I have reduced the maximum funding amount to $2000.

I intend to lead this year’s CDF team, and create the majority of the documentation that is used. Robin has been working on a fillable online form, and publishing content on www.dte.coop. As I am unable to attend DTE meetings, I hope to continue liasing with Kathy, and for her to represent the CDF in the OC and CC. It would also be desirable to recruit an individual who can focus solely on distributing promotional material for the CDF to local media outlets, and on community noticeboards. This would need to be a person residing within the catchment area.

I hope to encourage positive relations and thoughtful communication between confesters and locals, through their involvement on the selection panel. The area in which I would most like to improve the project next year is reach. Whilst visibility of the CDF has undeniably increased, I do not believe that we have adequately met the following objectives this year:

- to extend funding opportunities to groups in the areas surrounding both Woorooma and Bylands properties

- to increase awareness of the CDF amongst the DTE/Confest community and local geographical communities surrounding DTE properties

Progress has definitely been made on all five objectives, and there is still opportunity to increase awareness now by publicising the outcomes of the projects which have been granted funding.

Beyond 2021, the future of the CDF is uncertain, due to Confest being indefinitely postponed. I hope that the CDF is recognised as a legitimate use of DTE money, and that the project is able to continue to grow in future years once Confest returns.


The Down to Earth Community Grant Programme is about saying thank you to our local community. The funds aim to support other non for profit organisations develop and achieve their goals for their local community.

Funds are available for communities around Moulamein including Denilliquin, Barham and Swan Hill who meet the eligibility criteria. 

The funding project aims to foster connection within local communities through the sharing of knowledge, the bringing together of people and through creating small changes within the community.  

Grants up to $1500 in value will be considered.  


Getting help

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