Raquel Stevens

In the 30 years I have been visiting Daylesford, it’s only now that I have found a property with possibly the ultimate view.

Perched high above Wombat Forest, with acres of uninterrupted wilderness, it sprawls for as far as the eye can see.  I’m not going to give away the location, because it is indeed a hidden gem.

Like its owners, who are gems of this community and understatedly play down the incredible work they do.  I’m here to meet Norma and Jim Foster, co-founders of the Daylesford Foundation.

You are truly on top of the world here, how special.

N:  Yes, it’s very peaceful.  We have been here for 17 years. We love it.

J:   You can see to the ridge line there, then go further, and go a bit further, it feels like we own all of it.

What brought you to Daylesford?  

N: Like you, we have been coming up here on holidays for many years. I think I looked at the internet for the first time ever on realestate.com. This was the first place we looked at.  I thought ‘ooh’ it has potential. The house didn’t look that great. Needed some TLC.

J: It was the view.  Look at that view.

N: Yes, but the only person who could see it was the person at the kitchen sink (laughs). We soon changed that.

Explain the work behind the Daylesford Foundation?

 J: The aim is to provide support for those who cannot afford the basic essentials and are unable to access existing charitable or government aid.  It’s for people who fall between the gaps.

Can you give me an example.

 J: This morning we helped a woman. Her home burned to the ground.  I was delivering beds, furniture.

N: Did the kids get their ice-cream sandwiches?

J: Oh, yes. They were over the moon. They didn’t have a fridge or freezer until today. The kids love ice-cream sandwiches. We made sure they had some in the freezer.  It’s stuff like that, it’s important.

Is there a real need here?

J: There are three types of Daylesford. The glamorous, the locals, and those actually living in the bush. We’ve had camps on our property. It’s real.

N:  Real people, living it rough.

Advice to the powers that be to make change?

N:  The police station.  It’s been closed for 7 years.  Vacant. Let us put it to better use.

J:   Yeah, I’m still writing to the bloody minister!  What’s her name?

A wombat walks into the Daylesford Foundation in a top hat, what would it say?

J: Can you help me, I’m on burrowed time.

What would help The Daylesford Foundation right now?  

 N: We need storage space. It’s a problem. We have furniture that will be of use to so many people.  White goods, beds, TVs, but we can’t afford to rent a big building to store it.

 What you do day to day is life changing for people. What’s the hardest part?

N:  Many people don’t like to ask for help.

J:  Recently we had a family living in quite poorly conditions. We were consulted by Grampians Disability. We thought, ‘we’ll help in any way we can.’

N:  Volunteers came and helped from everywhere.  We helped fix the bedroom and other parts of the house.

J:  We had labour from all sorts of people, local businesses donated materials, the community rebuilt their entire home.

Where can we find Jim and Norma when they are not working so tirelessly?

J:  When we’re not feeding the peacocks or other animals on the property, we are travelling.  There’s always another trip on the horizon, and we make new friends.

The Foundation turns five in October.  Are you happy with where you are at?

N: Originally the plan was to help kids. And it sorted of hasn’t worked out that way to a degree.  Most of the kids have parents, and you know when a fridge breaks down, it’s the parent who can’t afford to fix it.  However, it is affecting the kid.

J: We had a situation this week, a boy came to the attention of his teachers. He was quite smelly.  When asked if things were ok at home, he said, ‘we have no shower.’  We were approached by the school and helped the family.  They needed a new hot water system.

N: It’s the small stuff that makes a big difference.

What’s next for Norma and Jim Foster?

J: Transitioning from private funding to public/private funding of the foundation.  We’d love to expand our programs and work with the schools to identify with their needs.

N: For example, a good sports program. Targeting kids who don’t play sport because they can’t afford shoes or a uniform.  Kids with talent, but are robbed of the chance, because they can’t get on the field.

What is your hashtag?


The Daylesford Foundation is committed to serving the community and donations will help support its projects. It believes all lives are equal and no-one should be disadvantaged. If you wish to make a donation visit https://thedaylesfordfoundation.org.au/donations

Raquel Stevens is a former Network Ten News Journalist. She has been a part time local for more than 25 years, and one day hopes to be a full time local.