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Everybody has a story to tell. Is it time to tell yours?

Irma Dymke often wanted to record her life story but didn’t know where to start until presented with a set of memory prompting cards created through COTA Victoria’s Inspiring Life Stories project.

The Torquay based great-grandmother has a rich family history after growing up on a farm in the Kiewa Valley near Wodonga, feeding the calves and chickens, and driving from the age of five before graduating to tractor work “when I finally could reach the foot pedals on my own”.

She attended a one-teacher primary school before coming to Melbourne for high school, where she was inspired to become a teacher and later, school principal.

Irma said the Reminiscing Story Cards developed in conjunction with Swinburne University, are helpful because they break down the sharing of stories into three stages – beginnings; strengths and successes; and challenges and wisdom.

“Some of my family have read it. I thought the grandchildren might get bored but they were surprised at learning more about me,” Irma said.

COTA Victoria is pursuing the Inspiring Life Stories project as a social enterprise by offering various levels of service for older people. This includes:

  • Simply purchasing the Reminiscing Story Cards for personal or group use, including a complementary phone call explaining how to use the cards for $35 (plus postage).
  • The second level is COTA Victoria’s primary service which includes a copy of the cards, guidance of a trained Story Guide by phone and support for the tech-savvy senior and family members to compile the stories into a 5000-word, beautifully presented story booklet with up to 15 family photos for $295.00 (plus postage).
  • COTA Victoria’s premium service provides the cards and personal support from a story facilitator for a minimum of three visits to complete the story booklet for $595 (plus postage). Additional story sessions, length of story and images can be added for an additional cost.

COTA Victoria CEO, Ronda Held, said “Inspiring Life Stories assists older people reminiscing in a supportive environment and with a focus on strengths and positives, to potentially lift their mood, and remind them and their families of their resourcefulness and depth of experience”.

For more information contact COTA Victoria on phone 1300 13 50 90 or by emailing

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