Strengthening and Responding

Natalie Egleton, CEO

Anne Grindrod, Deputy Chairman

In July 2019, I became Acting Chairman of FRRR, following the retirement of the Rt Hon Ian Sinclair AC. I am delighted that both he and Bill Kelty AC agreed to become Patrons of FRRR and maintain their important association with the Foundation.

The Board was pleased to welcome three new directors – the Hon Simon Crean and the Hon John Sharp AM, as well as Simon Atkinson, who replaced Dr Stephen Kennedy PSM as the Australian Government’s representative.

The launch of our Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund at a Parliamentary breakfast hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister in August, was timely. Little could we have known that the devastating bushfire season that lay ahead would begin in September.

By focusing on sustainable community-led recovery, FRRR’s team ensured grants reached affected communities. Program Managers spent time on the ground in many regions, increasing our collective understanding of emerging and continuing needs.

At an organisational level, the Board and staff conducted a review of FRRR’s strategy. This work resulted in a five-year strategic plan which aims to strengthen social, economic, environmental, and cultural vitality for smaller and more remote communities, with a focus on targeting investment in the people, places, and disaster and climate resilience of remote, rural, and regional Australia. FRRR will continue as a grantmaker, playing a crucial role in leveraging and brokering support for remote and rural communities. Increasingly we will draw on our insights and learnings from the last twenty years to both enhance capacity in communities, and to drive best practice.

Despite the year we’ve had, I am confident of a positive future ahead of us, if we continue to trust local leaders to identify community-led solutions to the many challenges ahead for remote and rural communities throughout Australia.

Anne Grindrod, Deputy Chairman

Tim Fairfax, Chairman

Tim Fairfax, Chairman

I am immensely proud to lead this organisation – the only national foundation specifically focused on ensuring social and economic strength in remote, rural and regional Australia.

The first half of 2020 was a testing time for so much of country Australia. Although there was good rainfall in some places during the year, the effects of drought are ongoing in many places, and even where it has rained, true recovery will take years.

Australia also experienced severe bushfires, stretching across nearly every state and territory. As they have time and again, FRRR’s generous donor partners stepped forward, committing funds for both immediate and long-term recovery.

Then came COVID-19, which affected every aspect of life. As with a natural disaster, the impacts of this pandemic are yet to be fully understood, but we stand ready to support communities.

I acknowledge and thank FRRR’s employees, under the very capable leadership of CEO Natalie Egleton, for the way in which they have responded. We know it has been extremely challenging on many fronts, and the Board sincerely appreciates your efforts.

I thank Anne Grindrod for serving as Acting Chairman for the first half of the reporting year. I greatly appreciated her leadership and am fortunate to continue to work closely with her as the Deputy Chairman, especially at such a unique juncture.

I also acknowledge and thank the thousands of community leaders, donor partners, our dedicated staff, Board members and committee members, both past and present, who have all worked so hard to make FRRR a success.

Thank you again for your support, and I trust that you will enjoy this Review, which offers a glimpse into the work of the Foundation this past financial year.

Tim Fairfax AC, Chairman

Natalie Egleton, FRRR CEO

Natalie Egleton, CEO

The 2019/20 financial year was a year in two parts – before bushfires, and after them – and a year of strengthening and responding.

The first half began with FRRR and the Blackall-Tambo Regional Council’s Barcoo Way project being named the winner of the 2019 Best Small Grant Award at the Australian Philanthropy Awards. We then moved into strategic planning and consulted our partners, identified gaps and reflected on FRRR’s strengths.

The drought continued, with more and more parts of the country being affected. In August, ahead of the expected bushfire season, we launched the Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund (DRRF).

From September through to April, FRRR’s focus turned to supporting bushfire-affected communities, and managing an unprecedented level of support from donors to support the medium to long-term recovery of fire-affected communities.

FRRR was pleased to convene and participate in government and philanthropic forums, championing the important role of community-led recovery, volunteers, and community leadership; bringing a practical and pragmatic lens to climate resilience and climate solutions.

Just as fire-affected communities were beginning their recovery journey, the impact of COVID-19 began to be felt. Like so many, FRRR made a rapid transition to remote working, and despite the disruption our team remained focused on keeping funding flowing into communities.

I thank our Directors, amazing team, our donor partners and all the wonderful community leaders we work with every day.

It has been an extraordinary year to mark FRRR’s 20th anniversary. As we head into FRRR’s next 20 years, I am delighted to be leading the Foundation, and to have the opportunity to guide FRRR as we embark on our next five-year plan.

Natalie Egleton, CEO

Just want the highlights?

20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary

Celebrating the people and places that have shaped FRRR over the past 20 years.

20th Anniversary

At a Glance

2019-20 was record year for FRRR, both in terms of donations and grants awarded.

20th Anniversary

Grounded & Connected

Connecting with and amplifying the voices of remote, rural and regional communities.

How FRRR works

Inspiring community stories


Nearly a quarter of all funds granted in FY20 were distributed in Victoria, via 20 different programs. Strengthening Rural Communities program was in high demand, with more than $590,000 distributed to 67 community groups. Find out more about how these grants supported very different needs. The effects of drought were also felt in Victoria, with more than $870,000 awarded via 33 grants.

New South Wales

NSW received the largest proportion of funding support, with most awarded to projects relating to disaster resilience and recovery, at nearly 65% or $4,064,171. Almost 42% of all funding was through the Tackling Tough Times Together program. Read and watch how some of these communities are managing the drought and investing in their youth.

South Australia

Our reach continued to extend beyond the eastern seaboard, with a year-on-year increase in grants awarded in South Australia (up 58%). This was due, in part, to the worsening drought, with $990,702 supporting 32 projects distributed via the Tackling Tough Times Together program. As you can read social connection is critically important to the communities we support.


QLD received 16% of all funding this hear, nearly half of which supported projects in remote or very remote communities. Of this, 67% (59 grants, $1,657,380) were through the Tackling Tough Times Together program, reflecting the extensive impact of the drought. Learn the importance of community engagement and how art can help in disaster prone communities.

Western Australia

In WA we saw a 26% increase year-on-year in the number of projects funded, which shows that our targeted, engagement strategy is beginning to work. With small populations and remote locations, many WA communities experience inequity in access to services and opportunities. The solutions lie in harnessing local knowledge.

Northern Territory

There was a 150% increase in projects funded in the NT this year, compared to last financial year. We continue to actively strive to improve our networks, awareness and reach. Isolation, inequality in access to services and food security are real issues in NT. As you will discover, simply planting a few fruit trees can make an enormous difference.


Our move to a state-based staffing, increasing the time spent with community leaders and not-for-profit organisations, and delivering more grant-seeker workshops and project development support is paying off with a year-on-year increase in the number of grants to TAS up by 100%. Despite COVID-19, TAS communities continued to prepare for the next disaster and embrace technology to network, collaborate and socialise.

New Approaches – DR:FR and IRCF

Two new programs are responding to system level challenges and opportunities identified by FRRR and its donor partners, through their work with remote, rural and regional communities. We believe our role is to trust local people, to mentor and support them. This is the approach we are using in both the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready and Investing in Rural Community Futures programs, with strong community engagement at the heart.

Looking back: 20 years of granting

Over our 20 years, FRRR has awarded grants around 11,000 grants in 1,993 postcodes across Australia. One of them is 4605 – Murgon, in south-east Queensland, where we’ve awarded nearly $280,000 via 35 grants to 11 organisations.
Read more to learn how FRRR and the Murgon community has worked together to support the needs of the region through some of the most challenging times.

Photo: Jonathan Lim