20th Anniversary – Faces

Celebrating people and places

At FRRR, we have always believed in the power of PEOPLE to drive prosperity. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen plenty of wonderful examples.

So, during 2020, we shared some of the faces that have helped shape FRRR – either by bringing their expertise and passion to govern and lead FRRR, or by playing a leadership role in their community. By sharing their stories and recollection of FRRR, you’ll learn about our history and what we have achieved with the support of our donor partners and the communities we support.

We’re proud to showcase the following faces of FRRR – visionary people whose insight, drive and passion help create vibrant, sustainable and adaptive communities across rural, regional and remote Australia. Check back regularly to see who is featured next!

It seemed only fitting to leave the final word of our #FRRRis20in2020 campaign to Tim Fairfax AC, Chairman of FRRR.

We are so lucky and honoured to have had Tim in our corner for nearly two decades. We thank him for taking the time to record this message, reflecting on his experiences of FRRR in the past, and his hopes for the future.

We are honoured that His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of Australia, was able to find time to send us a message to mark FRRR’s 20th anniversary.

Since FRRR was established in 2000, the Governors-General have agreed to being our Patron in Chief, so it was very special to have a message. His Excellency and Mrs Hurley are frequent visitors to remote, rural and regional Australia, and as you’ll hear, they share our passion for all those areas.

Helen Morris AM is former EO of the Sidney Myer Fund, during the time that FRRR was conceived. She explains the different roles that so many people played in FRRR’s formation. We remain grateful for the “shining star” of Baillieu Myer, Helen’s hard work and passion, as well as the support of the Sidney Myer Fund, the Myer family and the staff. We love the way Helen tells the story of how FRRR came to be: ‘from an alignment of the stars’.

Kristy and Sarah are both from the Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation – or BIEDO – where they actively work to support economic and community development in their region.

We were delighted to be able to support them with a Tackling Tough Times Together grant to help some of the local leaders in the North Burnett to attend the South Burnett Leadership Program.

Catherine Brown OAM worked alongside Baillieu Myer AC and Helen Morris AM in researching and shaping the concept of an organisation that could get more philanthropy into remote, rural and regional communities. She then played a key role in FRRR’s formal establishment.

20 years on, FRRR and Catherine have joined forces again in her role as CEO of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation to invest in community-led disaster resilience and climate solutions through the Disaster Resilient:Future Ready Victorian program

We greatly appreciate her making time to share her reflections on FRRR.

Kate Buxton, who is a Community Philanthropy Consultant. As she mentions in the video, many of the groups she works with have a connection to FRRR, both for grant-seeking and to connect with other community groups and philanthropists.

William Sharples went from spending most of his time gaming at home, to running the Eden Game Development Centre and taking on a role as a community leader. He is now actively engaged in his community, runs youth development events and is a great inspiration and role model to young gamers across rural and regional Australia. FRRR is so happy to have been able to work with William and the team to support projects at their now much loved gaming centre.

Check out the video below to hear William’s story, and more about how FRRR supported the projects he helped deliver.

The Australian Government was one of FRRR’s founding members, when the Foundation was created in 2000. We have had wonderful bipartisan support from all of the former Ministers we have worked with, so, it was wonderful to have the Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and the Leader of the National Party record a message to mark our 20th anniversary.

A huge thank you to Michael McCormack MP for making time to do this.

Having been a highly-respected leader in the Country Women’s Association of Australia (at both NSW & National level), Margaret Smith AO was appointed as the first woman to FRRR’s board on its formation in 2000. She continued to serve on the board until November 2015.

We are so grateful for her support and wisdom, and continue to be inspired by her passion for rural Australia, particularly her commitment to supporting and empowering women in country areas.

Have a listen to what she has to say about FRRR, 20 years on from when she became a Director.

The Australian Government was one of FRRR’s co-founders; if it weren’t for their support, and that of the Sidney Myer Fund, FRRR would not exist today.

That’s why there are always representatives from these two organisations on FRRR’s board. Mike Mdrak AO used to be a Department Secretary, and he twice represented the Australian Government on FRRR’s board – between 2009-2011, and again from 2013-2017.

He has always been a strong advocate for rural, regional and remote communities, and he continues to be a wonderful and dedicated supporter of FRRR.

It seems only fitting to kick off our celebration of the people that shaped FRRR with a comment from Baillieu Myer AC.

The Myer family, and in particular the foresight and generosity of Baillieu Myer, paved the way for our 20 year strong mission of championing rural and regional Australia.

Baillieu Myer is a Patron of FRRR and one of our original founders. In 1999, his discussions with then Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson AO led to a proposal at the National Regional Summit to address economic and social decline in rural and regional Australia. The idea emerged that philanthropy could play a strategic role in enhancing assets in regional Australia’s economic and community development.

And so FRRR was born. FRRR was incorporated and awarded charitable status in 2000. The Sidney Myer Fund, under Baillieu Myer’s Chairmanship, gifted FRRR $1 million. This was in acknowledgement of the centenary of the arrival of their name-sake in Australia. The Prime Minister, John Howard OM AC, pledged a $10.7 million grant to be awarded in 2000, with a further $3.8 million to be offered as an incentive to raise further capital. In addition, ANZ Trustees and The Pratt Foundation each donated $1 million. And so began FRRR’s 20 years.

We are grateful to Mr Myer for his support over so many years.

Alexandra was CEO between 2011-2015, and has remained a great champion and collaborator of FRRR. We are very grateful that she could find the time to record this celebratory message for us.

It has been a tough year indeed, but as you’ll soon hear, Alexandra’s words are as encouraging as ever.

David Pollard has been involved with the Rex Theatre in Charlton, Victoria, for around 40 years.

Owned by the locals since 2007, and run entirely by volunteers, The Rex is a wonderful example of how community members can band together to preserve and sustain something that is so important to their community.

It’s been lots of very hard work, and has certainly had its downs (like major flood damage), and huge ups (like hosting David Helfgott!).FRRR is proud to have been part of this journey for at least 15 years.

Gary Cattanach is a high school teacher and community leader in Nambucca, NSW. As he explains, he had an idea for a project that was both creative and would potentially create job pathways for students.

By collaborating with a local business, and with support from the broader community and some seed funding from FRRR, Gary and his students created five metal sculptures that were shown off at the Maagunda Gaagal festival in February. The sculptures have since been on display at Nambucca Heads High School, and are a great source of pride for both the students and the community.

Georgie is the former EO at Stand Like Stone Foundation, a dynamic community foundation in Mt Gambier, South Australia.

We had the pleasure of working with Georgie on multiple projects during her time at Stand Like Stone, and share her passion for supporting her community.

We thank Georgie for making time to share this lovely message about her perspective of the role FRRR plays.

We are delighted to be able to share this story from Leanne Brosnan, secretary of the Thallon Progress Association. She is passionate about supporting her community, especially through the ongoing impacts of drought.

Check out the video to see the full story of how FRRR has helped Leanne and the Thallon community.

From the very start, Marigold Merlyn Baillieu Southey has been a strong supporter and enabler of FRRR. The younger daughter and fourth child of the late Sidney Myer and Dame Merlyn Myer, Lady Southey has been active in philanthropy and business throughout her life, supporting matters she holds close.

Her roles have included director of the Myer Family Companies, Vice President of the National Stroke Foundation, former President of Philanthropy Australia, President of the St. Catherine’s School Foundation and Board member of Orchestra Australia, as well as of course serving on committees for the Myer Foundation, with its significant hand in FRRR’s beginnings.

Between 1999 and 2006 Lady Southey was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to the community in the support of health care, medical research and the arts, a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), a recipient of the Centenary Medal, and was appointed the 12th Lieutenant Governor of Victoria in 2001. She retired as Lieutenant Governor in April 2006.

Currently, she is Patron of The Australian Ballet School, Lort Smith Animal Hospital and the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Australia (Vic).

We feel incredibly fortunate to have had Lady Southey as Patron of FRRR from 2000 to 2019, and to have benefitted from her wealth of experience and expertise.

Kat is the CEO of Regional Leadership (RLA), the peak body for community leadership programs in Australia. FRRR and RLA have a strong partnership and, as Kat mentions in this video, there are great relationships between the two teams./p>

Time and time again, RLA finds ways to impress us with the work they do in rural, regional and remote communities and we are delighted that they are celebrating this milestone with us.

Kate Schlick, one of the community leaders that FRRR has partnered with in recent years, to bring to life a great idea to help rural areas affected by prolonged drought.

Kate is the founder of Hey There Happiness, and the creator of Legend and the Locals. The project involves music-industry legends like Troy Cassar-Daley and Sara Storer going on tour through drought-affected communities in central Queensland

The artists work with local musicians and choirs to put on a concert that brings the community together and gives them something to look forward to, as well as building their musical skills.

FRRR has proudly awarded $100,000 in grants for this project through our Tackling Tough Times Together program, and we are thrilled to see the impact it has had in those communities.

A huge thanks to Kate for sharing her story.

We could not possibly celebrate the past 20 years of FRRR without thanking our former CEO, Sylvia Admans, and acknowledging her fantastic work.

She travelled many, many kilometres across Australia in her 10 years at the helm, raising FRRR’s profile and setting the strong foundations that underpin the organisation today.

Listen to her reflections on FRRR’s 20th birthday.

The Rt Hon. Ian Sinclair AC was our founding Chairman all the way through to his retirement in June last year.

He championed the FRRR concept long before its formation and as a supporter of the initial conversations about the idea for FRRR with Baillieu Myer AC, Lady Southey AC and Hon. John Anderson AO, among others. He is well-known for his passion for rural and regional Australia, which comes from his deep, personal connection to the land, as well as his career.

At his farewell event last December, he was universally recognised as having been instrumental in FRRR’s success, thanks to his dedication and leadership. Even now, Ian remains involved with FRRR as a Patron and serving on grant program committees. We cannot thank him enough for his many years of service to FRRR. The organisation simply wouldn’t be the same without him.