Investing in Rural Community Futures helps NSW communities on the way to a more vibrant future

Media releases: 15 August 2019

Community groups in five New South Wales locations will share in $300,000 in Start-Up Grants through the Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program. The program is a partnership between the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) focused on helping local community groups increase their capacity.

Junee, Leeton, Moree, Nambucca Valley and Tumut will each receive $60,000 in grants, the first investment in a five-year program designed to support them to better respond to local needs.

VFFF and FRRR recognise the fundamental role that not-for-profit organisations play in building and sustaining the social and economic fabric of their communities. However, traditionally, philanthropic support for organisational capacity building has been hard to find. The IRCF program changes that.

In May this year, after comprehensive desktop research, the IRCF project team visited Leeton, Tumut, Junee, Nambucca Heads and Moree. The team spoke with not-for-profit community groups, seeking to understand the challenges local organisations face in remaining viable and sustainable. They explored issues around people, internal systems and infrastructure, strategy and effectiveness and how enhancing these factors, which had been identified as the program’s priorities, would help the communities respond to local challenges and opportunities.

The Start-Up Grants announced today were open to any community group in the five locations and intended to help them prepare for the next phase of the IRCF program. The IRCF project team encouraged the groups in each community to work collaboratively to make the most of the $60,000 available to them. Several not-for-profit groups in Leeton and in Nambucca Valley worked together to lodge a single application, and there was strong evidence of co-ordinated activity in most of the other communities, despite multiple grants being awarded.

Alli Mudford, IRCF Program Manager, said the consensus during the roadshow was that communities are stronger when they come together and now is the time build and reimagine their future. And step up, they did.

“There were some great applications, many of which addressed similar issues. For example, three of the five locations – Junee, Leeton and Tumut – submitted applications for a community liaison officer to support the entire not-for-profit sector in the towns. Moree also sought funds for a liaison officer to work with the locally-governed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led not-for-profits,” Ms Mudford explained.

“There are enormous pressures on community groups in small communities – volunteers and their time are not an infinite resource, and it can be a major challenge for not-for-profits to maintain momentum, let alone collaborate with other groups. Bringing in someone to alleviate the pressure, take forward their ideas and work on key capacity issues enables not-for-profits to make the most of the resources they have.”

The IRCF Project Team will work closely with these five communities over the coming six months, supporting them in putting their  capacity building projects into action. The communities will also be invited to express interest in participating in the ongoing program at the end of August. The IRCF team has a tough job, as only three of the five communities will be selected to go forward with the full IRCF program from 2020-2023.

In total, the IRCF program will invest $5 million to support selected communities in meeting their aspirations and creating a stronger and more vibrant future.

The IRCF Start-Up Grant recipients and their projects are outlined below.

Applicant Project Grant


Junee Business & Trades Junee Community Liaison Officer and a series of presentations

Build community resilience and support the development of local community networks by conducting a series of workshops and/or presentations in the Junee Shire, and employing a part-time Community Liaison Officer. This grant will fund the part time salary and on costs for the Community Liaison Officer.

Junee Community Centre Funding strategy for Junee Community Centre (JCC)

Support organisational revenue generation and develop organisational capacity by engaging a consultant to develop a fundraising strategy for the Junee Community Centre.

Junee Historical Society Yesterday’s stories through tomorrow’s technology

Preserve local history and increase organisational capacity through the purchase of IT infrastructure.



Leeton Shire Council Leeton Connect – Connecting the Community

To form a Community Hub called Leeton Connect as a central point to share community resources, skills, knowledge and equipment and to engage organisations in consultations and workshops. This project will support a part-time coordinator.



Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW / ACT) Ltd Growing collaboration in Moree

Build Community Resilience by investing in a justice reinvestment partnership in Moree. This project will fund a part-time local community support officer to work with and build the capacity of the locally led Aboriginal not-for-profit organisations in Moree.

Moree Aged & Disability Services Inc. Governance and Online Communications

Improve organisational capacity by investing in a new website and improving governance documentation by producing a strategic plan.

Moree Family Support Inc. Building our future

Increase organisational capacity by employing a co-ordinator to develop a Learning and Development Plan for Moree Family Support Inc, with a focus on upskilling, succession and staff development opportunities.



Lifetime Connect Inc. Nambucca Valley (Waluurr Ngambagagundi) – Hand in Hand

Build community networks and organisational capacity by bringing together organisations within the Nambucca Valley to identify and affirm shared values and aspirations. This project will engage a number of local consultants to develop a Nambucca Valley Community Map.



Tumut Community Association Inc. Tumut Region Community Capacity Development Project

Develop community organisational capacity by establishing a multi-organisational steering committee that will employ a coordinator and focus on community development education.

Tumut Regional Chamber of Commerce Inc. Tumut Region ‘Events Specialist’

Develop organisational capacity by providing professional development support through an events co-ordinator to assist community event committees in Tumut.