Insights from the Bush: May 2022

Insights: 30 May 2022

Our Program Portfolio Leads recently presented to the FRRR Board on some of the common issues and themes emerging in funding requests that we are receiving from community groups, and from conversations with local community leaders. 

Some highlights are shared below:


  • The Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program continues to take root and expand – this program uses a multi-faceted and community-led approach to build capacity in local NFP organisations, and the model is being adapted beyond the NSW North Coast to the Bega community. Collaboration at the NGO level and the recognition that there is an ecosystem within single communities is something that was highlighted as essential to effective funding by Michelle Gortan, CEO, Macdoch Foundation, in this edition’s Donor Spotlight.
  • An adapted version of the IRCF model will also be delivered in Bega, thanks to a further $1.3 million injection through the same program. This will include a partnership with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. The IRCF program will build on the work of the FRRR and Paul Ramsay Foundation Funding that has been delivered since the bushfires.
  • Due to the cancellation of the Canberra Heywire Summit, the ABC Heywire Youth Ideas Lab was held in Shepparton in May as part of ABC’s Takeover Shepparton – a place-based storytelling competition that high school students in Shepparton participated in. The national Heywire Grant program will be supported by $30,000 for Shepparton projects, and the program will open in June.


  • Community projects to rebuild and redefine places post-COVID are increasing. In Q3 there was more than double the funding for projects that encourage self-generation when compared with the second quarter. This is primarily because Future Drought Fund (FDF) grants made up a large portion of Q3 funding and a lot of the projects focussed strongly on self-generation through agricultural industry sustainability/development and community planning projects to increase resilience to drought.
  • Our reach is increasing in parts of Australia that are harder to reach – funding for projects in remote and very remote locations has increased this Financial Year and is already above that of the 2020-2021 year. Proportionally, the number of grants to RA4 and RA5 (Remote/Very Remote) has not changed but the average FRRR grant has increased by $1,700 over that time frame and the total number of grants has increased.
  • There has been a significant increase in the footprint in WA and NT. Grants of $1.62M were distributed by the end of Q3, more than doubling the granting amount at the same time last year. Most of this increase has been in WA and the major contributors to this have been the new FDF and Nutrien programs that have significantly higher proportions of funding going to WA than other national programs.

Disaster Resilience and Climate Solutions

  • During Q3, there were significant climate impacts on both people and communities all across Australia. NSW (41 RRR LGA’s) and Qld (18 RRR LGA’s) were impacted by floods, as well as other specific locations. A total of 12 separate disaster events have been declared since 1 January this year, and so Disaster Resilience and Climate Solutions continues to be an area of priority.
  • Overlaid impacts are also significant in Qld where 13 LGA’s are both flood and 19/20 fire impacted, and in NSW where 36 LGA’s are both flood and 19/20 fire impacted. 
  • An estimated 442 active grants are underway in impacted communities in Qld and NSW. The FRRR team is taking a highly flexible, supportive, and case-by-case approach to support applicants, and an estimated 442 active grants are underway in impacted communities in Qld and NSW. Our place-based disaster resilience work is more important than ever in working alongside communities to co-design and act on ways they can be more prepared, strengthen connection to people, country, culture, and policy systems. 

Our team regularly publish insights to social media and sector publications. Here are a few recent articles in case you’ve missed them:

  • Volunteer Revolution; ‘Leadership at the Intersections’ which was written for Australian Philanthropic Services;
  • A piece on the need for investment in rural communities in NRHA’s Partyline;
  • Over the Fence, a podcast published by Farmers for Climate Action;
  • Our IRCF team and some community members were interviewed on the Philanthropy Australia podcast, Building rural and regional communities for the long haul.;
  • We also welcomed the extension of DGR1 status, especially for Community Foundations. 

If you would like to know more, don’t hesitate to contact our Portfolio Leads, who would be happy to share further information.