FRRR & ANZ Corporate Roundtable

Event: 8 November 2022

Last month, FRRR had the great pleasure of hosting a number of our Corporate Partners at ANZ’s offices in Sydney for a discussion about How corporate philanthropy can foster strong vibrant rural communities. With representation from multiple industries, the conversation was far-reaching – covering everything from telecommunications challenges to housing affordability.

Jenefer Stewart, ANZ General Manager, Business Banking, opened the roundtable and talked about the wonderful 20-year partnership that FRRR & ANZ have shared, including the extremely successful Seeds of Renewal Program. It has provided more than $5 million in grants to over 800 community groups during the lifetime of the partnership.

Jenefer highlighted the importance of supporting regional and rural communities, and also discussed the enormous benefits to ANZ employees involved in the Program.

“Our 20-year partnership with FRRR aligns strongly with ANZ’s purpose and our ongoing commitment to support vibrant and sustainable rural communities to ensure the ongoing prosperity of regional Australia.

“In addition to the benefits to regional Australia, the Program provides a great opportunity for our employees to be more involved with the Program by volunteering their time on the Assessment Committee. Under the guidance of FRRR, the Assessment Committee undertakes the thorough and methodical process of evaluating applications based on our four key themes covering Environmental Sustainability; Financial Wellbeing; Access to Housing; and Community Projects that assist communities to thrive. The overwhelming feedback from our ANZ volunteers is that they find the opportunity to be involved with the Program extremely rewarding and highly recommend the experience to others.”

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, gave an overview of the state of remote, rural and regional communities, sharing some alarming statistics about volunteer fatigue, youth engagement in volunteerism, disaster resilience and the digital divide from FRRR’s Heartbeat of Rural Australia study. Some of those key facts included:

  • More than 50% of the community groups surveyed still rely on traditional communication techniques such as telephone, mail and face-to-face;
  • 1/3 volunteers are elderly;
  • Fewer than 30% rated their internet access as extremely reliable;
  • 87% of community organisations play an economic role in their community; and
  • 99% of community organisations play a social or cultural role in their community.

It was wonderful to hear the shared passion around the room for remote and rural Australia, and to learn of the incredible programs that so many of the organisations in attendance are currently undertaking to support these areas.

For example, we heard from Sasha Deshon, Community Engagement Manager for Transgrid, about their $1.5 million to a partnership with Regional Development Authority (RDA) Riverina to deliver a major jobs and skills boost to the region. Vicky Power, Head of Community for Suncorp spoke of their $1millon pledge last year to FRRR for a dedicated program to support rural communities impacted by significant natural disasters.

One of the most promising aspects of the roundtable was the clear commitment from the organisations present (including others such as Pepper Money, Stockland, Raine & Horne, Pinnacle Charitable Foundation & NRMA) for future collaboration to tackle some of the many challenges facing remote, rural and regional communities.

We look forward to continuing our role as the conduit and connector for the corporate community to collaborate for the ongoing sustainability and vitality of remote, rural and regional Australia. To find out more about the corporate partnership options or attend one of our roundtables in the future, contact the partnerships team via