Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

$175,000 available to bring youth-led initiatives to life

FRRR is inviting remote, rural and regional community groups apply for grants of up to $10,000 to help fund projects that provide innovative solutions to five priority issues identified by participants at the inaugural Heywire Youth Ideas Lab, held recently in Broken Hill.

Grants on offer to address issues that matter to young rural Australians

Since 2013, the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program has supported remote, rural and regional youth to address issues that matter most to them. To date, more than $1 million in community and philanthropic investment has helped to fund more than 130 projects in over 160 communities.

This year, due to COVID-19, the ABC needed to pivot their approach to how the ideas were generated. Typically, they come from the annual Heywire Youth Summit in Canberra, but instead, over three days 27 young local leaders from Broken Hill and surrounding regions came together. Broken Hill was chosen as the host town because it had the most entries in the annual Heywire story-telling competition. The young leaders learnt new skills, shared their stories, and workshopped ideas to help make rural and regional Australia an even better place for young people to live and work.

These ideas now form the basis of the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation grants, and include:

  • Discover Your Future: Giving young people a chance to explore and learn more about their future career options.
  • Open Field Fest: Bringing music, art and people together to help create a community-run music and arts festival.
  • Support Squad: Training young leaders to provide support, knowledge and companionship to peers who may be struggling with a variety of challenges.
  • The Story Link Project: Tackling discrimination through sharing diverse stories that help people within regional communities understand the impact of discriminatory language.
  • Contribute to the Change: Helping young people improve their mental health knowledge and understanding, so they are confident to seek the help they need.

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said each year she is impressed by the ideas that Heywirers bring to the table, and this year is no exception.

“The five ideas developed by Broken Hill’s young people are insightful and meaningful and provide a snapshot of the issues currently faced by young rural people across Australia. The beauty of the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants is that they fund projects driven by these young Australians’ ideas.

“We encourage community groups to engage with local youth when considering which idea to adopt and adapt. These capable young leaders understand local context and can help adapt an idea to best suit the priorities of local youth and assist in leading a meaningful project that will make their community more inviting and inspiring for other young people to live and work,” Ms Egleton said.

Youth Ideas Lab and Heywire participant Ashlyn speaks of how proud she is of herself and her Broken Hill community for coming up with the five ideas which were designed to combat challenges they themselves have faced. 

“The Youth Ideas Lab was such an incredible and inspiring experience. I’m so glad our Broken Hill community was given the opportunity to come up with these ideas that will soon be turned into realities. These ideas were formed by our unique experiences; now it’s your chance to take them on in your own community. I can’t wait to see where they go and how they grow!”

This program is possible thanks to the generous support of FRRR’s donor partners, including The Sally Foundation, Erdi Foundation, Findex Community Fund, David Mactaggart Foundation, and private donors. This year, thanks to their generosity, $175,000 in grants is available.

Applications close Thursday, 19 August 2021 and recipients will be announced in early November. More information is available here.

For high school students studying agriculture in South East NSW, hands on experience gives them the skills they need to gain employment when they finish their studies. For 200 students from across 11 different schools around Nowra, this meant having a go at the School Steer Spectacular at Nowra Showgrounds.

A $5,500 grant from the ABC Heywire initiative meant that South Coast Beef Producers Association (SCB) could spend three months mentoring students as they learnt how to feed and prepare steer for the Hook and Hoof competition. This involved hands on, industry-based learning with a pathway into the agriculture industry.

In addition to the steer competition, SCB conducted a number of skills-based workshops to build the students understanding of the techniques required in preparing and showing. These included the selection, grooming, parading and judging of cattle, and carcass assessment. Students were also expected to present a report on the project to a panel of judges. The presentations had to demonstrate: the hands-on preparation of the steer, the animal science and recording of the steer project, the agribusiness and commercial outcomes and how the project was recorded and reported.

The project mentored secondary school students who are studying agriculture and who are interested in a future career in the agriculture industry.

Some schools returned home to commence preparation for the next Spectacular with the students from Moruya High starting their own Beef Cattle Club and negotiating with a local beef producer to provide them with cattle to train for the 2019 Spectacular. Already, a number of students involved in the Spectacular are now studying agriculture at a tertiary level.

One of the teachers involved said of the day; “Thanks for providing the students with the fantastic opportunity, they really did enjoy and learn which was fantastic.”

Another teacher said; “There is more fruit from the Spectacular, more kids down at the ag plot breaking in cattle, older kids mentoring younger or inexperienced ones. Great stuff!”

“This project was driven and supported by young people every step of the way.”

Since Junior Mayor of Mt Isa and 2015 Heywire Youth Representative, Justice King, helped secure a $10,000 Heywire Youth Innovation Grant, a group of Mt Isa youth have been part of a program that has helped them to share stories of mental health, learn film-making skills, and ‘roll out the red carpet Mt Isa style’.

Kicked off in September 2015 at the Mt Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, the Raise Your Cards project included running four days of Digital Storytelling workshops for 19 young people. Professionals were brought in to help them develop skills in storytelling, scriptwriting, storyboarding, basic camera work and film making, film editing and sharing, communication, planning and team work. A young group ‘We Are One’ led the program throughout the application process and program design, while tapping into local Justice King, who chaired meetings and was actively involved along the way. Other support came from Vincent McManus of CuriousWorks, Chris Doyle and Jacqueline Olley of Headspace Mount Isa , James Cook University , Leann Shaw, Community Yarning Circles  and Alvin Hava Young People Ahead, Youth and Community Services Inc.

‘Raising cards’ raises confidence

Stephanie King, one of the project coordinators from the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, told of her excitement for the group’s opportunity to learn. “This has a flow on effect for their self- confidence and for what they would like to be and their future aspirations as young leaders in our community.” She said one young participant commented that “It was the most awesome thing I have ever done.”

“All 12 young people were super keen and excited to play their part, the young ones even turned up extra early on their school holidays and put in a mighty effort to produce some really amazing scenes.”

Flexible workshop delivery enabled the project to take different directions. Reducing stigma around youth and mental help isn’t easy and is often a difficult subject to broach for youth, especially with the end result being broadcasting of personal stories. The young group decided they wanted to make a joint film and worked collaboratively on a script that would include everyone. The result: Straight Outta Isa (WATCH). One girl, Sophie, took another approach and used whiteboard animation to tell her story.

The workshops culminated in sharing the stories through online channels and the team organised a free community screening night on October 9th 2015 to coincide with mental Health Week. It was attended by almost 100 people.

Ms Justice King commented for an ABC article that she was overwhelmed by how much the young people were willing to share at the workshop.

“With my experience, especially with youth of their age, they’re usually very enclosed in themselves and don’t talk,” she said. “It really did launch us out of the water, it was so surprising that they were open to discussion.

“It really shows that we’re exiting the era where discussing bad topics as youth [is taboo].”