Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal today welcomed the expansion of the place-based Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program to the Bega Valley, thanks to an injection of $1.3 million through the Australian Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Program.

IRCF is a grassroots program aimed at building and supporting the capacity of not-for-profits so they in turn can support social, economic and built environment recovery. By working locally over the next two years, it aims to strengthen local not-for-profit (NFP) organisations and ultimately enable them to thrive, which in turn will have a positive impact on community wellbeing and sustainability. It is based on a mix of local on-the-ground support, access to workshops and training and collaboration with local community groups.

The IRCF Bega Valley – Resilience Connection and Place Project builds on the Investing in Not-for-Profit Capacity program, which FRRR has been running in Bega over the last 18 months.

The investment will allow for two community development project officers to be appointed – one full time, one part-time – in partnership with the Bega Valley Shire Council. They will work closely with local NFP organisations and community groups, including the three Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALC’s).

An important part of the program will be to develop a ‘roadmap’ for the local not-for-profit and community sector, to identify common areas of interest, shared assets and needs for capacity building. Once these needs are identified, the IRCF Community Development Project Officers will develop relevant resources and help facilitate training and other support to help NFP’s to maximise the impact of their work. They will also provide support in accessing other grant funding for the various groups that get involved.

The program will also deliver leadership training into the community, thanks to a partnership with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

FRRR’s People Programs Portfolio Lead Deb Samuels says that this really is a collaborative, community-driven program.

“FRRR has worked hand in hand with community groups over the last 20 plus years, so we know that locals are best placed to know what they really need. Our role is simply to help facilitate the support that they need – and that’s exactly what this program is going to do.

“We’ve rolled out this model successfully now in seven other locations across NSW, so we know that this approach of bringing local NFPs and community groups together really works, especially when you combine it with on-the-ground facilitators. Together, they can identify common issues and opportunities and collectively prioritise where investment is needed, and what form it should take – including paying particular attention to ensuring it’s inclusive and culturally appropriate – to build their capacity as a sector.

“We’ve seen some fantastic spin-off investment and leveraging of resources and we fully expect the same to happen in Bega Valley communities. We’re really excited to get started!” Ms Samuels said.

Applications are now also open for the two facilitator roles, with details on the Bega Valley Shire Council site.

Designing and tailoring the IRCF program is a highly collaborative process. The next step is for FRRR, Bega Valley Shire Council and Australian Rural Leadership Foundation to meet with some key local leaders and start to map out how to harness this opportunity to build on what is already happening in the Bega Valley.

To find out more about the IRCF program or to get involved, visit ircf.frrr.org.au/Bega or contact FRRR Carolyn Ardler, IRCF Program Coordinator – South Coast on 1800 170 020.