Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Grants available for first responder organisations in places impacted by Black Summer bushfires

Porepunkah was just one of many communities that was badly affected by the 2019/20 bushfires, but a recent grant is helping ensure that the local Country Fire Authority (CFA) brigade has the resources it needs to better prepare and serve the community when the next emergency occurs.

Volunteer Emergency Services encouraged to apply for funding

Porepunkah CFA was awarded a $10,875 grant through FRRR’s Volunteer Emergency Services Fund to support volunteer training and wellbeing through IT training technology and appliance upgrades for the kitchen at the Porepunkah CFA Shed. Porepunkah was one of 19 emergency services to share in $311,049 in grants, through the Volunteer Emergency Services Fund’s first round of funding.

Renee Lee, Porepunkah CFA’s Secretary said the funding will also help the group to facilitate community outreach during non-disaster times.

“While our volunteers take pride in our role and are committed to make Porepunkah a safer and better place for the community, we cannot express how much this grant means to us. As volunteers, it means recognition for our time and sacrifices.

“In addition, the grant approval came in a timely manner as it will uplift the spirit of community as we are faced with the numerous lockdowns,” Ms Lee said.

Made possible thanks to a significant private donation, the Volunteer Emergency Services Fund provides grants to local volunteer emergency services groups and first responder organisations in eligible fire-affected communities across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

FRRR is encouraging local volunteer emergency services groups serving rural communities affected by the 2019/20 bushfires to apply now for the second round of grant funding to support their recovery needs and/or strengthen their emergency response capabilities ahead of the 2021/22 bushfire season.

Grants of up to $25,000 are available to meet local agencies needs, and we want to encourage groups who may not have a large project in mind to consider making a small grant application of up to $6,000 to be better prepared with small essential equipment, i.e. Go bags that might contain torches, fire blankets and traffic wands. At least $100,000 in funding will be provided to meet such essential requests.

Danielle Griffin, FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager – Corporate, said that with this summer’s bushfire season fast approaching, first responders should feel confident in their preparedness and volunteers should feel supported, especially those in regions that are still recovering from the 2019/20 bushfires.

“Preparing for future disasters and adapting to changing conditions after a disaster are integral parts of the recovery process. In practical terms, preparedness can mean upgrades to infrastructure and equipment and providing up-to-date training, which can have a big impact on the security and safety of first responders.

“These grants can fund important projects to care for the mental health and wellbeing of volunteers that generously give their time to support and protect their communities.

“The Volunteer Emergency Services Fund is specifically designed to support the disaster recovery needs and priorities of first responder organisations at a local level, and we look forward to funding initiatives that will assist these vital community members and services,” Ms Griffin said.

The Volunteer Emergency Services Fund grant program is now open. Applications close 5pm AEDT 20 October 2021, with grants to be announced November 2021.

For more information, visit FRRR’s website – https://frrr.org.au/volunteer-emergency-services-fund-grant-program/.

FRRR has awarded $311,049 in grants to volunteer emergency services organisations impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires for projects that will help them to respond to local disaster recovery needs and address preparedness priorities ahead of the 2021/22 bushfire season.

Volunteer Emergency Services Fund awards more than $300,000 in grants

Funded through the Volunteer Emergency Services Grant Program, grants range from $4500 for Audio Visual Equipment, to $25,000 for the installation of a solar power battery backup system.

Made possible thanks to a generous private donation, funded initiatives will support fire-affected local volunteer emergency services and first-responder organisations in communities across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria. 

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said that she was pleased to see this targeted funding going to initiatives that will build and strengthen the capacity of these vital members of impacted communities.

“We saw strong demand for equipment and infrastructure improvements through this round of applications. Providing safe and secure facilities and equipment not only allows these services to better support their communities and respond to emergencies and future disasters, but they are also important to the recovery of the volunteers, building their resilience and caring for their mental health and wellbeing.

“The mental health and wellbeing of the volunteers will also be supported through funded training and education projects. These initiatives will increase the capacity of these volunteer-run emergency services, so that they are better equipped to care for their local community as they continue to recover from the bushfires,” Ms Egleton said.

Some of the projects awarded this round include:

  • Tinonee Rural Fire Brigade, NSW – Disaster Response Go Bags for Support Vehicles – $6,713 – Improve the capacity and enhance the safety of volunteers through the provision of fire safety equipment for community evacuation notifications and emergencies.
  • South Eastern Region QLD Rural Fire Service Division, QLD – Upgrade Emergency Services Response Command Vehicle – $25,000 – Boost operational capacity of the Beaudesert RFB Group through the upgrade of the Group Command vehicle.
  • Country Fire Authority – St Arnaud CFA, VIC – Connecting Our Group – $5,000 – Support volunteer capability through the provision of a laptop computer for operations at the St Arnaud CFA.
  • Onkaparinga CFS Group, SA – Onkaparinga CFS Group Tablet Grant – $19,628 – Enhance organisational capacity through the provision of information technology equipment at the Onkaparinga CFS.
  • Surf Life Saving Lower North Coast Branch Incorporated, NSW– Provision of emergency response equipment for frontline lifesavers during bushfire emergencies – $25,000 – Improving preparedness and capability for Surf Life Saving volunteers in the Lower North Coast.

The next round of the Volunteer Emergency Services Fund Grant program will open 24 September 2021. For more information, visit – https://frrr.org.au/volunteer-emergency-services-fund-grant-program/.

The full list of grant recipients and their projects are below.

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
Emmaville Rural Fire BrigadeLockers for Firefighters at Emmaville RFS Shed
Enhance emergency response times through the provision of volunteer lockers at the Emmaville Rural Fire Brigade.
Emmaville$6,200
Far South Coast Branch Surf Life Saving Association of Australia IncDisaster Preparedness for Volunteer Lifesavers and the Community
Increase organisational capacity through the provision of Bushfire Response Kits for South Coast Surf Life Saving clubs.
Bermagui$23,411
Merriwa and District Rescue Squad IncIt's a Long Way to the Top, if You've Tripped and had a Fall!
Increase organisational capacity through the provision of vertical rescue equipment for the Merriwa and Districts Rescue Squad.
Merriwa$22,000
Liverpool Ranges RFS
NSW Rural Fire Service
Group 1 Liverpool Range
Strengthen local volunteer emergency groups and their activities through facility and equipment upgrades for the Cassilis RFS.
Merriwa$16,587
Pambula Beach Surf Life Saving Club IncExpansion of Pambula Surf Life Saving Club Patrol and Emergency Search and Rescue Capabilities
Increase organisation capacity with an additional IRB Zodiac to ensure timely volunteer emergency response.
Pambula$24,979
Surf Life Saving Lower North Coast Branch IncorporatedProvision of Emergency Response Equipment for Frontline Lifesavers During Bushfire Emergencies
Improve volunteer emergency response capability wiith items including a defibrillator and portable radios.
Forster$25,000
Tarana Volunteer Bushfire BrigadeInstall Solar Power Battery Backup System
Boost organisational capacity through the provision of a solar power system including backup battery.
Tarana$25,000
Tinonee Rural Fire BrigadeDisaster Response Go Bags for Support Vehicles
Improve the capacity and enhance the safety of volunteers through the provision of fire safety equipment for community evacuation notifications and emergencies.
Tinonee$6,713
QUEENSLAND
Beaudesert Rural Fire Brigade Group
South Eastern Region QLD Rural Fire Service Division
Upgrade Emergency Services Response Command Vehicle
Boost operational capacity of the Beaudesert RFB Group through the upgrade of the Group Command vehicle.
Scenic Rim Regional Council Area$25,000
Gatton State Emergency Service Social Club IncCapability Enhancement Program
Boost organisational capacity through the replacement of electric tool, batteries and radio holsters at the Gatton SES.
Gatton$10,178
Maroochydore State Emergency Service Support Association IncorporatedAudio Visual Equipment for Volunteer Training
Boost capacity of the Maroochydore SES with the provision of technology equipment to enhance the training of volunteers.
Maroochydore$4,500
Woodhill Rural Fire BrigadeFirefighting ATV
Increase community safety with the provision of an off road ATV and emergency response trailer for Woodhill Rural Fire Brigade.
Kooralbyn$25,000
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Onkaparinga CFS GroupOnkaparinga CFS Group Tablet Grant
Enhance organisation capacity through the provision of information technology equipment at the Onkaparinga CFS.
Lobethal$19,628
VICTORIA
Buffalo River CFA
Country Fire Authority - Headoffice
Buffalo River Scrolling Electronic LED Notice Board
Increase community awareness by installing a scrolling notice board for public safety announcements and information sharing at the Buffalo River CFA shed.
Myrtleford$12,400
Porepunkah CFA
Country Fire Authority - Headoffice
IT Training Equipment and Kitchen Appliances
Support volunteer training and wellbeing with technology and appliance upgrades at the Porepunkah CFA Shed.
Porepunkah$10,875
St Arnaud CFA
Country Fire Authority - Headoffice
Connecting Our Group
Support volunteer vitality through the provision of upgraded information technology equipment at the St Arnaud CFA.
St Arnaud$5,000
Corryong Ambulance and Walma Ambulance
Ambulance Victoria
Corryong Ambulance Community Officer and Walwa Community Emergency Response Team Uplift
Support organisational capacity of the organisation through the provision of training and operation equipment.
Corryong$17,928
Mallacoota SES
Victoria State Emergency Service Authority
Mallacoota-Genoa Community Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Project
Enhance community safety through the provision of portable fire fighting equipment and PPE for emergency volunteers in the Genoa community.
Genoa$12,650
Tallangatta SES
Victoria State Emergency Service Authority
Turn Out Bay Upgrade
Boost community safety through turn out bay upgrades at the Tallangatta SES.
Tallangatta$18,000

Supporting capacity of organisations in Victoria’s bushfire-impacted communities

FRRR has announced a multi-year partnership with the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (HMSTrust) and the Sidney Myer Fund to build the capacity of local organisations playing a central, coordinating or networking role in the recovery of Victorian communities affected by the 2019/20 bushfires.

New partnership backs community-led recovery

The Bushfire Recovery Fund will award grants of up to $90,000 to community groups and local not-for-profit organisations working in Victorian fire-affected regions. The program will fund initiatives that enhance, improve or sustain operations of these keystone organisations for up to three years, and therefore strengthen community-led recovery over the medium and long-term.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that the partnership is a result of a shared vision for aligning funding and support to community-led solutions that build resilience and continued viability and vitality.

“FRRR and our generous donor partners HMSTrust and the Sidney Myer Fund have come together to help local groups to be more viable, resilient, and sustainable. The program is designed to help address organisational needs, and strengthen capacity to adapt and respond to the changing or emerging needs of communities.

“FRRR’s role will be to act as a facilitator, to encourage and support these community groups so that they can continue to do the work that is so important to the ongoing recovery of their communities,” Ms Egleton said.

HMSTrust Executive Officer Lin Bender said that the Trust believes the key program goal of building organisational capacity is critical to ensuring local groups can operate in what are challenging economic, emotional, and ecological conditions.

“By supporting applicants that are deeply engaged with their communities to sustain or adapt their model or way of working, we aim to ensure more viable, resilient and sustainable organisations that can support ongoing recovery efforts,” Lin said.

Sidney Myer Fund CEO Leonard Vary said the broader intent of the program is to inform disaster recovery best practice by understanding and addressing the needs of critical community ‘backbone’ organisations.

“The capacity to manage normal day-to-day operations along with the demands of recovery has been identified as a challenge for many organisations in bushfire-affected communities,” Mr Vary said. “By engaging directly with these organisations, we can facilitate and fund not only the development of locally relevant, multi-year projects that build capacity and resilience but potentially identify new approaches to long-term community recovery.”

To reduce the burden on potential applicants, a shortlist of organisations from declared fire affected areas in Victoria, identified through broad stakeholder consultation, will be invited to apply for funding. The first successful grantees are expected to be announced in October 2021. Organisations who consider this opportunity to be aligned to their situation should contact FRRR to discuss their needs.

More information about the program can be found here.

More than 6,800 Back to School vouchers distributed

More than 6,800 students and families in places recovering from the 2019/20 bushfires will head Back to School in semester 2 with a little extra support, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia and overseas.

Support continues for students impacted by Black Summer bushfires

Funded through a special Bushfire Response round of the Back to School (BTS) program, FRRR has partnered with local community groups and Community Foundations in impacted regions to distribute 6,814 $50 gift vouchers to families in need.

Students can redeem the vouchers for school essentials such as winter uniforms, school bags, shoes or stationery. To date, BTS vouchers valued at more than $822,000 have been distributed to families in fire-affected communities since June 2020.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that for these students and their families, the vouchers provide a little extra help as they continue to navigate the recovery journey, which has certainly been complicated by the pandemic.

“Last year many of these families were home schooling throughout the colder months. So, with most back at school, some are only now realising there are items that still need replacing following the bushfires.

“Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can have a big impact, helping to cover the cost of a couple of school jumpers or a winter uniform, new books to start the term or even a sleeping bag that a child can use for school camp.

“We’re grateful to our Community Foundation partners and other groups that are working on the ground in the impacted regions. Their discreet distribution of the vouchers to those in need means families can receive support without having to ask for it,” Ms Egleton said.

Tenterfield Lions Club is one of the organisations helping to distribute the vouchers to students in their region. Club President, Lisa Dalton, said that the vouchers will help parents with the costs of winter school essentials and will also benefit the Shire when the vouchers are redeemed locally.

“We’ve been through the wringer over the last couple of years, and I hope this is just a small way of letting the wider community know we are all in this together,” Ms Dalton said.

The BTS program distributes vouchers to students and families across Australia, including those in regions not impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires. In total, 64 Community Foundations and locally-based community groups have helped FRRR to distribute $1,075,400 in vouchers to through the BTS program this year.

BTS vouchers are funded by FRRR and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Counter Point Community Services (Cycle Recycle), Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia, J & M Nolan Family Trust, Bertalli Family Foundation, June Canavan Foundation, and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as individual donors.

Vouchers were awarded to support the following bushfire-affected Local Government Areas:

Towong (VIC)
East Gippsland (VIC)
Wellington (VIC)
Greater Hume Shire (NSW)
Snowy Valleys (NSW)
Eurobodalla (NSW)
Mid-Coast (NSW)
Bega Valley (NSW)
Tenterfield (NSW)
Ballina (NSW)
Clarence Valley (NSW)
Lismore (NSW)
Richmond Valley (NSW)
Kyogle (NSW)
Kangaroo Island (SA)
Yorke Peninsula (SA)

Funding awarded for 33 recovery-focused projects

Through its Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) program, FRRR has awarded $637,908 in grants for 33 initiatives prioritised by local communities to support their recovery from the 2019/2020 summer bushfires.

Rural communities recovering from bushfires
SRC Bushfire Recovery project – Eden Visitor Information Centre

The SRC program’s Bushfire Recovery stream is collaboratively funded and supports projects that are led by local people and address local recovery needs. The grants awarded will help promote the healing and renewal of these impacted places.

In this round of Bushfire Recovery funding, grants range from $2,500 to encourage locals to participate in recovery activities at the Maclean Spring Festival in NSW, through to $25,000 for the installation of local fauna sculptures that will increase connection to place and enhance public spaces in Marlow, Victoria.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that the Foundation continues to support communities recovering from disaster, because it knows recovery is a long-term process that is unique for each affected place.

“Many impacted communities have faced multiple disasters beyond the bushfires, including COVID-19 and floods. The pandemic has made recovery all the more challenging for these regions. For community organisations, it’s hampered their capacity to deliver services that they would otherwise be providing to help their communities heal.

“Many groups have worked hard to support locals in safe and responsive ways but understandably, local volunteers are pretty worn out. In response, we have awarded a number of grants for projects that will relieve volunteer-fatigue and alleviate the pressures that many volunteer-led groups are dealing with.

“Recovery is a complex process that really hinges on local people coming together to support one another, to share and heal. We continue to see strong demand for projects that provide a safe space for communities to gather and connect by investing in local community assets and infrastructure.

“We are also seeing attention focused on more vulnerable members of the community, with local organisations using grants for projects that address the recovery needs of age-based groups, gendered groups and Indigenous groups,” Ms Egleton said.

Some of the 33 Bushfire Recovery projects awarded include:

  • Australian Outward Bound Development Fund Pty Limited, Tharwa ACT – Rebuilding from the Heat – $22,367 – Improve preparedness for future disasters at Australian Outward Bound’s Tharwa site through the renewal of aged firefighting and maintenance equipment.
  • Lansdowne Hall Reserve Trust, Lansdowne NSW – Ride on Mower for Lansdowne Community Hall – $5,107 – Reduce volunteer fatigue and increase preparedness for future fires through the purchase of a ride on mower for the Lansdowne Hall.
  • Rathdowney and District Memorial Grounds Association Incorporated, QLD – Natural Disaster Preparedness – Electrical masterplan for emergency response facilities – $13,420 – Enhance community activities and support community preparedness for future emergency evacuations by developing an electricity supply masterplan for the Memorial Grounds.
  • Kingscote Mens Shed Inc, Kingscote SA – Connection Through Activity for Men Living on Kangaroo Island – $3,683 – Increase opportunities to support local connectedness and social recovery, through restoration of a local historic Wharf Trolley.
  • Bemm River Progress and Improvement Association Inc, VIC – Bemm River Men’s Shed Upgrade – Toilet and Kitchen – $16,422 – Boost community recovery and connection through upgrades to the Men’s Shed toilet and kitchen facilities.

In total, this round of SRC awarded $1,589,612 in grants across three streams – Small & Vital, Larger Leverage and Bushfire Recovery. The 112 projects funded will help build the resilience and long-term vitality of smaller remote, rural and regional communities across Australia.

A full list of SRC grant recipients across all three streams of funding is available here.

The SRC program is collaboratively supported by a number of generous donors, which are also listed here.

The current round is accepting applications until 24 August 2021, with funds to be awarded in December 2021.

Grants available for services supporting communities impacted by Black Summer bushfires

A generous private donation of $1 million will fund FRRR‘s new Volunteer Emergency Services Fund Grant Program. The Program will fund volunteer emergency services to support their recovery needs from the 2019/20 bushfires and help them prepare for future challenges.

Volunteer Emergency Services Fund Grant Program
Murgon SES volunteers

The Volunteer Emergency Services Fund will offer grants to local volunteer emergency services and first responder organisations in 2019/20 fire-affected regions across rural, regional, and remote Australia. Funds will help them to respond to local disaster recovery needs and address preparedness priorities ahead of the 2021/22 bushfire season.

Grants of up to $25,000 are available for projects including practical improvements and upgrades to facilities and equipment so that these services are better able to respond to future disasters. Initiatives that support the mental health and wellbeing of first responder volunteers, as well as projects that provide training and build the capacity of these services can also be funded.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that an integral part of the recovery process is preparing for future disasters and adapting to changing conditions after a disaster.

“We know that disasters, like bushfires, are not isolated events. They are increasing in frequency and severity; and it is vital for our volunteer-led emergency services groups to be equipped,” Ms Egleton said.

“Throughout the 2019/20 summer bushfires, volunteer emergency and first responder services worked tirelessly to protect and save their communities. They literally saved lives.

“These grants will support those who support the community by funding projects that will help these volunteers process and heal from the trauma of the bushfires, as well as build resilience and preparedness for future disasters.

“We look forward to assisting these vital members of impacted communities and helping to build and strengthen the emergency services they so generously give their time to be a part of,” Ms Egleton said.

The Volunteer Emergency Services Fund Grant Program is now open. Applications close 5pm AEST 7 July 2021 with grants to be announced August 2021. For more information, visit FRRR’s website – https://frrr.org.au/funding/disaster-resilience-and-climate-solutions/volunteer-emergency-services-fund-grant-program/

By Natalie Egleton, CEO

Over the past month, I’ve had dozens of conversations with community leaders, local, state and commonwealth governments, philanthropic foundations, and corporate partners, that have all circled around the question of disaster resilience and best practice giving. I’m encouraged by the growing sentiment that recognises the increasing frequency and severity of disasters, yet also see a pressing need to shift our approaches to funding disasters as one-off events.

Time to evolve disaster philanthropy in Australia
Natalie Egleton, CEO

The floods that have devastated so many areas across NSW and parts of Queensland this month are yet another in a series of disasters that rural communities have had to face in the past year. Many of those communities have experienced prolonged drought, bushfires, minor flooding, and now catastrophic flooding. For these communities, the rebuild, recovery, and long-term renewal will call on yet more reserves of social capital. Support will be needed that doesn’t compartmentalise their various disaster impacts and which acknowledges the deeply fatiguing and depleting effects of successive disasters on people, communities, and local service systems. 

At FRRR, we view disasters as environmental shocks that remote, rural, regional communities regularly experience. We know they are inevitable and increasing in frequency and severity; what makes them complex is not knowing when they will occur, where, or the severity and nature of their impact.

Recovery and preparedness are only as strong as the social ties, quality of community infrastructure, depth and breadth of skills and networks, cultural knowledge, and the health of local service systems, non-profits, and community groups.

That’s why investing in social capital – preparing for future disasters and adapting to changing conditions after a disaster – underpin our ongoing work outside of disasters. Mitigation and making advances through technology is vital, but only effective when people within communities – those who will act first and drive recovery and preparedness – are invested in.

Our approach is to provide support where there are gaps or quick responses are needed in the short term, however we focus the majority of funds on the medium-to-long term recovery and future preparedness efforts of rural communities. Funding medium to long-term recovery ensures that resources are available to help communities when they are ready, beyond their immediate needs that arise during the emergency.

Adapting and evolving

In operational terms, FRRR has a standing disaster philanthropy model that we scale when a major disaster occurs. Each year, with support from hundreds of donor partners, we provide grants and capacity support to around 500 hundred remote, rural and regional communities across the country via almost 800 grants. This reach gives us a good footprint and connection points that we can naturally tap into when disasters occur.

Right now, we have almost 1,500 active grants in place for diverse projects in remote, rural, regional communities nationally; around 40% of these are supporting community-led recovery and resilience initiatives.

When the 2019-20 bushfires hit FRRR had to scale our processes very quickly. We expanded existing grants programs that have a national footprint, as well as brokered funds management for corporate partners to support short-term recovery.

In the space of a month, FRRR went from having about 700 donors to 30,000 donors. We had to ensure our systems could cope and we needed to scale up our communications and finance management resourcing. At the same time, we were engaging in working groups and forums with Governments, philanthropy, and connecting with fire-affected communities where we had active grants and relationships.

When COVID-19 hit, our biggest challenge, aside from looking after our people, was adjusting our community engagement approaches.

While regional Australia is great at working remotely, working on recovery, trying to engage with largely volunteer-led community groups and not-for-profits is really done best in person.

Understanding the local context can be done remotely but it’s not ideal. We also found that as restrictions came into place, a lot of community groups went to ground.

We knew there would be significant impacts from COVID-19 on recovery from the 2019-20 bushfires because the lockdowns would essentially stall social recovery processes, which are most effective when people come together physically, to process and heal.

One of our big, but unsurprising observations during COVID was the gaping hole in digital inclusion – equitable access to stable telecommunications, low levels of digital connectivity in households, and low digital literacy in what are largely ageing populations. In the Snowy Valleys for example, we learnt that 24% of people didn’t have an internet connection at home. In Tasmania, connectivity is inconsistent and communities very isolated.

At the same time, we were seeing independent news publications falling over and rural communities were becoming even more isolated.

The shocks and disruptions just kept coming and the readiness wasn’t there. And then, large parts of NSW were impacted by once-in-a-century floods.

We hear a lot about needing to increase resilience and I am of the firm view that that is coming from the wrong angle. There is an abundance of resilience, but only so much that any strong community can absorb and bounce forward from.

Embedding disasters in regional development practice

The past year has proven the repeated warnings of many. The frequency and severity of natural disasters will cost society, economies, biodiversity, and liveability. We need to do things differently.

In our work partnering with a community in NSW focussing on their non-profit sector capacity building before the 2019/20 bushfires, it was clear that those organisations and community leaders were more ready to respond to the recovery process and opportunities it presented. These same communities are now facing an unimaginable clean up and recovery from flooding. Our role is to be there, offer patience, continuity, flexibility, and agility to move how and when the community is ready with fit-for-purpose funding and resourcing support. The critical piece here is that when we do this work between disasters, reserves of social capital can be replenished and expanded. Communities are more able to engage with mitigation and do essential future-focussed work to strengthen their response to risk and climate change.

Innovation and renewal – applying learnings to support flood-impacted communities

Since the bushfires, we have reviewed and adjusted our approach to funding the core operating costs of the community groups that are so essential to the fabric and vitality of remote, rural and regional communities.

With the funding model of our national small grants programs being relatively unpredictable and dependent on donations from our partners, it is difficult for FRRR to commit to resourcing beyond one-off grants that seed and strengthen locally led projects.

However, throughout the pandemic, the FRRR Board recognised that the depletion of fundraising revenue, volunteer capacity, and local sponsorships, coupled with increased vulnerability and successive disasters, presents a serious threat to the survival of community groups and local not-for-profits. We recognise this as being critical at this point in time, so we will support core overhead costs until the picture changes. It will still be one-off funding but will help to keep the lights on and people working on key issues, while communities and organisations adapt and evolve through the recovery.

This approach translates to better practice for disaster philanthropy overall.

Given what is unfolding in NSW and Queensland at the moment, it is time that we stop looking at disasters as one-off events and view disasters as a constant. This means that we need to invest in underlying capacity and capability at the community level.

The new National Resilience, Relief & Recovery Agency, along with several State Agencies, are now modelled through an all-hazards lens and hopefully the policy and funding settings will follow. Philanthropy can then play a meaningful role beyond responding to successive crises.

It’s certainly where we are focussing more and more of our efforts, and we welcome more conversation on this.

More than $250,000 distributed to impacted regions

FRRR, in partnership with News Corp Australia, has awarded $279,940 in grants to support 12 projects in communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires, some of whom are now facing the complexity of recovery from multiple disasters.

News Corp Bushfire Fund grants
SAVEM Inc in Onkaparinga, SA was awarded a $21,050 grant in September 2020 for their Field Hospital Essential Equipment Project

Funded through the News Corp Bushfire Fund, grants ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 have been awarded to community groups in fire-affected regions across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.

The funding will go toward community initiatives that support infrastructure rebuilding and social recovery, such as helping people connect; alleviating pressure on volunteers; or critical upgrades to communities’ facilities, activity that will build community capacity and preparedness for future disasters.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, explained that several of the recipient communities are now dealing with floods, which makes it all the more important to support them and get this funding on the ground.

“Local not-for-profit organisations and community groups are responding to complex and intersecting challenges. The recovery of many bushfire-affected communities was significantly hampered by COVID-19 restrictions and many are only now starting to make inroads,” Ms Egleton said.

“Some communities are also navigating the ongoing impact of drought while in other areas, the recent flooding will add further to the complexity. However, the underlying issues that these projects were seeking to address will still be there, so these grants are critical to continuing recovery.

“Where project challenges arise due to the flooding, we will work closely with these communities to ensure they are supported to adapt their plans and deliver on the goals they have for local recovery. 

“It’s wonderful to partner with an organisation like News Corp Australia, who have committed support to these fire affected communities over the last year that has allowed us to be flexible and respond as different needs emerge and the recovery journey evolves,” Ms Egleton explained.

News Corp Australia’s community ambassador, Penny Fowler, said the strength of these fire-affected communities is truly inspiring.

“Many of the communities supported with this funding have felt the effect of multiple natural disasters over the last few years – whether drought, flood or fires – yet they continue to move forward. The importance of having well-equipped community facilities that enable people to come together to support one another, or to get back to some semblance of ‘normal’ came through really strongly this round,” Ms Fowler said.

“We are very pleased to be able to work with FRRR to ensure that those community groups on the ground, doing the heavy lifting and supporting their people, have what they need to continue to do so.”

Some of the projects funded include:

  • Container of Dreams Limited – Drake, NSW – Covered Work Area for Tiny House Building – $25,000 – Build an undercover work area, so that no matter the weather conditions, volunteers can safely build tiny houses for those still homeless following the fires.
  • Upper Murray Innovation Foundation / Thowgla Community Recovery Committee – Thowgla Valley, VIC – Thowgla Valley Fire Preparedness – $23,095 – Improve the community’s preparedness to respond to future fire events, and other disasters, by purchasing portable fire-fighting equipment and UHF radios, strengthening community resilience.
  • Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Incorporated – Stanthorpe, QLD – Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail – $25,000 – Employ a coordinator to address volunteer fatigue and enable the ongoing delivery of a largely volunteer-run art events program to help drive local engagement and attract tourists.
  • Mount Torrens and Districts Community Association Incorporated – Mount Torrens, SA – Dunnfield Community Space – $25,000 – Increase community connections by creating a playground, reflection and meeting spaces, and a community garden in the Dunnfield Community Space using timber from the fire ground.

FRRR encourages all grant seekers to subscribe to our eNews and social media channels to be alerted when other funding opportunities are announced, and to be inspired to develop their own community-led projects.

Visit here for more information on FRRR’s grant programs to support communities before, during, and after a natural disaster or drought, and build communities’ climate resilience. Anyone wanting to directly support medium to long-term flood recovery can do so at https://frrr.org.au/giving/flood-recovery-appeal/.

A full list of grant recipients and their projects are below.

OrganisationProject LocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
Blicks Community IncorporatedCommunity Action Plan: Rebuilding Together - Our Sustainable Environment
Enable the community to recover from bushfires and better prepare for future emergencies by developing an Environmental Sustainability plan.
Dundurrabin$25,000
Broulee Surfers Surf Life Saving Club IncorporatedKitchen Renovation
Improve the club's ability to support and service the community during times of emergency through kitchen renovations at the club house.
Broulee$25,000
Container of Dreams LimitedCovered Work Area for Tiny House Building
Improve the capability of Container of Dreams by building an undercover work area allowing volunteers to build tiny houses in all weather conditions for displaced community members.
Drake$25,000
Eden Community Access Centre IncorporatedPower for the People
Enhance the efficiency of the Eden Community Access Centre by installing solar electricity to support the reduction of running costs and provide a more reliable power source during times of emergency.
Eden$22,500
Melanoma and Skin Cancer Advocacy Network Limited (BlazeAid)Bushfire Recovery: Keeping Volunteers Sun Safe and Skin Serious!
Improve BlazeAid's capability to protect volunteer health by providing broad brimmed sun hats to be worn when they are supporting the rebuild of community infrastructure.
Cobargo$15,000
Southcoast Health and Sustainability AllianceMaking the Moruya Pre-School Kindergarten a Heatwave and Bushfire Haven for Young Children and Their Parents
Improve the Moruya Pre-School's ability to prepare their facility to protect young families of the community by upgrading fire defence systems and installing solar electricity at the centre.
Moruya$25,000
The Big Scrub OrchestraRebuilding Lives of Children Experiencing Trauma from the 2019/20 Bushfires with Music
Encourage children's recovery and learning through music by providing access to big band music experience in the Richmond Valley region.
Rappville$25,000
QUEENSLAND
Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail IncorporatedGranite Belt Art and Craft Trail
Boost the capability of Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Incorporated to deliver art events across the Granite Belt region by employing an event coordinator locally.
Stanthorpe$25,000
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Kingston Brigade Lecepede CFS GroupLacepede CFS Wellbeing Retreat and Learning Zone Development
Strengthen and support the volunteer fire brigade crew to reduce stress and increase community safety during emergencies by providing a breakout space including learning area for volunteers.
Kingston$25,000
Mount Torrens and Districts Community Association IncorporatedDunnfield Community Space
Help locals recover and reflect by providing a community space including playground and community garden constructed with trees recycled from local fire grounds of the 2019/20 bushfires.
Mount Torrens$25,000
VICTORIA
Tambo Upper Primary SchoolHistorical Hall Kitchen Rebuild
Expand the use of the community hall by upgrading the kitchen to provide a well-appointed facility for the community to use, particularly during times of emergency.
Tambo Upper$19,345
Upper Murray Innovation Foundation - Thowgla Community Recovery Committee (CRC)Thowgla Valley Fire Preparedness
Improve the community's ability to respond to future fire events by providing portable firefighting equipment and radios for the Thowgla Valley.
Thowgla Valley$23,095

Community Foundations and local organisations encouraged to apply

FRRR is asking Community Foundations and local organisations in places impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires to assist with the distribution of vouchers to families in need of support as part of its long-running Back to School (BTS) program.

FRRR seeks Back to School partners in bushfire-affected areas

FRRR is currently seeking local partners to help distribute more than $500,000 in $50 gift vouchers into areas affected by the Black Summer bushfires. Families will be able to redeem the vouchers for school essentials, such as school uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationery.

The aim of the BTS program is to help students by providing the key items they need, which may have been lost during the bushfires, so that they can focus on their education and keep learning.

As part of the BTS program, FRRR partners with community groups and Community Foundations who can discretely distribute the vouchers to local families in need. This means parents don’t have to apply for the vouchers but still receive support.

More than 5,400 students have already been given a helping hand this year, with vouchers valued at more than $250,000 having been distributed to families in places affected by the Black Summer bushfires, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia.

Jeanice Henderson, BTS Program Coordinator, said that while $50 dollars may not seem much, in FRRR’s experience, it makes a practical difference, especially for those who may have lost everything during the fires.

“For families and students impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires, recovery is already a difficult journey. These vouchers will mean they have a helping hand when it comes to covering the costs of things like books, stationery, or winter uniforms and shoes,” Ms Henderson explained.

“We are grateful to the Community Foundations and local organisations that have partnered with us so far as part of the BTS program. These organisations know the challenges that locals face when it comes to disaster recovery and can reach those families and students most in need of support.

“We hope other local organisations, which we know are already doing amazing work to support families like these in their communities, will come on board to help distribute our BTS vouchers,” Ms Henderson said.

Community Foundations and local not-for-profit community organisations can apply for vouchers via the Back to School page.

Applications close Wednesday, 31 March 2021. Grants will be announced, and vouchers distributed, in late May 2021, ahead of Term 3.

Visit here for more information on FRRR’s Back to School program and other grant programs to support communities before, during, and after a natural disaster or drought, and build communities’ climate resilience.

FRRR and community groups help young people impacted by bushfires

More than 5,400 students and families in places affected by the Black Summer bushfires are being given a helping hand at the start the new school year, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia.

FRRR and community groups help young people impacted by bushfires

Funded through FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program, students will be able to redeem the $50 gift vouchers for essential school items such as uniforms, school bags or stationery. So far this year, vouchers valued at more than $250,000 have been distributed to families impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires.

FRRR partners with local community groups and Community Foundations who discretely distribute the vouchers to families in need. This means parents don’t have to apply for them but still get the support they need.

The vouchers are funded by FRRR and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia, J & M Nolan Family Trust, Bertalli Family Foundation, June Canavan Foundation, and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as individual donors.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that for these students and their families, getting back to school is an important part of the recovery journey.

“As families continue to navigate their recovery journey after the bushfires, they are also dealing with the additional challenges caused by the pandemic.

“These vouchers are a small way of helping students and families to have one less thing to worry about – whether they cover the cost of a pair of school shoes, a couple of school jumpers, or even a sleeping bag that a child can use for school camp,” Ms Egleton explained.

Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) is one of the Community Foundations helping to distribute the vouchers in their region. NRCF Executive Officer, Emily Berry, said that the vouchers are for purchasing items that students may have lost in the fires and have never been able to replace due to financial difficulties.

“We hope these vouchers support inclusion for the students, helping them fit into their school environment and go on to realise their potential, instead of feeling different, or excluded because they are unable to purchase school essentials,” Ms Berry said.

As part of the BTS program, a further 30 Community Foundations and locally-based community groups are helping to distribute 7,000 BTS vouchers to students and families in rural regions not affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.

In total, more than $590,000 has been distributed in vouchers to students and families across Australia through the BTS program this year.

“Last year was tough for everyone, especially for those living in the bush. Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can help to alleviate the pressure they face at the start of a new school year,” Ms Egleton said.

From our previous experience in supporting disaster-affected communities, we know that young people have been significantly affected by the fires, and it can take families a long time to get back on their feet again. FRRR is conducting another dedicated round of the Back to School program, which will provide vouchers in time for winter uniform and shoes. Applications are open now.

Vouchers were awarded to support the following Local Government Areas:

Bushfire Recovery stream
Alpine (S)Lismore (C)
Bega Valley (A)Richmond Valley (A)
Central Coast (C) (NSW)Snowy Monaro Regional (A)
Clarence Valley (A)Snowy Valleys (A)
East Gippsland (S)Towong (S)
Greater Hume Shire (A)Wingecarribee (A)
Kyogle (A)Yorke Peninsula (DC)
General stream
Albury (C)Cleve (DC)Mid Murray (DC)Streaky Bay (DC)
Alexandrina (DC)Cloncurry (S)Mid-Coast (A)Sunshine Coast (R)
Alice Springs (T)Cowra (A)Moorabool (S)Tatiara (DC)
Ballarat (C)Elliston (DC)Mount Gambier (C)Toowoomba (R)
Ballina (A)Federation (A)Mount Isa (C)Tumby Bay (DC)
Barkly (R)Franklin Harbour (DC)Naracoorte and Lucindale (DC)Tweed (A)
Barossa (DC)Golden Plains (S)Northern Grampians (S)Victor Harbor (C)
Bass Coast (S)Grant (DC)Peterborough (DC)Victoria Daly (R)
Baw Baw (S)Hepburn (S)Port Augusta (C)Wagga Wagga (C)
Benalla (RC)Hinchinbrook (S)Port Lincoln (C)Wangaratta (RC)
Boulia (S)Indigo (S)Port Pirie City and Dists (M)Wattle Range (DC)
Broken Hill (C)Kimba (DC)Pyrenees, VicWhyalla (C)
Buloke (S)Kingston (DC) (SA)Richmond (S)Wodonga (C)
Byron (A)Kyogle (A)Robe (DC)Wudinna (DC)
Campaspe (S)Latrobe (C) (Vic.)Roper Gulf (R)Yankalilla (DC)
Ceduna (DC)Light (RegC)South Gippsland (S)Yorke Peninsula (DC)
Central Darling (A)Lower Eyre Peninsula (DC)Strathbogie (S)