Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

On Ngadjuri, Peramangk and Kaurna Country

The Barossa Valley in South Australia is a renowned wine-producing region northeast of Adelaide. When the COVID pandemic hit, tourism and wine exports significantly decreased, which placed a big financial stress on families in the Barossa. With the added pressure of drought, the region was seeing distressing numbers of mental health incidents and homelessness impacting the community.

Not-for-profit organisation Foundation Barossa has been working hard in the region since 2002 to encourage and support philanthropy to build and nurture their own community’s strength and assets. In recent years, Foundation Barossa has worked closely with several schools in the area where extra support is needed.

Foundation Barossa has been a big supporter of FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program for a long time, and liaise with school principals and school welfare teachers to ensure that families in need receive the extra support they require.

Five hundred and fifty vouchers worth $50 were distributed to 13 schools, both primary and secondary, for the 2022 school year, thanks to the Fire Fight Australia Fund and a private donor who support FRRR’s BTS program. Students could use these vouchers to purchase school supplies like uniforms, stationery, lunchboxes and anything else that would make their education experience easier and relieve some of the financial pressure from families.

Together with matched funding provided by the Origin Energy Foundation through FRRR and local sponsorship from Barossa Real Estate, a further 203 vouchers were distributed, bringing the total to 753; the Foundation’s highest number to date. The success of the voucher rollout has been measured through an increase in student attendance and retention, and in general an improvement in student wellbeing. The Foundation has also noted a big benefit to the teachers at these schools who would sometimes become distressed or concerned for their students.

Here are some of the happy testimonials:

  • “I would like to say thank you very much for choosing our family to receive the vouchers from Foundation Barossa. I lost my job back in October and am a sole parent. My pride was allowed no place when my boys handed them to me. Having only found a part-time job in the last week means the vouchers were very much appreciated and unexpected.” – Parent, Nuriootpa High School & Flexible Learning Centre
  • “Teachers were very grateful and expressed they felt better going into the school holidays knowing that students had access to vouchers.” –  Nuriootpa Primary School
  • “Thank you so much for the Kmart voucher. My daughter purchased a new pencil case and pencils for schools. She thought Christmas had come early!” – Parent, Tanunda Primary School
  • “We had a family arrive at our school at the beginning of term 2 who were homeless and living in a caravan with family members. On the first day when we met the mum, we gave her a voucher for each student to help get them some school supplies. She was so thankful that she was brought to tears, as she said they needed new school bags and she would now be able to get those.” Kapunda Primary School

For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.

More than $770,000 in vouchers distributed

Students and families in remote, rural and regional parts of Australia will start the 2022 school year with a little extra support, thanks to the generosity of FRRR and its donors, and the Community Foundations and groups helping to distribute the more than 15,700 Back to School vouchers across the country.

Rural communities come together to help students get Back to School

FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program partners with community groups and Community Foundations to provide $50 gift vouchers to local families in need. The vouchers can be redeemed at select national retailers or local businesses for school essentials like uniforms, shoes, school bags or stationery.

Now in its 18th year, the BTS program has worked with community organisations in rural communities to distribute more than $10.7 million in BTS vouchers and help in excess of 216,000 students and their families get what they need to start the school year on a positive note. This includes families that have been impacted by natural disasters such as 2019-20 Black Summer Fires, flooding events, and the economic impact of the COVID pandemic. 

Sarah Matthee, FRRR’s General Manager Partnerships & Services, said that the Back to School program continues to give a helping hand to rural families doing it tough.

“The unique aspect of the BTS program is that it taps into the deep understanding and the trusted relationships that local organisations have within their communities to ensure that these vouchers go to families most in need of the support.

“For many rural families, schooling and finances continue to be impacted by the pandemic. Although fifty dollars may not seem much, that little bit of extra help can go towards easing their worries in some small way,” Ms Matthee said.

In some communities, local Community Foundations also got behind the BTS program, with FRRR and its donors offering to match local donations, dollar for dollar. This year communities raised almost $63,000 in local fundraising across the country. Thanks to this community support, together with funds from the Origin Energy Foundation, FRRR was able to provide an extra 2,514 vouchers. One hundred percent of all donations to the program go directly into purchasing a $50 voucher to support a primary or secondary school student in need.

Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation, in South Australia, has worked with FRRR since 2009 to distribute BTS vouchers to local students and their families.

Garry Downey, Chair of Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation, said that the organisation sees huge need to continue to help families start their children off well-prepared for their learning years.

“The support of the FRRR program is truly valued, and their willingness to match locally donated funds creates an outstanding opportunity for Eyre Peninsula residents and businesses to boost the impact for local kids.”

You can see the full list of recipient organisations and the more than 100 remote, rural and regional communities that will benefit from these vouchers below.

BTS vouchers are funded through the support of FRRR donor partners, which include Portland House Foundation, Perpetual Foundation – Julian Flett Endowment, News Corp Australia, Fire Fight Australia Fund, Counter Point Community Services (Cycle Recycle), Bertalli Family Foundation, UNICEF Australia and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as private and individual donors.

For more information about the program, visit

To support grant programs like this through FRRR, you can make a tax-deductible donation at

The full list of recipient organisations are below.

Isolated Childrens Parents Association Northern Territory State CouncilMataranka, Daly River, New Castle Waters, Ti Tree
Community Foundation for Albury Wodonga Region LtdAlbury, Wodonga, Corowa, Howlong
Edward Public School Parents & Citizens AssociationDeniliquin
First Steps Count IncorporatedTaree, Wingham, Old Bar , Nabiac
Foundation Broken Hill LimitedBroken Hill, Wilcannia, Menindee
Mumbulla FoundationBega Valley Shire
The Southern Highlands FoundationBowral, Berrima, Mittagong, Moss Vale
The Trustee for Northern Rivers Community FoundationAlstonville, Ballina, Banora Point, Baryulgil
Volunteering Coffs Harbour IncorporatedCoffs Harbour
Walhallow Parents & Citizens AssociationWalhallow
Biggenden Primary P&C AssociationBiggenden
Buderim Foundation LimitedBuderim, Mountain Creek, Sippy Downs, Kuluin
Cowboys Charity LimitedBadu Island, Bamaga, Boigu Island, Chinchilla
Peachester State School P&C AssociationPeachester
Tara & District Family Support Committee IncorporatedTara, Chinchilla, Miles, Wandoan
Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation IncPort Lincoln, Whyalla, Ceduna, Streaky Bay
Foundation BarossaNuriootpa, Angaston, Tanunda, Kapunda
Fleurieu Community Foundation LtdStrathalbyn, Goolwa, Middleton, Port Elliot
Stand Like Stone Foundation LtdAllendale East, Beachport, Bordertown, Frances
George Town Neighbourhood House IncGeorge Town
Swansea Primary School Parents and Friends AssociationSwansea
Ballarat Foundation United Way IncBlowhard, Ballan, Bungaree, Cape Clear
Bass Coast Community Foundation Open FundWonthaggi, Waterline Area, San Remo Area, Cowes Ventnor
Donald Learning Group IncDonald, Marnoo
Into Our Hands Community Foundation LimitedWangaratta, Milawa, Oxley, Glenrowan, Moyhu, Whitfield
South West Community FoundationWarrnambool
St Arnaud Neighbourhood House IncSt Arnaud
Kaniva CollegeKaniva
Mirboo North and District Community Foundation IncMirboo North, Thorpdale, Yinnar, Boolarra
The Trustee for Geelong Community FoundationGreater Geelong, Winchelsea, Torquay, Meredith
Tomorrow Today Education Foundation LtdBaddaginnie, Benalla, Broken Creek, Devenish
Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) LimitedMaffra, Wurruk, Longford, Seaspray
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Co op LtdMorwell, Moe, Wangarratta, Wodonga

Gunaikurnai Country

The Mirboo North and District Community Foundation (MNDCF) was set up in 2010 to strengthen their community. Serving Mirboo North and surrounding rural townships, two hours southeast of Melbourne, they embody their mission statement of building strong community through giving, facilitating and investing.

Their partnership with FRRR, through a Community Foundation Fundraising Account established in 2018, has helped them fund numerous community organisations and projects in the area, including buildings – all in the name of a cohesive and flourishing community.

An FRRR Community Foundation Account allows organisations to leverage FRRR’s special tax status and secure donations for an agreed purpose, with FRRR providing a tax deduction for the donor where required, and the funds ultimately benefit local priority projects. It also supports Foundations to give organisations in their community that do not hold DGR-1 status.

In this last year, two projects have stood out among all the wonderful work the MNDCF does. One is building a Medical Centre for the Mirboo North community. Earlier in the year, they purchased a block of land. With this fantastic new facility, they aim to bring affordable and accessible healthcare to the region.

MNDCF also lent their support to the Mirboo North Community Pool project. This redevelopment involves updating the old pool structure and expanding it to support the community more effectively, especially through safe swimming classes and health and wellbeing activities. With an $18,000 contribution from the Foundation made possible through the Community Foundation Account, and their grand reopening scheduled at the end of October 2021, this project has all the hallmarks of success. The Mirboo North community is justifiably proud of the efforts of all involved.

MNDCF has also been a longstanding partner in FRRR’s Back to School program. Since 2012, they have distributed more than $38,000 in what has become a cornerstone of giving in the community. The Back to School program assists Australian rural and regional communities by distributing $50 vouchers to students and families in need of assistance with items like uniforms, shoes and stationery. In the 2021 program MNDCF gave out 90 vouchers to families in need across the district.

MNDCF is a shining example of how place-based philanthropy can support the growth of a community.

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)

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)