Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

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

In 2013, the Mirboo North Community Bank brought the district and surrounds together to identify and prioritise the region’s future recovery and resilience activities following the 2009 Victorian bushfires. From the meeting, what became apparent was the gap in local education and training to support and engage the community in gaining practical skills and knowledge that would increase local capacity.

The Boolarra Community Development Group help promote the social, economic and environmental development of Boolarra and surrounds, taking lead from the community. They work as a liaison between local and state government departments, not-for-profits and community groups to achieve positive outcomes for the region.

They had attended the community meeting in Mirboo and recognised the opportunity to support their region to fill this training and education gap. Reaching out to the Boolarra community they identified a series of courses that would be in demand including event management, safe food handling, chainsaw training, barista training, small motor training, environmental gardening and first aid training courses.

Using a $19,950 grant from FRRR’s Grants for Resilience & Wellness grant program, funded by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund, the Boolarra Community Development Group ran nine courses over a year. The Development Group works with local community groups to actively encourage members to participate in the training course. They also had a focus on increasing female participation, which was also identified as a community priority during their consultation.

In total, the courses attracted over 90 participants which was well above the expected target and an impressive feat for a small rural community. Each course was met with lots of positive feedback about the content and delivery of the training sessions.

The district is now benefiting from the breadth of skills and abilities available within the community, reducing the need for outsourcing and supporting the vitality of the region. Many participants flagged that they are interested in the potential for more workshops and training courses to run in the future.

Over the years, Fundraising Accounts, formerly known as Donation Accounts, have helped many groups in rural and regional Australia with their work in natural disaster recovery, especially where they are large and daunting projects.

One such group, which we profiled in our last Annual Review, is BlazeAid. They coordinate the efforts of volunteers to support farmers and residents impacted by natural disasters. Not only do they help to build fences and repair infrastructure, but they also restore the spirits of natural disaster survivors who may have lost family and friends, pets, stock, homes and property.

The donation account helps them raise funds to do this work, by providing tax deductible status to their donors.

BlazeAid’s remarkable achievements

Since we published the Annual Review, we’ve received an update from BlazeAid, with some truly remarkable statistics about what they achieved in 2014:

  • 1,397 volunteers contributed 14,671 volunteer days building and repairing fences and stock yards, cleaning and painting homes and shearers’ quarters, carpentry, mechanical and whitegood repairs, caretaking and helping with childcare and home education.
  • Assisted 513 properties across Victoria, South Australia and Queensland fire and drought affected areas.
  • More than 50% of their operational expenses relate to catering and fuel costs, a significant portion of which is in relation to their Drought Relief work in Queensland, where volunteers travelled long distances, and were self-sufficient with meals.
Tax deductible status attracts donors

We wanted to share this story to highlight to other groups that may be faced with recovering from some of the recent natural disasters across the country that a Fundraising Account could make a difference to your ability to fundraise to get things back up and running.

For donors, it’s also a great way to channel your support directly to areas in need, while also receiving the tax deduction.

The Callignee Community Hall is now benefitting from the installation of a number of cupboards that have improved the overall utility of the available storage space in the Callignee Hall, thanks to a dedicated and determined group of women.

The Callignee Stitch & Chat group was formed in May 2009 as a response to a need for community groups to provide opportunities for local women to gather together after the bushfires. It created a socially and emotionally supportive environment where women could share experiences while participating in craftwork. Stitch & Chat now has a day group with 18 regular attendees and an evening group with 10, and numbers are still increasing.

Stitch & Chat also functions as a forwarding service for items of community interest, government and other assistance programs, and other items of interest to the community. It is a conduit for discussion of local issues and for providing feedback to government authorities. Another craft group concentrating on card making has also grown from the group. At the present time the group is run by a Volunteer Coordinator and plans to become incorporated in the next 12 months to ensure its sustainability.

A Victorian Bushfire Regional Donation Account was set up in 2009 by Rotary International using FRRR’s DGR status, and funding of $5000 was granted to the Callignee Community Hall Committee Inc in May 2012 to support the Callignee Stitch & Chat group to purchase five two-door and one single door freestanding cupboard units and multiple storage containers. The cupboards have shelving and divisions that have allowed the group to organise their equipment, which they have worked together to sort, categorise and label to ensure it is now easily located and neatly stored. Their equipment, which includes books, magazines, patterns, patchwork and embroidery supplies, sewing machines and overlockers, was previously stored in a communal area in 50 litre plastic tubs stacked five high, creating quite a safety hazard.

With materials now sorted and readily accessible, the group has increased productivity and successfully completed a number of community projects including:

  • 12 quilts for donation to charity and support groups;
  • 12 knitted shawls donated to aged care facilities in the region;
  • 20 knitted beanies for inclusion in Police ‘comfort bags’ for presentation to children who have been removed from their family environment for various reasons;
  • 13 patchwork bags presented to victims of the Queensland floods; and
  • Work is underway on oven mitts for the victims of the Tasmanian fires.

​With their materials and equipment organised and easily accessible, the group can now focus on their crafty productivity.