Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

And support from new IRCF Program Manager and facilitator

Seven not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) are sharing in $135,471 for projects that will strengthen the NFP sector and inter-organisational relationships in Nowra, helping the community to thrive and achieve long-term stability. Nowra NFPs will also have on-the-ground support from a new South Coast Program Manager and local facilitator.

$135,000 funding boost for Nowra not-for-profits

Funded through FRRR’s Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program, in partnership with The Snow Foundation, these grants will allow Nowra NFPs to properly develop the tools, resources and skills they need to achieve longevity and create permanent change in their communities.

IRCF is a multi-year grassroots program aimed at building the capacity and connectedness of NFPs in select communities in regional New South Wales. As well as grants, these recipients will receive organisational support and coordination in the form of workshops that will help them to implement more effective systems, processes and training within their organisations.

Among the seven projects funded, there is a focus on developing leadership and business skills, technological transformation, cultural immersion and community engagement. These projects address needs highlighted through a community-led Roadmap, the development of which was facilitated by FRRR.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that these initiatives will have a lasting impact on the people of Nowra.

“It’s fantastic to see the not-for-profit organisations in this round of grants collaborating and learning from their peers, and successfully applying that knowledge to the unique needs and circumstances of their own communities.

“It’s wonderful to see local organisations prioritising community engagement and creating safe cultural spaces. This includes the South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, which is using their funding to deliver cultural immersion sessions to 30 Nowra NFP representatives in response to vision identified in the Nowra Community Roadmap,” Ms Egleton said.

Terry Snow, Founder of The Snow Foundation, said partnering with FRRR has allowed his Foundation to have a significant impact on regional NSW areas such as Nowra.

“Having a home and running a business on the South Coast, I understand how important it is to support these not-for-profit organisations. They provide crucial support and fill gaps that help to keep these communities vibrant and self-sufficient. With the resources provided by this program, these organisations will create real change.

“A great example of this is the Nowra Community Food Store, which is using their grant to set up an E-commerce website with an option for contactless delivery, so that families in the Shoalhaven region who don’t own a car can still access fresh food.”

The five other grant recipients in the Nowra region are:

  • Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre Aboriginal Corporation, Nowra – Laying the Foundations for the Future of Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre Aboriginal Corporation – Support the Centre’s future vision and rapid growth by appointing a temporary Community Centre Team Leader to support the CEO in an operational capacity. $30,000
  • Nowra Sub-Branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia New South Wales Branch, Nowra – Nowra RSL Sub-Branch Upgrade Project 2021 – Accelerate digital transformation and enhance client experience through upgrades to IT equipment and furniture. $16,469
  • Shoalhaven Community Preschool Inc, Nowra – The Growth Strategy Project – Strengthen the leadership capacity of the Centre during the Preschool’s relocation and expansion by providing a wage subsidy, expert consultants and professional development. $22,000
  • Shoalhaven Health and Arts Inc, Bomaderry – Capacity Building for SHAA’s Future Strengthen the capacity of SHAA to respond to community demand for their mental health, arts and events programs by paying wages for the currently volunteer-based managers. $14,112
  • South Coast Beef Producers Association Inc, Nowra – Governance Training for South Coast Beef Management Committee Members Strengthen the governance and strategic vision of South Coast Beef through the training of the management committee in governance foundations. $10,590

New IRCF Program Manager – South Coast and Nowra facilitator

Helping Nowra’s NFPs to make the most of the IRCF program is IRCF South Coast’s recently appointed Program Manager, and South Coast local, Carolyn Ardler.

Carolyn comes to FRRR and the IRCF program with extensive experience in place-based delivery to support communities to build capacity and reach their aspirations from the grassroots.

“I am excited to be working on the IRCF program as I strongly believe rural and regional communities have the solutions and strength within them to face their unique challenges. This program allows small not for profits to build their capacity and be more sustainable in the long term.”  Ms Ardler said.

Carolyn steps into her new position as Kate Dezarnaulds, FRRR’s previous Program Manager for IRCF South Coast, transitions into the role of IRCF facilitator for Nowra. In this role, Kate will be able to work more directly with Nowra NFPs to connect, build relationships and work together to improve their capacity and sustainability.

In addition to Nowra, the IRCF South Coast program is also working in Batemans Bay and Ulladulla with the support of The Snow Foundation, and in Bay & Basin with the support of Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise Foundation, and in Junee, Leeton and Nambucca Valley in partnership with the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

For more information about the Investing in Rural Community Futures program visit – https://frrr.org.au/ircf-program/.

In the historic town of Wingham, in the Manning River Valley on the NSW Mid-North Coast, Circatus offers classes in general circus skills, stilts and aerial skills. It might sound very niche for a rural town, but the program actually fills an important gap –the need for non-competitive and expressive arts opportunities for the community to engage with.

Circatus gives the community – mostly young people – access to diverse and vibrant circus and creative arts in an inclusive and nurturing environment. Since 2009 just one trainer, founder Jill Watkins ran the show, averaging 90 students and 17 classes a week. Local catchment communities include Hallidays Point, Bobin, Elands, Mount George, Taree and Landsdowne, all within 20-50 minutes drive, however there were some families who would travel from as far as 75kms away to attend.

Rethinking the model for sustainability

Originally operating as a sole trader business, by the end of a decade of operation it became clear that the organisations’ structure needed to be rethought. Circatus had built quite a little community through classes at its Wingham space, performance projects at community events, delivery of circus as a sports elective at Wingham High School, weekly scheduled classes for a third of the 100 families in the Manning Valley Community who home school their children, and wellbeing workshops for teenagers with disability, Aboriginal youth and children in out-of-home care. One supporter wrote that “While training students in the physical circus arts, [Jill] also facilitates life skills such as confidence building and teamwork.”

Jill brought together a passionate group of five committee members and 18 volunteers and Circatus entered a new model of operation as a NFP, opening the doors for the beginning of Term 3 2020 and operating five classes a week. But building capacity to deliver more classes was a priority. Circatus needed a group of trainers to make the program sustainable into the future. Most performing arts work is in metropolitan areas, so regional circus programs find it very difficult to attract circus artists to teach.

A grant to build capacity

The group successfully applied to the Small & Vital stream of Strengthening Rural Communities to help fund a ‘Train the Trainer’ program. This would provide weekly mentoring and coaching for ten volunteer trainers, supported by a weekend intensive session for aerial skills. The funding will also cover documentation of a teaching manual, supported by videography to be utilised by these 10 future Circatus teachers. As of February 2021, the project is underway and  there are six new trainers teaching a variety of circus skills to locals aged four years to adult.

What a win-win outcome! Trainer participants are supported to develop their leadership skills and an employment pathway, AND the general community has the opportunity to continue enjoying a vibrant and culturally enhancing experience, right on their doorstep. This circus can stay in town – watch this space for more great outcomes from this project!