Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

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.

$2 million Fund to respond to the needs of the Clarence Valley and surrounding regions

A new partnership between the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and The Yulgilbar Foundation will give rural and regional communities in the Clarence Valley and surrounding regions in Northern New South Wales a much-needed boost.

New partnership to help turn community groups’ ideas into reality
Clarence Landcare Inc

A total of $2 million will be invested across the region over a three-year period, through multi-year and one-off grants. Priority will be given to projects that are optimistic and forward-looking, led by locally-based community groups and not-for-profit organisations (NFPs).

The Yulgilbar Foundation Fund will assist community organisations to implement a wide range of initiatives. The Fund will focus on supporting projects that foster artistic collaborations, encourage educational participation, support environmental sustainability, and build capacity for communities to respond to recent bushfires and persistent drought.

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said that The Yulgilbar Foundation shares FRRR’s belief that local people are best placed to know what is needed to strengthen and support their community.

“Like much of rural New South Wales, the Clarence Valley has worked really hard to overcome a long run of persistent challenges, including the 2019-20 bushfires, ongoing drought, and the complexities of COVID-19. This Fund means communities can address the needs that these challenges have created, in ways that make a real difference. 

“We have a long history with The Yulgilbar Foundation and look forward to seeing this Fund further strengthen communities in the Clarence Valley and beyond,” Ms Egleton said.

Community groups and NFPs can apply for the grants through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process. with Round 1 opening on Thursday 18 February.

More details, including the program guidelines and EOI form, are available here.

Yackandandah is a small town with a well-preserved history from the gold-mining boom. But it’s also forward-thinking and there was a push to be more sustainable in terms of power generation.

Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) is the town’s driving force behind the push for renewables and increasing local ownership. Every year, millions of dollars leaves the town’s economy each year. TRY received $4,878 from the Australian Communities Foundation’s (ACF), through their FRRR Community Foundation Fundraising Account, to invest in community engagement and education around renewable energy hubs. 

Totally Renewable Yackandandah and its partner Indigo Power, initially planned to bring locals together in a series of ‘town hall’ style events to discuss the benefits of a community solar energy hub, as well as the practical side of establishing and maintaining such a facility. While the first of these meetings went ahead, the last two events were converted to online forums due to COVID-19. Turnout was still high, with more than 500 people in total attending the events.

Cambell Klose, who has driven the community project, said the community response was phenomenal. “Every year more than $160 million leaves our region because of people paying their electricity bills; people were really excited to be part of a movement that is changing that.

“Local residents learned what a community energy hub is and how they can use solar to power our region with clean energy, and reduce their power costs. We also covered how to support and undertake community projects, like solar on town halls, to promote renewable energy hubs.”

Cambell also said that the community was very motivated by the sessions.

“Residents wanted to go away and power their local town hall with renewable energy or work to put solar on government housing. It was incredible to see so many local people come together for climate solutions.”

ACF partnered with FRRR to establish a Community Foundation Fundraising Account to streamline the process of making grants to community organisations that don’t hold DGR1 status in remote, rural or regional areas which are conducting charitable activities in line with FRRR’s purposes.

If you’d like to explore having a Fundraising Account for your community project, contact Jo Kemp, FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager.

Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) was established in 2004 with the purpose to connect people who care with local causes that matter, to improve community well-being for the Northern Rivers region of NSW. They provide annual grants to a wide range of community groups for projects ranging from mental health, to growing fresh food to ensure children are well nourished and can learn, to distributing Back to School vouchers. NRCF is particularly focused on supporting grand-carers, supporting riding for the disabled and palliative care.

FRRR’s NRCF Community Foundation Account helps facilitate donations for a number of their partners and enables them to leverage FRRR’s tax deductible status to maximise their donations. In 2019 they distributed some $114,000 in grants including to the Bangalow Koalas to set up a wildlife corridor; provided medical equipment to Tweed Palliative Support and Wedgetail Retreat Community Hospice; enabled the Bunjum Aboriginal Corporation to refresh their unit used as a transition house for women fleeing violence; provided professional development for tutors and support workers at Sprung Integrated Dance Theatre; and supported a youth program for first offenders with NSW Police participation.

Pinery Fire response supported by Community Foundation Account

Foundation Barossa’s story is a particularly good example of how FRRR’s Community Foundation Accounts are able to help a community respond to emerging local needs quickly and efficiently. The account is flexible in the way that it can fundraise and grant funds, and direct funds toward a great variety of projects in the geographic area.

Incorporated in 2002, the Foundation was formed to fundraise and support local community projects, many of which are innovative and unique to the region. The Foundation runs an annual small Community Grants program, however many of the small not-for-profit organisations in the Barossa do not have DGR status. For this reason, Foundation Barossa opened an FRRR Community Foundation Account (formerly known as a Donation Account) to provide a way to streamline and increase the number of grants that could be allocated.

Located 50 km north-east of Adelaide, the region includes the major towns of Nuriootpa, Tanunda, Lyndoch and Angaston, and a number of smaller communities. The Foundation’s focus area for support is the sustainability of the Barossa’s environment and heritage, and the annual grants are a well-known and integral part ort of the community.

In 2015, the Foundation renewed their account – which had become inactive – to include fundraising to support fire relief and recovery after the Pinery Bushfire. The fire was devastating for the region – it burned from 25 November to 2 December 2015, destroying 91 houses, hospitalising 90 people and killing two. 

With the help of FRRR’s DGR status, this Community Foundation has been able to fundraise for and support a great variety of wonderful community projects, including purchasing equipment for educational programs, upgrading vital community infrastructure, providing transport services for cancer patients, enabling garden revival projects, constructing memorials for the two local individuals who lost their lives, and publishing a book recording historical information from the area.

Below is a summary of projects that are being supported in the region through the granting of almost $50,000 via the Account.

Bushfire Garden Revival

The goal of SA Bushfire Garden Revivals is to assist as many impacted families to rebuild their home gardens as possible. Garden therapy offers significant health and wellbeing benefits and helps recovery from trauma, through both distraction for families and regeneration of land. Following the Pinery bushfire, the Samson Flat Garden Revival team restructured their project to assist any South Australian bushfire event, quadrupled their team, and grew rapidly with a new focus on assisting Pinery families. 

SA Bushfire Garden Revival

They went from 3 collection points for donations to 11 around the State. Funds are used to purchase garden items such as tools, greenhouses, garden statues, native plants, fruit trees and citrus trees. The number of families who lost their home gardens is far greater than the number of homes lost overall, and gardens are mostly uninsured and impossible to put a dollar value on. Through providing assistance, plants and garden items to fire affected families, the SA Bushfire Garden Revival team hopes to share their experience in garden therapy and horticulture to assist them to rebuild their home gardens with colour, love and life.

The Barossa – From Federation to the Fifties

The Baross A Vision Reslised

The Regional Heritage Network was granted funds to coordinate a publication of the book ‘The Barossa – From Federation to the Fifties’. Local historians formed a working group to write the book, which will be a companion volume to the successful 1992 publication The Barossa – A Vision Realised, which focused on the settlement history from 1839 to 1900. The next 50 years – from 1901 to 1950 – outlines the progress of the Barossa region, the people and its culture. It is to be published in October 2017 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of settlement in Angaston and Bethany and other townships over the next ten years.

iPads as sensory tools for behaviour management in special needs kids

The Barossa Outside School Hours Care Service wanted to ensure that they are accommodating for the high level needs of special needs children in their care. The two iPads that were purchased – one at each of their sites in Nuriootpa and Tanunda – will be used as sensory tools to enhance communication with non-verbal autistic children. The iPads can also be used for managing high-level behaviours in children that are a safety risk to themselves and others, and require distraction and calm down time.

A seat for Janet

Hamley Bridge Community Association was supported with funds to construct a memorial piece to commemorate the life of Janet Hughes, a community-focused, caring individual who was one of two people who perished in the Pinery fire storm on 25 November, 2015. Janet had opened up the Hamley Bridge Institute on the day of the Pinery fire storm to give refuge to community members who were looking for a safe haven, before becoming trapped in her car. A mosaic reflection bench in Janet’s favourite colour is to be erected to acknowledge and respect Janet’s selfless actions that  showed her community spirit. You can find a video of the community’s involvement in the project here.

A Seat for Janet

Landscape Greening Project

The Owen Uniting Church’s Landscape Greening project will provide $100 vouchers to a local garden centre for the families who had gardens burnt but were lucky enough to save their homes. Members of the church are distributing the vouchers personally, first visiting homes in the reguib the fire started, and moving east as money is raised for further vouchers. This small gesture will enable fire-affected families to purchase tools, native plants and trees to rejuvenate their destroyed garden areas and provide hope, new life and distraction, literally in their backyards.

Wasleys Supper Hall

The recently renovated / refurbished Wasleys Supper Hall has been an invaluable community asset since the Pinery Fire. It was used as the local Recovery Centre immediately following the fire, assisting those from Wasleys and District. It provided access to physical goods (food, clothing, bedding, crockery, cutlery etc) and also provided a space for people to come and have a cup of tea and a chat if that’s what they needed. The Supper Hall is also used on a regular basis by lots of local groups including Creative Chatters (a group that was formed post-fire to assist mainly women from the fire region), and by the Wasleys Community Group Inc for meetings. The Hall is hired out privately on ad hoc occasions.

Wasleys Supper Hall

As the Supper Hall has no heating or cooling, it is extremely cold during the cooler months and very hot during the warmer months. The Community Foundation Account is supporting the installation of reverse cycle air conditioning to make the space much more comfortable and even more attractive to users.

Cancer patients’ ‘Butterfly Car’

The Barossa Area Fundraisers for Cancer were supported by the Community Foundation to provide signage and decoration for their cancer patient transportation – the Butterfly Car. The butterfly decoration gives it great visibility and the vehicle is well recognised. This important community service stepped in to cover the total cost of transport for patients on their way to hospital for treatment, after a government subsidy for this transport ceased.

Owen Men’s Shed and Alan Tiller Memorial

The Owen Men’s Shed began construction in October 2015, and completion of the shed itself was just prior to the Pinery Fires occurring in November 2015. Alan Tiller was one of the men instrumental in both the building of the shed and the development of the organisation in Owen. Alan lost his life battling the blaze in the Pinery fire.

There are around 15 members of the Owen Men’s Shed from communities that have been impacted by the fires. The Foundation is supporting upgrades to the current shed, including stormwater connection, equipment and materials for projects, as well as a memorial for Alan Tiller.

Freeling School Mosaic

Following the Pinery fire, staff and students at Freeling Primary School devised a project to create a series of mosaics with images celebrating the Freeling Community. The project would involve staff, interested students and members of the community. This project will help the students to move on from the bushfires and heal through creativity.