Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

It has been over 20 years since the rural town of Marama has had an active committee. In past generations of the committee, Marama Community Incorporated has been extremely social, connected and dedicated to keeping the town together. The main purpose of the committee was to bring people and community together with sport, dances, weddings, social events and church services. All of these events were usually held at the community-owned hall.

Now with a newly elected committee, the current generation was keen to foster a sense of belonging by renewing and improving the hall and providing a central place for activities to be held once again, however the space had fallen into disrepair after years of no use.

During the time the new committee was being elected, the district was also experiencing severe drought. A lot of the local farming community were feeling the effects on their mental health from prolonged drought. This added another layer of importance to the renewal of the hall; the community needed somewhere to come together and support one another.

With a $150,000 grant from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience the committee was able to fund the underpinning, roof replacement, ceiling replacement, stone work, paint the interior, electrical work (including air-conditioning), and new toilet facilities.

The project relied on a big commitment from the community to get involved through volunteer work, local contractors and working bees to get the job done. But there was never any doubt they wouldn’t pull through!

Since completing the renovations on the hall the community has seen a dramatic shift in the attitudes of residents. Not only did the project give them a reason to meet throughout construction, but they now have a shared space to use that they can be proud of.

“Overall, the finished project is something we as a community are very proud of, and it has helped bring us together to work as a team to achieve a better, more user-friendly outcome.”

The hall has been host to a number of important community events since its completion and is booked in to host future events held by key industry groups that will benefit the community by improving abilities to adapt, reorganise or transform in response to a changing climate, increasing variability and scarcity of rainfall and changed seasonality of rainfall.

At the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, Coffin Bay is a small town of about 600 people. Known around the world for its fresh oysters and beautiful fishing spots, Coffin Bay is a popular tourist destination. For years the town has relied on the Community Hall as a place where residents can gather and socialise. In the last few years, a long list of required repairs has meant that the Hall hasn’t been being used to its full potential.

Coffin Bay Community Hall

Coffin Bay Progress Association wanted that to change. They act as a collective voice for the community to help sustain and maintain the values of their unique, relaxed, and caring residents. With a $5,914 Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) grant funded by Australia Post, the Association has been able to kick off their six-stage upgrade and renovation plan for the hall. They used the SRC grant to fund the installation of a new hot water system and ceiling fans. The grant has also enabled them to update the men’s toilet facilities that were in much need of repairs.

The improvements have already seen the Hall host an array of activities and services for the community. For example, the renovations provided the opportunity for several Community Health services to be held under one roof. The town doctor, who needed to relocate due to SA Rural Health not renewing the lease of the practice, has been able to use the space to see patients and support the community. Additionally, mental health clinics and AA meetings have all moved to the hall as well. 

Carol Fathers, president of the Coffin Bay Progress Association said, “We had an old storeroom which we were able to clear out and turn into a bright & cheerful clinic, everyone is happy.”

The Progress Association is happy to see works on their beloved Community Hall continue with hopes to tile their kitchen, plant a community garden, and create a men’s shed in the future. There are also plans to get local schools involved in painting a mural. The Community Hall has so much potential to help fight social isolation and boost the sense of community spirit for the residents of Coffin Bay.

Baryulgil Community Hall

Nestled in the heart of the bush, halfway between Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour in NSW, lies the rural community of Baryulgil.

In the heart of Baryulgil is the Community Hall, located in the town square. The hall has stood for almost 90 years, and been used for social gatherings and fundraisers throughout the years.

With a population of fewer than 100 people, the community hall provides a much-needed place for local residents to gather. In recent years, the hall had fallen into disrepair, with dry rot in the walls, a leaking ceiling and broken windows.

The team at Baryulgil Charity Sports Club applied to FRRR’s Small Grants program, and received a $5,000 grant funded by The Yulgilbar Foundation, to complete maintenance works to ensure the local community could enjoy the hall for many years to come. 

This grant enabled the Club to replace the damaged walls, remove dangerous stairways and doors, replace rusted gutters, and purchase heritage-colour paint to restore windows and doors that had been damaged by water.

Along with the popular social events and fundraisers, the hall can now be used by emergency services during bushfires, acting as a local hub for the NSW Rural Fire Service. The bulk of the project was completed in late 2019, with additional work delayed by COVID-19 to be completed in the near future.

After the Glenburn pub was destroyed in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, the local hall became a crucial hub for community cohesion in Glenburn. The Hall is now the place where locals gather, share experiences and welcome new residents, and the Progress Association hosts monthly dinners to build this sense of place and connection.

The Glenburn Hall & Progress Association Inc is a not-for-profit organisation that oversees and looks after the Glenburn Hall. The Association’s main aim is to provide the community with a meeting place that caters for all ages and walks of life.

The hall is used for community events, CFA information evenings, Neighbourhood Watch, a Craft Club and a Garden Club, among other things.

Resounding sound

In mid-2014, 30-40 people were attending a community gathering each Friday night, and monthly dinners on the third Friday of each month attracted 70-80 people. However, the Progress Association had noticed a decline in attendance at activities based at the community hall, and discovered that the reason why was because many ageing residents were having difficulty hearing because of the hall acoustics.

The Glenburn Hall Committee engaged acoustic engineers who established that the pitch in the roofline of the hall was creating a funnel effect, and that by placing sound absorbing panels on the roof, the issue would be rectified. By improving the hall acoustics, the Committee has removed a barrier to participation for older residents, however other benefits include improved sound for music and films, which help to increase financial viability.

The community now has access to a community meeting place that is a comfortable environment for all age groups.