Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Community meeting places are integral to the social fabric of society. In the small dairy community of South Purrumbete in Victoria, the local school closed in 1993 and in the following decade, the local hall and churches were sold; the footy club folded; and the community lost a vital space to come together. After an extended period of time of neglect and inactivity, the Recreation Reserve building, which was the last remaining community asset in this small dairy community, was set to be sold.

However, the community united and re-established the South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve (SPRR) committee of management in 2015 to retain ownership, with a vision to create a vibrant community hub. Since then, they’ve undertaken works to remove hazardous trees and control weeds, as well as fencing and revegetation of the Reserve.

The next stage of their efforts to strengthen the community was to embark upon the the rejuvenation of the disused but much sought after Reserve as a community hub, and this firstly involved upgrading the electrical infrastructure. This was necessary to ensure safety and reliability and the availability of essential services such as toilets, water and power to potential users, and to enable further restoration works to continue.

The committee received a 2020 Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grant for $4,870 for the designated electrical works, just before the global pandemic hit. Despite the challenges caused by a shortage of contractors due to ongoing lockdowns, this small group of fewer than five volunteers engaged with local landholders, businesses and the wider community, and commenced the massive task of reinvigorating this heart of the local community. Trenches were dug, electrical upgrades took place and basic building drainage issues were addressed.

While the physical infrastructure upgrades could be considered the whole point of the project, the ultimate aim of the project is to build resilience by improving infrastructure at a local meeting place that will facilitate community connectedness. Community support for the project is gaining momentum, with the long-lasting and significant benefit from this small infrastructure project clearly evident in the South Purrumbete community. The consequential coming together of community volunteers has stimulated further plans to upgrade septic systems and renovate the grounds further to meet their ambitious goal of restoring the Reserve buildings and grounds to a safe and suitable condition to enable large gatherings at future community events like markets.

Earlier this year FRRR received an application to establish a Fundraising Account for St Paul’s Carcoar Community Facility Ltd (CCF), as they had an urgent need to leverage our DGR 1 special tax status. They had been given just 90 days to raise $450,000 to purchase their local Anglican Church for use as a community facility.

They achieved that goal with just five days to spare, incredibly around $390,000 of that was raised in the preceding two weeks!

Almost all of the funds were channelled via their FRRR Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account, which allowed them to offer tax deductibility to secure the pledges of their donors, so they didn’t lose the option to purchase.

George King, one of the directors of the community association, was quoted in the local Blayney Chronicle explaining how many people thought it was an impossible task to raise so much money in such a short space of time.

“A united community, the incredible generosity of a lot of people and the love of a small village made it all happen ahead of schedule and above budget.”

Carcoar is an historic town, being the third oldest town in NSW west of the Blue Mountains. It has a small community of 300 residents and has recently joined something of a revival, with a medical practice opening and the hotel reopening on a full-time basis. It has a strong community spirit, but it lacked an accessible venue for community groups to meet. 

The purchase of the church means there will now be a place to host various community gatherings, association, and group meetings, and even the odd wedding, baptism or funeral, all of which attract people into the town. As a community facility, it will be open to any religious domination or to people with no religious beliefs.

The CCF committee is now seeking to raise $100,000 to pay for an accessible toilet and canteen, which will allow them to hold community functions. So far, they’ve raised $635,506 through the FRRR account.

If you would like to support the renovation of the Carcoar community church, you can do so securely online, or by completing this donation form.