Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Nearly $280,000 supports 16 initiatives across Australia

FRRR has awarded $278,693 in grants for projects that will help remote, rural and regional communities decarbonise, adapt to a changing climate, and mitigate the risks of global warming.

Ngardara Cooperative Ltd will use their Community Led Climate Solutions grant to establish their own solar microgrid.

The 16 community-driven projects are the first through FRRR’s Community Led Climate Solutions program, thanks to support from Boundless Earth and Hand Heart Pocket.

Grants include $14,957 to support regenerative farming practice for soil health and emissions reductions in Macleay, NSW; $20,000 to build energy efficiency for social housing in Gympie, QLD; $20,000 to provide information and links to employment pathways through pop-up events in Gippsland, VIC; and $20,000 to enable a local Indigenous community in NT to build their capacity in order to establish their own solar microgrid and reduce reliance on diesel-powered electricity.

Sarah Matthee, FRRR’s General Manager – Partnerships & Services, said that the applications reflected the diversity of community organisations in Australia, the variety of climate solutions underway across rural communities, and the breadth of opportunities available to enable local groups to take action.

“The requests we received reinforce the fact that these communities are being impacted socially, economically and environmentally by increasing temperatures and extreme weather events. These communities are aware and concerned about the impacts of a changing climate, and these projects demonstrate their ambition to engage locals in conversations about their region’s future, and lead their community in taking action to reduce emissions.

“People living in remote, rural and regional communities have the knowledge and ideas to implement solutions that can help to decarbonise, mitigate climate risks, and adapt in a changed climate environment. But they need a hand to take action.

“With the support of Boundless Earth and Hand Heart Pocket, we’ve been able to fund 16 place-based, community-led climate solutions projects, which we hope will influence and deliver change for social, environmental and economic community benefit across remote, rural and regional Australia,” Ms Matthee said.

Organisations awarded Community Led Climate Solutions grants, and their funded projects, include:

  • Original Power Ltd with Ngardara Cooperative Ltd – Borroloola, NT – Support a local, Indigenous community to establish their own solar microgrid, providing them with a sustainable energy source and reducing their reliance on diesel-powered electricity – $20,000
  • Surfers for Climate – Byron Bay, NSW – Engage and educate tradespeople who surf in sustainable and circular building practices through local workshops in coastal NSW – $20,000
  • Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland Inc – Yeppoon, QLD – Drive education and engagement on climate change and the transition to renewable energy sources in Central Queensland by screening a documentary and presenting an experienced panel including local and national representation – $3,905
  • Cire Services Incorporated – Yarra Junction, VIC – Promote circularity practice with reuse and repurpose workshops that will reduce landfill and develop skills that enable sustainable practices – $20,000

FRRR and its donor partners are committed to funding community-led solutions that reduce emissions and address the impacts of climate change. Community-led solutions help drive positive and sustainable environmental, social and economic outcomes for remote, rural and regional Australia. FRRR welcomes further contributions to this collaborative pool of funds to grow the impact that can be generated across remote, rural and regional Australia. For more information, please visit https://frrr.org.au/giving/.

The full list of grant recipients and their projects are below.

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
Container of Dreams LtdContainer of Dreams Battery Storage and Charging Station
Build community capacity to reduce emissions through a communal solar battery charging station to decrease reliance on fossil fuel generators.
Drake$20,000
Macleay Landcare Network IncRegenerative Farming Soils in the Macleay Project
Build organisational capacity to engage and support landowners’ adoption of regenerative agriculture practice through workshops and volunteer training.
Kempsey$14,957
Surfers for ClimateThe Trade Up by Surfers for Climate
Engage and educate tradespeople who surf in sustainable and circular building practices through local workshops in coastal NSW.
Byron Bay$20,000
NORTHERN TERRITORY
Original Power Ltd on behalf of Ngardara Cooperative LtdNgardara Community Solar Microgrid - Community Clean Energy and Climate Solutions Capacity Development
Support a local, Indigenous community to establish their own solar microgrid, providing them with a sustainable energy source and reducing their reliance on diesel-powered electricity.
Borroloola$20,000
QUEENSLAND
350.Org LtdPower Up Masig
Develop the community engagement and prefeasibility model for a just transition to community-owned renewable energy supply in Torres Strait Island, Masig.
Masig Island$20,000
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers LtdWater Wise Gardens - Revolutionising School Landscapes With Low Water Solutions
Build capability in schools vulnerable to climate change impacts on water to sustain gardens that can scaffold community food systems and enable this learning through school curriculum development and training.
Gympie$19,786
Community Action Inc on behalf of Gympie and District Sustainability AllianceCommunity Action Inc Building Energy Efficiency Project (CAI Beep)
Support clean energy transition for social housing and community organisation tenants to enable cost efficiency and promote solar and battery systems to other providers.
Gympie$20,000
Community Enterprise QueenslandArkai (Kubin) Community Garden
Activate locally led opportunities to advance Moa Island Community sustainability and resilience to climate change with a community garden cultivating produce.
Moa Island$18,525
Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland IncClimate Changers Screening and Discussion Panel
Drive education and engagement on climate change and the transition to renewable energy sources in Central Queensland by screening a documentary and presenting an experienced panel including local and national representation.
Yeppoon$3,905
Mount Morgan Citizen's Club IncLeading the Way - Solar Power for the Soldiers' Rooms
Enhance community organisation operations with solar panels that are a catalyst for activating local education and engagement on climate solutions to reduce emissions and benefit community.
Mount Morgan$18,000
The Trustee for Abriculture Advancement TrustRoots of Sustainability: Cultivating Indigenous Leadership through Aquaponics and Permaculture
Develop capability in regenerative farming and aquaponics in Indigenous agriculture for food systems adapting to climate change.
Cairns$20,000
VICTORIA
Cire Services IncCrafting Environmental and Social Benefits Through Cire FICE's Upcycling / Eco Fashion Workshops
Promote circularity practice with reuse and repurpose workshops that will reduce landfill and develop skills that enable sustainable practices.
Yarra Junction$20,000
Gippsland Climate Change Network IncGippsland New Energy 'PowerPops'
Educate and engage community members in the Latrobe Valley on the transition to renewable energy to support informed decision making and awareness of employment and skills training opportunities.
Traralgon$20,000
Kiewa Catchment Landcare Groups IncExploring Electric Vehicles with Kiewa Catchment Landcare and Kilowatt Cars
Educate the Kiewa Valley community on the benefits of electric vehicle (EV) transportation and encourage their transition to owning an EV, and actively participating in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mount Beauty$7,460
Parklands Albury Wodonga LtdRestoring Bonegilla's Blue Carbon Sink Wetlands and Waterways
Restore ecosystem through seed propagation, revegetation and habitat restoration with educational community plantings advised by local Indigenous caretakers.
Bonegilla$16,060
The Gippsland Field Days on behalf of GreenLabsLardner Park Waste to Energy Pilot Project
Develop and pilot a biohub for food organics and garden organics diversion to produce bioenergy which can reduce emissions and develop circular economy practice in Gippsland.
Lardner$20,000

It’s no secret that risks presented by our changing climate loom large. The communities FRRR serves are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters and climate extremes. These impacts threaten to exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities, and negatively affect the liveability – and therefore the sustainability – of these communities.

As the Australian Government’s 2022 climate change statement noted:

“Our weather is becoming increasingly variable. More frequent extreme and cascading weather events are impacting our communities and economy, disrupting lives, and threatening our environment. At the same time, summers are becoming steadily hotter and drier, leading to adverse health impacts, increased bushfire risks and ecological damage, and threatening agricultural production. We must anticipate, prepare for and adapt to the impacts from our warming climate. Second, we must mitigate further catastrophic climate change by reducing our own emissions and playing a leadership role in supporting other nations to reduce theirs. Both will require an economic transformation on a scale beyond anything we have experienced in our lifetimes.

While FRRR has seen an increase in applications we receive that are focused on disaster preparedness efforts, there has been markedly less focus on embracing practices and solutions that reduce the impact of the changing climate or capitalise on opportunities. Often this isn’t for want of great ideas, but rather limited access to funding and capacity to investigate options, particularly for not-for-profit (NFP) groups who want to be proactive and undertake community-led projects.

That’s why, with the support of generous seed funders, we are launching a Community-led Climate Solutions program. We’ve seen time and again that when we can offer dedicated funding around a particular issue – such as In a Good Place (targeting mental health) and Telstra Connected Communities (targeting the digital divide), amazing things happen. All too often it only takes relatively modest funding, backed by volunteers, to bring these projects to life.

So, we intend to offer funding to NFP groups twice a year to help them leverage the incredible knowledge, innovation and commitment in rural areas to implement locally-led climate solutions. The grants will aim to support three key areas:

  1. Drive engagement, education, and leadership in remote, rural, and regional climate solutions;
  2. Activate locally-led opportunities to advance energy transition, climate adaptation, decarbonisation and circular economies; and
  3. Support just transitions to new clean economies for thriving communities.

These different objectives will allow community groups to take action that reflects the most pressing issues in their community, but also recognises that the conversation is unfolding in different ways, and at a different pace in different regions. Some will be ready to take bold action to capitalise on the opportunities from the transformation of our industrial sector, while others will need support to build understanding and drive engagement towards the prospect of a different future. We need initiatives that are designed by each community, that will work for their context.

The grants could potentially fund projects like these, which FRRR has previously supported:

Seymour Community Wetland Restoration & Reclassification Project, TAS
Seymour Community Wetland Restoration & Reclassification Project, TAS

A $10,000 grant was awarded from FRRR (proudly supported by IKEA) to fund weed control and restoration of the Seymour Wetland Reserve (including workshops on Seed Collection, Propagation and Restoration). The work of the volunteers, together with professional support from this funding, resulted in the Reclassification of the project area in June 2022, to double the size of the Seymour Conservation Area, contributing to restoration of native species (over 650 trees have been planted by the group) and decarbonisation. The media exposure from the Reclassification attracted new members and enrolled others in the community to become more active in the Conservation area.

Bendigo Sustainability Group, Regional Community Energy Workshops, VIC
Bendigo Sustainability Group, Regional Community Energy Workshops, VIC

The Bendigo Sustainability Group (BSG) has been operating for 10 years. Over that period, BSG has been involved in the successful delivery of a wide range of projects and programs, creating awareness around sustainable living, renewable energy options, climate change and the need for decarbonisation.
This $10,000 grant funded by FRRR, with the support of the Community Foundation for Central Victoria, has enabled BSG to deliver free, engaging and informative workshops on energy efficiency and renewable energy in small towns throughout the Loddon Mallee region. As a result, they have also been able to identify and support the development of community renewable energy projects to enhance the resilience of these communities.

Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy Incorporated, WA
Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy Incorporated, WA

The Dairy Waste Energy Study project was part of Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s ambitious plan to operate at net zero carbon emissions by 2030. AMRCCE wanted to investigate creating biogas from dairy manure waste, while also diverting effluent from nearby water sources. The project utilised an FRRR grant to partially fund the study, which assessed the Butane Methane Potential contained in dairy waste from a large dairy farm in the Scott River area in the Augusta Margaret River local government area. It was an important precursor to the planning and development of what could be an aggregated biogas and renewable power grid connected facility, and was involved in a PhD study and associated scientific paper.

More than money

In addition to the funding, grantees will have access to FRRR’s capacity building expertise and guidance, to help them shape their projects and, in time, we will also seek to connect these groups to leverage learnings across communities. We’re also keen to connect these organisations with businesses who may be able to provide one-off or ongoing pro-bono support. This program will also focus attention and promote conversations to catalyse additional community-led solutions.

Further, by analysing application data and by tracking impacts, FRRR will be able to generate insights into how communities are activating climate solutions and identify what additional support may be required, or what barriers NFP groups are facing.

Join us?

Thanks to generous seed funders, FRRR is set to launch the program’s first round at the end of October 2023, but we know this program will be in high demand, so we’re looking for additional partners to walk alongside us and enable rural communities to access climate solutions focused funding well into the future.

If this is something you are interested in learning more about, please contact either Sarah Matthee or Jillian Kirwan-Lee via partnerships@frrr.org.au.