Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Yuin Nation

Professional artists from the Bega Valley are invigorating Pambula Village with vibrant and colourful large-scale artworks, thanks to a bushfire recovery initiative.

Six commissioned pieces now complement a 22-site historic walking tour and are providing a boost to morale, employment and tourism.

The Bega Valley LGA was among the most impacted by the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires, with 465 houses destroyed, 1,279 rural landholders impacted and around 60 per cent of the area burnt. Pambula has also experienced drought and COVID-19. The cumulative effects of all this have resulted in the loss of livelihoods, employment, prospects, wealth, environment, sense of security and mental wellbeing.

The Waislitz Family Foundation, in partnership with Australian Community Media, joined forces with FRRR after the Black Summer bushfires to support recovery. The Pambula arts project was granted $25,000 through FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program, funded by the Waislitz Family Foundation in partnership with Australian Community Media.

Pambula Business Council President Michelle Pettigrove said the road back from the region’s losses is long and daunting and the ongoing Pambula Art Project gives this community a strong sense of unity, pride and direction.

“There is a discernible buzz on the street, tourists talk about the great community spirit of the town,” she said.

Artists get to exhibit their work to a large audience while helping increase Pambula’s profile and attract visitors to the Village and extended Bega Valley region. It’s boosting sales for local businesses and creating a more culturally vibrant community.

The Art Project was also mentioned frequently by voters when Pambula was named a finalist in the NSW Small Top Tourist Town awards.

While many buildings in Pambula have some historic significance, plain brick walls of newer buildings were identified as perfect ‘canvases’. Some artworks were painted directly onto buildings, and a clever solution using Laminex and aluminium panels meant others could be installed to building facades without causing damage.

Ms Pettigrove said the artworks were not designed to overpower the existing streetscape “but rather to illuminate and amplify Pambula’s historic, cultural and environmental identity, including the history and connection to country of the Yuin People – the original custodians of our region”.

A self-guided history walking tour map has also been produced, featuring 22 of Pambula’s historic buildings and sites to shine a spotlight on the fascinating and quirky history of the village and local identities. Pambula was the birthplace of Sir William McKell, the second Australian-born Governor General, and his home is now an art gallery. Syms Covington, who served with Sir Charles Darwin on ‘The Beagle’ retired to Pambula and continued to send Darwin samples of Australian flora and fauna for many years. Covington then served as postmaster in Pambula and his house is now a popular restaurant/gallery.

Future plans for the project include adding and celebrating more Yuin Nation history in the original self-guided History Walk, following ongoing extended consultation with both the Bega Aboriginal Land Council and the Twofold Aboriginal Corporation.

FRRR has awarded $1,413,319 to 33 remote, rural and regional communities across Australia for locally-led initiatives that will help build their region’s resilience to drought.

Rural communities share in more than $1.4M to build drought resilience

Funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and a range of other donor partners, the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program focuses on strengthening social connectedness, building social capital and funding transformative local initiatives that will enable agricultural communities to be more prepared for the impacts of drought.

The grants, which range from $10,000 to $139,000, were awarded to local groups to support community projects such as events that will bring people together, training that will increase knowledge and skills, and infrastructure that will facilitate and enable networking.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that when it comes to building drought resilience, resourcing initiatives that enhance social connectedness and networks is more crucial than ever.

“Rural communities are typically pretty self-reliant, and depend on being able to come together and work as a community to prepare for and respond to most challenges. That includes building resilience to respond to the changing climate, and this round we saw some great projects and initiatives that will strengthen resilience and respond to local needs.

“With many of these rural communities impacted by COVID-19, plus drought, fires, and for many the mouse plague, local fundraising has been even more difficult than usual. So it’s wonderful to be able to offer the support these places need to strengthen community connectedness and build their networks.

“We’re grateful to be partnering with the Australian Government, and to have the support of our other donor partners, because it allows us to back these grassroots organisations who are making significant strides when it comes to preparing their communities for future drought,” said Ms Egleton.

Some of the 33 initiatives funded include:

  • Women Together Learning (WoTL Ltd) – Rudall, Cowell, Karoona, Pinnaroo, SA – Building the WoTL Ambassador Network to Support Women in Ag – $29,625 – Building the WoTL Ambassador Network to support women in agriculture through a series of workshops.
  • Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers – Bundaberg, Gayndah, QLD – Connecting Producers with an Invisible Support Network – $16,200 – Build capacity among growers for training in mental health and wellbeing and to access local support services through a series of BBQ workshops.
  • Gippsland Agricultural Group, Bairnsdale, VIC – Gippsland Connect and Prepare Field Days – $50,000 – Increase community connection and networking activities through the delivery of field day events and installing an accessible ablution block.
  • FarmLink Research Ltd, Temora, NSW – Improving Young Farmer Mental Resilience in Times of Drought – $10,000 – Expand capacity for resilience through an interactive seminar.
  • The Liebe Group Inc – Dalwallinu, Mingenew, Dandaragan, WAWomen in Ag Networking and Diversification (WAND) Program: Strengthening Social Connection and Farm Business Resilience in the Regional Agricultural Community – $13,100 – Foster increased business acumen in drought resilience through the delivery of workshops.

MEANWHILE, Applications are currently open for Round 2 of the Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program. To be considered, they must be received by 15 November, with funds announced late February. Projects must be completed by 29 August 2022. Learn more at

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

Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
The Australian Landscape Science Institute LimitedReading Your Landscape
This project will bring local landholders together to study and discuss innovative agricultural practice solutions in two field days and a series of webinars, to manage agricultural dependent regions that are vulnerable to accelerating climate impacts. Through the workshops, participants will be encouraged to network and share ideas about Climate Resilient Landscape practices, and be supported by online webinars with a wider audience.
Monaro Farming Systems CMC IncorporatedMonaro Seasonal Outlook - Building Drought Resilience and Preparedness
This project will host a Field Day in the Monaro region that includes a seasonal outlook presentation and discussion around the Farming Forecaster tool that helps farmers make informed decision to improve drought preparedness in changing climatic conditions. Facilitated discussions and reflections from past experiences will improve collaboration across the local farming network, building knowledge about drought preparedness and an understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change, to build strategies for farmers and local communities to prepare for future droughts.
Northern Rivers Community Gateway Inc - Women on The Land - Get Ready Empower YourselfWomen on The Land (WoTL) Preparedness Workshop Series
This project will deliver five workshops to improve the confidence and reduce social isolation of rural and regional women, while also providing planning and coping tools for the participants to share with their broader networks. Focussing on decision making, preparedness and land management, the workshops will provide a platform to discuss mental health issues of rural and regional women, while also providing access to service providers and the opportunity to build networks for ongoing cohesion.
FarmLink Research LtdImproving Young Farmer Mental Resilience In Times of Drought
This FarmLink project will host an event for Young Farmers to build the skills and networks required to manage the impacts of stress during drought, intergenerational relationships and communicating effectively within family farm businesses. The interactive workshop will bring together young farmers and experts in rural and regional resilience and mental health. Through facilitated discussions, the project will build awareness in practical on-farm strategies that improve the participants' capability to manage the stresses associated with drought and climate change in preparing for the future.
Murdi Paaki Regional Rugby League Council Incorporated trading as Creative Community ConceptsCCC Community Wellbeing Project
This project will improve community resilience through education and mental fitness sessions in schools, and a community dinner, to build wellbeing strategies and mental resilience across local schools and the community. The workshops will build community spirit, bringing the community together to discuss strategies to prepare for difficult times and the impacts of adversity.
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
Glenrac IncorporatedResilience, Capacity and Community Connection - Glen Innes NSW
This project will support several activities to build resilience, capacity, and community connection across the Glen Innes district including monthly focus evenings, a gardening weekend and informal events that encourage participation and discussion across the community. This project will link into other programs that GLENRAC deliver on benchmarking natural capital, carbon footprint accounting and climate change resilience to build a broader skillset for the participants and the community.
Glen Innes$49,870
North Coast Regional Landcare Network IncPartnership Development Officer for NCRLN
The North Coast Regional Landcare Network in NSW project will support 11 local Landcare networks, facilitating community connection and knowledge sharing across the groups, as well as increasing  opportunities for these participants, and the wider regional Landcare network, to participate in networking events to build a shared understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change in the local region, while also providing the communities with an opportunity to work collaboratively to solve problems common regional issues.
Funding Tier 3: $50,000 - $150,000
Western Plains Regional Development IncShoring Up Community
This project will give local community groups the much-needed opportunity to hold meetings and get together as they prepare for future drought. Understanding the importance of the community hall for social and professional gatherings, this project will support the upgrade of the community hall to enable it to be used year-round for community gatherings, enhancing social connectedness and wellbeing in the community.
Riverine Plains IncorporatedEnhancing Community Networks for Drought Resilience In the Riverine
This project will deliver 30 workshops within the region to connect primary producers, landholders, and Indigenous custodians to build capacity and share knowledge to address the challenges of future drought and climate change conditions. The project will result in increased social connection in local networks and improved future coordination and collaboration between social networks, other community organisations and sectors in the local communities, sharing knowledge to build more resilient communities across the region.
Berrigan & Greater Shepparton$102,300
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Upper North Farming SystemsTools, Tech and Transformation – UNFS and Its HUBS 2022
This project will deliver a 'Tools, Tech and Transformation' workshop for farmers and agri-business followed by a series of nine Hub events to provide an opportunity for participants to network and share information to build their knowledge about drought resilience through learning about new farming systems and techniques to manage in a changing climate.
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
WoTL LtdBuilding the Women Together Learning (WoTL) Ambassador Network to Support Women In Ag
This project will deliver five workshops focussing on future drought, climate projections and the impact on agricultural practices and rural communities, and support the Women Together Learning (WoTL) Ambassadors to come together for two days to participate in planning, professional development, and networking to enhance their skills to support the broader network. The project will bring women together that ordinarily may not link up and form an ongoing future network, addressing the needs of rural women in preparing for future drought, and support network for better preparedness.
Coorong District CouncilResilient Farmer Networks Building an Understanding of Managing Soil Carbon and Livestock Methane Production, Seasonal Climate Variability, and Seeking Opportunities In Times of Drought
This project will increase opportunities for a diverse group of people and communities to participate in networking through the facilitation of four workshops across the Coorong and Tatiara Districts. The workshops will build farmers' knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change, through the sharing of specialist knowledge in the areas of climate trends, soil carbon, and livestock methane. Through these workshops and networking events, a positive community culture will be built working together to build the community's capacity to respond to change and capitalise on opportunities.
Funding Tier 3: $50,000 - $150,000
Mackillop Farm Management Group IncLimestone Coast Women In Ag Network

This project will increase the resilience of women in the Limestone Coast region of SA to assist preparing for future drought through the delivery of four workshops for women in agriculture across the southeast region of SA. The project will also connect seven regional organisations and build linkages between these local groups to a state-wide organisation, resulting in broader reaches across the state. The network will provide lasting support and increased social connection for the group members across the Limestone Coast region.

Southern Cross UniversityBuilding Drought Resilience In Agriculture-Dependent Communities Through Mapping Young Farmer Information and Support Networks
In this partnership project between Southern Cross University and Agricultural Innovation & Research Eyre Peninsula, a new 'network mapping' tool will be used to provide a detailed understanding of the Eyre Peninsula young landholders knowledge network. The project will support the agricultural dependent community of the Eyre Peninsula to build drought resilience by identifying and implementing context-specific strategies through workshops and mapping. Local champions will share key knowledge with young landholders to enhance networking opportunities around drought-resilient practices.
The Flinders Ranges CouncilQuorn Quandong Festival
This project’s two-day community event will bring expert speakers to present on the impacts of drought and climate change on the region to highlight the importance of forward planning and preparedness. The event will also encourage participants to be involved in the activities and network to share knowledge, while also creating an awareness of agri-food systems opportunities by showcasing opportunities and benefits offered to agricultural businesses through diversification into production of 'bush foods' and use of Indigenous species, as an alternative to traditional practices to build drought resilience.
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Destination Scenic Rim IncScenic Rim Round-Up
The Destination Scenic Rim (DSR) project will build drought resilience and build social connection through the hosting of four events with keynote speakers across the region that will link location specific community groups, businesses, and organisations to increase collaboration and membership across the region. Held in population hubs of Beaudesert, Boonah, Tamborine Mountain, Canungra and several smaller centres, the events will bring community members together with a shared sense of purpose with an aim to increase the community's economic development and diversification.
Macintyre Ag Alliance IncRegenerative Ag Event for Adaptable & Thriving Futures
This project’s two-day event at farms across the Western Downs will provide collaborative events and opportunities to learn about new agricultural approaches to build drought resilience practices into the regional agricultural businesses and communities. Through integrating local networks with established, broader networks, the project aims to increase the social connection, networks, and capacity of landholders for best practice farm management and create drought resilient communities.
Red Earth Community Foundation South Burnett LimitedRed Earth Community Foundation Leadership Forum
Supporting young people to respond to challenges and encourage leadership, the Red Earth Community Foundation (RECF) will host a Leadership Forum to bring together community leaders in the Burnett Inland to connect individuals, groups, and businesses. Through forum sessions, the participants will build leadership skills and form partnerships to assist the region adapt and transform to meet challenges the region will face in a changing climate. The forum will build social connectedness for the region, extend networks and create a shared sense of purpose and community belonging.
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable GrowersConnecting Producers with an Invisible Support Network
This project represents a progressive opportunity to build capability of professional, social and community networks of producers in the Bundaberg region and build long term drought resilience and social wellbeing across the network. The project will support ongoing networking opportunities, including through initial activities including two Accidental Counselling training sessions and host two informal producer BBQ's to create a network of industry representatives who are able to recognise signs of stress and access local support services for local growers to support mental health and wellbeing.
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
GroWQResourcing and Supporting GroWQ
This GroWQ Project will deliver two networking events: an Ag Industry Round Table facilitating collaboration and enabling access to support in both health services and agricultural services; and a Technology showcase on innovation and business resilience in the agricultural sector and the wider community. Industry insights provided through the workshops will increase participant knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change, providing participants with the knowledge and tools to share with their communities to respond to a changing climate.
Lockyer Valley Growers IncLockyer Agriculture Resilience and Connection (LARC) Project
This project will bring local growing groups together in two seminars to discuss the impacts of climate change and drought on the region, as well as publications in local magazines about local issues and identifying local practices used to manage the impacts of drought. The project will also facilitate training of committee members in governance training to support their organisation to continue to support the broader grower network. Through the involvement of around 200 producers and land managers across the region, the project will enhance networking and knowledge sharing, building a greater culture of connection across the region.
Longreach Regional CouncilCreating Sustainable Communities 'In the Bush'
This project will facilitate four community workshops and events across issues relevant to different sectors of the Longreach community including youth issues, women's, business and work topics. Workshops through the project will facilitate local networks, increase business planning knowledge and skills, encourage social connection and ensure access to support services to build resilience and future drought preparedness in the local region.
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group LtdCroydon Shire Food Security Project
The project will establish a community-led steering group through a central co-ordinator to build a food security strategy for the region. The project will increase community engagement, a shared sense of purpose and collaboration between social networks and sectors in local communities, bringing groups together to share knowledge to build strategies to address food insecurity issues in the local area.
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Wairewa Public Hall & Recreation ReserveSupporting Future Community Networking Opportunities
This project will provide essential support to community groups in the Wairewa region to network in the lead up, during and after future drought, through the improvement of the public hall as an ongoing social meeting place to build community connection and engagement. Upgrading the hall's kitchen and flooring will enable the local community and farmers to socially connect, as well as engaging with neighbouring communities, thus building a wider social network and community wellbeing through a common functional meeting space.
Charlton Neighbourhood House IncBuloke First Peoples Art Trail
Understanding the need for a year-round meeting place to build community wellbeing and a place for engagement, particularly during times of drought, this project will develop an open-air, self-guided Bush Tucker Garden that tell the stories of the local Djaara people and walking trail along the Avoca River that include First Nations Artworks that tell stories of the impacts of a changing climate and times of drought in the Charlton and Buloke area. Through the community’s involvement in the development of the garden and walking trail, the project will build a shared sense of community belonging in the area.
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
Mallee Sustainable Farming IncCreating an Online Learning Community to Help Farmers Manage Soil In Drought
This project will create a new online learning community and network to help Mallee broadacre farmers prepare for future drought. The network will draw on the latest evidence-based information and resources on how to protect, manage and repair soils before, during and after drought. The project will deliver online learning to increase knowledge sharing and capacity of farmers to access local soil resources and peer forums to build drought resilience. Through joint learning and support, participants will build professional and social networks, sharing information to build an understanding of and resilience to the impacts of future droughts on the region’s soils.
Birchip Cropping Group IncFilling the GAPP – A Forum for Future Farmers
This project will involve two core activities: the first is a GAPP (Growth, Adoption, Production and Profitability) regional event for new generation farmers titled ‘Filling the GAPP, a forum for future farmers'. The second activity being a round of seven locally focussed production and business resilience focussed discussion group meetings, targeting new generation, early career farmers and supporting agribusiness personnel, to facilitate the opportunity for early career professionals to exchange ideas on farming business practice and provide communities an opportunity to work collaboratively to solve problems,  building capacity and leveraging the wider Birchip Cropping Group network of industry connections to build local drought resilience.
Gippsland Agricultural GroupGippsland Connect and Prepare Field Days
This project will increase community connection and networking through two farmer field days, bringing together local farming and community groups to discuss issues prevalent in the region. The project will increase the capacity to use this site for educational, social and networking activities for the agricultural community through the installation of an ablution block at a site frequently used for social and professional networking events, thus increasing the region's ability to support educational, social, and networking activities in the agricultural community and benefit many groups across East Gippsland.
Funding Tier 3: $50,000 - $150,000
AgBiz Assist Limited - Ovens Murray AgBiz AllianceUsing Tech to Connect, Mitigate and Manage Drought In North East Victoria
This project will bring people together informally in a series of meetups and dinners for those involved in agriculture, food and fibre, as well as a regional website to showcase agriculture, food and fibre information and newsletters and podcasts with information on provider networks across the region, providing a tool for connection and accessing regional services. Through the project, the region will have avenues to sustain community engagement and improved coordination and collaboration between social and professional networks.
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
The Liebe Group IncWomen In Ag Networking and Diversification (WAND) Program: Strengthening Social Connection and Farm Business Resilience in the Regional Agricultural Community

This project will host onsite field visits and an agricultural day show to provide participants with future planning knowledge for below-average seasons and increased business acumen to adapt to the negative effects of drought. Through the project, the local women in agriculture involved in the projects will build capacity and resilience, as well as regional networks to respond to the impacts of drought, both socially and on their farm businesses.

Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
Southern Rangelands Pastoral Alliance IncRehydrating the Southern Rangelands of WA
This project will bring together farmers to learn about drought resilience issues that are common across the Southern Rangelands area of WA. The project will bring together a farming network, for participants to build the confidence and capability to change historical management practices to restore, repair and improve management approaches in the Southern Rangelands. Through the workshops, the farming network developed will share approaches and support to continue managing the Rangelands in the changing climatic conditions.
Shire of RavensthorpeHopetoun Community Networking Support
The project will establish the connections to support networks to better connect with community members. The installation of an electronic noticeboard at the Hopetoun Community Resource Centre is to provide critical community and climate information, and promote events to build information sharing and community connection. The project will result in a coordinated and time effective response to disaster preparedness and drought resilience for the local community.
Funding Tier 3: $50K - $150K
Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management IncorporatedTalkin' Soil Health - for Drought Resilience
This project will connect a network of farmers, farming advisors and support services to an awareness of local support avenues. The Talkin’ Soil Health Conference will focus on building capacity in the WA farming community to address climate challenges with adaptive technology. An on-farm workshop, podcasts and a Community of Practice will extend networking between participants, resulting in an active network of farmers, farm advisors, support services and researchers to build capacity and awareness of local industry support to share knowledge, skills, and tools to build drought resilience.

Ngadjuri Country

The small agricultural township of Orroroo in South Australia knows what it’s like to suffer through drought. With several local businesses closing down and the community running the taxing gamut of drought-related issues, something different needed to be done.

Fortunately, this small outer regional area has a dedicated group of people who are behind the push to ensure the town’s survival, by celebrating and showcasing Australia’s pioneering agricultural history. In the past, the area has relied heavily on a thriving agricultural foundation, but they saw the need to improve their economic diversity, starting with a new tourist attraction.

Over the past few years, the District Council of Orroroo Carrieton, the Orroroo Regional Tourism Group and a team of amazing volunteers have dedicated themselves to very carefully restoring the locally-famed Black Rock Woolpress – a generously donated, circa 1850s piece of manual machinery, which early research suggests may very well be the only one of its kind left in existence.

Plans for the impressive woolpress to be showcased in its very own building in the main precinct of Orroroo came a step closer to reality, thanks to a $20,000 grant from FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, funded by the Australian Government.

The grant allowed for a formal business plan to be drawn up by a local consultant, confirming the feasibility of the Heritage Hub project. The plan required input from all areas of the community – those working on the project directly, as well as in the wider community motivated to create an attractive tourist destination. As well, the funds were put towards the planning, architectural drawings and raw materials needed to construct the purpose-built rotunda for the Black Rock Woolpress.

This seed funding enabled the planning committee to produce a proof of concept, which attracted $143,252 in further funding from FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, again funded by the Australian Government, along with grants from the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program and funding from the local Council.The stone and glass rotunda now houses the historic woolpress (circa 1851) as the centrepiece in a collection of heritage items on display as part of a landscaped Heritage trail in the town’s centre, with impressive interpretive signage, maps and promotional material. The FRRR grant also contributed to the official launch of the development, which recognise the generous funding organisations and the thousands of hours of volunteer involvement in restoring the woolpress.

District Council of Orroroo Carrieton community project officer Jodie Boully said “We have already had so many locals and visitors stop to comment how impressive the building is.

“It’s been such a huge success to date, a great story of local volunteers who have remained involved in the planning right the way through to highlight some of our early pioneer history.”

The project to create such an attractive tourist destination has already created strong bonds, with those in the community dedicated to seeing the town succeed despite the drought. They have self-funded, committed hundreds of hours of volunteered hours, and worked tirelessly together from the very beginning developing not only the beginnings of a beautifully built tourist hub, but a sustainable and diverse economic platform for the town to rebuild from.

Wiradjuri Country

When bushfires move through towns placing lives, homes and income at risk, the emotional and financial recovery can take years. In the wake of the 2019/20 bushfires, many communities continue to feel stress and anxiety from the loss of employment and the trauma of evacuating and leaving their homes behind. In Tumbarumba, in New South Wales, many people lost their homes, sheds, fences, stock, and other assets in the fires creating a financial burden that has left much of the town physically and emotionally exhausted. However, the residents are trying to rebuild.

The members of local organisation Artists on Parade Co-op Ltd wanted to help their town reconnect to their home, and with each other after the fires. Thanks to a $7,000 grant from the VISY Tumut Region Recovery Fund, funded by The Pratt Foundation, Artists on Parade held 16 workshops over several weekends in October 2020.

Throughout the year, Artists on Parade are responsible for hosting exhibitions featuring local artists. Their gallery space is often used for community activities and events. With access to this fantastic space, it became a perfect location for their hands on workshops to take place. Children, teenagers, and adults in the community participated in activities – not just art – that were specifically chosen to increase relaxation and inspiration among the attendees.

Artists on Parade wanted to ensure the residents of Tumbarumba didn’t miss out on interests and pursuits that were deemed as “non-essential” or “unnecessary” due to financial restraints. They therefore kept workshop fees low to allow as many people as possible to participate.

The workshops were a success, with 115 people from a wide demographic participating. The activities included pyrography workshops, canvas work, cardmaking, sketching, bike maintenance, pastel portrait painting workshops and cakes, coffee, and milkshakes as well.

The workshops provided a safe and relaxing space for the residents of Tumbarumba to gather and meet new people who have the same lived experiences. There were many examples of attendees meeting for the first time after realising they lived on the same street and had gone through very similar experiences in the fires. By the end of the workshops, they had started carpooling together to attend more sessions.

In addition to creating connections between the residents of Tumbarumba, many attendees were also able to take home a finished art piece to mark the occasion and close off a terrible year.

Grants available for first responder organisations in places impacted by Black Summer bushfires

Porepunkah was just one of many communities that was badly affected by the 2019/20 bushfires, but a recent grant is helping ensure that the local Country Fire Authority (CFA) brigade has the resources it needs to better prepare and serve the community when the next emergency occurs.

Volunteer Emergency Services encouraged to apply for funding

Porepunkah CFA was awarded a $10,875 grant through FRRR’s Volunteer Emergency Services Fund to support volunteer training and wellbeing through IT training technology and appliance upgrades for the kitchen at the Porepunkah CFA Shed. Porepunkah was one of 19 emergency services to share in $311,049 in grants, through the Volunteer Emergency Services Fund’s first round of funding.

Renee Lee, Porepunkah CFA’s Secretary said the funding will also help the group to facilitate community outreach during non-disaster times.

“While our volunteers take pride in our role and are committed to make Porepunkah a safer and better place for the community, we cannot express how much this grant means to us. As volunteers, it means recognition for our time and sacrifices.

“In addition, the grant approval came in a timely manner as it will uplift the spirit of community as we are faced with the numerous lockdowns,” Ms Lee said.

Made possible thanks to a significant private donation, the Volunteer Emergency Services Fund provides grants to local volunteer emergency services groups and first responder organisations in eligible fire-affected communities across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

FRRR is encouraging local volunteer emergency services groups serving rural communities affected by the 2019/20 bushfires to apply now for the second round of grant funding to support their recovery needs and/or strengthen their emergency response capabilities ahead of the 2021/22 bushfire season.

Grants of up to $25,000 are available to meet local agencies needs, and we want to encourage groups who may not have a large project in mind to consider making a small grant application of up to $6,000 to be better prepared with small essential equipment, i.e. Go bags that might contain torches, fire blankets and traffic wands. At least $100,000 in funding will be provided to meet such essential requests.

Danielle Griffin, FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager – Corporate, said that with this summer’s bushfire season fast approaching, first responders should feel confident in their preparedness and volunteers should feel supported, especially those in regions that are still recovering from the 2019/20 bushfires.

“Preparing for future disasters and adapting to changing conditions after a disaster are integral parts of the recovery process. In practical terms, preparedness can mean upgrades to infrastructure and equipment and providing up-to-date training, which can have a big impact on the security and safety of first responders.

“These grants can fund important projects to care for the mental health and wellbeing of volunteers that generously give their time to support and protect their communities.

“The Volunteer Emergency Services Fund is specifically designed to support the disaster recovery needs and priorities of first responder organisations at a local level, and we look forward to funding initiatives that will assist these vital community members and services,” Ms Griffin said.

The Volunteer Emergency Services Fund grant program is now open. Applications close 5pm AEDT 20 October 2021, with grants to be announced November 2021.

For more information, visit FRRR’s website –

The town of Stanthorpe, in Queensland is no stranger to hardship. After years of drought and bushfires, the community was already feeling the pressure when COVID-19 hit. Like many rural, remote, and regional towns, social isolation is a huge issue, now more than ever with strict rules on social interactions and gatherings. These restrictions made it particularly difficult for visitors to come to the area and spend money at local businesses, putting more financial pressure on the community already feeling the effects of years of severe drought. It was so bad, the town was even trucking in water for residents.

The Granite Belt Art and Craft Train Inc (GBART) was determined to push through all these challenges. GBART’s purpose is to support community wellbeing and economic diversity through improving the Granite Belt’s cultural vibrancy and identity. The region stretches from the Great Dividing Range in Queensland all the way to the New England region of New South Wales. 

Thanks to a $20,000 Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) grant, GBART was able to hold the highly anticipated annual culture and tourism event, Open Studio, which took place over three days and attracted approximately 4,000 visitors.

Open Studio involved hands on workshops, classes and demonstrations, while also engaging with Australian art and craft in active, inclusive ways. The events were hosted at 27 different venues, including wineries that saw visitors stopping to taste, shop and eat.

The TTTT grant allowed GBART to fund a range of supporting resources such as the training and up-skilling of volunteers, purchasing office and IT equipment, venue hire, advertising and marketing material, COVID-19 cleaning equipment and training, plus salaries for an event coordinator, administration support, and a media consultant.

The event was a major success, bringing the community together and engaging visitors from surrounding towns. Best of all, there were little to no changes needed to their original plan. Event organisers said they were “proud of the venues, the accommodation and hospitality businesses that supported the artisans and hosted them in their venues, and we are proud of the artisans who provided the engagement that brought everyone here.”

FRRR has awarded $311,049 in grants to volunteer emergency services organisations impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires for projects that will help them to respond to local disaster recovery needs and address preparedness priorities ahead of the 2021/22 bushfire season.

Volunteer Emergency Services Fund awards more than $300,000 in grants

Funded through the Volunteer Emergency Services Grant Program, grants range from $4500 for Audio Visual Equipment, to $25,000 for the installation of a solar power battery backup system.

Made possible thanks to a generous private donation, funded initiatives will support fire-affected local volunteer emergency services and first-responder organisations in communities across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria. 

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said that she was pleased to see this targeted funding going to initiatives that will build and strengthen the capacity of these vital members of impacted communities.

“We saw strong demand for equipment and infrastructure improvements through this round of applications. Providing safe and secure facilities and equipment not only allows these services to better support their communities and respond to emergencies and future disasters, but they are also important to the recovery of the volunteers, building their resilience and caring for their mental health and wellbeing.

“The mental health and wellbeing of the volunteers will also be supported through funded training and education projects. These initiatives will increase the capacity of these volunteer-run emergency services, so that they are better equipped to care for their local community as they continue to recover from the bushfires,” Ms Egleton said.

Some of the projects awarded this round include:

  • Tinonee Rural Fire Brigade, NSW – Disaster Response Go Bags for Support Vehicles – $6,713 – Improve the capacity and enhance the safety of volunteers through the provision of fire safety equipment for community evacuation notifications and emergencies.
  • South Eastern Region QLD Rural Fire Service Division, QLD – Upgrade Emergency Services Response Command Vehicle – $25,000 – Boost operational capacity of the Beaudesert RFB Group through the upgrade of the Group Command vehicle.
  • Country Fire Authority – St Arnaud CFA, VIC – Connecting Our Group – $5,000 – Support volunteer capability through the provision of a laptop computer for operations at the St Arnaud CFA.
  • Onkaparinga CFS Group, SA – Onkaparinga CFS Group Tablet Grant – $19,628 – Enhance organisational capacity through the provision of information technology equipment at the Onkaparinga CFS.
  • Surf Life Saving Lower North Coast Branch Incorporated, NSW– Provision of emergency response equipment for frontline lifesavers during bushfire emergencies – $25,000 – Improving preparedness and capability for Surf Life Saving volunteers in the Lower North Coast.

The next round of the Volunteer Emergency Services Fund Grant program will open 24 September 2021. For more information, visit –

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

Emmaville Rural Fire BrigadeLockers for Firefighters at Emmaville RFS Shed
Enhance emergency response times through the provision of volunteer lockers at the Emmaville Rural Fire Brigade.
Far South Coast Branch Surf Life Saving Association of Australia IncDisaster Preparedness for Volunteer Lifesavers and the Community
Increase organisational capacity through the provision of Bushfire Response Kits for South Coast Surf Life Saving clubs.
Merriwa and District Rescue Squad IncIt's a Long Way to the Top, if You've Tripped and had a Fall!
Increase organisational capacity through the provision of vertical rescue equipment for the Merriwa and Districts Rescue Squad.
Liverpool Ranges RFS
NSW Rural Fire Service
Group 1 Liverpool Range
Strengthen local volunteer emergency groups and their activities through facility and equipment upgrades for the Cassilis RFS.
Pambula Beach Surf Life Saving Club IncExpansion of Pambula Surf Life Saving Club Patrol and Emergency Search and Rescue Capabilities
Increase organisation capacity with an additional IRB Zodiac to ensure timely volunteer emergency response.
Surf Life Saving Lower North Coast Branch IncorporatedProvision of Emergency Response Equipment for Frontline Lifesavers During Bushfire Emergencies
Improve volunteer emergency response capability wiith items including a defibrillator and portable radios.
Tarana Volunteer Bushfire BrigadeInstall Solar Power Battery Backup System
Boost organisational capacity through the provision of a solar power system including backup battery.
Tinonee Rural Fire BrigadeDisaster Response Go Bags for Support Vehicles
Improve the capacity and enhance the safety of volunteers through the provision of fire safety equipment for community evacuation notifications and emergencies.
Beaudesert Rural Fire Brigade Group
South Eastern Region QLD Rural Fire Service Division
Upgrade Emergency Services Response Command Vehicle
Boost operational capacity of the Beaudesert RFB Group through the upgrade of the Group Command vehicle.
Scenic Rim Regional Council Area$25,000
Gatton State Emergency Service Social Club IncCapability Enhancement Program
Boost organisational capacity through the replacement of electric tool, batteries and radio holsters at the Gatton SES.
Maroochydore State Emergency Service Support Association IncorporatedAudio Visual Equipment for Volunteer Training
Boost capacity of the Maroochydore SES with the provision of technology equipment to enhance the training of volunteers.
Woodhill Rural Fire BrigadeFirefighting ATV
Increase community safety with the provision of an off road ATV and emergency response trailer for Woodhill Rural Fire Brigade.
Onkaparinga CFS GroupOnkaparinga CFS Group Tablet Grant
Enhance organisation capacity through the provision of information technology equipment at the Onkaparinga CFS.
Buffalo River CFA
Country Fire Authority - Headoffice
Buffalo River Scrolling Electronic LED Notice Board
Increase community awareness by installing a scrolling notice board for public safety announcements and information sharing at the Buffalo River CFA shed.
Porepunkah CFA
Country Fire Authority - Headoffice
IT Training Equipment and Kitchen Appliances
Support volunteer training and wellbeing with technology and appliance upgrades at the Porepunkah CFA Shed.
St Arnaud CFA
Country Fire Authority - Headoffice
Connecting Our Group
Support volunteer vitality through the provision of upgraded information technology equipment at the St Arnaud CFA.
St Arnaud$5,000
Corryong Ambulance and Walma Ambulance
Ambulance Victoria
Corryong Ambulance Community Officer and Walwa Community Emergency Response Team Uplift
Support organisational capacity of the organisation through the provision of training and operation equipment.
Mallacoota SES
Victoria State Emergency Service Authority
Mallacoota-Genoa Community Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Project
Enhance community safety through the provision of portable fire fighting equipment and PPE for emergency volunteers in the Genoa community.
Tallangatta SES
Victoria State Emergency Service Authority
Turn Out Bay Upgrade
Boost community safety through turn out bay upgrades at the Tallangatta SES.

Suncorp Group today pledged $1 million to FRRR for a dedicated program to support rural Australian communities impacted by significant natural disasters.

FRRR and Suncorp launch $1 million disaster recovery partnership

The first Rebuilding Futures program grant round opens today and closes on 15 September, with $200,000 available through grants of up to $15,000 each for local community groups and not-for-profits in areas impacted by flooding in March 2021. Successful grants will be announced in November 2021.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR said the Foundation is delighted to be partnering with the Suncorp Group on the dedicated funding initiative.

“From our many years working alongside communities as they recover from natural disasters, we have learnt that recovery is a marathon and local community groups and not-for-profits need funding for diverse recovery initiatives, as their needs evolve over time,” Ms Egleton said.

Suncorp Group CEO Steve Johnston launched the first round of grants to help NSW and Queensland communities impacted by flooding in March 2021.

“These communities are dealing not only with COVID-19, but the significant impacts of flooding,” Mr Johnston said.

“I’ve seen first-hand the devastation and emotional toll of natural disasters, which is why we are supporting affected communities to not just build back but to make themselves more resilient than before.

“As an insurer and bank our job is to help our customers to physically and financially rebuild, but we know the full recovery process continues for years after people are back in their homes. Through our long-term relationships with customers across Australia we see the importance of supporting wellbeing and the lasting value of a community’s spirit.

“Communities are best placed to steer their own future which is why these grants empower locals to come together to identify and design local solutions.”

FRRR facilitates funding and capacity building at the local level. It has the relationships and know-how to distribute grants to fund community-led solutions that build resilience and long-term viability of remote, rural, and regional communities across Australia.

“This program, with a focus on the medium to long-term needs and building back better, will mean that when there are significant disasters, the support will be available for local groups to address issues that are important to recovery, to rebuilding the sense of place that is often so badly damaged through events like the floods we saw in NSW earlier this year,” Ms Egleton said.

Grantseeker Workshop

To support community groups and not-for-profit organisations in the eligible remote, rural, and regional communities impacted by the Storm and Flood events of March 2021 to develop their grant applications FRRR will hold a free online grantseeker workshop. The interactive session will provide key program information and helpful tips on how to apply for a grant.

The workshop will take place on Wednesday, 25 August, 1:00pm to 2:30pm AEST.

Attendance is free, but people are asked to register at:

For more information contact Danielle Griffin or Fiona Bradshaw at or on 1800 170 020.

More information on the Suncorp Rebuilding Futures grant program is available here.

Support needed now more than ever for communities hit by multiple disasters

Port Macquarie, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, is just one of many towns reeling from the effects of cumulative disasters. In their case, it began in July 2019 with devastating bushfires that affected many communities across the region. The fires burned until January 2020. Homes, livelihoods and, sadly, lives were lost.

Then in March 2020, COVID-19 hit, decimating visitor numbers and the vital income they bring with them, and restrictions hampered bushfire recovery activities. These cumulative impacts meant many retailers, cafes, pubs, restaurants, tourism and accommodation providers were forced to let staff go or, for some, to close.

In March 2021 – with COVID-19 and bushfire recovery still ongoing – the region was inundated by a one in 100 year flood. Thousands of people were evacuated, and five months later, many have still not been able to return to their homes. Today, pockets of the community are still without electricity.

Port Macquarie
Flooding in Port Macquarie

Fewer resources, but more to do

The struggle for small organisations trying to support their community is very real, even in normal times. So, when events like the bushfires, floods and COVID-19 place greater demands on their services, their capacity is challenged. But they fight on!

Make a Difference Port Macquarie (MAD PMQ) is a local support agency helping their community to respond to these events. Over the last year, they’ve had to work through how to do more, with fewer people. When COVID-19 hit, MAD lost their volunteer base almost overnight because most of their volunteers are elderly or retired and are very vulnerable. The pandemic also had a huge impact on the organisation’s fundraising. Like many small community organisations, MAD PMQ relies heavily on events to raise the funds required to deliver their services.

Volunteer Erin Denham said they generally run four or five fundraising events a year but were only able to run one in the last year, and that’s had a massive impact on revenue. MAD PMQ was supported by an FRRR grant that funded the stage for that event and the fit out of their mobile coffee van. 

“When we got the FRRR grant, it took so much pressure off us as a charity – we hadn’t been able to run a fundraising event in nine months, and we couldn’t see a way out of COVID-19. The grant allowed us to continue our plan for our projects and support our community.”

As successive disasters have hit the community, MAD PMQ has adapted and expanded its role.

“Our focus has shifted dramatically since our inception,” Erin said. “It was originally homelessness. Now we’ve moved to supporting a wider range of disadvantaged people, so our work shifts and adapts based on the needs of the community and what’s happening around us, like fires or floods. The homeless population is transient, but there are just as many people in the community who need our help that go beyond that demographic.”

When the floods hit in March, their greatest priority was helping to address the immediate needs of those affected by the floods, particularly getting people back in their own homes by supplying white goods such as fridges, washing machines and ovens.

“It’s been a massive effort,” Erin explained. “We’ve raised approximately $50,000 so far, which we’ve since redistributed in white goods and other requests. But it feels like the funding is starting to dry up, and the demand is greater now than it was immediately after the floods.”

Post flood clean up in Port Macquarie
Post flood clean up in Port Macquarie

Emerging impacts

In fact, demand for MAD’s services is the highest they’ve ever seen, and Erin says she thinks it will continue to increase as the full impact of the “triple-whammy” of disasters takes effect.

Erin said that while there was lots of help immediately following the fires and floods from external organisations and agencies, the responsibility is now falling on the small organisations within the community to pick up the load and continue to meet the ongoing needs of a community impacted by natural disasters.

“Most of the people provided with emergency accommodation until the end of June or early July are starting to have to move on, and demand for assistance to MAD PMQ is increasing.

“Everyone’s gone back to business as usual, you can’t tell by driving through town that anything happened,” Erin said.

“Just last week we came across a gentleman who is still living in his flood-affected caravan, with no power or running water. His caravan was written off, but he’s got nowhere else to go. We provided him with a generator, so he at least has some power.

“And I’m aware of a 65 year old man who was living in a tent in his back yard, while his wife was in emergency accommodation. They were separated for months after the floods happened. The housing crisis and gentrification are big problems, with people relocating from Sydney, and many people being pushed out of the rental market. And while they might be eligible for grants, often they can’t meet all of the requirements that’s needed and therefore they miss out on funding.”

Erin said that support through FRRR, such as the new Suncorp Rebuilding Futures program, allows community organisations to be responsive in the aftermath of the situation. By offering funding support for charities like MAD, the program will allow them to help residents get back into their homes faster.

MAD PMQ volunteers

Images: Alex McNaught

More than 6,800 Back to School vouchers distributed

More than 6,800 students and families in places recovering from the 2019/20 bushfires will head Back to School in semester 2 with a little extra support, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia and overseas.

Support continues for students impacted by Black Summer bushfires

Funded through a special Bushfire Response round of the Back to School (BTS) program, FRRR has partnered with local community groups and Community Foundations in impacted regions to distribute 6,814 $50 gift vouchers to families in need.

Students can redeem the vouchers for school essentials such as winter uniforms, school bags, shoes or stationery. To date, BTS vouchers valued at more than $822,000 have been distributed to families in fire-affected communities since June 2020.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that for these students and their families, the vouchers provide a little extra help as they continue to navigate the recovery journey, which has certainly been complicated by the pandemic.

“Last year many of these families were home schooling throughout the colder months. So, with most back at school, some are only now realising there are items that still need replacing following the bushfires.

“Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can have a big impact, helping to cover the cost of a couple of school jumpers or a winter uniform, new books to start the term or even a sleeping bag that a child can use for school camp.

“We’re grateful to our Community Foundation partners and other groups that are working on the ground in the impacted regions. Their discreet distribution of the vouchers to those in need means families can receive support without having to ask for it,” Ms Egleton said.

Tenterfield Lions Club is one of the organisations helping to distribute the vouchers to students in their region. Club President, Lisa Dalton, said that the vouchers will help parents with the costs of winter school essentials and will also benefit the Shire when the vouchers are redeemed locally.

“We’ve been through the wringer over the last couple of years, and I hope this is just a small way of letting the wider community know we are all in this together,” Ms Dalton said.

The BTS program distributes vouchers to students and families across Australia, including those in regions not impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires. In total, 64 Community Foundations and locally-based community groups have helped FRRR to distribute $1,075,400 in vouchers to through the BTS program this year.

BTS vouchers are funded by FRRR and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Counter Point Community Services (Cycle Recycle), Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia, J & M Nolan Family Trust, Bertalli Family Foundation, June Canavan Foundation, and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as individual donors.

Vouchers were awarded to support the following bushfire-affected Local Government Areas:

Towong (VIC)
East Gippsland (VIC)
Wellington (VIC)
Greater Hume Shire (NSW)
Snowy Valleys (NSW)
Eurobodalla (NSW)
Mid-Coast (NSW)
Bega Valley (NSW)
Tenterfield (NSW)
Ballina (NSW)
Clarence Valley (NSW)
Lismore (NSW)
Richmond Valley (NSW)
Kyogle (NSW)
Kangaroo Island (SA)
Yorke Peninsula (SA)