Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

On Ngadjuri, Peramangk and Kaurna Country

The Barossa Valley in South Australia is a renowned wine-producing region northeast of Adelaide. When the COVID pandemic hit, tourism and wine exports significantly decreased, which placed a big financial stress on families in the Barossa. With the added pressure of drought, the region was seeing distressing numbers of mental health incidents and homelessness impacting the community.

Not-for-profit organisation Foundation Barossa has been working hard in the region since 2002 to encourage and support philanthropy to build and nurture their own community’s strength and assets. In recent years, Foundation Barossa has worked closely with several schools in the area where extra support is needed.

Foundation Barossa has been a big supporter of FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program for a long time, and liaise with school principals and school welfare teachers to ensure that families in need receive the extra support they require.

Five hundred and fifty vouchers worth $50 were distributed to 13 schools, both primary and secondary, for the 2022 school year, thanks to the Fire Fight Australia Fund and a private donor who support FRRR’s BTS program. Students could use these vouchers to purchase school supplies like uniforms, stationery, lunchboxes and anything else that would make their education experience easier and relieve some of the financial pressure from families.

Together with matched funding provided by the Origin Energy Foundation through FRRR and local sponsorship from Barossa Real Estate, a further 203 vouchers were distributed, bringing the total to 753; the Foundation’s highest number to date. The success of the voucher rollout has been measured through an increase in student attendance and retention, and in general an improvement in student wellbeing. The Foundation has also noted a big benefit to the teachers at these schools who would sometimes become distressed or concerned for their students.

Here are some of the happy testimonials:

  • “I would like to say thank you very much for choosing our family to receive the vouchers from Foundation Barossa. I lost my job back in October and am a sole parent. My pride was allowed no place when my boys handed them to me. Having only found a part-time job in the last week means the vouchers were very much appreciated and unexpected.” – Parent, Nuriootpa High School & Flexible Learning Centre
  • “Teachers were very grateful and expressed they felt better going into the school holidays knowing that students had access to vouchers.” –  Nuriootpa Primary School
  • “Thank you so much for the Kmart voucher. My daughter purchased a new pencil case and pencils for schools. She thought Christmas had come early!” – Parent, Tanunda Primary School
  • “We had a family arrive at our school at the beginning of term 2 who were homeless and living in a caravan with family members. On the first day when we met the mum, we gave her a voucher for each student to help get them some school supplies. She was so thankful that she was brought to tears, as she said they needed new school bags and she would now be able to get those.” Kapunda Primary School

For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.

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.