Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)
In an agricultural community, it is not uncommon to have a male-dominated population. However in and around Glen Innes, NSW this isn’t the case. More than half of the Glen Innes population is female. But local leadership and committee membership didn’t reflect that balance.
The Glen Innes Natural Resources Advisory Committee (GLENRAC) is dedicated to creating opportunities for land owners and the community to take an active role in managing and maintaining the natural resources of the region.
GLENRAC identified the need to improve governance skills and gender diversity within community groups and organisations to satisfy government and funding bodies.
To address this issue, GLENRAC used a $5,000 grant from FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities grant program, funded in collaboration with Australia Post, to deliver a project aimed at building skills and capacity to engage with community groups in a meaningful way.
The project included three workshops over two days, targeting all members of the community and focusing on increasing knowledge of governance and leadership. During the workshops, community members engaged with experienced and professional facilitators. Participants were given the opportunity to build on their existing networks and increase their connections within the community.
GLENRAC hopes that following these workshops, women in the community will feel more confident and empowered to get involved with local committees with the skills and knowledge acquired from the events.
The Glen Innes Severn LGA in the New England region of NSW experienced limited rainfall for several years, culminating in severe drought conditions in 2019, and was consequently impacted by the Black Summer bushfires. One local organisation that has been supporting landholders and the community to manage and maintain the natural resource base of the Glen Innes region for the past 31 year is the Glen Innes Natural Resources Advisory Committee (GLENRAC).
They received a $19,980 grant funded by the Westpac Group from FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program to build skills, knowledge and confidence of the Glen Innes farming community through a series of 12 workshops focusing on drought management techniques, natural resources and sustainable agriculture and recovery. The funding was used to cover the costs of advertising, catering, venue hire, and presenters’ fees and travelling expenses.
Fittingly, the first GLENRAC Focus Event was on the hot topic of water management. Some of the other topics in the series included Restoring Earth, Getting through the Dry, Demystifying Carbon, Focus on Renewables and a Farmer Update. Two other events that were well-attended were the Fit Farmers session, and Rural Women’s Day, both attracting around 45 people.
The workshops also provided a forum for peer support and community connection to assist people with drought recovery, helping to reduce the social isolation that often occurs for landholders who are facing dry and challenging situations, and increasing the connection between those facing similar conditions. In all, a total of 424 people participated in the workshops which were held over an 18-month period from February 2019 to July 2020.
Kylie Falconer, GLENRAC’s CEO said, “These events became important opportunities for our local farmers to connect with other people. Many were busy hand feeding, carting water and dealing with the other unanticipated problems from drought, for example machinery break downs, sourcing feed, or renegotiating finance with banks. People really needed an organised forum to come together, to find out new information on drought matters or other emerging issues such as carbon farming and renewable energy.”
Like many other organisations, GLENRAC demonstrated great agility and flexibility when they had to convert their final three workshops into online webinars due to COVID-19 restrictions – a first for the organisation, and one that was received well by the participants.
“I am most proud of the fact that GLENRAC delivered these 12 events to our community when they needed the information and social connections the most. We were able to help when it mattered most, and feedback from participants has been wonderfully appreciative.”Kylie Falconer, CEO, GLENRAC Inc.