Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Bendigo 17 July 2019: Thirty-six community projects that will assist the continued recovery of communities impacted by the Black Saturday Bushfires will receive funding totalling $602,308. The groups are the latest recipients of the Grants for Resilience and Wellness (GR&W) and Community Group Futures (CGF) programs. To date, the two programs have delivered over $3 million in grants.

The GR&W program focuses on community strengthening and resilience-building projects, while CGF supports not-for-profit organisations to think beyond day-to-day operations and look ahead to ensure they can meet ongoing community need.Funding is made possible by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF) which the general public generously contributed to in the immediate aftermath of the fires.

Marysville & Triangle Community Foundation also received support via the Stronger Community Foundations Program. The Foundation is embarking on a marketing refresh, which includes an updated website and collateral.

This year’s 10th Anniversary of the Black Saturday Bushfires brought many of the communities affected by the devastating event back into focus for the wider public but also reinforced that recovery from something so catastrophic is very much a long-term proposition.

Support is still being sought for disaster preparedness projects, but most requests were for projects that bring communities together, including upgrades to existing community meeting places to improve aspects such as their functionality, comfort and safety. Creating connections from the youngest to the oldest members of the community, both to place and each other, was the other strong theme this round.

FRRR Program Manager, Recovery & Resilience Emma Thomas said that with the tenth anniversary behind them, it was heartening to see these communities looking ahead to the next ten years and beyond.

“The vast majority of applications for grants this round fit within the Strengthening Community Connectedness, Sense of Place, and Community Identity program area,” Ms Thomas said. “When you’ve lost everything, as so many people did during the Black Saturday Bushfires, you get a different perspective on what is important and the things that make life better – these are communities taking charge of their future.

“Another interesting observation is that local primary schools are playing a wide role in the community,” Ms Thomas explained. “It is important that the schools are resourced to handle these extra demands, whether it be creating a more comfortable place for meetings; supporting playgroups and care; or breakfast clubs to ensure kids start the day well and have the best possible chance to learn.”

Among the funded projects are:

  • Upgrading a disused community building, providing additional space for community activities and initiatives in Toolangi.
  • The purchase of instruments and equipment for an inclusive school music program at St Andrews Primary School.
  • Increasing the preparedness for a medical emergency, through updating AED equipment located at community meeting spaces in Steels Creek.
  • Increase awareness of local bushfire history and community preparedness through the delivery of photographic display, emergency kits and community connectedness event at Wandong.

Grants for Resilience and Wellness (GR&W) – Projects




$ Awarded

Art Resource Collective Incorporated

Ceramics Studio Floor Renewal
Increase accessibility and safety for community art space through resurfacing of uneven concrete floor at the Art Resource Collective, Yinnar.



Arts Yackandandah

Yackandandah Community Hall’s storage upgrade
Increase community capacity and reduce volunteer labour through installing secure storage cabinets in local community meeting areas in Yackandandah.



Boolarra Community Development Group Inc

Boolarra Healing Tent
Increase awareness of alternative therapies that may support health and wellbeing through supporting the Healing Tent at the Boolarra Folk Festival.



Coleraine & District Kindergarten Inc

Installation of Shade Sail
Increase use of outdoor learning area, through installation of shade sail at Coleraine & District Kindergarten.



Continuing Education & Arts Centre of Alexandra Inc

Alexandra Community Hub Martial Arts Program
Increase physical and emotional wellbeing of local youth through delivery of therapeutic Martial Arts Program sessions.




Commitment to Youth 2020 and beyond
Continue access to support services and programs for youth, supporting the employment of staff at Ellimatta Youth Service in Kinglake.



Foggy Mountain Inc

Ten Years On – Foggy Mountain Primary School Recording Project
Increase sense of place and connectedness for local children, through participation in song writing about community and performance at local festival.



Jeeralang North Public Hall Reserve

Swinging into Spring – Health & Wellbeing Event Spring 2019
Increase wellbeing and community resilience through delivery of the ‘Swing Into Spring’ inclusive community day of activities.

Jeeralang North


Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House Inc Kinglake Landcare Group

Promoting Awareness of the Local Natural Environment
Increase knowledge and connection to the local environment through the delivery of nature walk and propagation workshops held by Kinglake Landcare.



Mirboo North Primary School

Kitchen and BBQ
Increase health and wellbeing for students at Mirboo North Primary School through construction of a kitchenette to support delivery of a breakfast program.

Mirboo North


Rotary Club of Alexandra

Community Shade and Shelter
Increase participation at community activities and events through the provision of portable shelter and shade which will be available at no cost to local community groups.



St Andrews Community Centre Inc

St Andrews Community Group Support Program
Increase support for community driven activities that support connectedness and wellbeing through reducing participation fees and provision of resources and catering.

St Andrews


St Andrews Primary School

Playgroup Playground
Enhance resources for early childhood development through construction of junior playground at St Andrews Primary School

St Andrews


St Andrews Primary School St Andrews Primary School

Community Band Program
Enhance recovery and community connectedness through purchase of instruments and equipment for inclusive school music program.

St Andrews


Steels Creek Community Centre Incorporated

Steels Creek Community Groups AED Update
Increase preparedness for medical emergency, through updating AED equipment located at community meeting spaces in Steels Creek.

Steels Creek


Strathewen Recreation Reserve Association

Fire Safety Upgrade
Increase actual and perceived safety for the Strathewen community in the event of bushfire, through fire safety upgrade to Pavilion at local reserve.



Tarra Territory Tourism Inc

Gippy Bike
Increase tourism activity and the wellbeing of locals through purchase of push bikes and e-bikes for community bike hire initiative at Yarram.



Toolangi District Community House Inc

Upgrade of the Maternal Health rooms part two
Upgrade of disused community building, providing additional space for community activities and initiatives in Toolangi.



Toolangi District Community House Inc Creative Writers Group

Encourage Active Ageing
Increase awareness of the benefits of social participation for seniors through publication and distribution of Creative Writers Group stories.



Toolangi Primary School

Restoration of landscaping around historically significant trees
Improve amenity and safety at Toolangi school, through restoration of retaining wall and pathways around historic and heritage listed trees.



Traralgon South Kindergarten Inc

Traralgon South Preschool Black Saturday Commemoration
Increase awareness of local history for preschool aged children, through installation of 2009 Bushfire Memorial Garden and artwork at the Traralgon South Kindergarten.

Traralgon South


Wandong History Group Inc

Increase awareness of local bushfire history and community preparedness through delivery of photographic display, Emergency kits and community connectedness event at Wandong.



Whittlesea Community House Inc Whittlesea Landcare

Whittlesea Landcare Community Planting Sessions
Increase opportunities for participation in sustainable land management and agriculture focused community activities through the purchase of tree planting equipment and a trailer for the Whittlesea Landcare Group.



Women’s Health Goulburn North East Gender and Disaster Pod

‘Fire planning with a gender lens saves lives’
Increase awareness of gendered issues that impact on disaster preparation through dissemination of information to CFA’s in the form of a postcard series.



Y Water Centre Association Inc.

Connecting, Engaging and Empowering Communities to be Environmentally Aware
Increase community awareness regarding local environmental issues through delivery of six keynote speaker presentations at the Y Water Centre.



Yinnar & District Community Association Inc

Re-establishment of Quarterly Newsletter for Yinnar & District
Increase communication of community activities and events through relaunch of community newsletter at Yinnar.



Yinnar and District Memorial Hall

Increase community safety and preparedness for medical emergency, through purchase of a defibrillator for the Yinnar & District Memorial Hall.



Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House Inc

Be Well in the Ranges
Remove barriers to mental health support for the Kinglake community in the tenth year since Black Saturday, via providing ease of access to locally based mental health professionals.

Kinglake Ranges




Community Group Futures (CGF) – Projects




$ Awarded

Art Resource Collective Incorporated

Building Organisational Capability, Viability and Sustainability
Increase viability and support growth of arc Yinnar through development of strategic and business plans, policies and procedures.



Coleraine & District Development Association Inc.

Coleraine & District Website
Increase communication of community events and activities through development of website for Coleraine.



Healesville Community Renewable Energy Inc

Healesville CoRE Policy Governance Project
Increase governance and direction for members of Healesville Community Renewable Energy, through development of organisation policies.



Rivers and Ranges Community Leadership Inc

RRCL Website Revitalisation Project
Increase professionalism and capacity to communicate through development of new website for Rivers and Ranges Community Leadership Program.

Mitchell and Murrindindi Shire


Southern Grampians Shire Council

Rooftop Power
Reduce running costs applied to heating the Coleraine Mechanics Institute Hall, through installation of solar system.



Whittlesea Men’s Shed Incorporated

Solar Energy Management System for the Whittlesea Men’s Shed
Increase sustainability and support for community projects through installation of a solar system for the Whittlesea Men’s Shed.



Yarra Valley Ecoss Inc Yarra Valley ECOSS

Disabilities and Volunteer Project Development Officer
Increase support to deliver activities that support social and skill development for people with a disability at Yarra Valley ECOSS, through the employment of a Project Officer.




Stronger Community Foundations – Projects




$ Awarded

Marysville and Triangle Community Foundation Limited

Communications – Website restructuring, brochure and template development
Increase capacity to market to potential donors and attract support through development of marketing tools including refreshed website, templates and brochure.


Alexandra Yea




The Whittlesea Men’s Shed (WMS) in outer northern suburbs of Melbourne was a refuge for many of their members following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. Men’s Sheds provide a non-threatening and supportive environment for men to come together, share and learn skills, build friendships and contribute to their local community. They relied on the social support and activities of the WMS to develop their resilience and wellness, their strengths and capacities for the future.

And now, six years on, WMS is still an integral part of the Whittlesea community, with membership numbers now nudging the 70s. It continues to support men’s health and wellbeing by providing a safe and busy environment in which they can improve their physical, mental and social health, productivity, self-worth and value to the community.
At that time, WMS was still in its fledgling stage, having been established in 2008. In 2013 they applied for and received a GR&W grant to rearrange and relocate workspaces, storage areas and equipment to make way for a growing membership.

Over the past three years, the services of the members of the WMS have increased in demand, primarily because of its ability to provide on-request, quality items such as outdoor furniture, toys and restorations for schools, kindergartens, community centres as well as local community groups and individuals.

This increase in work has resulted in the requirement for the Men’s Shed to increase its stock of suitable timber. This timber is either donated or purchased and unfortunately takes up a large amount of both the current workspace and the area that has been previously used by other community groups. It’s also a potential fire hazard.

WMS received a $19,000 GR&W grant to extend its facilities by constructing an external, secure timber storage facility adjacent to the existing Shed. In doing so, the relocation of the timber has freed up a considerable amount of workspace, which in turn has allowed the members of the community to use the shed as has been done in the past, and for the members to undertake additional work for the community.

This is an important means of supporting community connectedness, social support networks, and encouraging and facilitating engagement and participation of isolated or disadvantaged members of the community, particularly within the male population.

The town of Strathewen located in the north-west of Victoria was one of the many communities impacted by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, the aftermath of which left a huge impression on the local community. There is no quick fix solution for a community when it comes to recovering from a natural disaster, and after nine years, Strathewen is still in the process of doing so.

The team at Arthurs Creek Strathewen CFA noticed that students at the local primary school were suffering post-traumatic stress after Black Saturday. Parents had been reporting that their children had been experiencing high levels of anxiety and panic attacks. This prompted the CFA to develop what is now the Strathewen Primary School Fire Awareness Program. The program is designed to support local students and help build their confidence around fire safety and preparedness.

To support this initiative, the CFA was given a $15,730 grant from the Grants for Resilience and Wellness program funded by Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. The program was held weekly. Students were given the opportunity to discuss fire safety plans, evacuation strategies, and fire danger ratings. This positive learning experience equipped the students with the ability to teach others and to take their knowledge into their adult years concerning bush and fire safety.

At the end of the program, a picture story book was created that participants of the program could take home and share with their families. A behind the scenes making of the book was also produced with the help of the Strathewen Bushfire Relief Trust. Parents reported after the Fire Awareness Program, their children’s confidence levels improved significantly and that anxiety levels decreased.

This built on a previous program run by the Strathewen CFA for kids in the community. The previous project funded, called ‘Survive and Thrive’ allowed the children at the school to make a Claymation video about fire safety and fire danger ratings. It was an invaluable way to teach the kids about how to stay safe in a fire, and to understand what the fire danger ratings mean, and the project won the ‘2017 Resilient Australia’ award for Victoria, in the education division.

Recovery from bushfires is an ongoing process but grants like these provide opportunities for communities to heal.