Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
A rural NSW grantseeker is proving that philanthropic investment in people and skills can produce a huge return on investment – bringing in more than $2.4million in grants for his community.
While many Government and philanthropic funders won’t give grants for funding people or capacity building, Junee Business and Trades Community Liaison Officer Nicholas Pyers is showing such investments can pay large dividends.
Nicholas’s role has been funded since 2019 by The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)’s Investing in Rural Community Futures program. He has been successful in helping win and advise on grants totalling $2,483,226 – and is awaiting news on a further $1million of grants that are in progress for Junee, which is located 440km south-west of Sydney in the Riverina region.
FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said that since late 2018, regional NSW communities have faced a series of unrelenting disruptions, with drought, bushfire, flood and the COVID-19 pandemic continuing into 2022.
“The impact on these NFP organisations has been significant. It has taken its toll on the people that lead and run these organisations and has increased their load and affected their wellbeing. The sector has been dealing with extreme fatigue, burnout, limited fundraising options, access to volunteers, disconnection and, in some instances wholesale organisational change.
“The funding of Nicholas and the grant support role is a great example of how investing in local jobs and paying someone who has skills can result in high-yielding results and impact for organisations and communities,” she said. “This gives weight to our practise of employing local people and leveraging their position to help build the capacity of the entire town or community,” Ms Egleton said.
The impressive tally has been reached by a combination of activities. The grants have been won either by Nicholas directly developing a project concept and budget, then writing and submitting the grant application, or him reviewing other grant applications that have been submitted, as well as him identifying grant opportunities for other groups so they are able to apply. Nicholas also provides support to individuals in organisations, building their capacity and knowledge of grant writing, which allows them to prepare and submit grants, and secure funding for their own organisations.
FRRR’s Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) model was developed in partnership with Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) and aims to strengthen local not-for-profit (NFP) organisations and, ultimately, enable them to thrive. It is a grassroots approach designed to build and support the capacity of individual and collective NFPs, over a sustained period of time.
This program now operates in seven communities in NSW, delivering a blend of grants and capacity building activities supported by local facilitators. Junee, Leeton and the Nambucca Valley were the initial cohort of communities supported by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. Supported by The Snow Foundation Nowra, Ulladulla & Batemans Bay started an IRCF program in 2020 and further investment by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Community Enterprise Foundation saw Bay & Basin communities join in 2021.
Successful grants for the Junee community range from upgrades to sporting facilities and meeting rooms through to projects supporting the likes of a museum.
While drought is out of the media spotlight, for many communities it is still a very real and significant issue. FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) program has just awarded $86,083 to nine community initiatives in remote, rural and regional communities across Australia still dealing with the impacts of drought.
TTTT is a long-running, collaboratively-funded program that helps drought-affected communities to access the funding and resources they need to tackle the long-term impacts of drought. This round of grants will help fund a variety of projects run by local not-for-profit organisations and community groups, including a series of art workshops for both adults and children, a community event featuring Aboriginal artwork, the creation of murals and skills training to support community members experiencing loss and grief.
Nina O’Brien, FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, said that there are still many regions across Australia being impacted by drought.
“During this round of grants, the number of eligible LGAs dropped from 152 to 47. While we’re delighted to see such a significant drop in the number of communities being impacted by drought, it’s crucial that we continue to provide support. A lot of places, like remote SA, are still tackling extreme periods of dryness while others are very much still in drought recovery mode. Not to mention the fact that communities are dealing with a variety of other factors as they continue to stand strong and keep their community connected and supported.
“In this round of applications, we saw a lot of projects that are aiming to improve volunteer capacity and build a sense of social connectedness. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that our remote, rural and regional communities need volunteers and a strong sense of community in order to thrive.
“When we carried out our Heartbeat of Rural Australia survey last year, the results showed that the effects of drought, as well as the cumulative effects of multiple other disasters, have left volunteers feeling extremely fatigued, and those living in rural communities feeling isolated. That’s why we’re so pleased to be able to fund these kinds of grassroots initiatives at a time when they’re truly needed,” Ms O’Brien said.
Among the other projects funded this round were:
- Red Ridge Ltd – Longreach, QLD – Outback Fashion Festival – Canvas to Catwalk – Provide opportunities for Aboriginal artists from seven outback Queensland communities to participate in fashion print design workshops which culminate in a catwalk runway community event. $10,000
- Rattler Railway Company Ltd – Gympie, QLD – Fatigue Management Accommodation- Build the capacity, capability, and sustainability of Rattler Railway Company Ltd through infrastructure restoration and renovation to support volunteers. $10,000
- For a Better Chapman Valley (FABCV) Incorporated – Chapman Valley & Nabawa, WA – Winter Art Series in Chapman Valley – Facilitate social connection and enhance opportunities for the Chapman Valley community to participate in creative activities through the delivery of art workshops. $7,900
The full list of grant recipients and their projects is listed on the FRRR website.
The TTTT program supports drought-affected regions of Australia by giving community groups and local not-for-profit organisations access to the resources they need to respond to, and recover from, long-term rainfall deficiencies. This program has granted over $18 million to initiatives that are helping communities to tackle the tough times that come with drought.
Funding for this program is generously contributed by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Pratt Foundation, Stockland CARE Foundation, Paul Ramsay Foundation, The Snow Foundation, Henroth Group and private donors from across the nation. To join these donors, and support grants like this through FRRR, you can make a tax-deductible donation at frrr.org.au/giving/.
The full list of grant recipients and their projects are below.
|NEW SOUTH WALES|
|Moama and District Pre-School Centre Inc||Moama & District Preschool Brings Sober in the Country to Moama |
Improve the community’s social and emotional health and encourage local involvement by hosting a community dinner and guest speaker on drinking culture and supporting healthy choices.
|Congregation of Central Western Qld UCA||Edgely Hall Improvements |
Improve volunteer vitality and support social connection by installing air-conditioning in the multi-purpose room of the Longreach Uniting Church.
|Red Ridge (Interior Queensland) Limited||Outback Fashion Festival - Canvas to Catwalk |
Provide opportunities for Aboriginal artists from seven outback Queensland communities to participate in fashion print design workshops which culminate in a catwalk runway community event.
|Rattler Railway Company Ltd||Fatigue Management Accommodation |
Build the capacity, capability, and sustainability of Rattler Railway Company Ltd through infrastructure restoration and renovation to support volunteers.
|Kumbia & District Memorial School of Arts Inc||Kumbia & District School Memorial of Arts Inc Hall Improvements |
Boost and strengthen the local economy and reduce social isolation with town beautification in Kumbia through mural art.
|Connecting Communities Australia Ltd||Let the Show Go On |
Improve volunteer vitality and support strong social connection by providing a team of volunteers to assist the Longreach Show Committee prepare and coordinate the Longreach Annual Show.
|The Isolated Childrens' Parents Association of (WA) Inc||2022 ICPA Federal Conference|
Build communities’ resilience to continue to face the many ongoing issues and uncertainties that are inherent for families living in rural and remote Australia by hosting a conference where participants connect and learn from one another.
|Busselton Hospice Care Incorporated||Increasing the Capability to Support Grief and Bereavement in our Compassionate Community|
Empower a community group by providing skills training and capacity building to further support community members experiencing loss and grief.
|For a Better Chapman Valley (FABCV) Incorporated||Winter Art Series in Chapman Valley|
Facilitate social connection and enhance opportunities for the Chapman Valley community to participate in creative activities through the delivery of art workshops.
Two free capacity building workshops for people volunteering or working in Bega Valley’s not-for-profit and community sector are now available, thanks to FRRR’s Investing in Not-for-Profit Capacity in Regional NSW program.
The Program, a partnership between the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Paul Ramsay Foundation, aims to support the resourcing and capacity of grassroot not-for-profits, helping them to respond and thrive in the face of current challenges. It offers a program of activities including local workshops, skill development and networking to help create local solutions to local issues. Grants were also awarded through the program in 2021.
FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager, Jo Kemp, said the workshops aim to add value beyond grants awarded last year.
“Over the last nine months, we have been talking with and listening to the Bega Valley community. These workshops will explore the themes of growing a flourishing volunteer community and will also help local organisations to develop strategies for responding to community needs across Bega Valley. The sessions have been designed around the suggestions that have been raised during our conversations with community members and have been received with enthusiasm by local leaders.
“During a workshop held last year we were excited to hear about the interest among local groups to find ways to collaborate and develop a shared vision to best respond to community priorities across the Valley. We hope that these workshops will help to build on those ideas,” said Ms Kemp.
|Topic: Engaging and Sustaining Volunteers |
Date: Tuesday 17 May 2022
Time: 9.30am – 1.00pm Venue: Gulaga Room, Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre
|Topic: Collaboration & Strategy Development |
Date: Wednesday 25 May 2022 Time: 9.30am – 4.00pm Venue: Biamanga Room, Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre
The sessions are free and numbers are limited.
In 2021 the Bega Valley Shire Business Forum received a $60,000 grant to strengthen the resourcing of the seven members Chambers of Commerce in the Bega Valley. Nigel Ayling, President Merimbula Chamber of Commerce, said that the funds made a huge difference.
“The funds received from FRRR for a Coordinator and Grant Writer have been invaluable in supporting our Chambers and sourcing extra funds. The workshop exploring strategies for volunteer engagement will definitely be of interest to our members and I look forward to attending. We really appreciate the support from FRRR and look forward to working with them again in the future,” he said.
Investing in Not-for-Profit Capacity in Regional NSW is an 18 month place-based program running in three bushfire affected communities, being Bega, Taree and Wingham, and Glen Innes. For more information visit https://frrr.org.au/investing-in-not-for-profit-capacity-nsw/.
For queries about the workshops, email email@example.com or call 1800 170 020.
In many rural communities, non-denominational school chaplains promote strong community connection, participation opportunities and engagement to reduce isolation and encourage better physical and mental health. While these positions are generally funded through local donations, in recent years there simply hasn’t been the money to fund them locally due to drought and, more recently, reduced tourism from COVID-19 restrictions.
Through FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together grant program, Scripture Union Queensland received $131,490 to support chaplaincy positions at Ravenswood State School, Charter Towers Central State School and Mareeba State School until June 2022. The grant was made possible through generous donations from the Sidney Myer Fund and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.
This funding ensures all programs and activities coordinated by the chaplains, including one-on-one pastoral care conversations and classroom support, are free for all children, young people, families and school staff. These activities help to reduce isolation and increase wellbeing and community participation in communities suffering from the long-term effects of drought.
Since funds were awarded in 2019, the schools have been able to implement change and growth within their chaplaincy programs. At Ravenswood State School, chaplain Anne – a much loved member of the community – was finally able to retire at 83 years old. Her position has been filled by a long term local Charters Towers resident, who works two days a week.
The chaplain at Charter Towers has been able to increase her support to two days a week and is seeing a positive response to the ‘Girls with a Purpose Resilience’ program. Twelve students completed the program in 2019 and there was general consensus among the participants that it was a special time engaging with facilitators and peers. After the COVID-19 school closure in 2020, all girls in grade 6 are now taking part in the program.
A particular highlight for the Mareeba State School has been the implementation of the Bike-Bus program to encourage regular physical activity and increase school attendance and social and community engagement. Since being established in mid-2019, the program has engaged 30 students, as well as parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers and police. It also led to the creation of the Bike Repair Club – an alternative for those who enjoy hands on learning, with all students becoming much more engaged in their education.
The principal of the Mareeba State School, Mandy Whybird, noted the program’s positive impact.
“Our school chaplain provides an invaluable source of support for the students at Mareeba State School. Aside from running friendship groups, supporting children in classes and running lunchtime activities for children who may find the playground challenging, our chaplain also assists in providing breakfasts for children in need and working with children who may have experienced loss or trauma.
“The chaplain also assists to support staff well-being. When our school was shaken by the loss of a teacher last year, our Chaplain was integral to the recovery process for staff,” Ms Whybird said.
The Bushfire Recovery Fund grant program, funded by HMSTrust and the Sidney Myer Fund, has recently awarded a grant of $120,000 to be paid over three years to Indigenous organisation Jaithmathang TABOO, who are working on Country in North East Victoria to support regeneration in the landscape’s recovery from the 2019/20 bushfires, and support cultural healing.
The project, titled “Beginning the journey to cultural healing on Jaithmathang country’, will operate a program of annual cool burns and work with key environment and government stakeholders, including Parks Victoria and DELWP, to share learnings.
Specifically, the grant aims to build the capacity of the organisation by contributing to the cost of employing a Jaithmathang descendant to lead the project over the next three years for the purposes of realising Jaithmathang goals in establishing ongoing partnerships that can support Jaithmathang operating sustainably into the future as custodians on Country.
Thirty-four local groups and not-for-profits that delivered food and care hampers to regional communities during the height of the 2021 COVID-19 restrictions will share in $300,000 from the NSW Government’s COVID Regional Community Support (CRCS) program.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said more than 72,000 hampers were delivered to residents in regional and rural parts of NSW, including Ballina, Tweed Heads, Leeton and Albury.
“These groups and organisations dropped everything and dipped into their own funds to support isolated residents during last year’s COVID-19 restrictions by partnering with Resilience NSW to prepare and deliver food, essential items and relief packs to those in need,” Ms Cooke said.
“The $300,000 will cover expenses like fuel, couriers, and logistics costs, helping these groups and organisations to continue their wonderful work into the future, including at the Ballina Hot Meal Centre which is using its $5,024 grant to purchase new freezers.”
Each grant being provided through the CRCS program ranges from $1,000 to $30,000 and is administered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal.
Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal CEO Natalie Egleton said the funding recognises the critical role that local community groups played during the pandemic.
“We’re delighted that 23 per cent of applications are from Indigenous community groups, all of which played such a vital role in ensuring that their community members were cared for, and we are pleased to be able to support them with this funding,” Ms Egleton said.
Applications are currently being accepted for grants of up to $50,000 for capacity building initiatives, such as attracting and retaining volunteers and staff, enhancing governance skills, building digital capacity and creating partnerships that foster stronger, more resilient communities.
See the full list of recipients below:
|Agape Outreach Incorporated||Tweed Heads - Byron Bay||$1,681|
|Albury Wodonga Regional Foodshare||Albury||$13,500|
|Allambi Care Limited||Lake Maquarie - Warners Bay - Central Coast - Cessnock - Newcastle||$7,000|
|Armidale / Uralla Meals On Wheels Incorporated||Armidale||$3,183|
|Ballina Hot Meal Centre Incorporated||Ballina||$5,024|
|Belong Blue Mountains Incorporated||Blue Mountains||$1,000|
|Camden Haven Community at 3||Lakewood||$1,125|
|CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning||Newcastle - Tareer - Forster - Maitland||$1,977|
|Christian Outreach Centre||Kempsey - South West Rocks - Macksville - Nambucca Heads||$1,350|
|Community Resources Limited||Wollongong||$3,540|
|Coonamble Neighbourhood Centre||Coomamble - Gulargambone - Quambone||$10,810|
|Food For Life Community Care Incorporated||Shoalhaven - Primbee - Wollongong - Kiama||$13,500|
|Galambila Aboriginal Corporation||Nambucca Heads - Coffs Harbour - Woolgoolga - Bowraville||$30,000|
|Gloucester Worimi First Peoples Aboriginal Corporation||Gloucester||$1,000|
|Gunnedah Meals on Wheels Association||Gunnedah||$5,514|
|Indigenous Futures Foundation Limited||Tweed Heads South - Lismore - Ballina - Grafton||$30,000|
|Ivanhoe Central School||Ivanhoe - Balranald - Carrathool||$6,100|
|Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health And Community Services||Batemans Bay - Narooma - Bega - Catalina - Dalmeny||$30,000|
|Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre Inc||Kempsey||$4,500|
|Leeton Community Care Development Incorporated||Leeton||$13,500|
|Lions Club Of Raymond Terrace Incorporated||Raymond Terrace||$1,420|
|Livefree Project Incorporated||Newcastle||$13,500|
|Miyay Birray Youth Service Incorporated||Moree - Mungindi - Garah - Boomi||$18,345|
|Moree Sports Health Arts And Education Academy Aboriginal Corporation||Moree||$5,723|
|Orana Support Service Incorporated||Dubbo - Wellington - Narromine||$21,000|
|Oxley Community Transport Service Incorporated||West Tamworth||$4,500|
|Queer Family Incorporated||Mullumbimby - Byron Bay - Lismore - Kyogle||$2,250|
|Salt Care||Ulladulla - Bomaderry - Nowra - Kangaroo Valley - Jervis Bay||$20,460|
|Sapphire Community Projects Incorporated||Bega - Tura Beach - Bermagui - Candelo - Quaama||$4,703|
|Seventh-Day Adventist Church - South New South Wales Conference||Bathurst - Blayney - Mandurama - Cowra||$5,600|
|The Heartland Foundation Limited||Port Macquarie||$5,000|
|The Mend AND Make Do Crew Incorporated||South Grafton||$6,750|
|Uralla Neighbourhood Day Care Centre 1||Walcha||$4,860|
|Weilwan Local Aboriginal Land Council||Gulargambone||$1,585|
During recent community planning led by Murrindindi Shire in the Yea region of Victoria, which is located around 100km from Melbourne, the need to increase awareness of local history and culture was highlighted. To address this need, a working group, named Honour the Taungurung Community Project Group, was formed.
The group, which are part of the Yea Community Service Group, set out to address a lack of local information and visual acknowledgement of the past and present Taungurung people. The group decided that the creation of a meaningful Taungarung designed art installation was the perfect way to begin telling the true history of their shire.
Yea Community Service Group successfully applied for a grant of $28,734 from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. The grant funded the artwork, engineers’ drawings, Council permits and the installation, as well as a welcome ceremony, research and project administration.
Now, with the project complete, the significant and celebratory artwork is located in the main street of Yea and acts not only as a centrepiece for the town but also as a meeting place and a celebration of local history.
Once the art installation was completed, an unveiling and welcoming ceremony was held and attended by many town members. As a result of this project, the town now has a meaningful site where Indigenous days of recognition can be celebrated, as well as an enduring landmark in honour of the Taungurung people. Community connectedness, sense of place and community identity have all been strengthened in the months following the installation.
$200,000 available to fund community-led mental health projects
Remote, rural and regional communities across Australia can apply now for grants through FRRR’s In a Good Place (IAGP) program to support community-driven activities focused on mental health and wellbeing. Offered in partnership with CCI Giving, there is $200,000 available through grants of up to $20,000 for projects that support vulnerable community members at risk of, or experiencing, mental health issues.
The program supports a range of approaches that are preventative or responsive in nature, and clearly and directly focus on strengthening mental health and wellbeing. These include initiatives that increase social participation and connections with the community, and reduce stigma surrounding mental health by encouraging open discussion and supporting self-help-seeking.
Jeremy Yipp, CCI Chief Risk Officer and Chair of CCI Giving, said that greater access to mental health services and support is vital to those living in rural communities, particularly following times of crisis.
“Rural and remote communities continue to be affected by events such as fires and flooding, and in recent years the pandemic. It’s more important than ever to encourage people to stay connected and seek support, especially for those living in places with limited access to mental health services.
“Our partnership with FRRR helps CCI Giving reach remote, rural and regional communities, to build and nurture social connections and community participation, and provide access to mental health training and education,” said Mr Yipp.
Jill Karena, FRRR’s People Programs Portfolio Lead, said that the events of the past few years have highlighted the need for rural Australia to have equitable access to mental health services and support.
“The impact of the pandemic, and the subsequent isolation, is still being felt and understood. But clearly, access to mental health tools, services and support that are driven by community need, are critical to improving and strengthening the mental health of remote, rural and regional Australians, particularly younger members of the community.
“As an example, through the IAGP program, the Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) in Swan Hill received funding of $13,480 to deliver a culturally specific Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training program and establish a local support network – Deadly Yarning & Learning, targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
“Although initially intended to be delivered face-to-face, the COVID pandemic and lockdowns caused serious disruptions to the project. Instead, most training took place online. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people gained vital skills in MHFA, connected with each other, relevant workers and service providers, and increased their confidence and leadership skills while helping to shape local, culturally safe responses to mental health.
“Our partnership with CCI Giving means we can support these kinds of community-led approaches to mental health services that respond to community need and are accessible for people in rural areas who may otherwise have difficulty accessing services,” Ms Karena said.
Applications open on 20 April 2022. As in previous years, FRRR expects this will be a highly competitive program and so there is a two-stage application process. A brief Expression of Interest must be submitted no later than 5pm AEST, Wednesday 25 May 2022. The Expression of Interest form and more information is available on FRRR’s website – https://frrr.org.au/funding/place/in-a-good-place/. Applicants can also call 1800 170 020.
The IAGP program is the centrepiece of a partnership between FRRR and CCI Giving which has just been extended for a further five years, to run until 2027. Since the partnership began in 2018, IAGP has awarded $800,000 in grants to 53 community-led initiatives that promote good mental health and wellbeing in remote, rural and regional communities.
$1.25m in grants to be made available
The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and CCI Giving have agreed to a five-year extension to their partnership and national grants program, In a Good Place (IAGP). This means that the grant program will now run until at least 2027.
CCI Giving has also made a commitment to increase the funding available each year by $50,000, meaning that there will be $250,000 available to applicants annually, starting next year.
The partnership between CCI Giving and FRRR began in May 2018 and, since then, $800,000 in grants have been awarded to 53 projects across remote, rural and regional Australia through the IAGP program.
This program strengthens mental health in rural communities by supporting locally-led initiatives that reduce social isolation, increase social participation and connectedness and encourage people to seek help in tackling mental health challenges.
Jeremy Yipp, CCI General Manager, General Insurance Claims and Chair of CCI Giving, said that they are committed to providing rural Australians with greater access to mental health care.
“There are many stressors when it comes to mental health and, sadly, the pandemic has exacerbated these, particularly among young people living in rural areas who don’t have the same access to mental health services as those living in cities.
“There are key groups working on the ground, at the local level, who we want to ensure have the support to implement initiatives that they know will make a difference.
“We are always stronger when we work with others, and we are delighted to be extending our relationship with FRRR. I know that working closely with FRRR is vital to the impact and effort of the many organisations who are supporting communities and people who are at risk of mental ill health. Five years and additional funds is something to really celebrate,” said Mr Yipp.
Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that this commitment from CCI Giving provides much-needed certainty to rural Australia.
“Historically, remote, rural and regional communities across Australia haven’t had the equity of access to the mental health and wellbeing resources that they need. With the added pressure of the challenges that these communities have faced in recent years, access to these kinds of services is now more crucial than ever before.
“Our Heartbeat of Rural Australia survey showed that as a result of consecutive natural disasters and the pandemic, there has been lowered resilience, increased fatigue and stress, and high levels of mental health illnesses in rural communities. CCI Giving’s commitment of increased grant funds and the certainty of it being on offer for the next five years, provides these communities with security and greater access to funding for community mental health projects that can have a profound impact for those involved.
“At FRRR, we have loved working alongside CCI Giving, providing support and tools to these vital, community-led initiatives. We couldn’t be more delighted to announce the five-year extension of our work together,” Ms Egleton said.
The next round of IAGP grant applications will open 20 April 2022. To find out more about this program go to https://frrr.org.au/funding/place/in-a-good-place.
This case study is courtesy of the Gardiner Dairy Foundation
A new teen fitness program in Kyabram is inspiring community spirit and building fit and healthy bodies.
A health and wellbeing centre has been established by Kyabram Blue Light at the town’s P-12 College, thanks to $5,000 from the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program in partnership with Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR).
The centre has proven to be a holiday hit with local teenagers and will be used regularly during the school year.
It is part of the KyFit police and teen gym-based mentoring program and, according to organiser Senior Constable Mitchell Bull, the benefits are wide-ranging.
Teenagers have played a central role in establishing the gym in an old storeroom at the school.
“The kids have done the majority of it,” Senior Constable Bull said. “They put together a wish list of equipment, posters and information and then volunteered on weekends to load trailers and remove rubbish and then helped in designing the layout and setting up and testing the equipment.
“It’s not just given to them on a silver platter – it’s a community effort and we all chip in. For six or seven weekends in a row we had up to 10 kids at the gym helping out. We removed six trailer loads of rubbish from the storeroom.”
The gym includes two bench presses, two rowing machines, two magnetic resistance bikes, two treadmills, two decline sit-up benches, sets of dumbbells from 3kg to 10kg and 13 spin bikes for classes.
The Gardiner Foundation grant also helped with installing fans, electrical power points and tiles for the floor.
“We made every cent count and called in favours left, right and centre and had a lot of volunteer assistance with everything,” Senior Constable Bull said. “It’s nothing fancy but it’s equipment tailored to young people.”
The gym is the latest development in the KyFit program that started in 2019 and is run by Kyabram Blue Light using police members, volunteers and community members.
“It was identified there was a need for a sporting or physical program that didn’t require the time, cost and travel commitments of the likes of football or netball,” Senior Constable Bull said.
“The gym will help those who may not have the opportunity to be involved in the local gyms or sports clubs.”
Personal trainers, defence force members, police and other community members help with the program, ensuring young people can access a variety of training programs ranging from boxing to swimming sessions and pitting their abilities against the police fitness test challenge.
A weekly in-school program attracts at least 13 participants and after-school programs are reaching about 30 teenagers. The school also uses the facilities for physical education classes.
Senior Constable Bull said the grant had helped to empower local young people. “We used the gym over the school holidays, allowing kids to drop in when there wasn’t much else to do – we can barely keep up with the demand,” he said.
“A lot of kids want to join the program now because they’ve seen the benefits the others are getting. It’s helping with their physical and mental health and the kids are seeing the benefits of physical activity and working out with other people.”
Police can also use the fitness programs to help break down barriers between officers and young people.
“The kids get the benefits of getting to know local police and other volunteers and mentors,” Senior Constable Bull said. “It’s about building a relationship between police officers and young people and showing we’re approachable if there is a problem in the community that needs to be discussed.”
It’s also beneficial for police. “It means we’re not always seeing the negative side of things in the community and we get to work towards positivity,” Senior Constable Bull said.
The program is free for local teenagers who also receive a free sports top when they get involved.
In recognition of his work with young people, Senior Constable Bull was named Citizen of the Year for Campaspe Shire at the 2022 Australia Day Awards.
Now in its 20th year, the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program is delivered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR). Grants of up to $5,000 help not-for-profit organisations in small Victorian dairy communities deliver projects that will benefit local people and strengthen their ability to deal with local issues and enhance existing community infrastructure.
Applications for the 2022 program opened on 1 March and close on 13 April. More information can be found at https://frrr.org.au/funding/place/gardiner-communities-grants/