Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Funding to strengthen community networks and capabilities

FRRR is inviting applications from community organisations in remote, rural and regional communities for projects designed to enhance local drought preparedness.

Supported by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund through the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative, the Small Network Grants program can fund simple, one-off or seed-type initiatives to strengthen community networks and capabilities in 35 agriculture-dependent regions.

Nina O’Brien, FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, said that there are a wide range of one-off projects that promote community networks, which the program can fund.

“Through this program, we are enabling agriculture-dependent communities to identify and act on their drought preparedness and resilience priorities at a grassroots level in the ways that best suit their communities.

“From previous programs, we know that social networks are critical to drought resilience because they promote a sense of belonging by providing opportunities for a diverse range of community members to connect and participate.

“Events, such as field days or practical workshops, are effective tools for improving mental health and wellbeing, because they give participants the opportunity to connect with their neighbours and learn skills to address the local risk factors associated with a changing climate. So we look forward to seeing the projects that come forward,” Ms O’Brien said.

FRRR wants to hear from groups with projects that fit into one of these five categories:

  • Networks: Initiatives to strengthen the capacity, capability, and coordination of professional, social or community networks
  • Community Events: Field days, conferences, forums, summits, and seminars that facilitate professional, social and community connection to build understanding of drought and climate change associated risks.
  • Training: Initiatives to improve skills and capacity in community risk management, planning and project delivery in relation to drought.
  • Community Infrastructure: Small scale community infrastructure projects to improve connectedness, wellbeing, and facilities.
  • Development and Learning: Initiatives to facilitate professional, personal and leadership related development and learning to support drought preparation.

There are two streams of funding – one offering up to $20,000 in agriculture dependent LGAs in priority remote, rural and regional locations, and the second stream offering up to $50,000 in eligible LGAs in the NSW Far West, NT Tablelands, NT Arid Lands and WA Great Southern regions, where there is no active Community Impact program. Details of the LGA’s in each stream are on FRRR’s website.

Applications are open now and close 14 November 2023, with successful applicants announced in March 2024. There will be a second round of the program, which is expected to open in February 2024, with funds announced in June 2024.

For more information, and to apply, visit the program page.

For many remote, rural and regional communities, drought has been impacting families and businesses for years. Even though it is not always covered in mainstream news, those living in certain parts of Australia know all too well what lasting effects drought can have. For many working in the agriculture industry, the thought of current and future drought can be a stressful and frightening prospect with crops and livestock often hit the hardest. However, in each of these communities there is a fighting spirit, often driven by community-led groups and not-for-profits (NFPs) that work hard to support the wider community.

Gippsland Agricultural Group field day

One of these groups is the Gippsland Agricultural Group who are driven by achieving results for farmers in the south east region of Gippsland in Victoria. The organisation is made up of Central and East Gippsland farmers and service providers that have joined forces as people with the shared desire to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability using research, collaboration, product trails and demonstrations to communities in the area.

One example of how Gippsland Agricultural Group planned to achieve this was by holding multiple field days. The Gippsland ‘Connect and Prepare’ field days were designed to build a sense of place and connection for farmers. Research conducted shows that farmers are most comfortable learning from other farmers in informal settings such walking around a paddock talking or learning while doing. For Gippsland Agricultural Group, providing resources like easy access to agricultural service providers, mental health and financial support, as well as strategies and tactics and practical learning, are all key to strengthening preparedness and resilience to future drought events.

Using a $42,920 grant through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund Networks to Build Drought Resilience program, Gippsland Agricultural Group held two farmer field days. Both days focused on farmer mental health and wellbeing by bringing health service providers to an environment where farmers are comfortable and feel they will be more likely to engage with services. Each day also featured key staff from other agricultural networks to encourage relationship development, project collaboration and sharing of ideas and resources. The first field day targeted producers, with a focus on networking and connecting with one another and relevant agriculture service providers.

While the field days are a great way to network and increase social interaction, the key purpose of the events is to build knowledge and skills with the estimated 200 producers, 15 agricultural agencies and service providers, and eight agricultural produce-led focus groups.

These events increased participant knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought by offering a program that shared information on climate variability. The events carried positive messaging about the resilience of regional producers focusing on practical, implementable drought preparedness solutions for everyday mum and dad farms.

In addition to funding the field days, the grant also enabled the installation of basic toilet facilities at a site frequently used for social and professional networking events. The community now has access to a space that supports educational, social and networking activities in a safe and hygienic space.

56 projects funded thanks to the Future Drought Fund

FRRR has awarded $3.65 million in grants to 11 agriculture-dependent regions across Australia, for projects that will better prepare their communities for the impacts of drought and a changing climate.

The $3,654,124 in grants is funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, and delivered as part of the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative’s Community Impact Program. To date, $9,115,583 in grants has been awarded to 27 agriculture-dependent regions, through the Program.

Delivered in partnership with ARLF, the Program aims to strengthen the ability of agriculture-dependent communities to work together to prepare for future drought or other disaster.

Nina O’Brien, Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead for FRRR, said that the collaborative nature of the Community Impact Program means locals in each region have come together to identify and act on their communities’ drought preparedness priorities, at a grassroots level.

“The beauty of this program is that it’s so flexible. It can support events, initiatives, training and even small-scale infrastructure. But at their core, each project is about fostering the growth of stronger networks to encourage shared learning and more collaboration. We’re already seeing that happen among the program facilitators, who are leading by example, having established a community of practice, and mentoring one another across the regions.

“We recognise that co-design in each region has taken significant effort and we particularly thank the Community Partner Lead Organisations for stepping up and taking the lead in bringing everyone together. It’s been wonderful to be able to harness local knowledge and expertise and to have a cross-section of the community collaborate and create solutions. We know that these projects will strengthen the networks, support, engagement and wellbeing of people across their region.

“We look forward to seeing the continued growth of these networks and to seeing the impacts of these projects as they roll out over the next two years,” Ms O’Brien said.

Funded projects include a youth community hub and film festival on Mitakoodi Country, Cloncurry in Queensland. The Mitakoodi Community and Housing Aboriginal Corporation will use a $76,809 grant to develop the hub and festival, which will build a depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose, and longer-term community belonging that locals can draw upon in future drought.

In Boyup Brook, Western Australia, Blackwood Basin Group Incorporated has been awarded a $40,730 grant to run a series of land management workshops, as well as produce written resources and provide accidental counselling. These capacity building activities will provide local people and communities with opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought.

As part of the program, each region will also access tailored leadership development activities, delivered by ARLF.

ARLF Chief Executive, Matt Linnegar, says the leadership development supports the delivery of local projects and yields long-term benefits for the regions.

“We know that a multimodal approach of leadership development increases the impact the investments have in each region. In addition to the project funding, these leadership development activities build social capital required to support the project and people in each region. We get to connect local networks, create a deeper sense of shared purpose and develop capability that helps people to take action and address challenges and make the most of opportunities.”

Participants also gain access to the wider alumni network of the ARLF. “It’s these connections that prove invaluable to people. When they’re stuck, there’s someone to ask for advice,” Mr Linnegar said.

Other elements of the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative are also underway, including a Mentoring program and an online network connecting community members involved in projects in each of the regions, both led by ARLF.

FRRR has also launched a portal providing access to experts to support delivery of their projects, if local expertise isn’t available. A small grants funding round will also open before the end of the year to support projects in areas not covered by the Community Impact Program.

Learn more about the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative at www.frrr.org.au/drought-preparedness.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
New South Wales: Region 05 Northern Tablelands
Glenrac IncorporatedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 05
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Northern Tablelands region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Northern Tablelands NSW Region $30,146
Glenrac IncorporatedGrowing Social Capital, Glen Innes
Enhance awareness of and attitude toward drought preparedness and build local leadership, networks and social support through a diverse series of community events, activities and delivery partners.
Glen Innes $70,508
Gwymac IncorporatedConnecting our Community for Resilience in Tough Times
Enhance awareness of and attitudes toward drought preparedness through building local leadership, networks and social support through a series of collaborative events.
Inverell$51,290
Southern New England Landcare LtdSNEL HELP – Preparing Communities for Drought
Increase the reach and activities of community leaders, mentors, networks and organisations driving action on drought resilience through the delivery of a series of community activities and events that will share information on the local impacts of drought, drought preparation activities and strengthen local connections, networks and relationships.
Armidale, Inverell, Uralla and Walcha$62,214
Granite Borders Landcare Committee IncorporatedDrought Community Impact Program
Enable communities to identify and adopt innovative and transformative ways to build drought resilience through a series of collaborative workshops targeting innovation in drought preparation information and knowledge sharing.
Tenterfield$70,936
Queensland: Region 07 South-West
Southern Queensland Natural Resources Management LtdCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 07
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the South-West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
South-West QLD Region$20,500
Thallon Progress Association IncPODDS 4 Thallon & Bollon (Place of Diversity & Development)
Increase the reach and activities of community leaders, mentors, networks and organisations driving action on drought resilience through the development of shared workspaces in Thallon and Bollon.
Thallon and Bollon, Balonne Shire$126,800
Wyandra and District Progress and Recreation Association IncWyandra & Surrounds Drought Resilience Leadership Network – Empower Paroo & Murweh
Increase the reach and activities of community leaders, mentors, networks and organisations driving action on drought resilience across Paroo and Murweh through the delivery of community events, minor community infrastructure upgrades, leadership network establishment and connection to local support services.
Wyandra, Cunnamulla, Charleville$83,615
Queensland: Region 10 North-West
Southern Gulf NRM LtdCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 10
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the North-West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Queensland North-West Region$33,007
Southern Gulf NRM LtdProactively Improving Mental Health Preparedness in Northwest QLD
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through the delivery of mental health first aid training across the region.
Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden, Normanton, Burketown, Mount Isa $66,209
Southern Gulf NRM LtdCommunity Group Development Facilitator for Northwest QLD
Improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in future drought through delivery of governance, volunteer management, communications and project management training.
Mount Isa, Cloncurry, McKinlay, Richmond, Flinders, Burke, Carpentaria$148,538
Mitakoodi Community and Housing Aboriginal CorporationThe Cloncurry Community Hub and Film Festival
Build a depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through the development of a youth community hub and film festival.
Mitakoodi Country,Cloncurry$76,809
Western Australia: Region 21 South-West
South West Catchments CouncilCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 21
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the South-West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
WA South-West Region$23,768
Warren Catchments CouncilGreen Spaces Counter the Blues
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through a coordinated series of water efficient landscaping / gardening workshops.
Shire of Manjimup$75,661
Southern Forest Arts IncRivers of Thirst
Build depth of social connection, awareness of and constructive attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level through community development of seven public artworks across towns in the region.
Manjimup, Boyup Brook, Nannup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes$49,908
South West Catchments CouncilCommunity Resilience Network
Improve the capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in future drought through the establishment of a Community Resilience Network of local groups in Community Resource Centres.
Manjimup, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Donnybrook-Balingup, Augusta- Margaret River, Harvey, Dardanup, Busselton$86,935
Blackwood Basin Group IncorporatedBoyup Brook Community Drought Preparedness
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought, through a series of land management workshops, production of written resources and accidental counselling training.
Boyup Brook$40,730
Goomburrup Aboriginal CorporationNi! Boodja Waangkiny (Noongar Seasonal Calendar)
Enable depth of social and cultural connection, awareness of and constructive attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level through the development of a place-based, locally developed Noongar seasonal calendar that captures the knowledge and resilience of the people and culture with storytelling.
Bunbury$66,000
South Australia: Region 24 Northern and Yorke
Regional Development Australia Barossa Gawler Light Adelaide Plains IncorporatedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 24
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Northern and Yorke region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
SA Northern and Yorke Region $56,893
Lochiel Progress AssociationDiner en Rose
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose, and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through a community event celebrating the local landscape.
Lochiel– Pink Lake (Wakefield Regional Council)$21,170
Wirraminna CareScone / Coffee Times Bringing Neighbourhoods Together to Share Socially
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought by addressing social isolation within the community.
Williamstown, Eden Valley$7,000
WoTL LtdManaging Yourself and Your Business Through Drought and Other Disruption
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through leadership workshops specifically designed for women.
Riverton, Clare, Kadina$67,000
Two Wells Regional Action TeamDrought Resilient Greening for Community Wellbeing
Enable a change in awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level and enhance the public good by planting drought-tolerant trees at three entrances to the township of Two Wells.
Two Wells$3,000
Barossa Improved Grazing Group IncorporatedBuilding Local Human Capacity to Support Drought Preparedness Across the Barossa Generations and Community
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through supporting and training young farmers.
Barossa, Light, Mid Murray $55,000
Victoria: Region 27 Mallee
Mallee Sustainable Farming IncCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 27
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Mallee region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
VIC Mallee Region$76,818
First People of the Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal CorporationCommunity Impact Program – Mallee Region
Build depth of social connection and increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through land management training and mentorship of young First Nations people.
Neds Corner Station, Mildura$41,200
Birchip Cropping Group IncMallee BCG Young Farmer Network
Enable capacity building activities where young farmers have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural, and regional Australia through the growth of a Young Farmers Network.
Quambatook, Birchip, Manangatang$32,960
Mallee Sustainable Farming IncThe Mallee Matters
Build awareness of and changed attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level through the production of short videos that showcase local resilience.
Northern Mallee areas$65,920
Food Next Door CooperativeFood Next Door Co-op: Sustainable CALD Market Gardening
Build the capacity of local people and communities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia through irrigation management training for CALD communities.
Mildura, Merbein, Nichols Point and Red Cliffs$56,856
Rural Business and Community LimitedShared Shop
Increase economic diversification in an agriculture-dependent community through the establishment of a cooperative ‘shared shop’ for micro businesses in Donald.
Donald$32,960
Rural Financial Counselling Service Victoria Wimmera South West IncResilient Small Businesses
Deliver capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia through the establishment of a small business resilience network targeted at new, young and Indigenous business owners.
Mildura$41,200
Millewa Advisory GroupMillewa SHIM Shed
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose, and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future droughts through the establishment of a community gathering space in the Millewa district.
Millewa$17,304
Victoria: Region 29 Wimmera Southern Mallee
Wimmera Southern Mallee Development LimitedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 29
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Wimmera Southern Mallee region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
VIC Wimmera Southern Mallee Region $44,228
Wimmera Southern Mallee Development Limited Community Connector Program
Improve the capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors through service mapping, gap analysis, resource development and network capability building and service promotion before the next drought hits.
Whole of WSM$133,700
Wimmera Southern Mallee Development Limited (Migrant Settlement Services)Migrant Youth Support
Build depth of social connection, shared cross cultural drought knowledge and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through a drought resilience building program for young migrants.
Horsham, Nhill$50,000
Wimmera Catchment AuthorityRanch Billabong
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging through the revitalisation, and increased visitation of a culturally significant site by the local First Nations and wider community.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council $40,000
West Vic Business IncorporatedCommunity Placemaking
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through the establishment of a Place-making network.
VIC Wimmera Southern Mallee Region$46,393
Victoria: Region 32 West Gippsland
Food & Fibre Gippsland IncCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 32
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the West Gippsland region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
VIC West Gippsland Region $96,050
Rural Financial Counselling Service Victoria - Gippsland IncBackbone
Build awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level by producing two drought resilience special editions of the Rural and Regional Backbone magazine.
Latrobe Valley, South Gippsland, Wellington, Bass Coast$99,880
Food & Fibre Gippsland IncGated Framework – Community
Build capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities through the development of a templated drought preparedness framework.
Baw Baw, Latrobe Valley, South Gippsland, Wellington, Bass Coast$109,978
Gippsland Women's Health IncGendered Violence Prevention – Active Bystander Training
Develop skills, knowledge and capacity to face the unique challenges caused by drought through Active Bystander (Family Violence) training.
Baw Baw, Latrobe Valley, South Gippsland, Wellington, Bass Coast$44,122
Rural Financial Counselling Service Victoria - Gippsland IncADAPT
Increase the reach and activities of community leaders, mentors, networks and organisations driving action on drought resilience by subsidising the delivery of ADAPT wellness program including online training and ongoing mentoring supporting small to medium sized grassroots organisations to access informal wellness support mechanisms at a community level.
Baw Baw, Latrobe Valley, South Gippsland, Wellington, Bass Coast$35,000
Victoria: Region 33 Ovens Murray
AgBiz Assist LimitedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 33
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Ovens Murray region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
VIC Ovens Murray Region $30,000
Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Fund LtdCommunity Capacity Building
Support capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through a community leadership program.
Indigo Shire$95,000
Startup Shakeup LtdDigital Work Skills
Build capacity of local people and communities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through business digital skills training.
Indigo Shire and City of Wangaratta$95,000
AgBiz Assist LimitedWellbeing and Social Connection
Build capacity of local people and communities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through mental health awareness and support activities and training.
Indigo Shire and City of Wangaratta$170,328
Tasmania: Region 34 North and North West
Rural Business Tasmania IncCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 34
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the North and North West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
TAS North and North west Region $47,000
Southern Farming Systems LtdEmpowering Rural Youth to Build Capacity in Tasmanian Rural Communities
Build depth of social connection and increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through tailored drought related events for three distinctive climates in the region.
Scottsdale, Ulverstone, Campbell Town$102,000
Rural Business Tasmania IncLocal Communities Volunteer Project
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and long-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought by connecting volunteer-based community organisations with young people in the region.
Fingal, Deloraine, Scottsdale, Whitemark$114,084
Tasmanian LeadersDrought Resilient Impact Preparedness (DRIP)
Build capacity of local people and communities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through a targeted leadership program.
TAS North and North West Region $99,709
RANT ArtsClose Up: Drought Preparedness
Build awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level through the creation of accessible educational videos.
Devonport, Burnie, Latrobe, Meander Valley$31,059
Tasmania: Region 35 South Region
University of TasmaniaCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 35
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the South region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
TAS South Region $38,778
Rural Business Tasmania IncLocal Community Volunteer Project
Build a depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought by connecting volunteer-based community organisations with young people in the region.
TAS South Region $100,000
Southern Regional Natural Resource Management AssociationIgniting Community
Build culturally informed drought preparedness and social connection through a shared sense of purpose, which can be drawn upon in future drought through a series of cultural burn workshops.
Southern Tasmania$100,000
Reconciliation Council of Tasmania LimitedYouth Mob
Build depth of social connection, awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level by developing land management skills of young First Nations people.
Clarence and Sorell Municipality$82,960
Tasmanian Small Business Council IncTasmania Small Business Community Resilience Project
Build the capacity of local people and small business to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought through a series of business workshops and field trips.
Dunalley, Triabunna, Swansea$90,000

65 projects funded thanks to Future Drought Fund

FRRR has awarded $3,733,324 to local organisations in 11 regions across Australia for 65 projects that will enhance the capacity and resilience of these agriculture-dependent communities in preparing for the impacts of future drought.

Funded through the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative, this is the second tranche of funding delivered through the Initiative’s Community Impact Program. The first tranche was announced last month.

The Initiative is designed to support locally-led organisations across 35 remote, rural and regional regions, identified as vulnerable to the impacts of drought.

Thanks to the Community Impact Program, these organisations will work together to deliver a range of projects, events, initiatives, training, capability building and small-scale community infrastructure projects to assist local people prepare for future droughts.

As part of the Program, a facilitator has been employed in each region to support the lead community partner in engaging and communicating with key stakeholders, helping identify investments that are already happening locally and ensuring that the projects align with the community’s preparedness priorities.

Nina O’Brien, Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead for FRRR, says that the Foundation is always impressed by the fortitude and adaptability of rural people and their willingness to learn and share innovative ways to build drought resilience.

“The collaborative nature of the Community Impact Program has been well received by local groups. They have really stepped up, coming together to shape local solutions to increase understanding and provide practical solutions to increasing drought preparedness that make sense at a local community level.

“With the Australian Government’s support, these grants will create opportunities for these agriculture-dependent communities to increase social connection, strengthen network opportunities and identify and adopt innovative and transformative ways to build drought resilience.

“We look forward to seeing the impacts of these projects, as they roll out over the next two years,” Ms O’Brien said.

As part of the program, each region can also access tailored Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) leadership development activities.

ARLF Chief Executive, Matt Linnegar, says the leadership development supports the delivery of local projects and yields long-term benefits for the regions.

“We know that a multimodal approach of leadership development increases the impact the investments have in each region. In addition to the project funding, these leadership development activities build social capital required to support the project and people in each region. We get to connect local networks, create a deeper sense of shared purpose and develop capability that helps people to take action and address challenges and make the most of opportunities.”

Participants also gain access to the wider alumni network of the ARLF. “It’s these connections that prove invaluable to people. When they’re stuck, there’s someone to ask for advice,” Mr Linnegar said.

A detailed list of grant recipients and their preparedness projects is below.

Other elements of the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative are also underway, including a Mentoring program, being led by ARLF. Work is also underway on the design of the network to connect leaders working on these projects across the country and FRRR is finalising the appointment of an expertise panel, which the groups awarded funding can draw on, if they don’t have locally qualified people with the skills they need.

In addition, there will be small grants on offer in areas that aren’t covered by these Community Impact Program grants, which will open early next year.

Learn more about the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
New South Wales: Region 02 Murray
Holbrook Landcare GroupCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 02
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Murray region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Murray NSW Region $80,970
Holbrook Landcare GroupThe Holbrook Loooong Lunch for Community Resilience
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose, and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through the Holbrook Loooong Lunch drought preparedness Networking event.
Holbrook, Greater Hume Shire Council$23,821
Holbrook Landcare GroupHolbrook Drought Preparedness Community Planning Workshop
Build capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities through hosting a facilitated workshop and networking dinner.
Holbrook and Culcairn, Greater Hume Shire Council$13,125
Corowa District LandcareCorowa Community Nursery
Build depth of social connection, awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level by establishing a community volunteer plant propagation program which will distribute Indigenous plants to grow in the local community.
Federation Council, Berrigan Shire$30,920
Corowa District LandcareCultural Awareness Training and Cultural Tour
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through delivering on Country culture walks, cultural awareness workshops and information sharing drought preparedness events.
Federation Council$9,239
Yanco Creek and Tributaries Advisory Council (YACTAC)Chicks in the Sticks
Increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through field day events that focus on enabling women living in a geographically vast region to network, as well as building depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging.
Jerilderie, Murrumbidgee Council, Moulamein, Murray River Council$40,176
Rice Growers Association of AustraliaConnecting the Community to Connect to Country
Improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in future drought through establishing a Community of Practice that brings together service providers, community groups and businesses, as an avenue to collaborate, host training, share information and resources.
Deniliquin, Edward River Council$39,650
Western Murray Land Improvement GroupInland Delta – Connection to the Community
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through facilitating a community tour of a culturally significant local site, host tours of wetlands and showcase local industries, produce and art.
Murray River Council$50,806
Southern GrowersFinley Community BBQ Trailer
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through a fit-for-purpose barbeque trailer as a new mobile meeting place.
Berrigan Shire; Jerilderie, Murrumbidgee Council; Blighty, Edward River Council$32,000
West Hume LandcareWalla & Walbundrie Weeds Warriors & Cultural Sites Recognition Training
Build depth of social connection and increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through workshops that will share tools and techniques to address rapid weed escalation as well as First Nation Elders' knowledge sharing on protecting cultural sites.
Greater Hume Shire Council$14,586
Riverine PlainsRiverine Plains Innovation Expo
Build depth of social connection and increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change by delivering expo events, awareness and education activities.
Federation Council$16,000
Hay Trees on the Plains Landcare IncNari Nari Cultural Burn Workshop
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through delivering a cultural burn workshop, which will also enhance community and landowners' awareness of First Nations cultural burn practices and share knowledge on enhancing native ground coverage for future drought preparedness.
Hay Shire $13,651
New South Wales: Region 04 North-West
Northern Slopes Landcare Association IncorporatedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 04
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Central West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
North-West NSW Region$45,090
Northern Slopes Landcare Association IncorporatedGulf Creek Hall
Improve access and utilisation of community infrastructure by making minor repairs to the community managed Gulf Creek Hall, which will enhance the space and facilities for community groups to gather, function and support their local community in times of drought.
Gulf Creek, Gwydir Shire$10,000
Northern Slopes Landcare Association IncorporatedTLC Nursery Project
Build awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level by re-establishing a community nursery in Bingara, creating a space for people to come together, share knowledge and learn plant propagation skills through workshops.
Gwydir Shire$24,963
Country Women's Association of NSWNorth Star CWA Hall Project
Improve access and greater utilisation of community infrastructure, enhancing the space and facilities for community groups to gather, function and support their local community in times of drought by enhancing disability and mobility access through installing a ramp entryway to the community managed North Star CWA Hall rooms.
Gwydir Shire$10,000
Tamworth Regional Landcare AssociationTamworth Pride
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia, and awareness through workshops, field day events and mental health first aid training that specifically cater to the needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals and their allies.
Tamworth Region$26,240
Tamworth Regional Landcare AssociationIntrepid Landcare Tamworth
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia through establishing an Intrepid Landcare group which will provide an avenue for youth.
Tamworth Region$36,996
Northern Slopes Landcare Association IncorporatedLadies' Horsemanship Weekend
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through hosting a drought preparedness event with a guest speaker and dinner.
Gunnedah Shire$4,200
Wee Waa Local Aboriginal Land CouncilCulturally Significant Drought Resilience
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through delivering events that promote culturally significant drought resilience techniques such as cultural burn workshops, as well as hosting formal training and informal activities through Caring for Country drop-in sessions.
Gwydir Shire$61,960
Rotary Club of GunnedahHealth and Wellbeing
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through expanding on the long-running Gunnedah Gallop community fitness run, delivering drought preparedness-focused positive mental and physical health and wellbeing activities.
North-West NSW Region$6,000
Northern Slopes Landcare Association IncorporatedWomen's and Men's Catch Ups
Improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in times of drought through women's and men's events increasing awareness of and familiarity with local services.
Tamworth $44,892
Northern Slopes Landcare Association IncorporatedNorthwest Rural Leaders and Support Services Network
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought and improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors, through the establishment of the Northwest Rural Leaders and Support Services Network and relevant resources.
Moree Plains Shire$8,579
Northern Slopes Landcare Association IncorporatedMoree Women on Country
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through on Country workshops, which will provide opportunities to share cultural knowledge and drought preparedness information.
Gunnedah Shire$12,617
Tamworth Regional Landcare AssociationUpper Namoi Water in the Landscape Initiative Field Days
Build depth of social connection and capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities through hosting field days in Wallabadah and Duri, which will showcase innovative and transformative on-farm practices to reduce the impacts of drought.
Gwydir Shire$8,790
Queensland: Region 06 Central West
Central Western QLD Remote Area Planning and Development BoardCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 06
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Central West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Queensland Central West Region$31,111
Western Queensland Drought CommitteeWQDC Legacy & Future – Settling the Dust
Build capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities and build organisational networks across the region through a mobile drought information hub offering community-based resources.
Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall, Tambo, Boulia, Diamantina, Longreach, Winton$252,076
Central Western QLD Remote Area Planning and Development BoardWoven Stories
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through local arts-led events.
Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall, Tambo, Boulia, Diamantina, Longreach, Winton$123,123
Western Australia: Region 16 Gascoyne
Gascoyne Catchments Group IncCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 16
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Gascoyne region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Gascoyne Region$35,000
Gascoyne Catchments Group IncConnection Across the Gascoyne
Build depth of social connection and increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through workshops that share drought resilience approaches to land practices and wellbeing.
Carnarvon, Exmouth, and Upper Gascoyne$205,000
Carnarvon School of the Air P&C Social Connection for Young Children and Their Parents
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through strengthening a network of remote children and families.
Carnarvon$6,000
Western Australia: Region 17 Wheatbelt Central East
Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management IncorporatedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 17
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Wheatbelt Central East region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Wheatbelt Central East Region $49,839
North Eastern Wheatbelt Travel AssociationEvents Officer
Build capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors in the local community that can be drawn upon in future drought through volunteer organisation capability building,
Dowerin, Koorda, Mount Marshall, Mukinbudin, Nungarin, Trayning, Westonia, Wyalkatchem$63,554
Town Team MovementWheatbelt Rising
Deliver capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia through establishing a Town Teams in the Wheatbelt to undertake training, develop resources and host activities.
Bruce Rock, Dowerin, Kellerberrin, Koorda, Mount Marshall, Merredin, Mukinbudin, Nungarin, Tammin, Trayning, Westonia, Wyalkatchem, Yilgarn$63,500
Wheatbelt Beyond Youth MentoringWheatbelt Beyond Youth Mentoring
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia through a youth mentoring program that strengthens social support systems, mitigates impacts of social and physical isolation, and boosts educational and wellbeing outcomes.
Kellerberrin, Mukinbudin, Narembeen$96,250
Merredin and Districts Farm Improvement GroupAgribusiness Network
Build capacity of local people and communities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia through establishing an Agribusiness and Mentoring Program which will foster a collective knowledge base, strengthen local networks and provide opportunities to learn and share through events.
Merredin, Nungarin$32,000
Meridian Regional Arts IncorporatedMeridian Regional Arts
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through delivering workshops, wellbeing and social support.
Merredin, Bruce Rock, Nungarin$85,564
Western Australia: Region 18 Wheatbelt South
Corrigin Farm Improvement GroupCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 18
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Wheatbelt South region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Wheatbelt South Region$73,687
Shire of West ArthurEconomic / Business Diversification
Improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in future drought through networking sessions, information, events and through the increase in the utilisation of community infrastructure.
Darkan, Bruce Rock$106,437
Lake Grace Community Resource CentreYouth Events and Network
Build capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities through the establishment of an informal youth network, activities and events, which will build capabilities of future leaders.
Darkan, Corrigin, Lake Grace, Pingelly$52,277
Corrigin Farm Improvement GroupNext Generation Volunteers
Support capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia through delivering leadership workshops and volunteering opportunities for emerging leaders.
Wheatbelt South Region$122,239
Western Australia: Region 20 Mid-West
Northern Agricultural Catchments Council Incorporated Community Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 20
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Mid-West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Mid-West Region $95,296
Northern Agricultural Catchments Council Incorporated Maintaining Community Capacity
Improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in future drought through training to build capacity and leadership of local volunteer organisations.
Yuna, Morowa, Mingenew, Murchison, Wiluna$149,857
Southern Rangelands Pastoral AllianceSupport to Capture Peer-to-Peer Learning
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought; through facilitation of peer-to-peer knowledge sharing through podcasts and virtual field days.
Murchison, Wiluna $40,470
Midwest Food Industry Alliance Healthy Lifestyles Community Events
Increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through community events focused on locally based food production and adaptive solutions to food consumption.
Yalgoo, Murchison, Wiluna, Chapman Valley, Northampton, Mingenew$63,000
South Australia: Region 25 Murraylands and Riverland
Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland IncorporatedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 25
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Murraylands and Riverland region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Murraylands and Riverland Region $69,000
Ngarrindjeri Empowered CommunitiesMardawi Community Project
Build depth of social connection between Ngarrindjeri women, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through Elders sharing knowledge and skills of cultural practices, providing opportunities to build social and economic resilience.
Coorong, Murray Bridge, Southern Mallee$48,655
Our Town BerriRiver Families First
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through the establishment of a peer network to empower young parents.
Berri, Berri Barmera$85,000
Loxton Chamber of CommerceCollective Business in Loxton
Enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia, through workshops, initiatives and resource development that supports community based, collective economic diversification.
Karoonda East Murray, Loxton Waikerie, Mid Murray$88,000
Mallee Sustainable FarmersRisky Business – Sustainable Mallee Farming
Build capability, coordination, information sharing and collaboration between professional, social or community networks, other community organisations and sectors in local communities that can be drawn upon in future drought through the purchase of a barbeque trailer and delivery of farm expos.
Karoonda East Murray, Mid Murray, Murray Bridge, Southern Mallee$73,000
South Australia: Region 26 Limestone Coast
Limestone Coast Food & Agribusiness Cluster LtdCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 26
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Limestone Coast region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Limestone Coast Region $51,000
Mackillop Farm Management GroupSkill Up: Helping Community Organisations Govern
Improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in future drought through the delivery of governance workshops.
Grant, Kingston, Mt Gambier, Naracoorte-Lucindale, Robe, Tatiara, Wattle Range $75,000
Limestone Coast Food & Agribusiness Cluster Ltd35 Under 35
Build capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities through a program for youth that supports upskilling, networking and mentoring activities.
Grant, Kingston, Mt Gambier, Naracoorte-Lucindale, Robe, Tatiara, Wattle Range $147,550
Limestone Coast Landscape BoardWalking the Seasons
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through tailoring bi-monthly art workshops run by the Burrandies and Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporations.
Coorong, Grant, Kingston, Mt Gambier, Naracoorte-Lucindale, Robe, Tatiara, Wattle Range $39,823
WOTLBuilding Rural Women's Connection and Capacity for Drought Preparation
Improve capability, coordination and collaboration between networks, other community organisations and sectors that can be drawn upon in future drought through a capacity-building program for women in two locations.
Keith, Millicent$47,000
Australian Migrant Resource Centre Incorporated Migrant Integration and Volunteering for Impact Exchange
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through engaging recent migrants in the local community and agricultural industry.
Bordertown, Naracoorte, Mt Gambier$49,000
Victoria: Region 30 East Gippsland
Gippsland Agricultural GroupCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 30
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the East Gippsland region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
East Gippsland Region $54,768
Gippsland Agricultural GroupDrought Preparedness Decision Making Trigger Plans
Build depth of social connection and capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities through training and community planning sessions.
East Gippsland$130,200
Southern Farming SystemsDrought Preparedness Skills Workshops
Build depth of social connection and capability in community leaders, networks and organisations to undertake strategic drought resilience planning and future drought preparedness activities through a series of workshops focused on drought preparedness at a community level.
East Gippsland$42,300
Victoria: Region 31 Goulburn
Riverine Plains Incorporated Community Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 31
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Goulburn region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Goulburn Region $69,887
Many Mobs Indigenous CorporationYarrawonga Indigenous Festival
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought at the community level through a cultural festival to revive the town as a traditional meeting place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Moira Shire$45,100
Gecko CLaNSchools Program: What Happens in Drought?
Increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through a pilot education program for secondary school students on the impacts of drought and family mental health.
Benalla, Moira, Strathbogie$65,600
Riverine Plains IncLadies' Luncheon
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through hosting Ladies' Lunches in 2023 and 2024 that align with International Rural Women's Day, reducing social isolation and building local networks and social supports for women in this remote region.
Moira$44,800
Riverine Plains IncYouth in Ag
Build depth of social connection, a shared sense of purpose and longer-term community belonging that can be drawn upon in future drought through the facilitation of two mentoring and networking events for youth in the region and two 'Youth in AG' dinner events.
Moira$73,950
Hughes Creek Catchment Collaborative (Landcare Victoria Inc)Citizen Science
Build depth of social connection and enable capacity building activities where local people and communities have opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought in remote, rural and regional Australia, through coordination of citizen science programs.
Murrindindi, Strathbogie$22,140

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) have today announced the appointment of Nous Group to assess the impact of the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative, which is funded by the Australian Government.

Wheatbelt South WA community members take part in Community Impact Program’s co-design process.

The Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative aims to build enduring resilience to the impacts of climate change and drought and to enhance the public good in agriculture-dependent communities. It focuses on building community capacity by strengthening social and community networking, support, engagement and wellbeing.

There are five parts to the Initiative, including the Community Impact Program, Small Grants, a Learning Network, Mentoring Program and Expertise Pool to support local groups implementing their projects, all of which will be evaluated.

While the evaluation will explore the outcomes of the Initiative, it will also provide valuable feedback on the various funding mechanisms employed and the impact of leadership development initiatives delivered. This will also reveal insights into the different ways that the Australian Government can invest in remote, rural and regional communities to address locally prioritised challenges. In total, $1.3 million will be invested in the process, reflecting the value that FRRR, ARLF and the Australian Government place on evaluation, something that is often not prioritised or funded.

Multi-year evaluation

The evaluation will take place over two and a half years and see Nous Group consult with the delivery partners, as well as other stakeholders, to develop the evaluation plan and then work closely with local leaders and with the delivery partners on the evaluation itself.

Phase 1 data collection and analysis is already underway, as the first tranche of funding has been awarded. An interim report will be prepared mid-2024, followed by workshops for community groups and stakeholders to unpack the learnings to date. Phase 2 of data collection will then get underway in August 2024, with the final report due September 2025.

FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, Nina O’Brien, says that there are great efficiency gains in having Nous Group undertake this work, as they are familiar with both the Future Drought Fund and with the delivery partners. “Nous Group supported the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to design the Measuring, Learning and Evaluation (MEL) framework for the overall Future Drought Fund, so they are intimately familiar with the overall aims of the various streams of work the Fund supports. They bring a depth of understanding and rigour to the process, while still being able to work closely with and relate to the groups delivering projects on the ground.

“What we are most excited about however, is that this process will help build the capacity of communities and stakeholders to engage with and ultimately undertake more formal evaluations of the projects and initiatives that they run. They can learn by doing. These skills will help local communities then better direct their limited resources, as well as be able to provide greater evidence to support funding applications for their initiatives.

“We look forward to working with Nous Group to co-design the evaluation approach and collect insights for the evaluation. We will also be connecting them directly with the local lead partner and other groups delivering projects in the community to understand the impact of the various elements of the Initiative, as well as bring together community groups and stakeholders to explore and interpret their findings,” Ms O’Brien said.

Matt Linnegar, CEO of the ARLF, says understanding the impact is becoming more important for people participating in initiatives, as well as those providing the support for it to happen.

“It’s increasingly important to understand the impact of initiatives like the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative at depth and from multiple perspectives.

“This is because when we’re talking about leadership across regions and communities, we’re talking about people, relationships, networks and structures. Here, understanding the quantitative impact or intervention on the participant alone isn’t enough.

“It’s important to understand the individual and collective impact those people have on their regions and communities.

“As the ARLF continues to grow its work in the impact evaluation space, we highly value the collaboration with FRRR and work with Nous as an evaluation partner for this Initiative.”

Carlos Blanco, Nous Group Director, says Nous is excited to partner with the FRRR, ARLF and DAFF to collaborate with delivery partners, initiative participants and communities to help build even greater resilience within drought-prone communities.

“Nous has a long history of working with regional communities across Australia. We’re looking forward to co-designing and delivering an evaluation that strengthens the evidence base on how to empower remote, rural, and regional Australia to become more prepared for and resilient to the impacts of drought,” Mr Blanco said.

If community groups have any questions about the evaluation process, they can contact FRRR via futuredrought@frrr.org.au.

Local not-for-profits (NFPs) across the Central West NSW and WA Great Southern region are being encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to partner with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) to lead the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative’s Community Impact Program in their region.

The Initiative seeks to help agriculture-dependent communities in regions across remote, rural, and regional Australia that are vulnerable to the impacts of drought become more prepared for and resilient to these impacts.

It is part of the Australian Government’s $29.6 million investment in drought resilience initiatives over three years and builds on the Future Drought Fund’s previous Networks to Build Drought Resilience program (led by FRRR) and the Drought Resilience Leaders program (led by ARLF).

There are two main components to the program:

  • Community Impact Grants: Grants between $200,000 and $500,000 for projects that strengthen community networks, capabilities and facilities that support drought preparedness; and
  • Community Leadership Activities: AARLF will offer a range of funded leadership development activities to support community members to develop their leadership skills and equip them with the networks to respond to drought preparedness in their community.

Nina O’Brien, FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Climate Solutions Portfolio Lead, said that this a great opportunity for community groups in Central West NSW and the Great Southern region of WA to proactively strengthen drought resilience across their regions.

“Rural communities are better able to withstand the impacts of events like drought when they are strong and well connected. The overall aim of this program is to ensure communities are better prepared for future.

“But we know that looks different in each community, which is why we are looking for a local lead partner. They can then work with other community members and organisations to identify what local action will be most appropriate. FRRR staff will be there to support the process and we’ll also fund a facilitator to work with the community to get the best outcome possible.

“The grants can fund projects, events, initiatives, training, capability building and small-scale community infrastructure projects and we’re really keen to make sure that First Nations communities and younger people are also engaged in drought resilience planning and action.

“We have already funded some impressive projects in other ag-dependent communities, including training and awareness-building activities to develop skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought, preparedness upskilling and capacity building for local NFPs, and youth-focused activities such as field training and skills development programs,” Ms O’Brien explained.

As part of the program, ARLF will offer several complementary Leadership Development Activities at no cost to the successful applicants. These are designed to strengthen the leadership capabilities of communities to build individual and community drought resilience.

ARLF’s Chief Executive Officer Matt Linnegar said that because every lead organisation and region will be at a different point in their resilience journey, ARLF has a number of options that communities can tap into.

“We have five leadership development activities, ranging from intensive residential leadership programs to a series of deep-dives into particular leadership topics to group coaching. Each is underpinned by the concepts of adaptive leadership, resilience and network leadership.

“Applicants will need to include their preference for leadership development activities when they lodge their express of interest for the Community Impact Program, and we will work closely with applicants to refine their preferences as we move through the collaborative project design phase,” Mr Linnegar explained.

Expressions of Interest close 9 June, with shortlisted groups commencing co-design in their communities in August and funding confirmed in November 2023. Groups will have until June 2025 to implement the projects.

Interested groups can learn more about the program and lodge their EOI here.

More than $1.7M awarded thanks to Future Drought Fund

FRRR and ARLF are pleased to announce the first organisations to receive funding through the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative.

The Initiative, which is being delivered by FRRR in partnership with ARLF, seeks to help agriculture-dependent communities in regions across remote, rural, and regional Australia that are vulnerable to the impacts of drought become more prepared for and resilient to these impacts.

Over the last three months, FRRR and ARLF have worked closely with a local community partner lead organisation in five areas to identify projects that local groups across each region can implement to enhance preparedness for drought.

This first tranche of funding through the Community Impact Program sees five regions awarded $1.7M, which is being shared across 15 organisations.

In the coming months, the local community partner lead organisation will collaborate with other grantee organisations in the region to deliver projects that include events, training and workshops that will create opportunities for communities to identify and adopt innovative and transformative ways to build drought resilience, develop a change in awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level, learn and share innovative ways to build drought resilience.

FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, Nina O’Brien, says that this is a really exciting milestone and a wonderful opportunity for these communities to drive local action that helps prepare for drought.

“People are more resilient when they’re part of a strong community. Through this place-based program, with the Australian Government’s support, we’re investing in the future, enabling agriculture dependent communities to identify and act on their drought preparedness priorities at a grassroots level.

“The overall aim of this program is to facilitate increased social connection, strengthen network opportunities, build leadership skills, and link capacity building opportunities to ensure widespread local benefit, so that communities are better prepared for the future.

“The program was deliberately designed to be flexible, allowing a bespoke approach in each region that reflects the unique conditions in each area. The projects that we’re funding have broad community support. As part of their development, we paid for a facilitator to support the local lead organisation to help bring key stakeholders into the conversation and to make sure that the projects align with local priorities and connect with investments already happening at the community level.

“We look forward to continuing to walk alongside these local groups as they implement their projects over the next two years,” Ms O’Brien said.

Each of the regions being funded will also receive access to tailored ARLF leadership development activities. Lead organisations can choose between one of five leadership development activities, depending on their projects and local priorities. In the first five regions, four different activities have been taken up.

ARLF CEO, Matt Linnegar, says leadership development supports the short-term delivery of projects and yields long-term benefits for the regions.

“In addition to the project funding, these leadership development activities are a crucial investment in building the social capital required to support the project and each region. Connecting local networks, creating a deeper sense of shared purpose and developing capability all contributes to people in each region taking action to address challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

“Participants will also gain access to the wider alumni network of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. It’s these connections that prove invaluable to people. When they’re stuck, there’s someone to ask for advice.”

In total, 35 regions will be supported through this program. The remaining regions are due to be announced throughout the rest of 2023.

Other elements of the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative are also underway, including the Mentoring program, being led by ARLF, which is still accepting applications. Work is also underway on the design of the network to connect leaders working on these projects across the country and FRRR is finalising the appointment of an expertise panel, which the groups awarded funding can draw on, if they don’t have locally qualified people with the skills they need.

In addition, the first of two rounds of Small Grants for areas that aren’t covered by these Community Impact Program grants is expected to open in later this year.

Learn more about the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative at www.frrr.org.au/drought-preparedness.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
Queensland: Region 08 Darling Downs & South Burnett
Red Earth Community FoundationCommunity Partner Lead Organisation Region 8
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Darling Downs and South Burnett region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Darling Downs & South Burnett Region$38,746
Momentum HealthBuilding Healthier Communities
Enhance capability, coordination and collaboration between community networks and organisations that can be drawn upon in times of drought by training local leaders, creating resources and delivering workshops focussed on wellbeing.
South Burnett, Western Downs & Goondiwindi$92,499
Red Earth Community FoundationCherbourg Community Leadership Program
Strengthen community capacity and leadership through the design and delivery of the Cherbourg Community Leadership Program, to build knowledge and skills to address local challenges caused by drought.
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council$51,388
Burnett Catchment Care AssociationSharing Models of Successful Groups
Deliver community led drought preparedness through networking events that build social connections, share innovative approaches to drought resilience and drive local action through peer-to-peer support and a communities of practice approach.
Burnett Region with possibility of working with Toowoomba & Western Downs Groups$62,401
Queensland Murray Darling Catchment LtdWater and Climate Drought Education
Deliver workshops to school aged children to build knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change and develop skills to positively adapt.
Schools in Darling Downs & Burnett$73,412
Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation (BIEDO)Ag Tech in Action in the Burnett
Strengthen community and social connections through events and provide opportunities for young people to build knowledge in innovative approaches to drought preparedness, connect with current networks and develop youth specific networks.
North Burnett, South Burnett, Cherbourg & Bundaberg LGAs$69,007
Queensland: Region 09 Fitzroy Capricornia
Dawson Catchment Coordinating AssociationCommunity Partner Lead Organisation Region 9
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Fitzroy Capricornia region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Fitzroy Capricornia Region$140,000
Central Queensland Landscape AllianceRemote Community Capacity Building
Create leadership and capacity building opportunities, particularly for local young people, through training and awareness-building activities to develop skills and knowledge to face the unique challenges caused by drought.
Focus on Capricornia Catchments work arena$40,000
Not for Profit HQ LimitedNFP Report Card Assessments –Upskilling
Build the capability of local not-for-profit organisations to better serve their communities in times of drought and in drought preparedness by delivering a practical skills audit and using the results to develop business and operational plans.
Fitzroy Capricornia Region$50,000
Dawson Catchment Coordinating AssociationImproved Community Access –Dawson Catchment
Establish a local community network to improve access to, encourage greater utilisation of or create new community infrastructure by collaboratively reviewing available places, spaces and facilities where community groups can gather, function and support their local community in times of drought.
Fitzroy Capricornia Region$35,547
Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire CouncilWoorabinda Rangers and Youth Development Program
Deliver capacity building activities and field training to increase knowledge of local landscapes and share innovative approaches to drought preparedness, which will strengthen community resilience.
Fitzroy Capricornia Region$42,000
Queensland: Region 11 Hinterland to Gulf
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group LtdCommunity Partner Lead Organisation Region 11
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Hinterland to Gulf region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Hinterland to Gulf Region$31,359
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group LtdLocal Capacity for Regional Resilience Project
Strengthen organisational capacity and governance of not-for-profit organisations, including those that are First Nations led, by delivering training, workshops, networking events and leadership development activities, so organisations can better support community interests ahead of and in times of drought.
Croydon Shire, Etheridge Shire & Mareeba Shire$181,250
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group LtdDigital Capacity and Last Mile Connectivity Project
Strengthen the ability of communities to adapt and prepare for drought by delivering workshops that improve access to and greater utilisation of digital infrastructure, thereby strengthening social networks and enabling people to better connect to essential services and support in times of drought.
Croydon Shire, Etheridge Shire & Mareeba Shire$123,700
Queensland: Region 13 Cape York – Torres Strait
Cape York NRMCommunity Partner Lead Organisation Region 13
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Cape York – Torres Strait Region$42,166
Torres Cape Indigenous Councils AllianceCape York Torres Water Project
Increase skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought through the delivery of a water education program and activating a co-designed, community led strategic water security plan.
Aurukun Shire, Cook Shire, Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire, Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire, Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire, Mapoon Aboriginal Shire, Mornington Shire, Napranum Aboriginal Shire, Northern Peninsula Area, Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire, Torres Strait Islands, Torres Shire, Weipa Town & Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire$193,798
Cape York NRMCape York Torres Fire Project
Improve capability, coordination, and collaboration between professional, social and community networks, which can be drawn upon in future drought, through the delivery of a series of fire prevention training activities, events and forums.
Aurukun Shire, Cook Shire, Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire, Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire, Mapoon Aboriginal Shire, Napranum Aboriginal Shire, Northern Peninsula Area, Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire, Torres Strait Islands, Torres Shire, Weipa Town & Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire$151,012
South Australia: Region 22 Arid Lands
SA Arid Lands Landscape BoardCommunity Partner Lead Organisation Region 22
Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.
Arid Lands Region$32,000
SA Arid Lands Landscape BoardWomen’s Gathering
Support communities to learn and share innovative ways to build drought resilience; increase the reach and activities of community leaders, mentors, networks and organisations driving action on drought resilience by facilitating an event for women from across this geographically vast region.
Hawker$73,750
SA Arid Lands Landscape BoardPastoral Field Day
Support communities to identify and adopt innovative and transformative ways to build drought resilience by delivering a field day, which will enable knowledge sharing and networking opportunities.
Port Augusta City Council$67,750
SA Arid Lands Landscape BoardOutback Kids & Family Days
Encourage social connection, networking and knowledge sharing to facilitate drought preparedness and resilience building by delivering five family day events to connect communities across a geographically vast region.
Five locations across Port Augusta Region$50,350
Nature Foundation LimitedFamily on Country
Provide mentorship and leadership development opportunities and strengthen networks and connections by delivering two on-Country, multi-day events that provide opportunities for Elders and Community Leaders to share cultural knowledge on the local landscape and drought.
Hiltaba Station (Unincorporated Area)$46,000
Isolated Children's Parents Association Marla-OodnadattaICPA Conference
Encourage drought preparedness conversations at the community level and drive local action for children, families and educational outcomes through a regional conference.
SA Arid Lands$5,000
Quorn Community Landcare Group Incorporated auspiced by SA Arid Lands Landscape BoardQuandong Festival
Strengthen local drought resilience by delivering two educational and awareness-raising events that showcase innovative and transformative ways to adapt in times of drought.
Quorn$35,000

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) are looking for a local NFP partner to work with them across the Loddon Campaspe region as part of the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative Community Impact Program.

The region encompasses the Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander Shires.

The Initiative is funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and designed to help agriculture-dependent communities across remote, rural and regional Australia enhance their preparedness for drought.

The $29.6 million investment over three years builds on the Future Drought Fund’s previous Networks to Build Drought Resilience program (led by FRRR) and the Drought Resilience Leaders program (led by ARLF).

The place-based Community Impact Program is designed to support community members and not-for-profit organisations to drive local action that helps prepare for drought. There are two main components to the program:

  • Community Impact Grants: This between $200,000 and $500,000 available and FRRR will work with the lead community organisations to develop, co-design and deliver projects that strengthen community networks, capabilities and facilities that support drought preparedness; and
  • Community Leadership Activities: ARLF will offer a range of funded leadership development activities to support community members to develop their leadership skills, and equip them with the networks to respond to drought preparedness in their community.


FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, Nina O’Brien, said that this a great opportunity for the communities in Loddon Campaspe to proactively strengthen drought resilience.

“While there has been a lot of flooding in recent months, it’s highly likely that it won’t be too long before drought is on our radar. Rural communities are better able to withstand the impacts of events like drought – and indeed other disasters – when they are strong and well connected. The overall aim of this program is to facilitate increased social connection, strengthen network opportunities and link capacity building opportunities to ensure widespread local benefit, so that communities are better prepared for the future.

“But we know that looks different in each community, which is why we are looking for a local lead partner. They will work with other community members and organisations to identify what local action is most appropriate. FRRR staff will be there to support the process and we’ll also fund a facilitator to work with the community to get the best outcome possible.

“The grants can fund projects, events, initiatives, training, capability building and small-scale community infrastructure projects and we’re really keen to make sure that First Nations communities and younger people are also engaged in drought resilience planning and action,” Ms O’Brien explained.

As part of the program, ARLF will offer a number of optional and complementary Leadership Development Activities at no cost to the successful applicants. These are designed to strengthen the leadership capabilities of communities to build individual and community drought resilience.

ARLF’s Chief Executive Officer Matt Linnegar said that because every lead organisation and region will be at a different point in their resilience journey, ARLF has a number of options that communities can tap into.

“We have five leadership development activities, ranging from intensive residential leadership programs to a series of deep-dives into particular leadership topics to group coaching. Each is underpinned by the concepts of adaptive leadership, resilience and network leadership.

“Applicants will need to include their preference for leadership development activities when they lodge their express of interest for the Community Impact Program, and we will work closely with applicants to refine their preferences as we move through the collaborative project design phase,” Mr Linnegar explained.

Initial expressions of interest close 22 March 2023, with shortlisted groups commencing co-design in their communities in May and funding confirmed in August 2023. Groups will have until June 2025 to implement the projects.

Interested groups can learn more about the program and lodge their EOI by visiting www.frrr.org.au/impact-program.

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) are looking for a local NFP partner to work with them across the Far West NSW, Northwest QLD and Great Southern WA regions, as part of the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative Community Impact Program.

The Initiative is funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and is designed to help agriculture-dependent communities across remote, rural and regional Australia enhance their preparedness for drought.

The $29.6 million investment over three years builds on the Future Drought Fund’s previous Networks to Build Drought Resilience program (led by FRRR) and the Drought Resilience Leaders program (led by ARLF).

The place-based Community Impact Program is designed to support community members and not-for-profit organisations to drive local action that helps prepare for drought. There are two main components to the program:

  • Community Impact Grants: There are grants between $200,000 and $500,000 available and FRRR will work with the lead community organisations to develop, co-design and deliver projects that strengthen community networks, capabilities and facilities that support drought preparedness; and
  • Community Leadership Activities: ARLF will offer a range of funded leadership development activities to support community members to develop their leadership skills, and equip them with the networks to respond to drought preparedness in their community.

FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Climate Solutions Portfolio Lead Nina O’Brien said that this is a great opportunity for community groups in Far West NSW, Northwest QLD and Great Southern in WA to proactively strengthen drought resilience.

“Rural communities are better able to withstand the impacts of events like drought when they are strong and well connected. The overall aim of this program is to facilitate increased social connection, strengthen network opportunities and link capacity building opportunities to ensure widespread local benefit, so that communities are better prepared for the future.

“But we know that looks different in each community, which is why we are looking for a local lead partner. They can then work with other community members and organisations to identify what local action will be most appropriate. FRRR staff will be there to support the process and we’ll also fund a facilitator to work with the community to get the best outcome possible.

“The grants can fund projects, events, initiatives, training, capability building and small-scale community infrastructure projects and we’re really keen to make sure that First Nations communities and younger people are also engaged in drought resilience planning and action,” Ms O’Brien explained.

As part of the program, ARLF will offer a number of optional and complementary Leadership Development Activities at no cost to the successful applicants. These are designed to strengthen the leadership capabilities of communities to build individual and community drought resilience.

ARLF’s Chief Executive Officer Matt Linnegar said that because every lead organisation and region will be at a different point in their resilience journey, ARLF has a number of options that communities can tap into.

“We have five leadership development activities, ranging from intensive residential leadership programs to a series of deep-dives into particular leadership topics to group coaching. Each is underpinned by the concepts of adaptive leadership, resilience and network leadership.

“Applicants will need to include their preference for leadership development activities when they lodge their express of interest for the Community Impact Program, and we will work closely with applicants to refine their preferences as we move through the collaborative project design phase,” Mr Linnegar explained.

Initial expressions of interest close 8 March 2023, with shortlisted groups commencing co-design in their communities in April and funding confirmed in July 2023. Groups will have until June 2025 to implement the projects.

Interested groups can learn more about the program and lodge their EOI by visiting www.frrr.org.au/impact-program.