Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Jeremy Yipp and Lauren Clair from our partners at CCI Giving recently joined one of our team meetings as part of an overview of the CCI Giving / FRRR partnership, which supports mental health in remote, rural and regional Australia, to discuss the “awesomeness” that is the In a Good Place (IAGP) program.

IAGP is a national program that focuses on place-based, grassroots mental health and wellbeing. It supports community-driven projects, services, activities or initiatives, and targets vulnerable community members who are at risk of, or are experiencing, mental health issues. Like other FRRR programs, it supports communities doing it for themselves. Projects typically bring people together, sometimes to heal, always to learn. The program helps to bring mental health and wellbeing out into the open – making it OK to talk about, OK to reach out, OK to ask for help.

CCI Giving is a foundation established by Catholic Church Insurance in 2017, and in its relatively short history, has already distributed more than $1.8M in grants, to over 200 projects right across Australia.

A large part of these funds have been distributed via the IAGP program, which began as a five year partnership in 2018, distributing $200,000 annually. We were very pleased to jointly announce a continuation of the partnership earlier this year, with a subsequent agreement in place for a further five years, and distributions increasing to $250,000 each year.

In the session, Jeremy shared one of his favourite projects with us, which was a $20,000 grant awarded to Kanyini Connections. They have developed an equine-assisted therapy program specifically for young veterans, run by a qualified equine therapist who is a young veteran herself, with lived experienced of PTSD. Funds will support two 12-week equine-assisted therapy programs to provide intensive support to 48 young veterans.

HEADING: Partnership helps put communities 'In a Good Place'. IMAGE: Hoofbeats Sanctuary sign.

Jeremy said, “It’s projects like these that need seed funding behind them to prove up their model, to see what works and what doesn’t, and why. Without assistance through programs such as the In a Good Place program, these projects may never have the opportunity to really get off the ground and reach their full potential, or it would take a lot longer for them to do so.”

The In a Good Place program has a definite and important role to play in supporting rural communities in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and the importance of promoting and supporting good mental health and wellbeing. While applications have closed for this year, perhaps now is the time to start planning your community’s project for the 2023 round.

Fourteen mental health initiatives across remote, rural and regional Australia will share in $204,607 in grants awarded through FRRR’s In a Good Place (IAGP) program.

Thanks to CCI Giving, the charitable foundation established by Catholic Church Insurance (CCI), these grants will support grassroots, community driven projects that increase social participation, help to reduce social isolation and encourage community members who are at risk of, or are experiencing, mental health issues to seek help. FRRR and CCI Giving are now in the fifth year of their partnership.

This year, the grants range from $8,000 for an initiative that will build the confidence of primary school children in Mount Murchison, QLD to $20,000 for a project that will help various communities in the Northern Territory to better understand what a developing mental health problem or crisis looks like, and respond appropriately.

Jeremy Yipp, CCI Chief Risk Officer of CCI and Chair of CCI Giving, said that the sustained interest in the program is a sign of how essential it is.

“Each year, we receive applications and expressions of interests that really highlight the gap in funding when it comes to flexible grants that are geared towards grassroots mental health programs and services. The goal of this program is to help fill that gap and offer rural communities a say in how their mental health resources are used. After all, they are the people who are being directly impacted,” said Mr Yipp.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said this program is particularly crucial now because of the increase in mental health struggles in rural Australia stemming from pressures of the pandemic and other natural disasters like floods, bushfires and drought.

“The last few years have seen remote, rural and regional communities facing challenges like never before. Often these events occur one after the other – or even at the same time. This has meant that many people in rural communities have been unable to access mental health services or support at a time when they need it most.

“In this round, we were delighted to see an increase in applications from the Northern Territory. Remote communities are often the places with the most limited access to mental health services, so it’s great to be able to help fill that gap. We also saw more requests for funding to support initiatives focussed on young people, and again, we are pleased to be able to support several of those projects to help equip them with the skills and strategies to cope with the many challenges they face,” said Ms Egleton.

Some of the 14 initiatives being funded include:

Zoe Support Australia received funding for their Mentally Healthy Mothers project to employ a case manager to provide support wrap around support for young mums who are struggling with their mental health.
  • Trustee for St Francis Xavier Primary, Lake Cargelligo – Lake Cargelligo, NSW – Earlymind – $9,062 – Develop resilience, a positive mindset andawareness of self by implementing and embedding The Resilience Project School Partnership Program to support the social and emotional health and wellbeing of students and the broader community.
  • Bluearth Foundation – Ltyentye Apurte, NT – Active Leaders Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) – $13,000 – Develop the confidence, resilience and self-awareness of senior students to enable them to create and guide physical activity and wellbeing programs for the primary school students to encourage and promote physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Kanyini Connections Ltd – Doonan, QLD – Young Veterans PTSD Program – $20,000 – Support a tailored equine therapy program by providing funds for essential program materials, equipment and consumables to assist 48 young veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who have not responded to other therapy options.
  • Lameroo Forward Inc – Lameroo, SA – Southern Mallee Mental Health Presentations – $10,000 – Grow community understanding of mental health and increase awareness by bringing in a guest speaker to share vital tips and advice at two community presentations.
  • Zoe Support Australia – Mildura, VIC – Mentally Healthy Mothers – $20,000 – Augment the current support for vulnerable young mothers by employing a case manager to provide support wrap around support, connections with community supports and knowledge around mental health for those who are struggling with their mental health.
  • Tradies IN Sight – Dubbo region , NSW  The Real Reconnections Tour $10,000 – Support tradies in rural communities to connect and develop trusted relationships that support, empower and encourage gain better understanding of mental health issues and break down stigma around dealing with emotional struggles.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
The Rural Woman Co-Operative LtdMental Health Matters - Circles of Support
Enhance the mental health and wellbeing of rural women by providing a series of professionally facilitated and moderated online groups and a training program to enable participants to connect, learn, seek support and thrive.
Armidale$14,100
Tradies IN Sight IncThe Real Reconnections Tour
Support rural communities to connect and develop trusted relationships that support, empower and encourage gain better understanding of mental health issues and break down stigma around dealing with emotional struggles.
Dubbo, Tullamore, Narromine, Coonamble, Parkes$10,000
Trustee for St Francis Xavier Primary, Lake CargelligoEarlymind
Develop resilience, a positive mindset and awareness of self by implementing and embedding The Resilience Project School Partnership Program to support the social and emotional health and wellbeing of students and the broader community.
Lake Cargelligo$9,062
NORTHERN TERRITORY
SabrinasReach4Life IncHeads Up
Increase the capacity and confidence of local communities to better understand what a developing mental health problem or crisis looks like, and develop the skills and confidence to offer and apply help offering behaviours to reduce the incidences of suicide.
Darwin, Jabiru, Litchfield, Katherine$20,000
Bluearth FoundationActive Leaders Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa)
Develop the confidence, resilience and selfawareness of senior students to enable them to create and guide physical activity and wellbeing programs for the primary school students to encourage and promote
physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa)$13,000
QUEENSLAND
Chinchilla Family Support Centre IncEating With Friends in Chinchilla
Increase social connection and awareness of support services by initiating an Eating With Friends program to improve the mental health of isolated members of the community, particularly older people and
FIFO workers.
Chinchilla$11,950
Kanyini Connections LtdYoung Veterans PTSD Program
Support a tailored equine therapy program by providing funds for essential program materials, equipment and consumables to assist 48 young veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who have not
responded to other therapy options.
Doonan$20,000
Mount Murchison State SchoolGame Changer: helping Students Achieve their True Potential
Cultivate confidence in primary school children to cope with life and change by supporting five schools to implement a locally facilitated program, including staff development, to foster positive learning environments and enhance social and emotional wellbeing.
Mount Murchison$8,000
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Lameroo Forward IncSouthern Mallee Mental Health Presentations
Grow community understanding of mental health and increase awareness by bringing in a guest speaker to share vital tips and advice at two community presentations.
Lameroo$10,000
VICTORIA
Crossenvale Community Group IncYarn in the Park
Create a safe, welcoming space for locals experiencing mental health issues to attend weekly support group sessions to receive support, connection, information and resources.
Echuca$18,295
Zoe Support AustraliaMentally Healthy Mothers
Augment the current support for vulnerable young mothers by employing a case manager to provide support wrap around support, connections with community supports and knowledge around mental health for those who are struggling with their mental health.
Mildura$20,000
Let's Talk Foundation LtdLETS TALK, Woolshed to Clubhouse
Build community engagement with the LETS TALK initiative through a series of local presentations that encourage helpseeking behaviour, and raise the level of community competence in supporting
someone with mental health issues.
Terang, Hamilton, Port Fairy$15,225
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Northam Senior High SchoolNortham Senior High School Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Program
Improve the knowledge, skills, and selfefficacy of Northam SHS staff and parents/caregivers to teach, model and support social and emotional competencies to students, and support students to
improve their own social and emotional wellbeing.
Northam$20,000
York District High SchoolSocial and Emotional Learning Programs 
Improve the social and emotional wellbeing of K-Year 10 students through teacher training and purchase of resources to support the implementation across the school curriculum.
York$14,975

There are many elderly residents living there in aged care in the Southern Highlands in New South Wales who have limited financial support. In fact, the community-owned Harbison Memorial Retirement Village – which provides up to 50% of their residential places to residents who can’t afford to pay for their care and accommodation – receives no government funding for wellbeing, or capacity building programs. 

In 2021, Harbison initiated the Grand Friends Pilot Program, an inter-generational community initiative connecting elderly residents with Kinder to Year 2 students, their families and the wider community. Partway through, the program was suspended due to COVID and a lack of funding. But the Southern Highlands Community Foundation – an organisation fostering local philanthropy to support community needs and initiatives – auspiced a grant application on behalf of Harbison, and received $20,000  through FRRR’s In a Good Place (IAGP) program to complete their pilot.

Through the generous support of CCI Giving, this IAGP grant helped restart Harbison’s pilot program, which concluded in December 2021 following a short suspension. And with benefits for both aged care residents and children alike, the program has now begun to roll out to other local schools.

The weekly program involves Kinder, Year 1 and Year 2 classes hosting their Grand Friends, with everyone participating in structured activities, conversation and a shared morning tea. In between visits, the children write letters, make cards, rock friends and complete activities to prepare for the next Grand Friends visit – Grand Friends become part of the day-to-day discussions and activities in the classroom. Residents reported reduced loneliness and incidences of depression, improved memory, mood, confidence and mobility, and an increased sense of meaning and purpose in their life.. The program also saw evidence that participating children develop empathy, social confidence and language skills.

Harbison resident, Harold Griffin, believes it is a gift to be able to visit his junior class each week.

“I get a thrill out of attending the school visit. The energy and excitement the kids have, created by our group attending their school, is wonderful,“ Harold said.

$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.

HEADING: Rural mental health initiatives given a funding boost. IMAGE: Mental Health First Aid group session.

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.

HEADING: FRRR and CCI Giving make further five-year commitment to rural mental health.
IMAGE: Group shot of the Deadly Yarning & Learning participants.

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.

Mental Health training helps community get in a good place

With the effects of plunging milk prices and bushfires in South West Victoria, the community was feeling strained. Front line workers were regularly being confronted with people breaking down because they couldn’t pay their bills, afford feed for their stock or feeling financial pressure. 

The Simpson & District Community Centre (SDCC) knew it was important to keep the conversation about mental health in the community open, to continue to break down the stigma associated with asking for help. So, they wanted to equip local community members with the skills to recognise mental health issues and provide resources for referrals to support services, as well as give them skills in self-care, given they were dealing with more and more people in crisis.

SDCC was established almost four decades ago to support Western Victorian dairying communities. Around 50 people a week use its facilities for meetings and activities – from craft, scrabble days, children’s activities, adult education, digital literacy, a Men’s Shed programme and more. The centre puts considerable effort into reducing social isolation and increasing health and wellbeing in the area.

The Simpson area has been supported by a Dairy Community Support Officer who works with farming community families in crisis. In three years, the social worker’s client numbers went from 9 to 98. She identified a number of mental health issues facing the community including anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and self-imposed isolation. The community has had one suicide since the beginning of the dairy crisis and wanted to do whatever was needed to prevent more. 

Through the In a Good Place Program, funded by CCI Giving, FRRR was able to help fund the delivery the training. In March 2019, nine community members participated in a two-day Mental Health First Aid course.  Another session ran in March 2020, with a half day refresher for the previous years’ participants.  

In total, 16 members of the community were provided with the training and skills to identify and start a conversation regarding mental health. Those trained included workers from the local supermarket and Post Office, stockfeed supplier and vet group, as well as dairy farmers and volunteers from the Football Netball Club, Men’s Shed, Community Centre, Cricket Club, CFA and Landcare network. The array of participants meant that there was great community coverage, with everyone attending wearing “more than one hat” – so those new skills are going into nearly every organisation and workplace in Simpson.

Furthermore, the instructor for the First Aid program and the Dairy Community Support Officer were able to identify an opportunity to secure funding for additional training that will reach the community, regarding Mental Health in the elderly population. Transitioning off farms for older people is an area of mental health difficulty that the Support Officer sees first hand in her work in the community.

The SDCC maintains that if just one person can be supported through a crisis without a tragedy, then the program will be a success.

Training more people in the community to recognise the signs and direct them to help or help to them can only improve the long term outcomes for our community and increase the resilience and sense of connection.

By providing the training we are giving people the skills to take back into the community at their workplaces, homes and recreation activities. The more people who are able to recognise and respond to the signs of deteriorating mental health the stronger our community will be. These skills will be maintained for life and can be shared.”

SDCC Final Report

Congratulations to the SDCC for the great strength and support they provide and their ability to adapt to the community’s changing needs.

Simpson dairy farmers in a good place

In Coorow, WA, a rural town 270 km north of Perth, the community had been shaken by a series of tragic mental health incidents. 

The township has a population of just 200 and is the business and social hub for many small surrounding localities in an area dominated by farming. The agriculture industry in WA’s mid-west is changing, with businesses amalgamating so that the family farm is now often part of a larger enterprise. Businesses rely more on casual workers, reducing the local population and increasing isolation, due to greater distances between farming families.

Coorow Community Resource Centre (CCRC) is a local organisation providing professional services to the community, and they clearly saw the need for more informal, activity-based gatherings to support the local community thorough a challenging time.  

The In a Good Place program was the perfect fit to support this group in their aims. They successfully applied for a grant of $10,350, funded by CCI Giving, and got to work planning a series of motivational community dinners to encourage the Coorow community to come together for shared learning and social interaction.

The FRRR grant enabled the group to engage guests speakers for the ‘On Speaking Terms’ event – ordinarily the high cost of travel would reduce access to such talent, and guest speakers Peter Rowsthorn, Ernie Dingo and Karl O’Callaghan were a special drawcard to get the community together. The events were held at the Coorow District Hall in March, July and October 2019, on dates that worked within the local farming activities timetable for the people of the Shire of Coorow and surrounding shires of Perenjori, Carnamah and Moora.

Each event in the series also included presentations from mental health services in the region such as Wheatbelt Mens Health, Midwest Health service and the Desert Blue organisation. Dinners were catered by the CCRC and four school students from the area volunteered as wait staff. A ‘goodie bag’ was given to attendees to take away, including a Health Services in the area booklet compiled by the CCRC. The evenings were advertised and reported on by local newsletter, the Coorow Magpie Squawk. 

Deborah Maley, Coordinater at CCRC said, “The Coorow CRC achieved everything we set out to with this program. We delivered three evenings with high profile speakers and had an amazing attendance to each and every one. 

“Each speaker had a different way of putting forward their message and this meant that everyone could relate in different ways. All speakers created conversations within the attendees and also with the community as a whole.” 

The group expected they might get 100 attendees to the event, but their smart plan enticed 224 people to attend the series, a remarkable outcome for a town of just 200 people. They have since reported that health agencies represented at the dinners have been contacted by community members following the info sessions, so they are hopeful that the message is reaching some of those local people that will benefit from mental health support. 

FRRR has awarded $200,000 to 11 locally-led community initiatives that will provide mental health and wellbeing support for remote, rural and regional communities.

Healesville Primary School has been awarded a grant to conduct the Let’sTALK Program. The Let’sTALK Program is a shared mentor training run through schools including at Mount Pleasant Road Primary School (pictured)

Funded through the In a Good Place (IAGP) program, these grants provide support for community-driven initiatives that reduce social isolation, increase social participation and encourage people in remote, rural and regional communities who are at risk of, or are experiencing, mental health issues to seek help. The national grant program, now in its fifth year, is funded by CCI Giving, the charitable foundation of Catholic Church Insurance (CCI).

This year, the IAGP grants awarded range from $12,000 to help local businesses and their employees in Kingaroy, QLD to support and improve mental health and wellbeing through a series of workshops, through to $20,000 to provide immediate, person-centred, and compassionate care for community members experiencing mental distress by establishing a peer-staffed, community drop-in centre in Castlemaine, VIC.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said it’s critical to offer this program, as many rural communities across Australia don’t have access to the level of resources that they need when it comes to mental health and wellbeing support.

“Many rural people rely on a sense of strong community to get through the difficult times. But, after a year and half of COVID-19 restrictions, the events and activities that would usually be a way for people to connect and heal, haven’t been able to go ahead. So, many people are feeling increasingly disconnected and socially isolated,” Ms Egleton explained.

“On top of the cumulative impact of natural disasters like drought, fires, flood and cyclones, this has meant that many rural Australians now have an even greater need for both preventative mental health measures, as well as non-clinical support for mental health and wellbeing issues. It also means that communities have had to think outside of the box and find new ways of helping people to connect and care for their mental health.

“That’s why it’s really encouraging to see so many innovative, community-led initiatives that are geared towards helping people in remote, rural and regional communities gain better access to the mental health support that they need.

“We’re grateful to be able to partner with CCI Giving to support these local projects, which we know will really make a difference,” said Ms Egleton.

Jeremy Yipp, CCI General Manager, General Insurance Claims and Chair of CCI Giving, said that improving rural Australia’s access to mental health resources is crucial.

“The In a Good Place program provides important support that is now, more than ever, vital for the mental wellbeing of rural Australia. We are pleased that through our partnership with FRRR we are able to provide funding for these community-led initiatives designed to support and connect the community to the tools they need to care for their mental health and wellbeing,” Mr Yipp said.

Some of the 11 mental health initiatives funded include:

  • Wesley Mission Queensland – Murgon and Cherbourg, QLD – Marcus Mission – Building Suicide Prevention Community Capacity in South Burnett – $18,619 – Boost the community’s ability to support vulnerable males by training and supporting local men to deliver the Marcus Mission suicide prevention initiative.
  • Pro Patria Centre Ltd Ashmont, NSW – Kitchen Garden to Plate: Nutrition for the Mind, Body, and Soul – $17,160 – Support the mental health and social connection of veterans, first responders and their families by developing a kitchen garden to support future therapeutic gardening and nutrition programs.
  • Quorn Community Sporting Assoc Inc – Quorn, SA – Don’t Wait til You’re Stuffed! – $13,900 – Encourage people to come together and boost community resilience by bringing in a guest speaker to share vital tips and advice.
  • Dignity Supported Community Garden – Nubeena and Dodges Ferry, TAS – DIGnity Supported Gardening Sessions – $19,440 – Improve social participation and support mental wellbeing of vulnerable community members by providing expert mental health counselling and Occupational Therapist support to participate in therapeutic horticulture sessions.
  • Healesville Primary School Healesville, VIC – Let’sTALK Program at Healesville Primary School – $20,000 – Empower staff, students and families to feel safe to talk openly about their mental wellbeing and provide skills to encourage and support help seeking behaviours through a shared program of learning.

To support grants like this through FRRR, make a tax-deductible donation at https://frrr.org.au/giving/.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
Castlemaine Community House IncCastlemaine Safe Space
Support community members experiencing mental distress by establishing a peer-staffed, community drop-in centre by providing immediate, person-centred, and compassionate care in a non-clinical setting.
Castlemaine, VIC$20,000
Central West Family Support Group Inc In a Good Place
Build mental health awareness in the community to reduce stigma and improve mental health and wellbeing
Condobolin / Lake Cargelligo / Murrin Bridge, NSW$20,000
Circular Head RSL Sub Branch IncCanines Fostering Community Connections - Improving Veteran Well-being in Rural Tasmanian Communities
Improve the social participation and mental health of veterans by supporting their pairing with and training of Assistance Dogs.
Smithton, TAS$19,613
Dignity Supported Community GardenDIGnity Supported Gardening Sessions
Improve social participation and support mental wellbeing of vulnerable community members by proving expert mental health counselling and Occupational Therapist support to participate in therapeutic horticulture sessions.
Nubeena / Dodges Ferry, TAS$19,440
Healesville Primary SchoolLet'sTALK Program at Healesville Primary School
Empower staff, students and families to feel safe to talk openly about their mental wellbeing and provide skills to encourage and support help seeking behaviours through a shared program of learning .
Healesville, VIC$20,000
Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce & Industry IncSHINE - Supporting Mental Wellbeing through Information, Leadership and Education - Stage 2
Boost and strengthen community resilience by running workshops to help local businesses and their employees support and improve mental health and wellbeing.
Kingaroy, QLD$12,000
Pro Patria Centre LtdKitchen Garden to Plate: Nutrition for the Mind, Body, and Soul
Support the mental health and social connection of veterans, first responders and their families by developing a kitchen garden to support future therapeutic gardening and nutrition programs.
Ashmont (Wagga Wagga), NSW$17,160
Quorn Community Sporting Assoc IncDon't Wait til You're Stuffed!
Encourage people to come together and boost community resilience by bringing in a guest speaker to share vital tips and advice.
Quorn, SA$13,900
Southern Yorke Peninsula Community Youth on Yorkes
Help local youth-focussed organisations to understand and support young people to develop mental fitness and resilience through the employment of a dedicated youth worker.
Yorketown, SA$20,000
The Southern Highlands FoundationGrand Friends
Foster friendships and increase social connection by bringing together residents from the local aged care facility with primary school children for shared activities.
Bowral / Moss Vale, NSW$19,268
Wesley Mission QueenslandMarcus Mission - Building Suicide Prevention Community Capacity in South Burnett
Boost the community’s ability to support vulnerable males by training and supporting local men to deliver the Marcus Mission suicide prevention initiative.
Murgon / Cherbourg, QLD$18,619

$200,000 available to fund community-led mental health initiatives

FRRR, in partnership with CCI Giving, is once again offering grants to support grassroots initiatives that improve and strengthen the mental health of communities in remote, rural and regional Australia, through the In a Good Place (IAGP) program.

Grants available to support rural mental health

The IAGP program, now in its fourth year, is the centrepiece of a five-year partnership between FRRR and CCI Giving. To date, IAGP has awarded $600,000 in grants to 42 community-led projects that foster good mental health and wellbeing in remote, rural and regional communities.

This year, $200,000 is available, with grants up to $20,000, for projects to ensure that communities have access to mental health services and support; to build and nurture social connections and community participation; and provide access to mental health training and education.

Jeremy Yipp, General Manager, General Insurance Claims at CCI and Chair of CCI Giving, said social connectedness is so important for the mental wellbeing of those living in rural communities, particularly during times of crisis.

“In the last three years, the In a Good Place program has funded a range of community-led projects that have encouraged people to stay connected, seek help and feel supported, especially in rural areas recovering from events such as drought, flooding and now COVID-19.

“Like CCI Giving, FRRR shares our belief in the value and importance of remote, rural and regional communities and recognises that maintaining good mental health is a multi-faceted and lifelong process, requiring a range of approaches to accommodate for different needs and priorities – like responding to an unprecedented event,” said Mr Yipp.

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said that COVID-19 has amplified the need for equitable access to services and trained support in rural Australia.

“As the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health and wellbeing continues to evolve, it’s more important than ever that those living in remote, rural and regional Australia have access to mental health services, tools and support,” Ms Egleton said.

These tools include mental health training and education, which can then go on to ensure greater access to critical services and professional support.

“One of the very first grants funded through this program was led by Lifeline Tasmania’s Suicide Bereavement Support Group. Their project expanded its program outside of Hobart and into four rural Tasmanian communities that had been identified as having heightened risk of impacts from suicide deaths in the community,” Ms Egleton explained.

“Through the project, locals were empowered to provide access to mental health support in their own community and were given training and resources to increase community understanding and knowledge of suicide postvention.

“Our partnership with CCI Giving means that we can support these kinds of community-based, non-clinical mental health approaches, which we know are more approachable for people in rural areas who may be unwilling to seek help due to a culture of self-reliance, and fear of the stigma associated with asking for help,” Ms Egleton said.

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 8 June 2021. The Expression of Interest form and more information is available here. Applicants can also call 1800 170 020.

In the remote locality of Clarke Creek in Queensland’s Isaac Region, a community of 320 people have been doing it tough in recent years. In March 2017 Tropical Cyclone Debbie and flash flooding devastated the area, and then came the drought.

People from Clarke Creek mostly own or work on cattle stations, many run by extended and intergenerational family groups. School-aged children in the area were exposed to many impacts of Cyclone Debbie – from damage to community and family infrastructure, livestock and pet animal losses, to financial strain putting pressure on their families.

A problem-solving school

The saving grace of this community is the Clarke Creek State School (CCSS), which, in the absence of a township, serves as the community hub. It caters to the needs of 17 students from Kinder to Year 6, extends support to siblings, parents and extended families of those students, and provides a meeting place for all groups in the area, including the P&C Association.

The Clarke Creek P&C Association knew it was critical to support children through all this, and that school can help facilitate healing by providing the sense of normality that’s needed after a disaster. Since residents of Clarke Creek had to travel up to 230kms to access health and professional services, the P&C Association knew that, for help to be constructive, it would need to be brought into Clarke Creek.

The school had previously gained the services of a chaplain directly though the National Schools Chaplaincy Program, however the school could only afford one visit per fortnight without outside funding. By late 2018, it was clear that there was a need for ongoing disaster support for families. With so many pressures affecting the ability to fundraise locally in the tiny community, the P&C Association applied to FRRR’s In a Good Place program. A grant of $10,000 funded by CCI Giving essentially doubled the chaplain’s visits to weekly from July 2019 until March 2020, when the Department of Education funding applications opened.

Chaplaincy support proves vital

In small schools, the school chaplain is often the welfare provider, and plays a key part of the school support team.

The chaplaincy support at CCSS started shortly after the school and community were devastated by cyclone Debbie, and proved to be highly valuable to students, staff and the broader community, in their ongoing recovery and general mental health and wellbeing. The chaplain attends the school one day each week, working with the children in groups and one on one sessions. She provides emotional support and fosters leadership and kindness in the classroom, playground, and at school events.

“Chappy’, as she is fondly nicknamed, has been imparting those crucial life skills to the children and helping them to deal with the many challenges unique to living in a remote community in an isolated context.

It was a crucial time to bring in extra support, and the P&C Association don’t make light of the importance of Chappy’s role. Throughout COVID-19, the chaplain helped children deal with changes to their learning and became a central figure of stability for parents and the wider community.

The CCSS Principal notes how important the chaplain is in helping students transition through their education.

“I think the older students love the way she makes sure they all know that they have a voice and that someone cares enough to make the time to listen. She helped prepare older students for boarding school, and taught younger ones to be engaged in learning and practising kindness.”

The chaplain attends school and community events, and works with other schools in the cluster, thus creating support networks in the broader communities and creating an inclusive atmosphere and strengthened sense of community. But it’s the flow-on effects from the children’s gains that have the greatest power, as described in the final report:

“Our greatest achievement has been just stabilising our community. Oddly, this was really achieved through the children coming home from school with this positive energy and outlook from their time with Chappy, rather than working direct with parents and community. When the parents knew the kids would be ok and had someone strong to lean on, it was like a weight lifted and the school became the place of ‘normalcy and support’. Things picked up from there.

“In a small school and community, we have to stick together. Chappy has fostered this sense of belonging and caring in our children and it emanates from there.”