Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

The organisers of the ICPA SA Arid Lands conference. A group of women standing side by side

While the population of the South Australian Arid Lands is small, with just 24,000 people to a 525,000km2 area, there is a strong and proud community spirit. Many families and people volunteer in community and government-led organisations, on top of their personal responsibilities. In the face of severe drought conditions, it can be difficult to maintain this spirit of resilience. Between 2017 to 2020, the region experienced one of the worst droughts on record. Every landscape, community, business and family in the region continues to feel the impact of that drought to this day.  Communities in this region must adapt and prepare for educating children in a very different way to their city counterparts, given the ever-changing impacts of seasonal weather, including drought.

Isolated Children’s Parents Association Marla-Oodnadatta (ICPA) is responsible for organising an annual state conference designed to enhance and enlighten agriculture-dependent communities and drive local action to assist in preparing for future challenges. This year’s ICPA conference was partially funded by a $5,000 FRRR grant awarded through the Community Impact Program, funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund as part of the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative.

By hosting the conference in Quorn, the ICPA made it easier for their members throughout SA to voice any concerns in relation to educating geographically isolated children. They reported that 35 separate organisations and 150 individuals participated.

They also organised a family-friendly, post-conference event to attract and engage the involvement of more men and families in the ICPA. Festivities included a town treasure hunt put together by Rural Aid, face painting, glitter tattoos, an auction, and a 20/20 cricket game between the ICPA men and Quorn cricket club.

By securing the grant, ICPA enabled their volunteer member base to attend the conference at no charge, strengthening connections and setting themselves up well to achieve great outcomes long into the future.

Kirsty Williams, the Marla-Oodnadatta Branch President said that it is great to have support for regional and remote groups like the ICPA. “Being volunteers, the support of FRRR makes our job that little bit easier.”