Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The Loxton region of South Australia is the central hub of the grain producing area of the Northern Murray Mallee but also produces a range of other crops including citrus, wine grapes and almonds, as well as livestock. However, this productive region experienced three years of drought between 2017-2019 and, at the time this project was put forward, was in its fourth year of drought, with more than 2,000 farming business affected.

Farmers and regional communities more broadly, face numerous barriers to accessing traditional forms of mental health support, due to reduced access to health professionals in rural areas, long waiting lists, stoicism, stigma around mental health and a tendency to minimise problems. There is often distrust of many health professionals and hesitancy in engaging with mental health services, who farmers perceive as not understanding their way of life.

Given these issues, and the significant impact that long-running dry had on the whole community, wellbeing had been a significant focus in the Loxton community. For example a sell-out musical, ‘Kick Off Ya Boots’, written by local farmer John Gladigau, and performed by locals, had successfully started conversations about mental health and wellbeing. The success of ‘Kick Off Ya Boots’ prompted Dr Kate Gunn, Clinical Psychologist, Founder of ifarmwell.com.au and Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Rural Health at the University of South Australia (UniSA), to continue working with locals, including the ‘Kick Ooff Ya Boots’ team, to implement what became known as the Vocal Locals project. In addition to providing a way for the community to better support one another, it was also an opportunity to further research the uptake of health and mental-health promoting behaviours within communities, especially as droughts are expected to increase in their frequency and intensity in coming years.

Supported by a $148,250 grant through the Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program, this project was co-designed locally to enhance drought resilience by strengthening the capacity of professional, social and community networks in Loxton. The aim was to support mental health in local networks by training local ambassadors (i.e. the Vocal Locals) at events and via the freely available ifarmwell modules, and then supporting them to pursue their own wellbeing goals with a local wellbeing coach, and post about what they were doing for their wellbeing on social media.

In addition to drawing on many years of research in this field, conducted by Dr Gunn and her team, the approach built on the local success of a musical written by Loxton farmer John Gladigau, who agreed to act as the Program Coordinator. His musical ‘Kick Off Ya Boots’ celebrated rural life, explored challenges commonly faced by farming families (e.g. succession planning) and with guidance from Dr Gunn, incorporated wellbeing messages and tips to cope with difficult circumstances. The logic was that it would be powerful if individuals from the region saw similar wellbeing messages being reinforced by multiple local people they know.

There were five parts to the Vocal Locals project:

  1. Training: Ten ‘Vocal Locals’ and 17 other community members participated in a half-day mental health knowledge and skills workshop. A further half-day session for the Vocal Locals helped orientate them to how the Vocal Locals campaign would work, including how to brush up on their social media skills. The Vocal Locals also completed the five, freely available online ifarmwell modules, a tool for reducing distress and improving mental wellbeing among farmers, and encouraged others to do the same.
  2. Wellbeing coaching: Vocal Locals each completed eight wellbeing coaching sessions designed to help them pursue their own wellbeing goals, and post about them on social media.
  3. Social media posting: The local volunteers posted roughly once a week on social media about their wellbeing journey, and there was a public Facebook group created which attracted 870 followers, with 6,800 people reacting to, commenting on, or sharing the posts.
  4. Communications campaign: A broad communications campaign included a flyer drop to 2,500 households in Loxton, a two-page spread in the Riverland Football League match day program, interviews on local community radio, articles in The Murray Pioneer and the Stock Journal. The ifarmwell team also supplemented Vocal Locals’ posts on the public Vocal Locals Facebook page, with posts communicating six key wellbeing messages in different ways.
  5. Campaign dinners: Vocal Locals attended three dinners with the project team, with the last also involving family members and support people, and representatives from local organisations and government.

In an article written by ABC Digital, John Gladigau said it had been great to continue the conversations sparked by his musical.

“While these are not taboo subjects, we don’t talk a lot about mental health and wellbeing,” he said. “However, people are willing to [share] if they have the opportunity to.”

Mr Gladigau said he and Dr Gunn had been impressed with how open the participants had been in talking about their struggles.

“Even some of the really tough times… people have related to that and have jumped on and talked about their own experiences and encouraged each other. I think it’s about normalising those conversations,” he said.

Dr Gunn explained that the campaign was designed to operate at two levels.

“At an individual level, the initiative provided the Vocal Locals with the opportunity to learn more about mental health and wellbeing, and strategies that can help improve it, and to work towards their own wellbeing goals. At a community level, the initiative was designed to share practical, evidence-based strategies to help community members improve their wellbeing, increase their understanding of how to achieve positive mental health and wellbeing, and normalise talking about mental health and wellbeing and supporting others to improve their wellbeing.

“We have also been blown away by the creative ways that Vocal Locals used their role to get messages about mental health out into the community. They shared information about the initiative in their workplaces, sporting groups, farming systems groups, and agricultural bureaus for example. One Vocal Local who is also an egg producer, printed short messages on his eggs to raise mental health awareness – for example, one message was “give it a crack”. Another Vocal Local who included a photo of his ram wearing a Vocal Locals hat on the front cover of his ram sale catalogue spoke about the campaign to an audience of 80-100 local farmers just prior to the ram auction. The initiative has had such a profound impact on another Vocal Local that he pitched a radio segment to local community radio, to bring people together to share stories and talk about the ups and downs of being human. We are really proud of the impact that it had.”

Dr Chloe Fletcher, Research Associate, UniSA added that, “Our evaluation of the impact of the project in the Loxton community showed that there were statistically significant increases in the number of conversations people were having with others about mental health and wellbeing, their comfort in speaking to others about mental health, and their engagement in wellbeing activities.”

WATCH THIS VIDEO to see what the group said about the experience.

For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.

FRRR has awarded $3,084,346 to 60 local not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) in remote, rural and regional Australia for grassroots initiatives that will build their community’s resilience to drought.

Funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and a range of other donor partners, the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program focuses on agriculture-dependent communities. It’s designed to give local NFPs access to the funds and resources they need to prepare and strengthen their community’s response to future drought and climate change.

This second round of grants, which range from $10,120 to $150,000, sees several First Nations organisations receiving grants. The successful groups include Outback Academy Australia Ltd, which has received a grant of $146,966 to strengthen drought resilience through collaborative Aboriginal networks across several states.

There is also more funding to help women in rural communities come together, with support for projects like the Rural Women’s Gathering 2022 in South Australia. Their $27,000 grant will help to build drought resilience by facilitating professional, social and community connections among women.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that this diversity in applications is what allows these programs to make a meaningful difference in local communities.

“We’ve seen community-led projects that address the needs of First Nations people, women and young people. It’s this kind of tailored approach, responding to the unique challenges of each place, that will enable these communities to build long-lasting networks to build their enduring ability to manage the future impacts of drought.”

Ms Egleton also said that despite facing many challenges, these local organisations are committed to building a better future for their communities in the long run.

“Local leaders are so impressive. Many groups were still dealing with the impacts of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, not to mention extreme weather events. These circumstances have left volunteers feeling very fatigued (as we confirmed in our Heartbeat of Rural Australia study last year), and yet these rounds saw proposals for great ideas and innovative projects put forward“.

“We’re proud to partner with the Australian Government on this program, and grateful for the additional funding we have received from our many other donors. These partnerships are vital when it comes to equipping grassroots organisations with the resources, they need to ensure their regions can thrive into the future,” said Ms Egleton.

Some more of the 60 initiatives, which are spread across every state and territory, include:

  • Tharwa Community Association Inc – Tharwa, ACT – Tharwa Community Hall Critical Repair and Remediation –  $20,000 – This project will support crucial repairs for the Tharwa meeting hall. The hall is a central meeting place for local farming families and fosters connectedness and the community’s capacity to respond to future drought events.
  • Tamworth Regional Landcare Association – Wallabadah, NSW – Regenerative Practices on the Liverpool Plains: Learning & Working Together to Build Drought Resilience – $22,600 – This project will build drought resilience through two education events and a farm tour day to build understandings of risks posed by drought and climate change in agriculture-dependent communities of the Tamworth region. The project will encourage participants to shift from ‘season to season’ thinking to developing a long-term vision and plan which considers the impact of climate variability on their farming business.
  • Young Livestock Exporters Network – Darwin & Katherine, NT and Townsvillle, Qld – YLEN Leadership Program: Future-Proofing the Livestock Industry – $45,867 – This project will support educational opportunities through two training events, a leadership program and stockperson course, designed to bring rural youth together to discuss the impacts of difficult times, including drought. These events will enable the youth participants to discuss with industry experts, topics to understand the risks posed by drought, how to plan for and manage the risks, and stress, self-care and communication during difficult times, giving the participants tools that they can share with their communities, and draw on during difficult times, including times of drought.
  • Burnett Catchment Care Association – Monto, QLD – Connecting Monto producers to build resilience – $19,000 – This project will support hosting of three workshops on strategies to prepare for drought, sustainability practices and soil health during drought. Focussing on discussion about new information presented and sharing of ideas and experiences, the workshops will build locally relevant knowledge required to support the rural community’s response to the impacts of drought.
  • Tumby Bay Progress Association – Tumby Bay, SA – Improving Farmer Skills in Effective Communication and Digital Literacy, Lower Eyre Peninsula – $45,000 – This project will build drought resilience through enabling 50 locals to participate in a 16-week communication and literacy training program, focussed at building participants’ capacity to network with their communities, thus building participants’ readiness to face the impacts during times of drought. The project will support ongoing community engagement through an online networking tool for the community to continue sharing ideas and experiences to continue building connectedness and a shared sense of purpose.
  • Big Hart – Wynyard, TAS – The Watershed Project – $140,000 – This project will support community engagement events including three community dinners, a networking breakfast, two film screenings and two workshops across the North West coast of Tasmania to discuss topics such as water and eco anxiety, water and well-being, and water and local production. The events will be targeted across the local community to involve producers, local clubs, youth and businesses for the communities will work collaboratively to solve problems on environmental and agribusiness topics that are central to drought resilience at the local level.
  • Partners in Ag Incorporated – Rupanyup, VIC – Wimmera Rural Table Gathering – $28,608 – This project will support a full day event to bring rural women together to discuss the impacts of drought and a changing climate for the region. Including a panel discussion of industry experts, participants will be involved in discussions and learnings to understand the challenges faced by communities in times of drought and how community members can develop skills and strategies to deal with difficult times, including during times of drought.
  • Lower Blackwood Land Conservation District Committee – Karridale, WA – Lower Blackwood Online Community Forum & Information Hub – $49,850 – This project will build the community’s capacity to understand & implement sustainable agriculture objectives and drought resilience through an online Community Forum & Information Hub, which will provide an interactive platform to access information and resources with locally relevant information.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Tharwa Community Association IncTharwa Community Hall Critical Repair and Remediation

This project will support crucial repairs for the Tharwa meeting hall. The hall is a central meeting place for local farming families and fosters connectedness and the community’s capacity to respond to future drought events.

Tharwa$20,000
NEW SOUTH WALES
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Active Farmers Ltd.100 Mental Health Champions

This project will support trainers and community members across 47 rural communities to attend a two-day mental health first aid course. Through the course, participants will share their skills to work with their communities to respond to the challenges that arise in rural communities during times of drought.

Mangoplah$10,120
Community College-Northern Inland IncorporatedNamoi Womens Shed

This project will support improvements to increase the Namoi Women’s Shed as a venue for training and collaboration. This will support the community to meet, and develop skills and social connections, that support drought preparedness.

Narrabri$13,731
Central West Farming Systems Inc.CWFS Rural and Regional Women and Youth 'Just Brilliant' Conference 2022

This one-day conference will bring together rural women and young leaders with agricultural leaders to discuss personal, rural and drought resilience. The event will provide opportunity for participants to network across communities and seek guidance and mentorship to deal with the impacts of difficult times, including drought.

Condobolin$16,210
Cookamidgera Community Landcare IncSaving Cooka Hall

This project will support critical upgrades to the central community hall. This will make the hall accessible for more of the community to gather, strengthening connections and sharing of knowledge to prepare for the impacts of drought.

Cookamidgera$16,370
Eurobodalla Shire CouncilFor the Farmers - Finding connection in the country

This project will support two community networking events and a podcast series. It will strengthen community networks and engagement through regular meetings, and disseminate key drought information for the community.

Moruya$17,270
Adavale Lane Community Centre IncorporatedSetting Up a Connected Educational Environment to Run a Workshop on How to Prepare for a Drought

This project will support a workshop that will include insights, demonstrations and strategies that can be implemented locally to prepare for future droughts. The project will also include small upgrades to the local meeting place to improve its use for the community to share knowledge and support each other before, during and after times of drought.

Goonumbla$17,491
Weemelah HallProvide additional outdoor facilities and beautification to the Weemelah Hall Yard

This project will support improvements to indoor and outdoor facilities at the Weemelah Hall. The improvements will enable the facility to continue its vital role as a central meeting place for the community to meet, including preparing for drought.

Weemelah$18,832
Gwymac IncorporatedBuilding Farm Resilience Through More Dynamic Soils and Pastures

This project will host three workshops that will provide information on drought resilience farming and climate change. The workshops will build farmers’ and the communities’ knowledge through sharing of case studies, personal experiences and learnings.

Inverell$18,950
Monaro Farming Systems CMC IncorporatedDrought Preparedness on The Monaro – Feed Evaluating & Drought Planning

This project supports a three day drought preparedness workshop that will build local producers’ skills and capacity to evaluate and manage the impacts of drought. It will include sessions on risk management and planning, strategies on drought planning, and pasture management to prepare for, and during times of drought.

Cooma$19,050
Funding Tier 2: $20,001- $50,000
Tamworth Regional Landcare AssociationRegenerative Practices on the Liverpool Plains: Learning & Working Together to Build Drought Resilience

This project will build drought resilience through two education events and a farm tour day to build understandings of risks posed by drought and climate change in agriculture-dependent communities of the Tamworth region. The project will encourage participants to shift from ‘season to season’ thinking to developing a long-term vision and plan which considers the impact of climate variability on their farming business.

Wallabadah$22,600
Destination Tweed LtdCross-Sector Connectivity: Food + Nature + Arts

This project will build drought resilience through four agri-food networking forums to strengthen understanding of risks posed by drought and climate change, and ensure the community is better positioned to adapt to future drought challenges.

Tyalgum$25,000
Mid Lachlan Landcare IncorporatedUsing the Future to learn from past droughts

This project will support four local field days on drought resilience, on-farm drought preparedness plans and agricultural sustainability practices in the region, to build the skills of local land managers to enable them to make timely on farm decision making when dealing with the warning signs and effects of drought.

Canowindra$27,560
Clarence Landcare IncorporatedClarence Landcare Agriculture Network (CLAN)

This project will support monthly field days and other events, training and meetings to provide training on best practice land and natural resource management skills for communities preparing for and responding to the impacts of drought.

Grafton$40,520
Glenrac IncorporatedCultivating Skills and Community Connections for Glen Innes

This project supports a series of nine training workshops for community members and farming businesses, focussed on drought and risk management planning. The project provides additional benefit in fostering networks for new residents with limited social connections in the community.

Glen Innes$48,340
Bermagui Pre School Co-operative Society LimitedThe Moodji Futures Project

This project will support local events including a sustainability workshop and Long Table Dinner.  The events will focus on drought mitigation practices and support a shared sense of purpose and community belonging.

Bermagui$49,000
Caragabal Country Golf Club LtdImprove access, safety and efficiency of the Caragabal Country Golf Club as a community meeting place

This project will establish an online forum to increase knowledge sharing and stories across the community, and support small upgrades to the central community meeting place.  These activities will improve the community’s ability to share knowledge and improve social connectedness and improved mental health and wellbeing throughout the drought cycle.

Caragabal$50,000
Funding Tier 3: $50,001 - $150,000
Kempsey Shire CouncilThe Macleay Valley River to the Sea Festival

This project will support a community festival, involving a primary producer workshop to build long-term success in a post drought region, as well as mental health and resilience in times of drought. Participants will build local connections and an understanding of risks posted by drought and the changing climate.

Kempsey$56,960
NORTHERN TERRITORY
Funding Tier 2: $20,001- $50,000
Kulgera Gymkhana Club IncorporatedKulgera Gymkhana Club - Upgrade Facilities

This project will support connectedness in this very remote region through supporting small scale community infrastructure improvements at a main community facility, thus enabling the community to connect and share experiences and knowledge, and improve the community’s wellbeing during tough times, including during drought.

Kulgera$29,724
Young Livestock Exporters NetworkYLEN Leadership Program: Future-Proofing the Livestock Industry

This project will support educational opportunities through two training events, a leadership program and stockperson course, designed to bring rural youth together to discuss the impacts of difficult times, including drought. These events will enable the youth participants to discuss with industry experts, topics to understand the risks posed by drought, how to plan for and manage the risks, and stress, self-care and communication during difficult times, giving the participants tools that they can share with their communities, and draw on during difficult times, including times of drought.

Darwin, Katherine & Townsville$45,867
QUEENSLAND
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Burnett Catchment Care AssociationConnecting Monto producers to build resilience

This project will support hosting of three workshops on strategies to prepare for drought, sustainability practices and soil health during drought. Focussing on discussion about new information presented and sharing of ideas and experiences, the workshops will build locally relevant knowledge required to support the rural community’s response to the impacts of drought.

Monto$19,000
Funding Tier 2: $20,001- $50,000
Connecting Communities Australia LtdBright Spaces, Bright Faces: Renovation of the Isisford District Hospital Museum and Multi-Purpose Centre

This project will support small upgrades at a community centre to enable this formal and informal community meeting space to be used year-round and host a community event on drought preparedness for the region.

Isisford$28,508
Queensland Families and Communities Association Inc.Neighbourhood Centres Engaging to Strengthen Community Connections and Wellbeing

This project will support capacity building events including information evenings and drought preparedness packs, to share information to prepare for the impacts of drought. Community events through the project will share information for communities to adapt to future drought challenges.

Diamond Valley$46,740
Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) IncorporatedSPAA Community Field Days - Supporting Drought Resilience

This project will support five community field days that will build knowledge about agricultural practices relevant to the regions, assisting these farming communities to understand and discuss the risks posed by drought and climate change.

Goondiwindi (Qld), Dalwallinu (WA), Kyalite (NSW); Underbool (Vic); Waikerie (SA)$48,658
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group LtdDrought Resilience Awareness and Networking Forums for the Northern Gulf region of Queensland

This project will fund a series of three drought and farming forum events across regional Queensland about the risks posed by drought in the Northern Gulf region. Farmer focused forums will include guest speakers and interactive discussions and planning sessions, to build participants’ knowledge and networks to build the rural communities’ capacity to better respond to the impacts of drought.

Dimbulah, Chillagoe & Croydon$49,700
Stanthorpe Agricultural Society"Connect with the world!" LED sign installation project

This project will support community infrastructure improvements to the Stanthorpe Agriculture Showgrounds that will increase community usage of the venue to foster connectedness, improve wellbeing and increase knowledge sharing, by engaging sections of the population that are not able to access key community information in other means.

Stanthorpe$50,000
Momentum Mental Health LimitedWellbeing and Drought Resilience training for Darling Downs QLD small business teams

This project will support wellbeing and mental health workshops to rural businesses to provide training, skills and strategies to support the community prepare for and during times of drought. The workshops will build the confidence of participants to check in across the communities, identify signs of mental distress during times of drought and take action during hard times.

Toowoomba$50,000
Funding Tier 3: $50,001 - $150,000
Warra Public Memorial Hall IncRe-roofing and installation of insulation of the Warra Memorial Hall

This project will support small upgrades to a central community centre used by farming groups and the community to share ideas, network and hold community information sessions. This local meeting place will provide the community to support each other and share ideas to prepare for the impacts of drought.

Warra$115,500
Flinders Shire CouncilThe Hub: Creating connection, strengthening resilience, and activating opportunity

This community project will build drought resilience through small scale community infrastructure improvements to a main local meeting place, and through this, foster connectedness, improve wellbeing and share knowledge during hard times, including drought.

Hughenden$150,000
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Funding Tier 2: $20,001- $50,000
Limestone Coast Food & Agribusiness Cluster LtdImproving regional branding and recognition of local agri-food systems on SA’s Limestone Coast through the delivery of regional networking and capacity building events.

This project will build the region’s preparedness to the impacts of drought through connecting through six networking events and six webinars for local producers to discuss the impacts of drought locally and develop the necessary skills and knowledge for the region to respond to hard times, including times of drought. The project will facilitate professional, social and community connection to better understand the risks posed by drought and climate change, as well as fostering higher rates of innovation in the local area.

Penola$24,450
District Council of Streaky BayRural Women's Gathering 2022

This project will develop the community’s preparedness to the impacts of drought through a full-day networking event about understanding the risks posed by drought and climate change. The event will encourage both regional and local women across South Australia to share experiences and skills whilst also providing these women with tools and training, so they are better prepared to respond to hard times, including during times of drought.

Streaky Bay$27,000
Tumby Bay Progress Association IncorporatedImproving Farmer Skills in Effective Communication and Digital Literacy, Lower Eyre Peninsula

This project will build drought resilience through enabling 50 locals to participate in a 16-week communication and literacy training program, focussed at building participants’ capacity to network with their communities, thus building participants’ readiness to face the impacts during times of drought. The project will support ongoing community engagement through an online networking tool for the community to continue sharing ideas and experiences to continue building connectedness and a shared sense of purpose.

Tumby Bay$45,000
WoTL Ltd“100 billion reasons” – a program to upskill rural businesses in modern human resource leadership to prepare SA agricultural industries and rural communities for 2030.

This project will support two training workshops and an online forum for rural groups across four regions in rural South Australia. Learnings will include community risk management, planning and issues relating to specific communities, to build a collective knowledge to support these communities deal with the impacts of hard times, including drought.

Lameroo, Cleve, Keith & Minlaton$49,891
Funding Tier 3: $50,001 - $150,000
Wudinna and Le Hunte District Agricultural Horticultural & Floricultural Society IncorporatedWudinna Showgrounds Water Harvest

This project will support the local community build preparedness to the impacts of drought by developing strategies to enable the community to have a social meeting place to connect and support each other during difficult times, including times of drought.

Wudinna$109,417
University of South AustraliaStrengthening wellbeing and deepening social support in a drought-affected, agricultural-dependent community with the help of ‘Wellbeing Warriors’ to promote mental health and wellbeing within their networks

This project will strengthen the capacity of community networks in the regional town of Loxton, through three tailored workshops, involving industry experts to discuss ideas and experiences for the community to develop strategies to deal with the impacts of tough times. Training of wellbeing champions in the rural communities will assist the communities prepare for, and respond to the impacts of drought.

Loxton$148,458
Marama Community IncorporatedMarama Community Hall Revival

This project will support small improvements for this regional South Australian town’s central meeting place to increase its use year-round, fostering community connectedness and communal space for community support during difficult times, including times of drought.

Marama$150,000
TASMANIA
Funding Tier 3: $50,001 - $150,000
Big Hart IncThe Watershed Project

This project will support community engagement events including three community dinners, a networking breakfast, two film screenings and two workshops across the North West coast of Tasmania to discuss topics such as water and eco anxiety, water and well-being, and water and local production. The events will be targeted across the local community to involve producers, local clubs, youth and businesses for the communities will work collaboratively to solve problems on environmental and agribusiness topics that are central to drought resilience at the local level.

Wynyard$140,000
VICTORIA
Funding Tier 2: $20,001- $50,000
Trust for Nature (Victoria)Native grassland management on farms in south-west Victoria

This project will support a forum that will connect farmers, rural landholders and experts to discuss local issues faced in preparing for drought. The forum will build drought resilience knowledge and improve local collaboration and knowledge of the skills and strategies required to prepare for droughts.

Shelford$21,900
Paynesville Neighbourhood Centre IncSupporting a resilient community - mental health first aid training

This project will build the skills and understanding of the risks posed by difficult times, including during times of drought, through a series of eight mental health first aid courses to local community leaders. The participants will develop the knowledge and skills to engage with their communities and understand the risks posed by drought and the strategies needed to deal with the impacts of drought. Through the courses, a network of community leaders will support their communities prepare for the impacts of tough times, including during drought.

Paynesville$26,772
Partners In Ag IncorporatedWimmera Rural Table Gathering

This project will support a full day event to bring rural women together to discuss the impacts of drought and a changing climate for the region. Including a panel discussion of industry experts, participants will be involved in discussions and learnings to understand the challenges faced by communities in times of drought and how community members can develop skills and strategies to deal with difficult times, including during times of drought.

Rupanyup$28,608
Food Next Door Co-op LtdStrengthening connections between farming and young people at the Community Demonstration Farm

Through a short training course and discussion forums with Young Farmer groups and local hobby farmers, this project will support building drought resilience through increasing knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change at a local level. The training course and forums will support information sharing about climate change impacts on food production and strengthening resilience for local farms, increasing the region’s capacity to prepare for the impacts of drought.

Nichols Point$35,826
Murrabit Advancement Association IncConnecting Spaces and Places - Murrabit

This project will support improvements for a local community meeting place, to make the location more accessible to the community on a year round basis to meet in larger groups to share insights and learnings to prepare for drought.

Murrabit$37,318
Binginwarri Recreation ReserveUpgrade of Binginwarri Recreation Reserve's existing toilet block.

This project will build drought resilience through small scale community infrastructure improvements at this central meeting place for the community to support each other during hard times, and enhance the venue’s use to enable the community to share knowledge and support during disaster times, including times of drought.

Binginwarri$40,000
Gippsland Agricultural GroupGippsland Future Fodder - Connect and Prepare Initiatives

This project will support this local community group to engage with local farmers to assist farmers develop action plans to prepare for the impacts of drought. The project will also support a field day to bring together farmers to discuss key regional risk management issues and develop solutions to improve the community’s drought preparedness.

Omeo$42,920
Southern Farming Systems LtdSoil moisture and informed decisions.

This project will support training sessions across five locations in Victoria and Tasmania and online webinars to share information and resources to build local knowledge about the risks posed by drought at the local level and strategies to manage during drought times. The workshops will enable knowledge sharing, including with professionals, to expand participants’ knowledge and ability to prepare for the impacts of drought and climate change.

Inverleigh, Streatham & Bairnsdale (Vic) and Longford (Tas)$45,810
Funding Tier 3: $50,001 - $150,000
Indigo Shire CouncilCountry halls connected for farming community resilience

This project will support a Drought and Farm Resilience workshop for communities in the Indigo Shire, a collaborative Capacity Building and Drought Resilience hall committee workshop, bringing hall committees together across three communities, and small upgrades to community facilities to hold these workshops. The workshops will focus on developing the skills required to build farm resilience to the impacts of drought and will enable the agriculture dependent community to share ideas to strengthen their knowledge and build a social wellbeing that is required during tough times.

Cornishtown$98,843
Mallee District Aboriginal Services LimitedShed refurbishment to create a gathering space for Kerang Aboriginal Elders and Leaders and community.

This project will support small upgrades to community infrastructure critical for a year-round meeting place for the community to build connections and resilience. The meeting shed is a central meeting place used to share knowledge across a broad rural area in the preparation to the impacts of drought.

Kerang$136,420
Twin Rivers Men's Shed Association Inc.Twin Rivers Community Hub and Men's Shed Project

This project will support small upgrades to a central meeting space for the community to socially connect and share knowledge to prepare for the impacts of drought. The improved community facilities will build a community connectedness and support the community to bring experts to discuss strategies and skills required during tough times, including during drought.

Johnsonville$150,000
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Nyabing Progress Association IncNyabing Community Hub Accessibility and Functionality Project

This project will support small upgrades to this central community meeting place to share knowledge and information to assist the community to network and support each other in times of drought.

Nyabing$10,701
Shire of CoorowLeeman Community Networking Beach Shelter Project

The project will support improved social connection and community wellbeing, providing new infrastructure that will assist the community to prepare for and adapt to future drought events, improve wellbeing and increase knowledge sharing, enhancing an informal community meeting space.

Leeman$10,938
Facey Group IncFarm business forum for new and early career Farmers in the Facey Group catchment and surrounds

This project will support a full day community forum to build the community’s understanding of local risks posed by drought and climate change, and how to respond to these risks in the agriculture-dependent communities of the Avon and Black River Catchments.

Wickepin$20,000
Funding Tier 2: $20,001- $50,000
Balingup Progress Association IncBalingup – A Call to Action

This project will support a local event to improve the community’s understanding of risks posed by drought and climate change through group discussions and demonstrations across a range of risk management practices, developing sustainability and community resilience. The field day will develop a local understanding of drought mitigation practices to support rural community’s response to the impacts of drought.

Balingup$24,359
Blackwood Basin Group (BBG) IncorporatedStrengthening Community Capabilities and Networks for Future Drought Resilience

This project will support the grantee to provide essential training to local landholders to improve their drought preparedness through an intensive field day with leading agricultural professionals with locally specific knowledge for building drought resilience.

Boyup Brook$31,592
Southern Rangelands Pastoral Alliance Inc.Showcasing Our Resilience - Sharing Our Stories Across The Southern Rangelands

This project will produce videos and podcasts to share approaches and ideas for mitigating the effects of drought and improving rangelands condition to improve drought resilience across the district. The project will foster connectedness and build drought resilience through sharing ideas that have been tested and working collaboratively with professionals and groups within the Southern Rangelands district to share learned experiences of risks and effective changes in response to drought and climate change.

Carnarvon$34,425
The Agricultural Collective LtdLivestock Leaders Drought Resilience Workshop

This project will support a Livestock Leaders Drought Resilience event to bring together 20 young people to learn about leadership, communication and information sharing through a variety of mediums. The project will support the development of local leaders who will connect with their communities to prepare for, and during times of drought. The workshop will build participants’ confidence and skills to network and share their experiences and knowledge across their regions and more broadly.

Broome$35,000
Shire of PingellyPeople of Pingelly - Past & Present

This project supports the compilation of video stories and forums to collate community members’ experiences of droughts and the coping and support mechanisms they used to deal with the impacts of drought. The project will build the community’s knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change through local knowledge and local approaches to mitigate the impacts of drought.

Pingelly$44,895
Lower Blackwood Land Conservation District CommitteeLower Blackwood Online Community Forum & Information Hub

This project will build the community’s capacity to understand & implement sustainable agriculture objectives and drought resilience through an online Community Forum & Information Hub, which will provide an interactive platform to access information and resources with locally relevant information.

Karridale$49,850
South Coast Alliance IncClimate Conversations Conference

This project will support a conference about drought and changing climate issues and region appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The conference will provide an opportunity for professional, social and community networking whilst also building knowledge on strategies to adapt to and prepare for future drought.

Denmark$49,970
Funding Tier 3: $50,001 - $150,000
Saltwater Country Ltd.Saltwater Country-ACV Collaboration for Kimberley Indigenous Drought Resilience

This project will help build drought resilience by providing access to animal and land management information crucial during times of drought for the region, improving the skills, capacity, and networks of First Nations station workers. This project’s activities will facilitate professional, social and community connection whilst providing training opportunities around regional specific information required to prepare for future droughts in the north of Western Australia.

Gibb$145,316
Outback Academy Australia LimitedStrengthening drought resilience through collaborative Aboriginal networks and connected regenerative farming hubs

This project will support building drought resilience in Indigenous networks by supporting four regional events and a national online event to connect Indigenous farming communities to share methods and techniques best used to work in a changing climate. Co-ordinators will link information from professional sectors and government to the local regions and work with local communities to support learning from each other to develop locally relevant techniques.

Roelands (WA), Loxton (SA), Shepparton (Vic) & Deniliquin (NSW)$146,966

By Nina O’Brien, Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead

In recent weeks, with funding being awarded through various FRRR programs, we have started to see concepts lift from the page and move into activated ideas. It also comes at a time when intersecting international conversations of climate urgency relating to COP 26 and the IPCC Report feature heavily in our daily media news feeds. So, it is timely to pause, and reflect on the tapestry of drought preparedness and resilience-building activity being undertaken across Australia, and to share some observations.

Nina O'Brien

While the future climate challenges are as diverse as the landscapes where they are located; the people and communities of remote, rural and regional Australia are actively engaging in local solutions, decision-making and networking as a means of gaining and sharing the skills and knowledge needed to prepare their community and region for an increasingly drying climate, and sometimes challenge long-held attitudes.

On the national stage, the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Senate Committee recently published its finding into its enquiry on the Federal Government’s response to the drought, and the adequacy and appropriateness of policies and measures to support farmers, regional communities and the Australian economy. In addition, the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund initiatives are starting to take flight across multiple streams of investment that aim to build an economic, environmental, and socially resilient nation capable of enduring the impact of climate change. At FRRR, part of our challenge is synthesising the international, national, and state contexts with a hyper-local application of understanding and ideas to bring value to local people and places, as we work alongside them to imagine a vibrant future.

It’s our belief that remote, rural, and regional communities have the knowledge to best respond to the impacts of drought, climate change and other natural disasters. So, it has been incredibly heartening to see the diversity of response from communities in building their local networks, capacity, skills, and knowledge to respond to future drought and disaster events.

The first-round of recipients of the Australian Government Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program have elicited a range of interesting patterns across the continent. Among them, and reflective of the increasing part that women are playing in key decision-making roles in rural and regional communities, concepts to build drought resilience locally-devised by women have emerged as a strong theme across multiple states.

A case in point. Although the mean rainfall has been relatively stable across the Eyre Peninsula in the last 30 years, the average days over 38 degrees have increased, and rainfall has decreased in autumn and in the late winter and early spring months, compared to the preceding 30 year period. Against this backdrop, Women Together Learning (WoTL), from Rudall in South Australia, are actively working to building their ambassador network to support women in agriculture through five workshops focusing on future drought, climate projections and the impact on agricultural practices and rural communities. The project involves building the capacity of the WoTL Ambassadors to participate in planning, professional development, and networking.

The project will bring women together, who ordinarily may connect, to form an ongoing future network to build skills, knowledge, and personal connections to be better informed about challenges that the changing climatic patterns presents. With a mean total of 300mm rain per year, planning ahead, and collective problem solving through strong networks will be critical to the region’s success.

On the other side of the country, in a completely different agricultural landscape and climate impact context, is the Northern Rivers Community Gateway Inc who are leading the Women on The Land – Get Ready Empower Yourself Preparedness Workshop Series in Casino, in New South Wales.

This project will deliver five workshops to improve the confidence and reduce social isolation of rural and regional women, while also providing planning and coping tools for the participants to share with their broader networks. Focusing on decision making, preparedness and land management, the workshops will provide a forum to build positive mental health of rural and regional women, while also providing access to service providers and the opportunity to build networks for ongoing cohesion and support.

In another example, the Liebe Group, an active grass-roots grower group from the Dalwallinu region of Western Australia, is also playing an active role in supporting women in drought resilience through their Women In Ag Networking and Diversification (WAND) Program: Strengthening Social Connection and Farm Business Resilience. Importantly, this project will host onsite field visits and an agricultural show day to provide participants with future planning knowledge for below-average seasons and increased business acumen to adapt to the negative effects of drought. Through the project, the local women in agriculture involved in the projects will build capacity and resilience, as well as regional networks to respond to the impacts of drought, both socially and on their farm businesses.

The strength of these projects lies in the hyper-local but interconnected structure of these projects, as affirmed by the recent research commissioned by FRRR that indicates:

‘Resilience is not something that individuals or communities can achieve on their own. It is achieved through the combined and intersecting structures, processes, formal and informal networks and supports in communities working together. What we see as individual or community resilience is part of and supported by a collective effort by agencies, organisations, community groups, business and community members.’

We look forward to continuing to support groups like these, as they identify the most appropriate responses to these ongoing challenges, and equally take advantage of the opportunities that will no doubt emerge, as they strive for a vibrant and sustainable communities.

FRRR has awarded $1,413,319 to 33 remote, rural and regional communities across Australia for locally-led initiatives that will help build their region’s resilience to drought.

Rural communities share in more than $1.4M to build drought resilience

Funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and a range of other donor partners, the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program focuses on strengthening social connectedness, building social capital and funding transformative local initiatives that will enable agricultural communities to be more prepared for the impacts of drought.

The grants, which range from $10,000 to $139,000, were awarded to local groups to support community projects such as events that will bring people together, training that will increase knowledge and skills, and infrastructure that will facilitate and enable networking.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that when it comes to building drought resilience, resourcing initiatives that enhance social connectedness and networks is more crucial than ever.

“Rural communities are typically pretty self-reliant, and depend on being able to come together and work as a community to prepare for and respond to most challenges. That includes building resilience to respond to the changing climate, and this round we saw some great projects and initiatives that will strengthen resilience and respond to local needs.

“With many of these rural communities impacted by COVID-19, plus drought, fires, and for many the mouse plague, local fundraising has been even more difficult than usual. So it’s wonderful to be able to offer the support these places need to strengthen community connectedness and build their networks.

“We’re grateful to be partnering with the Australian Government, and to have the support of our other donor partners, because it allows us to back these grassroots organisations who are making significant strides when it comes to preparing their communities for future drought,” said Ms Egleton.

Some of the 33 initiatives funded include:

  • Women Together Learning (WoTL Ltd) – Rudall, Cowell, Karoona, Pinnaroo, SA – Building the WoTL Ambassador Network to Support Women in Ag – $29,625 – Building the WoTL Ambassador Network to support women in agriculture through a series of workshops.
  • Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers – Bundaberg, Gayndah, QLD – Connecting Producers with an Invisible Support Network – $16,200 – Build capacity among growers for training in mental health and wellbeing and to access local support services through a series of BBQ workshops.
  • Gippsland Agricultural Group, Bairnsdale, VIC – Gippsland Connect and Prepare Field Days – $50,000 – Increase community connection and networking activities through the delivery of field day events and installing an accessible ablution block.
  • FarmLink Research Ltd, Temora, NSW – Improving Young Farmer Mental Resilience in Times of Drought – $10,000 – Expand capacity for resilience through an interactive seminar.
  • The Liebe Group Inc – Dalwallinu, Mingenew, Dandaragan, WAWomen in Ag Networking and Diversification (WAND) Program: Strengthening Social Connection and Farm Business Resilience in the Regional Agricultural Community – $13,100 – Foster increased business acumen in drought resilience through the delivery of workshops.

MEANWHILE, Applications are currently open for Round 2 of the Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program. To be considered, they must be received by 15 November, with funds announced late February. Projects must be completed by 29 August 2022. Learn more at www.frrr.org.au/FDF

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
The Australian Landscape Science Institute LimitedReading Your Landscape
This project will bring local landholders together to study and discuss innovative agricultural practice solutions in two field days and a series of webinars, to manage agricultural dependent regions that are vulnerable to accelerating climate impacts. Through the workshops, participants will be encouraged to network and share ideas about Climate Resilient Landscape practices, and be supported by online webinars with a wider audience.
Bungonia$18,270
Monaro Farming Systems CMC IncorporatedMonaro Seasonal Outlook - Building Drought Resilience and Preparedness
This project will host a Field Day in the Monaro region that includes a seasonal outlook presentation and discussion around the Farming Forecaster tool that helps farmers make informed decision to improve drought preparedness in changing climatic conditions. Facilitated discussions and reflections from past experiences will improve collaboration across the local farming network, building knowledge about drought preparedness and an understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change, to build strategies for farmers and local communities to prepare for future droughts.
Cooma$16,700
Northern Rivers Community Gateway Inc - Women on The Land - Get Ready Empower YourselfWomen on The Land (WoTL) Preparedness Workshop Series
This project will deliver five workshops to improve the confidence and reduce social isolation of rural and regional women, while also providing planning and coping tools for the participants to share with their broader networks. Focussing on decision making, preparedness and land management, the workshops will provide a platform to discuss mental health issues of rural and regional women, while also providing access to service providers and the opportunity to build networks for ongoing cohesion.
Casino$14,289
FarmLink Research LtdImproving Young Farmer Mental Resilience In Times of Drought
This FarmLink project will host an event for Young Farmers to build the skills and networks required to manage the impacts of stress during drought, intergenerational relationships and communicating effectively within family farm businesses. The interactive workshop will bring together young farmers and experts in rural and regional resilience and mental health. Through facilitated discussions, the project will build awareness in practical on-farm strategies that improve the participants' capability to manage the stresses associated with drought and climate change in preparing for the future.
Temora$18,096
Murdi Paaki Regional Rugby League Council Incorporated trading as Creative Community ConceptsCCC Community Wellbeing Project
This project will improve community resilience through education and mental fitness sessions in schools, and a community dinner, to build wellbeing strategies and mental resilience across local schools and the community. The workshops will build community spirit, bringing the community together to discuss strategies to prepare for difficult times and the impacts of adversity.
Gulgong$10,000
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
Glenrac IncorporatedResilience, Capacity and Community Connection - Glen Innes NSW
This project will support several activities to build resilience, capacity, and community connection across the Glen Innes district including monthly focus evenings, a gardening weekend and informal events that encourage participation and discussion across the community. This project will link into other programs that GLENRAC deliver on benchmarking natural capital, carbon footprint accounting and climate change resilience to build a broader skillset for the participants and the community.
Glen Innes$49,870
North Coast Regional Landcare Network IncPartnership Development Officer for NCRLN
The North Coast Regional Landcare Network in NSW project will support 11 local Landcare networks, facilitating community connection and knowledge sharing across the groups, as well as increasing  opportunities for these participants, and the wider regional Landcare network, to participate in networking events to build a shared understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change in the local region, while also providing the communities with an opportunity to work collaboratively to solve problems common regional issues.
Lismore$50,000
Funding Tier 3: $50,000 - $150,000
Western Plains Regional Development IncShoring Up Community
This project will give local community groups the much-needed opportunity to hold meetings and get together as they prepare for future drought. Understanding the importance of the community hall for social and professional gatherings, this project will support the upgrade of the community hall to enable it to be used year-round for community gatherings, enhancing social connectedness and wellbeing in the community.
Condobolin$110,000
Riverine Plains IncorporatedEnhancing Community Networks for Drought Resilience In the Riverine
This project will deliver 30 workshops within the region to connect primary producers, landholders, and Indigenous custodians to build capacity and share knowledge to address the challenges of future drought and climate change conditions. The project will result in increased social connection in local networks and improved future coordination and collaboration between social networks, other community organisations and sectors in the local communities, sharing knowledge to build more resilient communities across the region.
Berrigan & Greater Shepparton$102,300
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Upper North Farming SystemsTools, Tech and Transformation – UNFS and Its HUBS 2022
This project will deliver a 'Tools, Tech and Transformation' workshop for farmers and agri-business followed by a series of nine Hub events to provide an opportunity for participants to network and share information to build their knowledge about drought resilience through learning about new farming systems and techniques to manage in a changing climate.
Orroroo$20,000
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
WoTL LtdBuilding the Women Together Learning (WoTL) Ambassador Network to Support Women In Ag
This project will deliver five workshops focussing on future drought, climate projections and the impact on agricultural practices and rural communities, and support the Women Together Learning (WoTL) Ambassadors to come together for two days to participate in planning, professional development, and networking to enhance their skills to support the broader network. The project will bring women together that ordinarily may not link up and form an ongoing future network, addressing the needs of rural women in preparing for future drought, and support network for better preparedness.
Rudall$29,625
Coorong District CouncilResilient Farmer Networks Building an Understanding of Managing Soil Carbon and Livestock Methane Production, Seasonal Climate Variability, and Seeking Opportunities In Times of Drought
This project will increase opportunities for a diverse group of people and communities to participate in networking through the facilitation of four workshops across the Coorong and Tatiara Districts. The workshops will build farmers' knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change, through the sharing of specialist knowledge in the areas of climate trends, soil carbon, and livestock methane. Through these workshops and networking events, a positive community culture will be built working together to build the community's capacity to respond to change and capitalise on opportunities.
Jabuk$31,000
Funding Tier 3: $50,000 - $150,000
Mackillop Farm Management Group IncLimestone Coast Women In Ag Network

This project will increase the resilience of women in the Limestone Coast region of SA to assist preparing for future drought through the delivery of four workshops for women in agriculture across the southeast region of SA. The project will also connect seven regional organisations and build linkages between these local groups to a state-wide organisation, resulting in broader reaches across the state. The network will provide lasting support and increased social connection for the group members across the Limestone Coast region.

Padthaway$70,817
Southern Cross UniversityBuilding Drought Resilience In Agriculture-Dependent Communities Through Mapping Young Farmer Information and Support Networks
In this partnership project between Southern Cross University and Agricultural Innovation & Research Eyre Peninsula, a new 'network mapping' tool will be used to provide a detailed understanding of the Eyre Peninsula young landholders knowledge network. The project will support the agricultural dependent community of the Eyre Peninsula to build drought resilience by identifying and implementing context-specific strategies through workshops and mapping. Local champions will share key knowledge with young landholders to enhance networking opportunities around drought-resilient practices.
Wudinna$77,163
The Flinders Ranges CouncilQuorn Quandong Festival
This project’s two-day community event will bring expert speakers to present on the impacts of drought and climate change on the region to highlight the importance of forward planning and preparedness. The event will also encourage participants to be involved in the activities and network to share knowledge, while also creating an awareness of agri-food systems opportunities by showcasing opportunities and benefits offered to agricultural businesses through diversification into production of 'bush foods' and use of Indigenous species, as an alternative to traditional practices to build drought resilience.
Quorn$139,000
QUEENSLAND
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Destination Scenic Rim IncScenic Rim Round-Up
The Destination Scenic Rim (DSR) project will build drought resilience and build social connection through the hosting of four events with keynote speakers across the region that will link location specific community groups, businesses, and organisations to increase collaboration and membership across the region. Held in population hubs of Beaudesert, Boonah, Tamborine Mountain, Canungra and several smaller centres, the events will bring community members together with a shared sense of purpose with an aim to increase the community's economic development and diversification.
Boonah$12,000
Macintyre Ag Alliance IncRegenerative Ag Event for Adaptable & Thriving Futures
This project’s two-day event at farms across the Western Downs will provide collaborative events and opportunities to learn about new agricultural approaches to build drought resilience practices into the regional agricultural businesses and communities. Through integrating local networks with established, broader networks, the project aims to increase the social connection, networks, and capacity of landholders for best practice farm management and create drought resilient communities.
Roma$17,188
Red Earth Community Foundation South Burnett LimitedRed Earth Community Foundation Leadership Forum
Supporting young people to respond to challenges and encourage leadership, the Red Earth Community Foundation (RECF) will host a Leadership Forum to bring together community leaders in the Burnett Inland to connect individuals, groups, and businesses. Through forum sessions, the participants will build leadership skills and form partnerships to assist the region adapt and transform to meet challenges the region will face in a changing climate. The forum will build social connectedness for the region, extend networks and create a shared sense of purpose and community belonging.
Murgon$18,524
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable GrowersConnecting Producers with an Invisible Support Network
This project represents a progressive opportunity to build capability of professional, social and community networks of producers in the Bundaberg region and build long term drought resilience and social wellbeing across the network. The project will support ongoing networking opportunities, including through initial activities including two Accidental Counselling training sessions and host two informal producer BBQ's to create a network of industry representatives who are able to recognise signs of stress and access local support services for local growers to support mental health and wellbeing.
Bundaberg$16,200
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
GroWQResourcing and Supporting GroWQ
This GroWQ Project will deliver two networking events: an Ag Industry Round Table facilitating collaboration and enabling access to support in both health services and agricultural services; and a Technology showcase on innovation and business resilience in the agricultural sector and the wider community. Industry insights provided through the workshops will increase participant knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change, providing participants with the knowledge and tools to share with their communities to respond to a changing climate.
Longreach$44,000
Lockyer Valley Growers IncLockyer Agriculture Resilience and Connection (LARC) Project
This project will bring local growing groups together in two seminars to discuss the impacts of climate change and drought on the region, as well as publications in local magazines about local issues and identifying local practices used to manage the impacts of drought. The project will also facilitate training of committee members in governance training to support their organisation to continue to support the broader grower network. Through the involvement of around 200 producers and land managers across the region, the project will enhance networking and knowledge sharing, building a greater culture of connection across the region.
Gatton$22,815
Longreach Regional CouncilCreating Sustainable Communities 'In the Bush'
This project will facilitate four community workshops and events across issues relevant to different sectors of the Longreach community including youth issues, women's, business and work topics. Workshops through the project will facilitate local networks, increase business planning knowledge and skills, encourage social connection and ensure access to support services to build resilience and future drought preparedness in the local region.
Longreach$32,500
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group LtdCroydon Shire Food Security Project
The project will establish a community-led steering group through a central co-ordinator to build a food security strategy for the region. The project will increase community engagement, a shared sense of purpose and collaboration between social networks and sectors in local communities, bringing groups together to share knowledge to build strategies to address food insecurity issues in the local area.
Croydon$37,125
VICTORIA
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
Wairewa Public Hall & Recreation ReserveSupporting Future Community Networking Opportunities
This project will provide essential support to community groups in the Wairewa region to network in the lead up, during and after future drought, through the improvement of the public hall as an ongoing social meeting place to build community connection and engagement. Upgrading the hall's kitchen and flooring will enable the local community and farmers to socially connect, as well as engaging with neighbouring communities, thus building a wider social network and community wellbeing through a common functional meeting space.
Wairewa$14,509
Charlton Neighbourhood House IncBuloke First Peoples Art Trail
Understanding the need for a year-round meeting place to build community wellbeing and a place for engagement, particularly during times of drought, this project will develop an open-air, self-guided Bush Tucker Garden that tell the stories of the local Djaara people and walking trail along the Avoca River that include First Nations Artworks that tell stories of the impacts of a changing climate and times of drought in the Charlton and Buloke area. Through the community’s involvement in the development of the garden and walking trail, the project will build a shared sense of community belonging in the area.
Charlton$21,000
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
Mallee Sustainable Farming IncCreating an Online Learning Community to Help Farmers Manage Soil In Drought
This project will create a new online learning community and network to help Mallee broadacre farmers prepare for future drought. The network will draw on the latest evidence-based information and resources on how to protect, manage and repair soils before, during and after drought. The project will deliver online learning to increase knowledge sharing and capacity of farmers to access local soil resources and peer forums to build drought resilience. Through joint learning and support, participants will build professional and social networks, sharing information to build an understanding of and resilience to the impacts of future droughts on the region’s soils.
Mildura$44,290
Birchip Cropping Group IncFilling the GAPP – A Forum for Future Farmers
This project will involve two core activities: the first is a GAPP (Growth, Adoption, Production and Profitability) regional event for new generation farmers titled ‘Filling the GAPP, a forum for future farmers'. The second activity being a round of seven locally focussed production and business resilience focussed discussion group meetings, targeting new generation, early career farmers and supporting agribusiness personnel, to facilitate the opportunity for early career professionals to exchange ideas on farming business practice and provide communities an opportunity to work collaboratively to solve problems,  building capacity and leveraging the wider Birchip Cropping Group network of industry connections to build local drought resilience.
Birchip$49,500
Gippsland Agricultural GroupGippsland Connect and Prepare Field Days
This project will increase community connection and networking through two farmer field days, bringing together local farming and community groups to discuss issues prevalent in the region. The project will increase the capacity to use this site for educational, social and networking activities for the agricultural community through the installation of an ablution block at a site frequently used for social and professional networking events, thus increasing the region's ability to support educational, social, and networking activities in the agricultural community and benefit many groups across East Gippsland.
Bairnsdale$50,000
Funding Tier 3: $50,000 - $150,000
AgBiz Assist Limited - Ovens Murray AgBiz AllianceUsing Tech to Connect, Mitigate and Manage Drought In North East Victoria
This project will bring people together informally in a series of meetups and dinners for those involved in agriculture, food and fibre, as well as a regional website to showcase agriculture, food and fibre information and newsletters and podcasts with information on provider networks across the region, providing a tool for connection and accessing regional services. Through the project, the region will have avenues to sustain community engagement and improved coordination and collaboration between social and professional networks.
Tallangatta$81,400
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Funding Tier 1: $10,000- $20,000
The Liebe Group IncWomen In Ag Networking and Diversification (WAND) Program: Strengthening Social Connection and Farm Business Resilience in the Regional Agricultural Community

This project will host onsite field visits and an agricultural day show to provide participants with future planning knowledge for below-average seasons and increased business acumen to adapt to the negative effects of drought. Through the project, the local women in agriculture involved in the projects will build capacity and resilience, as well as regional networks to respond to the impacts of drought, both socially and on their farm businesses.

Dalwallinu$13,100
Funding Tier 2: $20,000- $50,000
Southern Rangelands Pastoral Alliance IncRehydrating the Southern Rangelands of WA
This project will bring together farmers to learn about drought resilience issues that are common across the Southern Rangelands area of WA. The project will bring together a farming network, for participants to build the confidence and capability to change historical management practices to restore, repair and improve management approaches in the Southern Rangelands. Through the workshops, the farming network developed will share approaches and support to continue managing the Rangelands in the changing climatic conditions.
Yalgoo$38,740
Shire of RavensthorpeHopetoun Community Networking Support
The project will establish the connections to support networks to better connect with community members. The installation of an electronic noticeboard at the Hopetoun Community Resource Centre is to provide critical community and climate information, and promote events to build information sharing and community connection. The project will result in a coordinated and time effective response to disaster preparedness and drought resilience for the local community.
Hopetoun$39,298
Funding Tier 3: $50K - $150K
Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management IncorporatedTalkin' Soil Health - for Drought Resilience
This project will connect a network of farmers, farming advisors and support services to an awareness of local support avenues. The Talkin’ Soil Health Conference will focus on building capacity in the WA farming community to address climate challenges with adaptive technology. An on-farm workshop, podcasts and a Community of Practice will extend networking between participants, resulting in an active network of farmers, farm advisors, support services and researchers to build capacity and awareness of local industry support to share knowledge, skills, and tools to build drought resilience.
York$104,000

$2.9M in grants available for remote, rural and regional communities

FRRR is inviting applications for the second round of the Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program. These grants are specifically intended to ensure community-led initiatives and rural not-for-profits (NFPs) in agriculture-dependent communities have the support they need to build resilience against future droughts.

grants available for community-led initiatives that build drought resilience

Funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and a range of other donor partners, the program focuses on strengthening social connectedness, building social capital and funding transformative local initiatives that will enable agricultural communities to be more prepared for the impacts of drought.

Grants can support a wide range of initiatives including events, projects, activities, training and small-scale infrastructure that will strengthen community engagement, networking and preparedness for drought. In this second round, FRRR is particularly keen to hear from groups seeking between $20,000 and $50,000, although there are other tiers of funding available.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that the Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program focuses on supporting locally-led drought initiatives that build and strengthen connections in agricultural communities that are vulnerable to drought.

“Each community faces its own unique set of stressors and challenges, and is starting from a different place when it comes to building drought resilience. That’s why this program funds projects that local communities have identified will help their community better prepare for the future impacts of climate change.

“In some places, that’s initiatives like strengthening young-farmer or women in agriculture networks, and for others it might be about building knowledge of soils or better understanding the latest tools and technologies around climate and seasonable variability. Yet in other places, the emphasis might need to be on wellbeing and building mental resilience.

“We’re particularly keen to see proactive initiatives that bring communities together, to create and strengthen social networks to engage in meaningful collaboration. This is a critical part of making sure remote, rural and regional communities can thrive in the future,” Ms. Egleton said.

For more information about the Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Resilience program, visit www.frrr.org.au/networks.

There will be a free grantseeker workshop on 5 October at 11am and 7pm AEDT, for those who would like to learn more about the program and the application process. Register here: https://events.humanitix.com/networks-to-build-drought-resilience.

Applications close 15 November, with funds announced late February. Activities must be completed by 29 August 2022.

Applications now open for Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program

Community organisations and networks can access a share of $4.5 million under the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program, with grants on offer to drive action on drought resilience. The program will be delivered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR).

Networks to Build Drought Resilience

Through the Networks to Build Resilience program, the Australian Government’s investment of $3.375m, together with a $1.125m contribution from FRRR, will enable $4.5 million to be available for on-ground community capacity building projects, across two funding rounds. 

The Networks to Build Drought Resilience program will support the community organisations, networks and infrastructure that help people and communities prepare for, and live through, times of drought. The program will fund events, activities, training and small-scale infrastructure that assist communities to build their capacity.

FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said local community networks are the foundation of resilient communities.

“Through this program we’re helping to invest in the future of agriculture-dependent regions by enabling them to prepare now for periods of ongoing dryness,” Ms Egleton said.

“A key element of this program will be to build stronger networks, and to encourage greater sharing of learnings and more collaboration within and across networks.”

Applications are now open and close at 5pm AEST, 5 July 2021. Grant recipients will be announced October 2021. For more information or to apply visit FRRR’s website – www.frrr.org.au/networks.

Read the full announcement from The Hon David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management here – https://minister.awe.gov.au/littleproud/media-releases/fdf-networks-build-drought-resilience.

For more information on the Future Drought Fund, visit agriculture.gov.au/fdf.