Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The NSW / VIC border towns of Albury / Wodonga and surrounds were severely impacted by the cross-border lockdowns during COVID restrictions. THose who live in these adjacent communities consider them one town, yet community members were unable to cross the border unless there was an extenuating circumstance. That meant families were unable to support isolated elderly family members and those living in challenging conditions, and this was exacerbated by the devastating effects of the Black Saturday bushfires which also affected the community.

HEADING: Combatting COVID with Care. IMAGE: Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare Logo.

The COVID Regional Community Support program, which was funded by the New South Wales Government and delivered by FRRR, was designed to support community groups and associated volunteers that incurred expenses in delivering food and personal care items to individuals and families affected by COVID lockdowns, by contributing funds to support ongoing service provision.

One such organisation to benefit from this program with a reimbursement grant of $13,500 was Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare, who has supported those in need in their community since 2011, and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic was remarkable.

FoodShare commenced their Community Pantry program in 2020, which enabled food hampers to be delivered directly to members of the community. To alleviate some of the hardship experienced by families in the region due to the long-term impacts of COVID and cross-border lockdowns, they also coordinated two local pop-up hamper drive-throughs in September 2021, which provided 300 families with emergency food relief.

During the peak of the COVID outbreak, 1,200 food hampers, including culturally appropriate ingredients, were distributed locally across the region. More than half of these were delivered directly to local homes as part of a coordinated COVID emergency relief effort.

To facilitate the immediate increase in demand for FoodShare’s services, operations were extended to seven days a week. This put a strain on resources, particularly on volunteers, but was necessary to keep the community safe. On average, 30 households received hampers each day, and in many instances, this doubled on occasions during the peak of the local COVID outbreak.

To provide specialised support for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, FoodShare was supported by local organisations such as Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council (AWECC) and Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group. These agencies took enquiries from CALD households who were in isolation due to the COVID outbreak. These agencies also assisted by nominating culturally specific ingredients and in some instances. their volunteers purchased additional food items and delivered these to the CALD households.

In addition to delivering hampers to local residents, FoodShare was also asked to deliver food and personal care hampers to various locations where people had been forced to isolate in accordance with Health Orders, including Rutherglen Hotels, Howlong and the Albury Caravan Park. Over 4,500 kilometres were logged from October to December last year on just one of the FoodShare vans, which was dedicated to supporting COVID operations. To support the heightened increase in demand, an additional van was also hired in November to support delivering hampers to COVID households.

This is a wonderful example of the critical role that so many local NFPs played, and the way in which they collaborated with other groups to support their community. FRRR is pleased to have been able to support this program and help the NSW Government to reimburse FoodShare for some of the costs incurred in supporting their community.

Thirty-four local groups and not-for-profits that delivered food and care hampers to regional communities during the height of the 2021 COVID-19 restrictions will share in $300,000 from the NSW Government’s COVID Regional Community Support (CRCS) program.

HEADING: Regional NSW groups reimbursed $300,000 for COVID relief hamper delivery.
IMAGE: High angle view of a cardboard box filled with multicolored non-perishable canned goods, conserves, sauces and oils shot on wooden table. The composition includes cooking oil bottle, pasta, crackers, preserves and tins.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said more than 72,000 hampers were delivered to residents in regional and rural parts of NSW, including Ballina, Tweed Heads, Leeton and Albury.

“These groups and organisations dropped everything and dipped into their own funds to support isolated residents during last year’s COVID-19 restrictions by partnering with Resilience NSW to prepare and deliver food, essential items and relief packs to those in need,” Ms Cooke said.

“The $300,000 will cover expenses like fuel, couriers, and logistics costs, helping these groups and organisations to continue their wonderful work into the future, including at the Ballina Hot Meal Centre which is using its $5,024 grant to purchase new freezers.”

Each grant being provided through the CRCS program ranges from $1,000 to $30,000 and is administered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal.

Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal CEO Natalie Egleton said the funding recognises the critical role that local community groups played during the pandemic.

“We’re delighted that 23 per cent of applications are from Indigenous community groups, all of which played such a vital role in ensuring that their community members were cared for, and we are pleased to be able to support them with this funding,” Ms Egleton said.

Applications are currently being accepted for grants of up to $50,000 for capacity building initiatives, such as attracting and retaining volunteers and staff, enhancing governance skills, building digital capacity and creating partnerships that foster stronger, more resilient communities.

See the full list of recipients below:

OrganisationLocationsGrant
Agape Outreach IncorporatedTweed Heads - Byron Bay$1,681
Albury Wodonga Regional FoodshareAlbury$13,500
Allambi Care LimitedLake Maquarie - Warners Bay - Central Coast - Cessnock - Newcastle$7,000
Armidale / Uralla Meals On Wheels IncorporatedArmidale$3,183
Ballina Hot Meal Centre IncorporatedBallina$5,024
Belong Blue Mountains IncorporatedBlue Mountains$1,000
Camden Haven Community at 3Lakewood$1,125
CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-ManningNewcastle - Tareer - Forster - Maitland$1,977
Christian Outreach CentreKempsey - South West Rocks - Macksville - Nambucca Heads$1,350
Community Resources LimitedWollongong$3,540
Coonamble Neighbourhood CentreCoomamble - Gulargambone - Quambone$10,810
Food For Life Community Care IncorporatedShoalhaven - Primbee - Wollongong - Kiama $13,500
Galambila Aboriginal CorporationNambucca Heads - Coffs Harbour - Woolgoolga - Bowraville$30,000
Gloucester Worimi First Peoples Aboriginal CorporationGloucester$1,000
Gunnedah Meals on Wheels AssociationGunnedah$5,514
Indigenous Futures Foundation LimitedTweed Heads South - Lismore - Ballina - Grafton$30,000
Ivanhoe Central SchoolIvanhoe - Balranald - Carrathool$6,100
Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health And Community ServicesBatemans Bay - Narooma - Bega - Catalina - Dalmeny$30,000
Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre IncKempsey$4,500
Leeton Community Care Development IncorporatedLeeton$13,500
Lions Club Of Raymond Terrace IncorporatedRaymond Terrace$1,420
Livefree Project IncorporatedNewcastle$13,500
Miyay Birray Youth Service IncorporatedMoree - Mungindi - Garah - Boomi$18,345
Moree Sports Health Arts And Education Academy Aboriginal CorporationMoree$5,723
Orana Support Service IncorporatedDubbo - Wellington - Narromine$21,000
Oxley Community Transport Service IncorporatedWest Tamworth$4,500
Queer Family IncorporatedMullumbimby - Byron Bay - Lismore - Kyogle$2,250
Salt CareUlladulla - Bomaderry - Nowra - Kangaroo Valley - Jervis Bay$20,460
Sapphire Community Projects IncorporatedBega - Tura Beach - Bermagui - Candelo - Quaama$4,703
Seventh-Day Adventist Church - South New South Wales ConferenceBathurst - Blayney - Mandurama - Cowra$5,600
The Heartland Foundation LimitedPort Macquarie$5,000
The Mend AND Make Do Crew IncorporatedSouth Grafton$6,750
Uralla Neighbourhood Day Care Centre 1Walcha$4,860
Weilwan Local Aboriginal Land CouncilGulargambone$1,585

Local community groups and not-for profit organisations in remote, rural and regional NSW are being offered grants to boost preparedness for future pandemics and other disasters.

Woman unloading fruit box out of the back of a van

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said the program, funded by the NSW Government, was established to strengthen groups that have played a critical role in supporting communities throughout COVID-19.

“These grants are being offered through the Resilience NSW COVID Regional Community Support (CRCS) program and are administered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR),” Ms Cooke said.

“Grants of up to $50,000 will be awarded toward regional capacity building initiatives such as those that attract and retain volunteers and staff, train to enhance governance skills, build digital capacity and create partnerships that foster stronger, more resilient communities.”

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that regional organisations in NSW have gone above and beyond for their communities during the pandemic, especially when for many it was also on top of floods, fires and the mouse plague.

“Remote, rural and regional community groups and not-for-profits really stepped up in what were extraordinary times. We take our hats off to them for how they have persevered, especially in the face of so many challenges.

“The findings of our Heartbeat of Rural Australia study last year highlighted that many community groups were really fatigued and able to operate at only a fraction of their usual capacity. They were struggling to find volunteers and staff, and while many groups turned online, the digital divide that exists between urban areas and regional areas became really apparent, as did several other capacity constraints.

“This program has been designed in partnership with the NSW Government to enable community groups to address these issues and fill the gaps that became more evident during the pandemic. We know that every community is different, so it’s deliberately flexible and will support community groups to be better prepared in future,” Ms Egleton said.

To find out what can be funded through the capacity building stream, and to apply, visit https://frrr.org.au/ResNSW-Covid-Support.

Applications close 5pm AEST on Friday 29 April 2022.

Local groups and not-for-profit organisations that delivered food and care hampers to community members across regional NSW during the 2021 COVID lockdowns can now apply to recoup up to $30,000 of their distribution costs. Reimbursed funds will be available in late April 2022.

The Resilience NSW COVID Regional Community Support (CRCS) program will be funded by the NSW Government and administered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR).

Eligible hampers for the program are those delivered to people who were directed by Health orders to stay in isolation, and had no other means to access food or personal care items themselves.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the NSW Government was committed to supporting community groups and not-for-profits in their important work.

“We know that many community groups had to dip into their own funds to distribute hampers and relief packs to people who needed extra support during the lockdowns,” said Ms Cooke.

“This funding opportunity will cover expenses like fuel, couriers, and logistics costs, helping them to continue their wonderful work into the future.”

Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons recognized the contributions that had been made to support communities impacted by COVID-19.

“These groups deserve our gratitude for all they have done to support their fellow community members in regional parts of the state,” said Mr Fitzsimmons.

“This program, which is being run by FRRR on behalf of Resilience NSW, will allow eligible organisations to be reimbursed up to $30,000.”

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that regional community groups across NSW have worked hard to support their communities through COVID, despite themselves facing funding and operational challenges.

“Rural not-for-profits’ resources are stretched incredibly thin, and for many groups, the costs of distributing these hampers came out of their own pockets, so getting money back into their kitty is vital,” said Ms Egleton.

“We have worked closely with Resilience NSW to ensure that the reimbursement application process is straight-forward but if you have any questions just give us a call on 1800 170 020 and our team will be happy to talk you through it.”

A second stream of this program will open in March. The Capacity Building Stream is designed to help strengthen local community groups and not-for-profits in regional areas, so that they are better able to continue supporting their communities through COVID and future crises.

To find out what can be funded through the Reimbursement Stream, and to apply, visit https://frrr.org.au/ResNSW-Covid-Support.

Applications close 5pm AEDT on Tuesday 8 March 2022.