Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Grants part of $2M funding commitment for region

Thanks to a new partnership between the FRRR and The Yulgilbar Foundation, 22 projects in the Clarence Valley and surrounding region have received a much-needed boost this year, with community groups sharing in $1,214,206 in grants.

Local groups secure more than $1.2M in funding

Funded through The Yulgilbar Foundation Fund program, these grants are part of $2 million investment across the region over a three-year period. Funded initiatives include 19 one-off grants and two multi-year grants that will strengthen community capacity and resilience in the wake of the 2019/20 bushfires, drought and continued challenges across the region.

A broad cross section of groups has received support for a wide range of initiatives, with grants ranging from $1,600 for a creative writing workshop to $571,000, distributed over three years, for the Changing Lanes Community Youth Garage program run by The New School of Arts. Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation has also been awarded multi-year funding, totaling $148,413, for a project focused on resilience and wellbeing of Indigenous boys and men from Clarence Valley and surrounds.

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said that the breadth of the projects funded reflects the diverse needs of communities in the Clarence Valley and surrounding areas.

“Great ideas and initiatives to create strong, vibrant communities are prevalent across the Clarence Valley and neighbouring regions. However, the last 12 to 18 months have made it pretty challenging to find the funding and resources to bring them to fruition.

“These grants, which are generously funded by The Yulgilbar Foundation, mean that these 22 ideas will become reality and have a positive impact on the capacity and resilience of their communities. It is fantastic to have dedicated funding available to support this region,” Ms Egleton said.

The projects supported range from creative arts, heritage and culture projects, events and festivals, gardening, street-scaping, creating employment-pathways, IT equipment and business, leadership and mental health workshops.

Further opportunities for grants will be available through The Yulgilbar Foundation Fund in the coming year. More information is available here.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
Clarence Valley

North West Film Festival Inc.

Arts North West Incorporated

Drought Recovery Outreach Program - Sara Storer Tour

Encourage people to come together and improve community spirit in 12 drought affected northern NSW townships by bringing live music events featuring Australian singer/songwriter Sara Storer.

Clarence Valley Shire, Tenterfield Shire, & Kyogle Council$70,000
Richmond Valley Business & Rural Financial Counselling Services Incorporated

Family Farm Succession Planning

Support and strengthen the local economy by running six community information workshops to help farming families in drought and bushfire affected communities plan for the future.

Clarence Valley Shire, Tenterfield Shire, Inverell Shire, Gunnedah Shire$24,000

North West Film Festival Inc.

Arts North West Incorporated

Choir of Fire

Encourage bushfire affected communities in regional NSW to come together and unwind by running a touring music concert event in 12 towns.

Clarence Valley, Tenterfield, & Inverell Shires$30.000
Copmanhurst Pre-School Inc

Healing circle surrounded by native garden

Enhance areas that support local recovery at Copmanhurst Preschool, through establishment of a healing circle and native garden.

Copmanhurst$8,650
Blicks Community Incorporated

LET’S CONNECT- The Blicks Community Communication Strategy

Grow community resilience, connectedness, and emergency preparedness in the Dundurrabin area through the development and implementation of a Community Communication Strategy.

Dundurrabin$25,000

Ewingar South Tabulam Community Sports Center

Clarence Valley Council

Ewingar Rising

Enhance local recovery and increase wellbeing, through delivery of community music festival on anniversary of disaster event.

Ewingar$19,860
Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation

Rising Warriors Program - Healing Our Way

Boost resilience and wellbeing of Indigenous boys and men in the Clarence Valley and surrounds through culturally relevant activities and events.

Grafton$148,413 *
OZ Green-Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (Australia) Incorporated

Resilient Communities - Clarence Valley Shire

Build community awareness and skills in disaster preparedness with the delivery of Resilient Communities program in the Clarence Valley.

Grafton$85,815

The Long Way Home

Byron Writers Festival

Creative writing workshops with Cate Kennedy

Encourage the development of creative writing skills through accessible workshops for Clarence Valley residents.

Grafton$1,600
The New School of Arts Neighbourhood House Incorporated

Changing Lanes

Improve social connection, leadership skills, and employment pathways for young people in the Clarence Valley through the Changing Lanes Community Youth Garage program.

Grafton$571,000 *
The Susan and Elizabeth Islands Recreation Land Manager

Ceremonial Stone placement and seating on Susan Island

Celebrate local Indigenous culture and heritage by placing a Ceremonial Stone, seating and signage at a gathering place on Susan Island, Grafton.

Grafton$4,700
Lawrence Historical Society Incorporated

Technology to Preserve Local Cultural History and Easy Public Access

Build organisational capacity to maintain and share information about the local area through new technology and website for local museum in Lawrence.

Lawrence$19,220
The Mend & Make Do Crew Incorporated

She He Shed

Increase social connectedness and improve facilities delivering arts and craft-based activities in Grafton through fit-out costs and equipment at the She Shed He Shed maker’s space.

South Grafton$30,000
Woombah Residents Association Incorporated

Woombah Wellness Community Garden Raising Videos & Media Makers Mentoring Program

Build organisational capacity to promote local environmental sustainability through development of virtual resources for Woombah Community Garden.

Woombah$12,100
Port of Yamba Historical Society Incorporated

Expanding stories of Yaegl people and their culture at Yamba Museum

Build organisational capacity of Historical Society in Yamba to celebrate local Indigenous culture through the installation of artwork and enhancements at local museum.

Yamba$20,000
Coffs Harbour
Glenreagh School of the Arts Incorporated

Cedar and Steam Art and Photo Exhibition 2021

Boost capacity of Glenreagh School of the Arts to support local artists and community access to artworks by upgrading display systems.

Glenreagh$4,000
Goondiwindi
Lanescape Goondiwindi Incorporated

Masterplan Art Trail

Enhance the amenity and vibrancy of Goondiwindi through a public art project engaging the local community.

Goondiwindi$25,000
Kyogle
Proprietor Bundgeam Preschool Incorporated

Community Bike Track & Solar Installation

Boost community preparedness, resilience and wellbeing in Terrace Creek, NSW, through the development of a community bike track and solar installation at local preschool site.

Terrace Creek$42,000
Border Ranges Riding Club Incorporated

Supporting the activities of Border Ranges Riding Club 2021-2022

Boost access to inclusive community activities in Woodenbong through local riding club fostering skill development, social connection, and resilience.

Woodenbong$6,975
Woodenbong Progress Association

Upgrade of the median strip in MacPherson Street, Woodenbong

Enhance the streetscape and boost community spirit in Woodenbong through the beautification of the main street.

Woodenbong$5,600
Tenterfield
Tenterfield Show Society Incorporated

Connecting 1876-2021

Build capacity of Tenterfield Show Society to preserve local history and culture through restoring and digitalizing the photographic collection of the region dating 1876 to 2021.

Tenterfield$4,906
Arts North West Incorporated

CreativiTEA - Seasonal Stories of the New England North West

Boost community resilience and connections in four townships in Inverell and Tenterfield Shires through a series of creative workshops over two years.

Tenterfield & Inverell Shires (Drake, Ashford, Tingha, Torrington)$55,367
* Funding to be distributed over multi-year projects

Local NFPs in Nowra area invited to have their say

FRRR is inviting not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) in the Nowra region to take part in an upcoming series of workshops to plan how the Foundation’s Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program can support them to create stronger organisations for a stronger community.

IRCF support for Nowra's not-for-profits

FRRR’s IRCF program is run in partnership with The Snow Foundation. Now in its second year, the five-year program is designed to strengthen local NFPs on the South Coast through localised support, resources and funding, so they can make lasting impacts in the community.

Called “Community Roadmap” (CR) workshops, these sessions will allow NFPs in the Nowra region to come together and map out how they will leverage the funding and support of the IRCF program over the next four years to maximise opportunities for long-term sustainability.

Kate Dezarnaulds, FRRR’s IRCF Program Coordinator, said that the workshops will look to the future, helping Nowra NFPs uncover shared goals and challenges, as well as offer a safe space for participants to reflect on and share the considerable challenges of the past year.

“These workshops are the next stage in the IRCF program. They are a great opportunity for local NFPs to come together and celebrate their resilience, as well as aid collaboration and sharing of resources,” Ms Dezarnaulds said.

“As a result of these Community Roadmap workshops, the Nowra NFP community will have a list of priority projects that the IRCF program can then support over the next four years with grants and expert advice.

“The Community Roadmap is likely to uncover shared goals and needs such as strategic planning, governance training, digital marketing, finance advice and support, and additional resources to support innovation, sustainability and recovery.

“We are working with expert local facilitators, Campfire Coop, and invite a wide range of representatives from local NFPs in the Nowra region, including those not currently funded through the IRCF program, to come along to the workshops and have their say,” Ms Dezarnaulds said.

FRRR also announced $83,000 in funding for three projects in Nowra as part of the program’s initial Start-Up Grants. These projects will help to support and connect the community to respond to the challenges of 2020. In total, nine projects have already been funded through the IRCF program, thanks to the generosity of The Snow Foundation.

Nowra Community Roadmap workshops

Community leaders are invited to come along to either the day or evening session.

WhenDay session: Tuesday 1 June, 9.30am-3.30pm (lunch provided); or
Evening session: Wednesday 2 June, 5-9pm (light meal provided)
WhereDay session: Nowra School of Arts
Evening session: Bomaderry Bowling Club
HowDay session: Bookings via link
Evening session: Bookings via link

Nowra Start-Up Grant Recipients

  • Pathways Foundation Ltd – Pathways Foundation – $30,000 – Accelerate the implementation of a new COVID-adapted and localised strategic plan with seed funding for the appointment of a community development officer.
  • South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation (trading as Waminda) – Waminda’s Social Enterprise Initiatives – $23,000 – Strengthen the financial sustainability of Waminda while developing the skills and confidence of Aboriginal women to secure employment, through the implementation of a business plan for three social enterprises.
  • Noah’s Inclusion Services – Enhancing the strength, effectiveness, and longevity of the Noah’s Inclusion Services workforce – $30,000 – Rejuvenate the pipeline of available allied health care workers and support succession planning for Noah’s leadership position s through a coaching program and a long-term student placement partnership with the University of Sydney.

See the funded Nowra projects already underway here.

For more information about the Investing in Rural Community Futures program in NSW South Coast region visit – https://frrr.org.au/funding/people-grants/investing-in-rural-community-futures-nsw-south-coast/.

In the historic town of Wingham, in the Manning River Valley on the NSW Mid-North Coast, Circatus offers classes in general circus skills, stilts and aerial skills. It might sound very niche for a rural town, but the program actually fills an important gap –the need for non-competitive and expressive arts opportunities for the community to engage with.

Circatus gives the community – mostly young people – access to diverse and vibrant circus and creative arts in an inclusive and nurturing environment. Since 2009 just one trainer, founder Jill Watkins ran the show, averaging 90 students and 17 classes a week. Local catchment communities include Hallidays Point, Bobin, Elands, Mount George, Taree and Landsdowne, all within 20-50 minutes drive, however there were some families who would travel from as far as 75kms away to attend.

Rethinking the model for sustainability

Originally operating as a sole trader business, by the end of a decade of operation it became clear that the organisations’ structure needed to be rethought. Circatus had built quite a little community through classes at its Wingham space, performance projects at community events, delivery of circus as a sports elective at Wingham High School, weekly scheduled classes for a third of the 100 families in the Manning Valley Community who home school their children, and wellbeing workshops for teenagers with disability, Aboriginal youth and children in out-of-home care. One supporter wrote that “While training students in the physical circus arts, [Jill] also facilitates life skills such as confidence building and teamwork.”

Jill brought together a passionate group of five committee members and 18 volunteers and Circatus entered a new model of operation as a NFP, opening the doors for the beginning of Term 3 2020 and operating five classes a week. But building capacity to deliver more classes was a priority. Circatus needed a group of trainers to make the program sustainable into the future. Most performing arts work is in metropolitan areas, so regional circus programs find it very difficult to attract circus artists to teach.

A grant to build capacity

The group successfully applied to the Small & Vital stream of Strengthening Rural Communities to help fund a ‘Train the Trainer’ program. This would provide weekly mentoring and coaching for ten volunteer trainers, supported by a weekend intensive session for aerial skills. The funding will also cover documentation of a teaching manual, supported by videography to be utilised by these 10 future Circatus teachers. As of February 2021, the project is underway and  there are six new trainers teaching a variety of circus skills to locals aged four years to adult.

What a win-win outcome! Trainer participants are supported to develop their leadership skills and an employment pathway, AND the general community has the opportunity to continue enjoying a vibrant and culturally enhancing experience, right on their doorstep. This circus can stay in town – watch this space for more great outcomes from this project!

Woolomin is a rural village located in North West slopes of NSW. It’s home to just 279 residents, including many families, but there is no public playground for the children to play at.

Many young families in Woolomin have limited capacity to travel to larger centres for sport and recreation, due to the costs associated and lack of public transport. Children were increasingly using the streets to play in, and this was problematic, with the main road through the centre of town being quite busy with traffic (connecting Tamworth to popular tourist destinations including Nundle and Chaffey Dam).

It was clear that developing a safe place for children to play, and along the way helping to combat social isolation in the village, was a community priority.

Tamworth Regional Council, in partnership with the Woolomin Recreation Reserve Committee (WRRC), took on the challenge, working together to come up with a plan that would make their community stronger and more socially connected. 

Consisting of 12 members, supported by an additional 10 passionate volunteers, WRRC was established in 2004 to develop Woolomin Recreation Reserve as an important hub to the Village, and they’ve since made a range of improvements for the community – the playground project was next.

The two organisations applied for FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, and were thrilled to hear that they had received a $59,000 grant, thanks to generous funding by the Australian Governement and Stockland CARE Foundation. At the time of applying, Woolomin was fully drought-declared.

With the new funding to install a playground at the local recreation reserve, they got to work, but not before consulting with those who would benefit most from the project – the local kids.

Woolomin Public School children played an integral part in designing the play area through their input into the type of equipment that would be installed. They actually started drawing up plans in mid 2018! The children’s requests were limited only by their imagination, and can be read in their letters to council here. While not every request was possible (zip lines, merry-go-rounds, monorail, a fairy floss fountain, mango trees, skate park and a Beyblade stadium were all put forward, as well as more traditional playground equipment!) it was clear that they put a lot of thought into their submissions.

One student wrote:

“In the park I would like to see a lots of trees, plants, shade shelters, seating, a bike rack and things that can help the environment.”

The final design includes components which encourage fine-motor skill play, gross-motor skill play and imaginative play as well as promoting an accessible and inclusive space for children of all abilities.

There’s nothing stopping these creative Woolomin kids from adding to the playground in the future so that it’s all they desire. For the meantime, it’s clear from their letters that it will bring important benefits.

“A park in Woolomin would make me very happy because it would give me a place to go to calm down and stuff.”

“Thank you for building in Woolomin as it will help the kids be active.”

“Thankyou if you build it. It will be so much fun and help people meet others.”

A number of visitors to the community are accessing the playground, and the local community feedback is very positive. A neighbouring land holder commented that it is “just lovely to hear the children laughing and having fun, I have seen mum reading the paper in the sun and the children on the play equipment.”

The playground has created the opportunity to draw family and community members to a central spot in their community, to spend time together, play and provide a sense of connection and wellbeing.

Well done Woolomin!

Tackling stigma around youth mental health

Mental health difficulties are the most common health challenges for young people, with between 20-25% of Australian adolescents experiencing a mental health or substance abuse issue in any given year. In the Bega Valley, youth mental health has been identified as a major issue facing the region. With a lack of public transport, limited education opportunities and few social spaces for young people – outside of playing a sport – a youth dance organisation has become an important alternative and a vital hub for self-expression and creativity.

Bega-based fLiNG Physical Theatre provides opportunities for young people to work with local and visiting professional artists to create original contemporary performance projects. They aim to give voice to regional perspectives, and designed a powerful youth-centric research and performance project called ‘My Black Dog”, which set out to learn about and support the mental health of young people living in the Bega Valley.

The project had two components; the creation of a moving, original performance exploring youth mental health, and the design and delivery of wellbeing workshops for high school students exploring how they can creatively and practically support their wellbeing. But to deliver it, they needed increased resourcing and capacity.

A grant of $17,700 from FRRR’s In a Good Place program, funded by CCI Giving, was awarded and spread across the project to help realise the final performance outcome. It enabled the employment of two fLiNG Alumni, who returned to the Bega Valley to perform in the work, demonstrating potential future pathways for younger fLiNG Company members, who look to these people as role models. Funds also supported a local year 12 fLiNG Alumni to be employed to co-deliver the Art & Wellbeing workshops in schools around the region, ensuring the program is relevant and speaks on the level of those it’s being delivered to.

The live performance, entitled ‘My Black Dog’, was co-created with fLiNG Company members (14-18yrs) across all aspects of activity. The work’s themes – isolation, disconnection, grief and bullying – were set in a school context, and recognisable for many in the young audience. The uncomfortable territory also revealed the characters’ resilience and capacity for them to reach out and support one another.

It ran for a season of eight performances. This project reached more than 750 individuals, and the Art & Wellbeing workshops were delivered to 152 students in local schools. It all helped to break down stigma, learn about what is occurring in the community, and help generate conversation on an issue that is often difficult to talk about. Each performance was supported by local mental health professionals.

The community response to the show was exceptional, and many were inspired to share their own stories. Exploring and talking about the difficulties that young people come up against is the best way to begin to solve and heal them, and fLiNG Physical Theatre is contributing to the conversation in a highly creative and collaborative way. It was the recipient of the 2019 WayAhead Mental Health Matters Award for Youth, and shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award.

Gabriella Rose, fLiNG’s Co-Artistic Director, explained that the project has enabled a deeper understanding of how mental health issues may present in a young person, and what things can be done to support them.

“It has also revealed the enormity of the problem in regional areas, the lack of infrastructure and support available to isolated people. Through round table discussions with school welfare officers, mental health workers, parents and teens, it revealed how overwhelming the situation can be, but also how hard people are working to build better support structures around vulnerable young people in our community.”

The project’s final report also notes:

“Ultimately the My Black Dog project reiterated that within our community, mental health issues are common, and they can impact everyone. fLiNG’s Artistic Directors saw the Bega Valley community take up the offer to connect with this work and to start a conversation. The more we talk about mental health, the better we will become at looking after ourselves, recognising when we need support, and helping each other get through it.”

The impact of investing in resilience

Hovells Creek Landcare (HCL), NSW received an FRRR grant to support a series of workshops to increase land management knowledge and strategies, at the same time as strengthening community and social connections and wellbeing.

When drought strikes, the toll of the dry land can have an overwhelming impact on a farmer’s livelihood, family and community.

The group has been running workshops on drought and land, and resource management with expert speakers, using a $19,554 Tackling Tough Times Together grant received in the thick of the drought.

These workshops provided Landcare members with the latest thinking and resources for drought management, as well as a social interaction opportunity. They aimed to support farmers and community members to feel that they are doing their best for their livestock, their landscape, their families and themselves – to plan for the future, as much as the present.

To assist with volunteer fatigue impacting the HCL during the demanding drought, the grant also helped to fund a Coordinator to manage the workshops. The Coordinator organised expert speakers, promoted the events and arranged the venues and catering. The grant also funded any expert guest fees and travel expenses.

Experts spoke on topics ranging from managing mental health, to soil and moisture monitoring, and livestock feeding strategies.

Around 50 to 70 people participated, including a mix of Landcare members and local landholders, but with sessions shared online and in newsletters and local media, the insights were shared widely. The participants varied in terms of their level of knowledge and understanding of climate change and its impacts. They all had differing community and individual pressures as a result of the ongoing drought, and were presented with a suite of options to help them respond.

According to one of the former committee members, the workshops had the following impacts on participants: an increase in wellbeing, knowledge and capacity – with much greater awareness of climate change scenarios and importantly the likely local impacts. They learnt about tools, technologies and improved land management practices to effectively, sustainably and productively manage natural resources and adapt to significant changes in climate.

As a result of FRRR’s support for the project, funded by the Stockland CARE Foundation, HCL was able to secure more funding for a soil moisture probe in the Valley to enable producers to access real time moisture levels, rainfall and soil temperature data. This probe will help with plant management and maximise growth opportunities both now and into the future.

The Glen Innes Severn LGA in the New England region of NSW experienced limited rainfall for several years, culminating in severe drought conditions in 2019, and was consequently impacted by the Black Summer bushfires. One local organisation that has been supporting landholders and the community to manage and maintain the natural resource base of the Glen Innes region for the past 31 year is the Glen Innes Natural Resources Advisory Committee (GLENRAC). 

They received a $19,980 grant funded by the Westpac Group from FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program to build skills, knowledge and confidence of the Glen Innes farming community through a series of 12 workshops focusing on drought management techniques, natural resources and sustainable agriculture and recovery. The funding was used to cover the costs of advertising, catering, venue hire, and presenters’ fees and travelling expenses.

Fittingly, the first GLENRAC Focus Event was on the hot topic of water management. Some of the other topics in the series included Restoring Earth, Getting through the Dry, Demystifying Carbon, Focus on Renewables and a Farmer Update. Two other events that were well-attended were the Fit Farmers session, and Rural Women’s Day, both attracting around 45 people.

The workshops also provided a forum for peer support and community connection to assist people with drought recovery, helping to reduce the social isolation that often occurs for landholders who are facing dry and challenging situations, and increasing the connection between those facing similar conditions. In all, a total of 424 people participated in the workshops which were held over an 18-month period from February 2019 to July 2020.

Kylie Falconer, GLENRAC’s CEO said, “These events became important opportunities for our local farmers to connect with other people. Many were busy hand feeding, carting water and dealing with the other unanticipated problems from drought, for example machinery break downs, sourcing feed, or renegotiating finance with banks. People really needed an organised forum to come together, to find out new information on drought matters or other emerging issues such as carbon farming and renewable energy.”

Like many other organisations, GLENRAC demonstrated great agility and flexibility when they had to convert their final three workshops into online webinars due to COVID-19 restrictions – a first for the organisation, and one that was received well by the participants.

“I am most proud of the fact that GLENRAC delivered these 12 events to our community when they needed the information and social connections the most. We were able to help when it mattered most, and feedback from participants has been wonderfully appreciative.”

Kylie Falconer, CEO, GLENRAC Inc.

When faced with the heartbreaking reality of rising deaths among young people, the team at Byron Youth Service (BYS) stepped in to remind their community that young lives matter, and that everyone deserves to feel happy, safe and valued. 

Since 1987, BYS has been advocating for young people between the ages of 12 to 24 years old, by creating, supporting and leading community action. Made up of a team of eight staff and ten volunteers, BYS has been the primary provider of youth services in Byron Bay and the surrounding area since their inception. 

Sadly, for many disadvantaged and at-risk students in the area, there is no access to computers or the internet at home. Having access to the right information and support can help these students overcome issues such as mental health, substance misuse, self-harm, sexual assaults and eating disorders. 

Among one of their many projects, the team at BYS runs Mullumbimby Cottage, where up to 40 disadvantaged students access outreach programs using modern technology, that are designed to build resilience and create a sense of place. The programs on offer at the Cottage provide skills training and facilities that help support and empower young people to overcome the challenges they may face. 

Being able to discuss the issues they’re facing without fear of shame, fear or embarrassment is key in building resilience – and BYS has found that delivering programs using technology can support better outcomes than traditional methods might. 

The laptops at Mullumbimby Cottage allow BYS to run information sessions, show videos, and educate participants on safe social media privacy settings. In both individual and group settings, laptops allow youth workers to provide the support needed to disclose any issues or concerns young people have, in a safe and trusting environment. 

And, after using the same computers to access these programs for over a decade, Mullumbimby Cottage needed a major technology upgrade. Through FRRR’s ANZ Seeds of Renewal program, BYS received a grant for $6,895, which allowed them to purchase five new Apple MacBooks. In addition to having access to the programs BYS run, the new laptops are also available for writing resumes, searching for jobs, researching courses and completing homework. 

The contribution Byron Youth Services has made to their local community is incredibly important, and FRRR is proud to support Mullumbimby Cottage on their mission to help every young person reach their full potential.

When teachers at Nambucca Heads High School in northern NSW decided to embark on a practical vocational skills program to help their students become job-ready, the community came on board to help out.

Principal Simon McKinney and Trade School Coordinator Gary Cattanach were looking for an innovative, student led project that would lead to higher retention rates for students and would also boost employment opportunities for Aboriginal students in the community. They settled on designing, creating and constructing a total of five sculptures with cultural significance that continue to be celebrated in a community sculpture installation. The project allowed students to lead their own learning, a method that had already been successful in improving student retention and engagement.

Aboriginal students worked together with community groups, who offered workspaces, mentorship and other in-kind support. The work was completed before, during and after school, in both paid and voluntary capacities, to create these fantastic sculptures. A $20,000 grant from the Innovation for Community Impact (I4CI) program, funded by the NSW Dept of Family and Community Services and The Sally Foundation, meant they could afford the materials they needed, making their dream a reality.

Students who participated in the program also had the opportunity to earn their Bronze Medallion and learn valuable small business skills, increasing both their employability and social capital in the community. By the end of the program, many students had achieved full time, part-time or casual employment.

In the acquittal report, Simon McKinney said, “The project allowed all students – girls, boys, and those with special needs – to be on an equal footing. Training and development for future employment were at the centre of all their achievements. The wider benefit is that Aboriginal people are developing and leading communities in employment and youth development.” The project came together in the Maagunda Festival, held on the main beach in Nambucca. The whole community came together to view the statues and learn about the cultural motivations and meaning behind them. To this day, the presence of the sculptures has become a tourist attraction; a welcome outcome for a community heavily reliant on tourism and recovering from bushfires.

For high school students studying agriculture in South East NSW, hands on experience gives them the skills they need to gain employment when they finish their studies. For 200 students from across 11 different schools around Nowra, this meant having a go at the School Steer Spectacular at Nowra Showgrounds.


A $5,500 grant from the ABC Heywire initiative meant that South Coast Beef Producers Association (SCB) could spend three months mentoring students as they learnt how to feed and prepare steer for the Hook and Hoof competition. This involved hands on, industry-based learning with a pathway into the agriculture industry.


In addition to the steer competition, SCB conducted a number of skills-based workshops to build the students understanding of the techniques required in preparing and showing. These included the selection, grooming, parading and judging of cattle, and carcass assessment. Students were also expected to present a report on the project to a panel of judges. The presentations had to demonstrate: the hands-on preparation of the steer, the animal science and recording of the steer project, the agribusiness and commercial outcomes and how the project was recorded and reported.


The project mentored secondary school students who are studying agriculture and who are interested in a future career in the agriculture industry.


Some schools returned home to commence preparation for the next Spectacular with the students from Moruya High starting their own Beef Cattle Club and negotiating with a local beef producer to provide them with cattle to train for the 2019 Spectacular. Already, a number of students involved in the Spectacular are now studying agriculture at a tertiary level.


One of the teachers involved said of the day; “Thanks for providing the students with the fantastic opportunity, they really did enjoy and learn which was fantastic.”


Another teacher said; “There is more fruit from the Spectacular, more kids down at the ag plot breaking in cattle, older kids mentoring younger or inexperienced ones. Great stuff!”