Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Four Victorian philanthropic organisations have joined forces in an exciting $5 million partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) that will strengthen the capacity and resilience of communities over the next five years.

Five women standing in front of a garden
IRCF Victoria Co-funders (L-R): Ferdi Hepworth, Grants Lead of William Buckland Foundation ; Louise Kuramoto, CEO of the Jack Brockhoff Foundation ; Debra Morgan, CEO at the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust ; Natalie Egleton, CEO of the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal ; Sarah Hardy, CEO of The Ross Trust

Three Victorian communities will be named later this year, following a detailed process involving needs analysis, mapping key issues, causes of disruption and the funding landscape, and an exploration of community readiness for the investment. 

The partnership comprises the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, the Jack Brockhoff Foundation, The Ross Trust, and William Buckland Foundation. FRRR will deliver the program, following the success of its similar Investing in Rural Communities Futures program (IRCF) in NSW over the past five years.

The funding will enable local not-for-profits (NFPs) to become more confident and collaborative in their approach to improving and sustaining the vibrancy, resilience, and liveability of their communities, ultimately enabling them to thrive, not just survive, especially during times of natural disasters.

“Investing in and strengthening the social and economic fabric of Victorian rural communities fosters long-term resilience,” says the CEO of FRRR, Natalie Egleton. “We know that our model can deliver these outcomes, and the multi-year model builds a whole-of-community approach.”

The $5 million funding will be used to employ local facilitators, deliver capacity building activities for the local NFPs such as governance training, volunteer development, marketing and fundraising support, and events. Funds will also be allocated to the three communities via grants for priorities and for organisational capacity building. Evaluation is central to the program.

The NSW program

The NSW program started in 2018 after FRRR recognised that many grassroots organisations were ‘locked out’ of philanthropy and often unable to access opportunities to invest in their own organisational capacity due to their size, distance, financial capacity, and lack of staffing.

“Most of the NFP work that happens in small towns is volunteer run and there just isn’t any money or resources to help them be sustainable,” Natalie said. “Local leaders know what is going to make the biggest difference in their community and we knew that supporting local solutions would be key.”

The program commenced in Junee, Leeton, and Nambucca Valley with the support of Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. The Snow Foundation and Bendigo Bank then joined to enable FRRR to take the program to Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Nowra, and Bay & Basin. The Australian Government provided additional funding to expand the program in the Shoalhaven region and launch the program in Bega through their Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Program.

Evolution of the Victorian partnership

The plan to bring a similar program to Victoria began in late 2022 after The Ross Trust began discussions with FRRR and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. Conversations then began with the Jack Brockhoff Foundation and William Buckland Foundation. Importantly, the leaders in all these organisations had strong existing relationships and numerous granting collaborations with each other, as well as with FRRR.

“I could see that this program was about building the skills, resources and capacity of local not-for-profits – and that it was working,” said Sarah Hardy, the CEO of The Ross Trust. “It was also clear that any Victorian partnership would need a commitment of $5 million to get off the ground. That is a lot of money for any one mid-sized philanthropic, when we all have ongoing projects.”

Sarah said the positive and trusting relationships between the five organisations meant they were able to openly discuss whether it was a project that their trustees and directors would support.

The CEO at the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Debra Morgan, said the early conversations and resulting partnership benefited from like-minded organisations working together.

“We realised early that we couldn’t do anything this significant alone, and that working together would help us to affect better and longer-term change,” Debra said. “This collaboration sets a new bar in how we work together, and it’s certainly the longest-term project we have funded under our new strategy.”

Louise Kuramoto, the CEO of the Jack Brockhoff Foundation, said that it was the first time, other than a commemorative grant, the foundation had made a five-year commitment to a project.

“The philosophy behind this program is not unusual, but the amount and duration are,” Louise said. “The solid track record of FRRR gave all four funders the confidence to invest at such a scale. It’s wonderful that we can come together to support communities and the people in them.”

For the Grants Lead of William Buckland Foundation, Ferdi Hepworth, the program perfectly aligns with her organisation’s long commitment to country Victorians.

“We have had a long partnership with FRRR and more recently we’ve been funding a program where FRRR distributes small grants to communities, and we had already been talking about how we could better support them,” Ferdi said. “It was very easy to say yes to being part of this partnership.

“We often see governments and big business leading change, but it’s the people in the community who best know the ingredients required to help that community thrive. This project supports those people with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to work together to achieve change.”

After many emails, online and in-person meetings, visits to NSW communities, and discussions with their trustees and directors, the four funders set themselves a deadline of June this year to see if they could raise the $5 million to commence the program in July 2025. By April, they had done it.

“For four mid-sized philanthropic organisations to raise $5 million when we already have current commitments shocked us all, but in a good way,” Sarah said.

How the program will work in Victoria

FRRR will study past granting trends and community profiles and will map issues and disruptions occurring or on the horizon, as well as the funding landscape, to select the three communities. The process will also include community consultation, with a shortlisting process that will invite expressions of interest. Given the program is grounded in deep collaboration and co-design with each community, it is vital that there is a sense of readiness to embark on the five-year partnership.

Once communities are selected, a locally based community facilitator will work with the local NFP sector to scope priorities, gaps and opportunities that will be collated into a sector roadmap. The roadmap, which will be refreshed annually, will be the framework for activating capacity building activities and funding, and for monitoring progress, celebrating change, and adjusting priorities as needed.

Natalie from FRRR said she was confident many Victorian communities would be enthusiastic about the opportunity, adding that, like in NSW, it was likely the communities would be at very different starting points.

“Success is turning out to be different in each community, which is fine because the indicators we are interested in all focus on changes in mindset and sector collaboration to drive new and better opportunities for their communities – and that has been a major success,” Natalie said.

FRRR will employ a program manager who lives in Victoria and is familiar with key concerns and issues in the state. Local facilitators will also be employed in each community. Over time, it is expected that more than 20 people will be employed in the program. Staff and volunteers will benefit from training and professional development and possibly partnerships with councils, TAFEs and universities.

Deb Samuels is the People Portfolio Lead at FRRR and will oversee the Victorian project.

“We now have five years of NSW evaluation data and interviews and the recurring theme is that people in the communities feel much more empowered to make decisions and collaborate,” Deb said. “If they know a large grant opportunity is coming up, they know who to call to say, ‘let’s pool our efforts to apply’.”

Deb cited examples of success that could be replicated in Victoria, such as one NFP leader rallying to halt the closure of a local bank branch that was relied upon by vulnerable residents, and another leader now running for mayor.

“Local leaders involved in the IRCF program have shared they would not have had the confidence to do things like that in the past,” Deb said. Young people can also engage with the program and see themselves as an important part of the NFP sector.

“One of the best things somebody said to me is that ‘the funders believed in us and invested in us, and now we believe in ourselves and what we can do’.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the 11 mental health initiatives funded include:

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

To support grants like this through FRRR, make a tax-deductible donation at

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

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

Funding awarded for 112 locally-led projects

FRRR has awarded $1,589,612 in grants for 112 projects that will help build the resilience and long-term vitality of smaller remote, rural and regional communities across Australia, through its Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) program.

Strengthening Rural Communities
SRC grant recipient project – Johnstone River Community Garden

The SRC program is collaboratively funded, and its broad scope enables smaller remote, rural, and regional communities to receive funding for a wide range of initiatives that are led by local people and address local needs. The awarded grants will give these rural places a boost to achieve long-term viability and vitality.

This round of SRC includes funding across three streams – Small & Vital, Larger Leverage and Bushfire Recovery grants. Grants range from $323 for first aid and snake bite kits for the Harts Range Amateur Race Club in remote Northern Territory, through to a $25,000 grant to support healing and the preservation of culture by providing the opportunity for Kullilli people to travel to Thargomindah in Queensland and be on Kullilli country to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

For regions continuing to recover and renew following the 2019/2020 bushfires, grants range from $2,500 to encourage locals to participate in recovery activities at the Maclean Spring Festival in New South Wales, through to $25,000 for the installation of local fauna sculptures that will increase connection to place and enhance public spaces in Marlow, Victoria.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said this round of SRC has seen rural communities across Australia seek funding for inspiring initiatives that build community resilience and support individual and community health and wellbeing at a local level.

“Many communities have been impacted by multiple disasters, including the recent flooding in NSW and parts of QLD. For these regions, economic recovery from the disasters has been severely challenged by COVID-19. For community organisations, the pandemic has hampered fundraising efforts and their capacity to provide services. Understandably, local volunteers are pretty worn out. In response, we have awarded a number of grants for projects that will relieve volunteer-fatigue and alleviate the pressures that many volunteer-led groups are dealing with.

“Rural communities gain strength and vitality when locals have places to gather and connect, so it’s not surprising that we continue to see strong demand for projects that build community resilience by investing in local community assets and infrastructure, particularly the maintenance of community halls. And, as gathering restrictions ease, we are seeing more requests for work on outdoor spaces and for community events, as people come together to strengthen community engagement and participation,” Ms Egleton said.

The Small & Vital grants stream provides funding of up to $10,000 for local initiatives that enhance the wellbeing, strength and resilience of rural communities. This round of SRC has seen 52 projects in places across all States and Territories sharing in a total of $356,342 in Small & Vital grants.

Larger Leverage grants provide funding of up to $25,000, generally for remote or very remote parts of Australia. The larger grants are intended to help overcome logistical barriers that can limit the opportunity for multifaceted projects in these regions. A total of $595,362 has been awarded to 27 projects through the Larger Leverage stream.

This round the Bushfire Recovery stream awarded a total of $637,908 in grants to 33 initiatives designed to help seed and strengthen the recovery of communities impacted by the 2019/2020 summer bushfires. Further information on these Bushfire Recovery projects is available here.

Some of the 79 Small & Vital and Larger Leverage projects awarded include:

  • Cootamundra Development Corporation Limited, Cootamundra NSW – Capable Coota! – $3000 – Help volunteer organisations in Cootamundra to attract high quality executive members by providing Governance training.
  • Circulanation Ltd, Borroloola NT – Indigenous Entrepreneurship Facilitators Training Manual – Language Translation – $10,000 – Support Indigenous women to develop entrepreneurship and employability through translation of facilitator’s training manual into Kriol language to enable locally-led delivery of the training program.
  • MultiSkill Centre Ltd, Cloncurry QLD – Work-it-out Room – $9,910 – Improve access to social and physical wellbeing opportunities for disadvantaged youth in remote township by provision of an exercise room.
  • Wudinna RSL Memorial Kindergarten, Wudinna SA – Wudinna RSL Memorial Kindergarten – $25,000 – Provide pre-school children access to safe, sun-smart outdoor educational play areas by building a permanent roof structure.
  • Derwent Valley Community House Inc, New Norfolk TAS – Blair Street Community Facilities – $10,000 – Boost the use of a Community House through an upgrade of facilities.
  • Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Wail VIC – Educate, Regenerate and Inspire – Dalki Garringa Arboretum Biodiversity Program – $25,000 – Strengthen connection to local culture through the development of a First Nations educational project.
  • Environs Kimberley, Broome WA – Strengthening the Kimberley Community Seedbank: a sustainable social enterprise – $24,995 – Build Indigenous business skills and support a sustainable bushfoods industry through establishment of two seed collecting enterprises.

The SRC program is collaboratively supported by a number of generous donors, which are listed here.

The current round is accepting applications until 24 August 2021, with funds to be awarded in December 2021.

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

Jump to : ACT | NSW | NT | QLD | SA | TAS| VIC | WA

Bushfire Recovery
Australian Outward Bound Development Fund Pty Limited

Rebuilding from the Heat
Improve preparedness for future disasters at Australian Outward Bound's Tharwa site through the renewal of aged firefighting and maintenance equipment.

Bushfire Recovery

Argents Hill Hall

Nambucca Valley Council

Resilience Through Food and Cooking - Restoring Argents Hill Hall Kitchen
Increase local capacity to support recovery activities and increase preparedness for future disasters, through an upgrade to the kitchen at Argents Hill Hall.
Argents Hill$24,979
Ashby Community Centre and Public Recreation Reserve Land ManagerAshby Hall Reserve Solar Installation
Ensure viability, increase preparedness for future disasters and reduce the impact of climate change through the installation of a solar system for the Ashby Community Centre.
Community College-Northern Inland IncThe Barraba Community News
Increase the viability of local communications post bushfires, through purchase of equipment to support publication and delivery of community newsletter.
Habitat for Humanity Australia as the Operator of a PBISafer Together: Community Bushfire Recovery and Resilience in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands Regions of NSW
Boost recovery and preparedness for bushfires through coordination of community rebuilding, fire reduction and educational events.
Blue Mountains$25,000
Bobin School of Arts IncorporatedRevamping our Kitchen to Meet Community Demand
Strengthen the capacity of Bobin Hall, a key asset throughout the Black Summer bushfires, via the second-stage upgrade of its kitchen.
Jumbunna Community Pre-school & Early Intervention Centre IncorporatedBonalbo Preschool Community Strengthening
Increase community engagement and strengthen children's recovery through the installation of a natural playground and facilitating community events.
Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens LimitedPurchase of a Truck to do the Heavy Lifting
Increase volunteer capacity to manage botanic gardens, through purchase of a utility vehicle to transport water and materials.
Nambucca Valley Phoenix LimitedThe Phoenix Depot - Building Community Resilience
Build community resilience, recovery and involvement through provision of a teacher, equipment and tools for the establishment of a community facility.
Buxton Community Association IncorporatedToilet Block Restoration
Increase the functionality of the Buxton Hall through the upgrade of the toilet facilities, incorporating wheelchair access and a change table for families.
Cobargo Wellness GroupGinger The Frog Community and Professional Arts Project – A Children's’ Bushfire Recovery Project
Enhance the recovery of youth and families in remote areas of Bega Valley and Eurobodalla Shires, through the delivery of a therapeutic arts program.
Cooma Chamber of Commerce IncorporatedCooma So Much to Love
Increase promotion of Cooma region through development and delivery of the "So Much to Love" social and paid media campaign.
Early Links Inclusion Support Service IncorporatedKurri Kurri - Start your Engines
Enhance delivery of supportive services to vulnerable populations following disaster, through the creation of a sensory room.
Kurri Kurri$14,241
Friends of the Labyrinth - a standing sub-committee of Kyogle Community Economic Development Committee
Kyogle Community Economic Development Committee
Kyogle Harmony Labyrinth: A Special Place for Healing, Celebration and Personal Reflection
Ensure sustainability and build community resilience, recovery and connection through installation of an irrigation system to maintain the Kyogle Harmony Labyrinth.
Lansdowne Hall Reserve TrustRide on Mower for Lansdowne Community Hall
Reduce volunteer fatigue and increase preparedness for future fires through the purchase of a ride on mower for the Lansdowne Hall.
Maclean Branch Country Womens Association of NSWMaclean Spring Festival and Scarecrow competition
Enhance a local festival and encourage participation in recovery activities, through delivery of a community scarecrow making competition.
Tarana Volunteer Bushfire BrigadeFast Track Truck Driver Training
Reduce the burden on Tarana Volunteer Bushfire Brigade volunteers by providing professional HR driving lessons for 10 long term volunteers, in order for them to become fire truck drivers.
Larger Leverage
Coleambally Townlife Committee
Murrumbidgee Council
Coleambally Community Garden
Grow community involvement and build resilience through the provision of a shed and fence to support the establishment of a new community garden in drought impacted Coleambally.
RiverSmart Australia LimitedWOW - Improving Access and Inclusion for the Elderly and Vulnerable Groups
Improving access for visitors to the Window on the Wetlands through the installation of a sensored automatic sliding door and some additional concrete pathways.
Manning River Agricultural and Horticultural Society Taree Incorporated *Activity & Storage Shed
Build community connection and resilience through construction of a community meeting place.
Small & Vital
Berry and District Historical Society IncorporatedRenovation of the Berry Museum's Maid's Room
Enhance community identity and awareness of local culture through upgrades to the local museum.
Cootamundra Development Corporation LimitedCapable Coota!
Help volunteer organisations in Cootamundra to attract high quality executive members by providing Governance training.
Australian Agricultural Centre LimitedHost an Educational Astronomy/Agriculture/Wellbeing Event in Partnership with National Science Week 2021
Provide educational events about the links between agriculture, culture and astronomy through the delivery of the STEMConnect 2021 event for up to 1000 people.
Kiama Community Radio IncorporatedEquipping Kiama Community Radio Volunteer Presenters
Help Kiama Community Radio commence broadcast to their community via the purchase of technical equipment and provision of training for volunteers.
Gunawirra LimitedArt Therapy to Heal Indigenous Minimbah Children
Strengthen cultural identity and improve the wellbeing of Indigenous children through the provision of art supplies, murals, recordings, dance circle and natural fibres to support a Creative Arts Therapy Program.
Tooraweenah P. A.& H. Association IncTooraweenah Pasture Day
Strengthen community connectivity and engagement through the delivery of the Torweenah Pasture Day event.
Woodstock Progress AssociationWhat's WHAT in Woodstock!
Increase community participation and encourage tourism through installation of a community noticeboard and local signage upgrades.
Larger Leverage
NT Writers Centre IncNT Writers Festival in Alice Springs, 26-29 August 2021
Encourage people to come together and celebrate story telling though hosting the NT Writers Festival.
Alice Springs$24,500

Pertame School
Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

“Ngketya Nwernaka Ilkerta Mparetyeka”: Making Our Language Strong. Pertame Master-Apprentice Project
Retain Pertame Indigenous Language by passing down oral langauge skills with train the trainer Master-Apprentice language program for remote Arrente community.
Alice Springs$25,000
Yipirinya School Council IncEstablishing a Family/Community Centre of Engagement to Increase Access to Parents, Carers and Families Children's Education Through Building a Vibrant Aboriginal Educational Community at Yipirinya School
Increase engagement with families and broader community to build stronger educational supports for Indigenous students at Yipirinya School.
Alice Springs$25,000
Outback Alliance
Ninti One Ltd
Building the Capacity of the Outback Alliance
Strengthen the capacity of the Outback Alliance to advocate for Outback Australia with policy makers through resourcing and support to formally establish the entity.
LiteHaus International Inc.Digital Inclusion Program - Ngukurr School
Help students to have access to technology and the internet with the purchase of fifty refurbished computers for very remote school.
Ngaruwanajirri IncNgaruwanajirri Facilities Upgrade
Improve Ngaruwanajirri Arts Centre’s safety by replacing wiring and switchboards and expand use of centre by upgrading air-conditioners.
Tracks IncDhilala Walu – In The Now
Enhance senior citizen health and vitality through a dance program that builds social connection and celebrates Indigenous culture.
Small & Vital
Circulanation LtdIndigenous Entrepreneurship Facilitators Training Manual: Language Translation
Support Indigenous women to develop entrepreneurship and employability through translation of facilitator's training manual into Kriol language to enable locally led delivery of the training program.
Harts Range Amateur Race Club IncFirst Aid Kits
Increase community safety with provision of first aid and snake bite kits at remote community sporting complex.
Harts Range$323
St John Ambulance Australia (NT) IncVolunteer Equipment Kit Upgrades for Katherine Rodeo and Campdraft Event Health Services
Improve safety and comply with new COVID-19 infection control guidelines by updating St John Ambulance Resuscitation First Aid Kit Bags.
Bushfire Recovery
Capricorn Film Festival IncSHARKO. Inspire, Connect, Assist
Support mental health recovery, engaging men through a documentary to then participate in mental health and wellbeing workshops.
Gladstone Central$25,000
Laidley Community Centre IncImprovements to Community Facility to Increase Capacity
Enhance recovery activities delivered at the Mulgowie Hall, increasing comfort and amenity through installation of air conditioning and replacement of aging picnic tables.
Rathdowney and District Memorial Grounds Association IncorporatedNatural Disaster Preparedness - Electrical Masterplan for Emergency Response Facilities
Enhance community activities and support community preparedness for future emergency evacuations by developing an electricity supply masterplan for the Rathdowney Memorial Grounds.
Larger Leverage
Towers Players IncPaving the way for Volunteers
Strengthen and increase community participation in the Arts by upgrading performance facilities.
Charters Towers$25,000
Kullilli Bulloo River Aboriginal Corporation RNTBCDika-gala punu ŋali yanta-gala - ‘We are going back to Country’
Support healing and the preservation of culture through the provision of accomodation, transport and meals at inaugural Back to Country event for the Kullilli people during a NAIDOC Week.
Royal Life Saving Society Queensland IncSwimWest
Improve safety and awareness by implementing a drowning prevention initiative across the remote Shire of Winton.
The Youth Network NQ Inc *Lids4Kids Social Enterprise
Support climate resilience and economic recovery from floods and COVID-19, by contributing to machinery for the expansion of the Lids4Kids social enterprise.
Small & Vital
Alpha District Tourism & Development Assoc. Inc.History Signs for Pine Hill Cemetery and Alpha Old Cemetery
Boost economic development and tourism and enhance community identity through installing historical signage at the Pine Hill Cemetery and Alpha Old Cemetery.
Banana Shire Community Arts Assoc IncRestore, Refurbish, Revive: Reconnecting Community
Encourage social interaction and promote cultural activity by restoring the community Arts building.
Lions Club of Cecil Plains IncPortable PA System
Enhance community activities and increase access through provision of audio equipment for local Lions Club.
Cecil Plains$4,707
MultiSkill Centre LtdWork-it-out Room
Improve access to social and physical wellbeing opportunities for disadvantaged youth in remote township by provision of an exercise room.
QCWA Branch EskPainting Exterior of the Esk QCWA Hall Owned by ESK QCWA Branch
Increase community pride and support local recovery through refurbishment of the Esk CWA hall.
Gympie & District Landcare Group IncorporatedNew Trailer
Improve native flora and fauna along the Mary River through provision of a new trailer to support control of invasive weeds.
Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway IncAccess for All
Expand the use of the Atherton Historic Railway through provision of an all-access pathway and ramp.
Innisfail Community Band IncorporatedBroadening the Performance Impact and Capability of the Innisfail Community Band
Encourage people to come together and interact as a community by providing equipment to support COVID safe music events provided by the Innisfail Community Band.
Johnstone Region Landcare Group IncEssential Equipment Upgrade for Community Group Activities
Boost volunteer support and retention through upgrading equipment and kitchen appliances for rural landcare group.
Kalbar Progress Association IncLight Up Kalbar Christmas Tree
Boost community connection and identity by installing a new outdoor Christmas tree and decorations to be displayed annually during the Kalbar Light Up Festival.
Taabinga State School Parents and Citizens AssociationExtension of Play Area
Encourage children to be active and families to be involved in their education through improving the outdoor play area at Taabinga State School.
QCWA Branch Abergowrie & Long PocketTake Your Seat Ladies
Increase community participation and amenity through the provision of new seating at the community hall.
Long Pocket$9,660
Monto State Primary School P&C AssociationBuilding a Love of Reading in Childhood School Based Project
Increase student engagement and learning outcomes by providing new reading materials at Monto State Primary School.
North Burnett Community Service Inc.Mundubbera Community Garden Group
Encourage community resilience and involvement through forming a community garden group; including establishment of a garden, launch and a series of events.
Peak Crossing State Primary School P & C AssociationProduction of Commemorative Book to Mark the 150th Anniversary of Opening of Peak Crossing State Primary School and Restoration of a World War I Honour Board Destroyed in a Fire
Enhance community identity and improve educational outcomes through publishing a commemorative book and restoring honour board to celebrate 150 years of Peak Crossing State Primary School.
Peak Crossing$9,492
Theodore Early Childhood Centre Association Inc.Xtreme 1 Servo Bulls N Barrels Bonanza 2021 by Theodore Early Childhood Centre, Supply of Ambulance, Security, Lighting and ATM Onsite for Event
Encourage community connection and support economic recovery by providing safety, security and other event enhancements for the “Bulls N Barrels Bonanza” annual community event.
Bushfire Recovery
Advance Kingscote Progress AssociationIgniting Kingscote Through Art
Enhance economic and social recovery, through installation of silo art attraction at the entrance of Kingscote.
Kingscote Mens Shed IncConnection Through Activity for Men Living on Kangaroo Island
Increase opportunities to support local connectedness and social recovery, through restoration of a local historic Wharf Trolley.
Foodbank of South Australia IncFoodbank SA Bush Fire Zone Food Relief Program
Increase access to food for disaster impacted residents, through supporting Foodbank SA to purchase additional supplies.
Larger Leverage
Wudinna RSL Memorial KindergartenWudinna RSL Memorial Kindergarten
Provide pre-school children access to safe, sun-smart outdoor educational play areas by building a permanent roof structure.
Small & Vital
Cradock Heritage Group
The Flinders Ranges Council
Cradock Memorial Garden Bore Water Treatment
Encourage people to come together by enhancing an outdoor community space.
Cummins Community Garden
Cummins Memorial Recreation Centre Inc
Cummins Community Garden - Social Hub
Encourage community wellbeing and engagement by enhancing facilities.
Joanna Community Hall IncRenovation Rescue - Joanna Hall Kitchen
Boost the use of a community hall through the upgrade of a kitchen and improving facilities.
Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North IncPeterborough Community Enterprises - Retail Coffee and Training for the Community Bakery
Support youth engagement and skill development by initiating a social enterprise that will deliver workforce training.
Country Life CompassionVolunteer Training
Support volunteer skill development by delivering a training workshop designed to enhance community engagement.
Walker Flat and District Progress Association IncPurchase of Tipper Trailer
Improve the organisation’s ability to support and service the community through the purchase of a fit for purpose trailer to be used for conservation and recycling programs.
Larger Leverage
Impression Bay Community Development Association IncOpening up Access to the Premaydena Heritage Garden
Encourage people in the community to access a heritage garden through the construction of an all-abilities pathway.
Small & Vital
King Island Natural Resource Management Group IncWebsite Rebuild and Refresh
Strengthen community connection to the natural environment and provide conservation information through the development of a website.
George Town Neighbourhood House IncCommunity Garden
Improve access to healthy food and educational activities by developing a community garden project.
George Town$10,000
Derwent Valley Community House IncBlair Street Community Facilities
Boost the use of a Community House through an upgrade of facilities.
New Norfolk$10,000
Wynyard Volunteer Marine Rescue
Surf Life Saving in Tasmania Inc
Expansion of First Aid Capabilities at Wynyard Volunteer Marine Rescue
Improve community safety and wellbeing through expansion of training and lifesaving equipment.
Bushfire Recovery
Gippsland East Local Learning & Employment NetworkLearn at the Hub
Increase access to skill development and training that supports employment, through engaging a coordinator to initiate programs at the newly established Bairnsdale Hub.
The Beechworth Chaingang IncBeechworth Mountain Bike Park Trail Expansion Feasibility Study and Plan
Increase local volunteer capacity to progress expansion of bike trails around Beechworth through development of a feasibility plan.
Bemm River Mens Shed
Bemm River Progress and Improvement Association Inc
Bemm River Mens Shed Upgrade - Toilet and Kitchen
Boost community recovery and connection via upgrades to the Men's Shed toilet and kitchen facilities.
Bemm River$16,422
Corryong & District Memorial Public Hall IncSteps to Renewal
Increase local pride and connection to place through repairs to the historic stair case at Corryong hall.
Destination Gippsland LtdEvent School
Strengthen economic recovery and social engagement in bushfire affected communities through event coaching.
Mallacoota and District Business and Tourism Association IncConnecting Business Owners
Increase capacity and capability of local businesses to recover post-Black Summer bushfires through training and networking activities.
Mallacoota and District Historical Society IncNative Bush Food Walk
Increase connection to place and restore the local environment, through establishment of a native bush food walk around the Mallacoota Museum.
Marlo Ratepayers and Residents AssociationSnowy Estuary Sculptures
Increase connection to place and enhance public spaces, through the installation of local fauna sculptures in public spaces.
Moyhu Recreation Greasy Inclusion
Improve facilities that support local connectedness and delivery of activities through, upgrade inadequate infrastructure at Moyhu Recreation Reserve.
Upper Gundowring Recreation Rooms Inc A 8466Upgrades to Upper Gundowring Hall
Improve the accessibility and amenity of the community meeting place via upgrades to the community hall.
Upper Gundowring$25,000
Larger Leverage
Bendigo FoodshareMission Possible: A Sustainable New Home for Bendigo Foodshare
Enhance food security and wellbeing of communities through the installation of renewable energy at the Foodshare warehouse.
Central Highlands Rural HealthBeds Ain't Beds
Improve comfort and safety for aged care residents through the provision of specialised beds.
Darlingford Upper Goulburn Nursing HomeLiving Well in the Fourth Age - Comfort, Dignity and Connections
Boost the health and wellbeing of nursing home residents and respite patients by purchasing specialised diagnostic and mobility equipment.
Zoe Support AustraliaThe Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round
Improve access to educational and social programs for young mothers and their children by providing a reliable transport service via the purchase of a vehicle.
Mumbannar Recreation ReserveRenew the Loo Stage 4
Encourage greater access to a community gathering space by providing an all abilities bathroom and accessible entrance ramp.
Redbank Public Hall Reserve Committee of ManagementWater Storage for Township Bushfire Protection
Increase preparedness for future disaster events through the installation of a water tank.
Woods Farming & Heritage Museum Inc.Cooling and Heating for our Future
Boost the use and comfort of a community museum through the installation of a climate control system
Tarwin Lower Mechanics Institute Committee of Management IncTarwin Lower Hall Rejuvenation
Support connectivity and community engagement through the upgrade of weatherboards at a well utilised hall.
Tarwin Lower$25,000
Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation RNTBCEducate, Regenerate and Inspire - Dalki Garringa Arboretum Biodiversity Program
Strengthen connection to local culture through the development of a First Nations educational project.
Small & Vital
Avenel ActiveDigital Literacy Skills Program for Seniors - Be Connected
Improve connections and skills in older people by providing a digital literacy hub and training.
Kooyoora Women's Network IncBridgewater Railway Station - Community Food Garden
Foster knowledge and improve access to healthy food by establishing a community garden precinct.
Bridgewater On Loddon$10,000
The Pebble Church Heritage Association IncRain Water Tank Project
Encourage the expanded use of a community venue through the installation of a water tank.
Health Futures Australia LtdS.H.I.F.T Healthy Lunch Kitchen
Enhance food security for school children via new kitchen equipment to produce healthy lunches.
Kooreh Soldiers Memorial Hall Committee
St Arnaud Community Resource Centre Inc
2021 Kooreh Soldiers Memorial Hall External Painting Upgrade
Expand the use of the community hall and preserve the facility by painting the hall exterior.
Maldon Museum and Archives Association IncDelivering our History
Increase volunteer capacity by investing in shared community equipment.
Gippsland Employment Skills Training IncDigital Literacy and Call Centre Customer Service Training Upgrade
Expand employment opportunities for job seekers by purchasing technology for digital literacy training.
Moorngag Public Hall and Recreation ReservePainting and Heating of Community Hall
Encourage people to come together by improving the comfort and amenity of a public hall.
The Scout Association of Australia Victorian BranchProjector and Screen
Support lifelong learning and skills in younger people through the purchase of audio-visual equipment for training and educational activities.
Rupanyup Public Hall CommitteeRupanyup Hall Curtain Replacement
Strengthen community connection and engagement through improvements to a well utilised public hall.
Sandy Point Community Power Purchase and Installation of Energy Storage Batteries at the Sandy Point Community Centre
Boost safety and disaster preparedness by installing a solar battery storage system at the local community centre.
Sandy Point$9,800
Trentham Neighbourhood Centre IncTrentham Youth Group - Creating Emerging Community Leaders
Encourage youth engagement and improve social wellbeing by establishing a youth group.
Larger Leverage
Environs KimberleyStrengthening the Kimberley Community Seedbank: a Sustainable Social Enterprise
Build Indigenous business skills and support a sustainable bushfoods industry through establishment of two seed collecting enterprises.
Kununurra Agricultural Society IncHeads Up and Smile, it's Showtime!
Build a healthy, connected community via children's activities and workshops that increase attendance and encourage more local involvement in the local Agricultural Show.
Small & Vital
Augusta & Districts Community Childcare Centre Inc.Improve the Educational Resources of our Community Childcare Centre for 0-12 year olds, with a Unique Focus on Intergenerational Activities and Nature Play
Grow enrichment opportunities for early childhood development by providing nature based play equipment at new and only long day care childcare service in Augusta.
Kununurra Toy & Puzzle LibraryToy Rejuvenation Project 2021
Support rejuvenation toy library's favourite toys, reducing landfill, with purchase of tools and equipment for toy fixing and repairs program.
Lake Grace CWARefurbishment of CWA Lake Grace
Expand the use of local facilities and improve ambience and comfort of CWA Hall with refurbishment of building.
Lake Grace$10,000
DismantleMeaningful Engagement for Youth in Remote Indigenous Communities
Build school engagement through delivery of interactive bicycle re-building program that helps students master technical prowess, engineering, mathematics and physical skills.
Yiyili, Mueller Ranges$5,000
* These grants align to specific donor preferences.

About 70 km north of Roma, in Queensland’s Maranoa district, there is a crossroad, a place that most people pass by. It’s not a barren area – it has its own sense of beauty, but it is not an easy place to live either. It’s known as Roughlie.

In the five years from 2014, this small part of the world experienced pretty much everything the elements could throw at it. They endured floods, fires, severe drought conditions and decreasing commodity prices. But they are a resilient bunch of people.

During these hardships, two farmers – a husband and wife team – offered a parcel of their land to the community for the purpose of establishing a not-for-profit community centre.

As Lexene Spreadborough, Treasurer of Roughlie Community Centre explains, they saw a need to have a place where the community could come together for physical, emotional and mental wellbeing through social interaction and community involvement.

“[We needed] a place for members of our community and district to come together for mental and moral support is vital during droughts. A community space allows drought-affected farmers and graziers to support each other – improving community connectivity and in turn build a stronger community.

“The Roughlie Community Centre Inc. was established in July 2014, and by the October we had 40 members forming the working committee. All members and the community were volunteers with no paid staff.

TTTTRoughlie Community Centre

“Our vision was to have a centre to be used for social functions, sporting and recreational activities and to provide a venue for industry groups for workshops, seminars and field days. But we needed somewhere to meet, as there was no community meeting place in our district,” said Ms Spreadborough.

The ‘It started with a Shed’ project was borne, as part of the first stage in their shared vision.

“We received a $9,990 grant through FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program to build a Shed for the community to come together to fundraise and plan the centre. The money, which we know came from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, was a catalyst for further funds, with substantial additional donations being made to connect the power, install a rain tank, a BBQ and stainless-steel benches. Another successful application to the Maranoa Regional Council’s ‘Community Grant’ program provided half the cost of fencing of the land, with the remainder being funded by members and residents. And we’ve gone on from there, since securing other grants and we now have a new Community Centre.

“The Shed – the first building on our land – started it all. It’s led to families coming together to connect with other members of our district. We have held card afternoons, club meetings, theme nights and other events. Before this some people had very little social interaction.”

Kara Spreadborough works as a Clinical Nurse Consultant at the local hospital. She has a young family, and to her, the Shed offers a special place of connection and sense of community.

“[In my role], I see the importance of that interaction and connection for the community, so I provided a letter of support just to say that working in the outback for the last 8 years, I’ve seen the importance of coming together as a community and the mental health aspect of it. Just sharing stories, sharing a cuppa, really does help people process things, because there’s that aspect of people being a bit more lonely, a bit more isolated in the bush.

“The whole process of applying for the grant was seamless. Although these things seem daunting, once you get going and talking to people… And the fact that we got what we asked for, we were blown away, but we were so appreciative. Doing this for the community, people would stop us in the street and say how amazing it was that we got this building, because it is amazing.”

Lexene Spreadborough said that while they’ve only just started using it, they have had a lot of people enquiring about it now, but mostly for workshops, seminars, information and industry-related training days.

“It’s also used socially for anyone in the district, sometimes we have a Friday night get together here, we have our meetings here, rural fire brigades have their meetings here, and Anglicare has a monthly children’s playgroup,” she said.

President of the Roughlie Community Center, John Frith, said, “I think it’s a real positive to the area to bring people together more regularly, and the guys obviously share similar challenges and successes. They can get together more regularly than they otherwise would with this facility here, which I think is important on two fronts; socially, and the potential to bring industry forums to the actual doorstep.”

And while the finishing touches to the Community Centre were only made in December 2020, the venue has already hosted a number of community gatherings, and a workshop is scheduled in July for community members to gain an understanding of soil carbon sequestration practices to mitigate climate change and move towards better land management and agricultural practices.

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.

Networks to Build Drought Resilience and Drought Resilience Leaders

FRRR will soon be providing increased support into remote, rural and regional communities to prepare for the impacts of drought, after being selected by the Australian Government to deliver its Networks to Build Drought Resilience program. FRRR is also part of a consortium delivering the Drought Resilience Leaders program.

Funded through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund, both programs will help remote, rural and regional people access the tools, skills and support to build and foster leader networks, and to develop and roll out drought resilience initiatives in their communities.

The Networks to Build Drought Resilience (NBDR) program will help people in agricultural communities to develop skills, participate in risk management planning, and foster projects that encourage connectedness and improve wellbeing. It will also support small-scale infrastructure projects to make community facilities drought resilient to increase overall wellbeing and reduce social isolation.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program will support future-focussed initiatives led by local community groups and network organisations that play such a vital role in local and regional resilience

“Networks and community leadership are the backbone of strong, vibrant communities and are essential to ensuring future preparedness for drought and the associated social, economic, environmental impacts that can be so devastating for remote, rural, and regional communities.

“This is an exciting opportunity for building drought resilience from the ground up and we look forward to supporting the fantastic ideas and solutions that we know are ready to go across the country,” Ms Egleton said.

Through the Drought Resilience Leaders (DRL) program rural leaders will be able to access training and support that will help them to develop and undertake a project to build drought resilience in their communities. Partnering with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) and the Rural Economies Centre of Excellence (RECoE), FRRR will manage a grants stream that will allow leadership program participants and their communities to activate their community-strengthening ideas.

Ms Egleton said that this program means more opportunities for local people to take the lead in finding meaningful and tailored solutions for their community’s increased climate resilience.

“Local leaders know how to get things done. They know how to bring people together, to motivate and to problem-solve. Backing these leaders is key to ensuring the long-term vitality of Australia’s remote, rural and regional communities, particularly those battling drought.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the ARLF and RECoE to provide these local leaders with access to such invaluable training and help them to bring their drought resilience projects to life,” Ms Egleton said.

For more information visit
The Hon David Littleproud MP –
Australian Rural Leadership Foundation – 

The Friends of St Brigid’s (FoSB) Association Inc is a community organisation formed in 2006 after the closure of the local Church and Hall in Crossley, Victoria. The group purchased the buildings and are now caretakers of the five-acre community-owned and operated precinct which celebrates 150 years of unique Australian Irish history in south-west Victoria. The facilities include a 1914 Romanesque Church and community hall, home to the St Brigid’s Australian Irish Cultural, Heritage and Community Centre, and have evolved to include the Crossley Men’s Shed and peace and healing gardens.

FoSB has a long partnership with FRRR, opening a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account in 2011, which was subsequently renewed in regularly in the intervening years, and again this year. The Fundraising Account assists them to raise much needed funds to contribute to ongoing facilities upgrades that allow people of all abilities to access and participate in activities at the precinct. 

FoSB’s typically holds many events during the year through which much of their income is generated. However, like many community organisations, the onset of COVID-19 brought a halt to their regular events such as concerts and hiring out facilities for public and private events. 

The year had started out well, with a Blues & Roots Festival in early January, two private family functions in February, and then two events in March. However, they were left with a COVID-quandary – how to find alternative ways to raise funds and / or reduce their overheads.

FoSB Treasurer Sue Elms said their first action was to request relief from paying their monthly mortgage instalments and insurance premiums. While that granted them a brief reprieve, the stark reality remained that they still had to find the funds for future payments.

This led to the organising committee donning their thinking caps, with considerable success thanks to the enthusiasm of their Committee Members and many volunteers, which highlighted the tenacity and commitment of FoSB’s.

They came up with a list of alternate fundraisers, which included the Men’s Shedders cleaning and reselling 600+ old bricks; a bus outing with appropriate social distancing measures in place; a walk and talk event, which was a great financial and social success; a letter of appeal was sent out to members and past supporters; and a 50:50 raffle raised more than $2,500.

FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager, Jo Kemp, says that it is innovative responses like these that will help community groups overcome the challenges that the pandemic has presented.

“I’m so impressed with FoSB’s response to the unexpected situation we all find ourselves in. They have successfully come together and adjusted their plans to find other ways to meet their financial obligations, and continue to serve their community. However, it is an ongoing challenge and they continue to seek donations to support their operations,” she said.

FoSB would appreciate your support for this initiative. If you’d like to explore having a fundraising account for your community project, contact Jo Kemp, FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager.

If you’re looking for advice on how your community group can respond to the COVID crisis, there are lots of resources available such as those listed on the OurCommunity website. 

The Tablelands Region is around 150 km south-west of Cairns in Far North Queensland. Drought declared since May 2016, the community has been under significant pressure, specifically the grazing families in the west of the region. The residents in this area are located in remote settings, which can create challenges like difficulty accessing services, social isolation and lack of opportunities. There are very few regular social activities, as these areas are mostly cattle stations run by self-employed graziers.

In the past few years, the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) and Northern Gulf Resource Management Group (NGRMG) have worked together to deliver a range of drought relief projects that contributed to connectedness, social wellbeing and increased access and awareness to support services.

They teamed up again to provide a series of gardening workshops to people in areas that have been drought declared to bring them together for new learning experiences that assist in their empowerment and resilience during difficult times, in a bid to promote social cohesion and wellbeing.

A $15,000 Tackling Tough Times Together grant, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, enabled TRC to consult and engage gardening experts to design and deliver the workshops. The funding also covered ancillary costs such as the promotion of the events, catering and workshop materials.

In all, four drought-resilient gardening workshops were held, two at Pinnarendi Station and two at Woodleigh Station. The first workshops were held in November 2018 and were attended by 26 participants. The focus was on learning how to build a spiral herb garden utilising existing materials (upcycling) from around their properties. This included preparing the bed and understanding the design benefit for water-saving and planting complementary and seasonal plants, as well as making fertiliser out of existing resources.

The next round of workshops was held in May 2019, and 14 participants learnt to build wicking beds (self-watering gardens) and salad baskets out of hay bales.

Additionally, a morning/afternoon tea was held at each of the stations to discuss what they had learnt, evaluate the workshops and see how they would take any learnings into the future.

Project outcomes from the gardening workshops were significant for the participants who all stated in their evaluation that they had reconnected with old friends socially, and made new connections. From the beginning of the first workshop, participants were looking to increase their skills and knowledge. They reported that the benefit of receiving some plants to take home reinforced their commitment to translate their learnings to their gardens and build garden beds. The participants learnt to utilise their resources in different ways, which increased feelings of empowerment, as well as building resilience and sustainability.

Many of the participants have kept up their gardening and are noticing benefits for their whole family, including healthy living, self-confidence, new social connections, cost efficiency, self-reliance and wellbeing. Participating in the workshops has developed additional common ground between the participants and the community, which increases their social cohesion. Both groups decided to continue their gardening groups and rotate morning teas at each other’s gardens to maintain the connection and interest in their projects.

From all accounts, it certainly sounds as though the project succeeded in inspiring and empowering isolated communities to have some control to support their mental health with activities that are also coping strategies for personal challenges. One participant commented, “The workshops were wonderful opportunities for gardeners (of all levels) to get together; wellness at its best, thank you again!”