Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Palm Island (Bwgcolman) lies north of Townsville, off the east coast of Northern Queensland. The mostly First Nations community experiences chronic social and economic disadvantage, the ongoing impact of historical factors and events, discrimination and lack of support in the justice system and lack of access to (or ineffective) diversionary programs.

The Palm Island Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) was established in 2004, and works closely with the Indigenous Programs Development Unit, government agencies, community organisations and members to provide a range of programs that respond to issues faced by the community. The PCYC is well placed to partner with sporting and other local organisations to provide access to sporting and recreational opportunity for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they are one of the only positive and neutral organisations where people can safely engage in positive and healthy ways.

Following extensive interactions and consultations within the community, PCYC Palm Island, in partnership with Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA), delivered a 3×3 Street Hustle basketball tournament within the Palm Island community. The aim was to support physical and mental health, encourage community connection, achievement, pride and wellbeing in one of the most vulnerable communities of Australia. The tournament provided a platform for people of all ages, particularly young people, to participate in an organised and nationally endorsed tournament. It also contributed towards closing the gap for people on the remote Palm Island. Participants received online player profiles and rankings, providing them with the foundation to move on to additional tournaments.

In addition, PCYC Palm Island partnered with IBA to deliver school-based basketball development clinics with the two schools on Palm Island. This allowed young people to experience invaluable mentoring interactions with Joel Khalu (Basketball Queensland, IBA, and NBL Mackay Meteors coach) and Australian Olympian Annie Le Fleur (FIBA, WNBL, WNBA, Australian Women’s Team and Olympian). In total 441 students (231 girls, 210 boys) participated in the three coaching clinics, and 96 children and 48 adults competed in the Community 3×3 Basketball Street Hustle competition.

Despite experiencing a series of delays due to COVID and staffing issues, Phil Schulz, CEO of PCYC Palm Island, said that the program provided a foundation from which young people can build as they move on to greater challenges in sport and in life. It also provided community members with much needed social connection opportunities and the ability to participate in an activity that supports physical as well as mental wellbeing. This was all made possible thanks to a $10,000 Small & Vital grant from FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

“It was fantastic to get such quality mentors to deliver our program, and the kids were extremely engaged and excited to be involved to learn new skills. The competitions held were excellent in bringing the community together.

“Having such terrific mentors as Joel Khalu and Annie Le Fleur delivering this program with an extraordinary high level of passion and enthusiasm [was amazing]. They took the time to make sure all the kids got involved to realise levels of potential they possessed. Feedback from both schools was excellent with both requesting this become a yearly interaction.

”Importantly, the program also enhanced Palm Island PCYC’s relationships within the community and its ability to provide support and programming for young people, improve community partnerships and enhance the capacity of young people to participate in and lead future programs.

Take a look at the kids in action and listen to how the Basketball Queensland Indigenous Pathways Program (BQIPP) is making a positive impact on the local community!

Nine projects funded across NSW, QLD and WA

While drought is out of the media spotlight, for many communities it is still a very real and significant issue. FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) program has just awarded $86,083 to nine community initiatives in remote, rural and regional communities across Australia still dealing with the impacts of drought.

Mural painted on shed of an old car.

TTTT is a long-running, collaboratively-funded program that helps drought-affected communities to access the funding and resources they need to tackle the long-term impacts of drought. This round of grants will help fund a variety of projects run by local not-for-profit organisations and community groups, including a series of art workshops for both adults and children, a community event featuring Aboriginal artwork, the creation of murals and skills training to support community members experiencing loss and grief.

Nina O’Brien, FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, said that there are still many regions across Australia being impacted by drought.

“During this round of grants, the number of eligible LGAs dropped from 152 to 47. While we’re delighted to see such a significant drop in the number of communities being impacted by drought, it’s crucial that we continue to provide support. A lot of places, like remote SA, are still tackling extreme periods of dryness while others are very much still in drought recovery mode. Not to mention the fact that communities are dealing with a variety of other factors as they continue to stand strong and keep their community connected and supported.

“In this round of applications, we saw a lot of projects that are aiming to improve volunteer capacity and build a sense of social connectedness. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that our remote, rural and regional communities need volunteers and a strong sense of community in order to thrive.

“When we carried out our Heartbeat of Rural Australia survey last year, the results showed that the effects of drought, as well as the cumulative effects of multiple other disasters, have left volunteers feeling extremely fatigued, and those living in rural communities feeling isolated. That’s why we’re so pleased to be able to fund these kinds of grassroots initiatives at a time when they’re truly needed,” Ms O’Brien said.

Among the other projects funded this round were:

  • Red Ridge Ltd – Longreach, QLD – Outback Fashion Festival – Canvas to Catwalk – Provide opportunities for Aboriginal artists from seven outback Queensland communities to participate in fashion print design workshops which culminate in a catwalk runway community event. $10,000
  • Rattler Railway Company Ltd – Gympie, QLD – Fatigue Management Accommodation- Build the capacity, capability, and sustainability of Rattler Railway Company Ltd through infrastructure restoration and renovation to support volunteers. $10,000
  • For a Better Chapman Valley (FABCV) Incorporated – Chapman Valley & Nabawa, WA – Winter Art Series in Chapman Valley – Facilitate social connection and enhance opportunities for the Chapman Valley community to participate in creative activities through the delivery of art workshops. $7,900

The full list of grant recipients and their projects is listed on the FRRR website.

The TTTT program supports drought-affected regions of Australia by giving community groups and local not-for-profit organisations access to the resources they need to respond to, and recover from, long-term rainfall deficiencies. This program has granted over $18 million to initiatives that are helping communities to tackle the tough times that come with drought.

Funding for this program is generously contributed by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Pratt Foundation, Stockland CARE Foundation, Paul Ramsay Foundation, The Snow Foundation,  Henroth Group and private donors from across the nation. To join these donors, and support grants like this through FRRR, you can make a tax-deductible donation at frrr.org.au/giving/.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
Moama and District Pre-School Centre IncMoama & District Preschool Brings Sober in the Country to Moama
Improve the community’s social and emotional health and encourage local involvement by hosting a community dinner and guest speaker on drinking culture and supporting healthy choices.
Moama$9,150
QUEENSLAND
Congregation of Central Western Qld UCAEdgely Hall Improvements
Improve volunteer vitality and support social connection by installing air-conditioning in the multi-purpose room of the Longreach Uniting Church.
Longreach$10,000
Red Ridge (Interior Queensland) LimitedOutback Fashion Festival - Canvas to Catwalk
Provide opportunities for Aboriginal artists from seven outback Queensland communities to participate in fashion print design workshops which culminate in a catwalk runway community event.
Longreach$10,000
Rattler Railway Company LtdFatigue Management Accommodation
Build the capacity, capability, and sustainability of Rattler Railway Company Ltd through infrastructure restoration and renovation to support volunteers.
Gympie$10,000
Kumbia & District Memorial School of Arts IncKumbia & District School Memorial of Arts Inc Hall Improvements
Boost and strengthen the local economy and reduce social isolation with town beautification in Kumbia through mural art.
Kumbia$10,000
Connecting Communities Australia LtdLet the Show Go On
Improve volunteer vitality and support strong social connection by providing a team of volunteers to assist the Longreach Show Committee prepare and coordinate the Longreach Annual Show.
Longreach$9,933
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The Isolated Childrens' Parents Association of (WA) Inc2022 ICPA Federal Conference
Build communities’ resilience to continue to face the many ongoing issues and uncertainties that are inherent for families living in rural and remote Australia by hosting a conference where participants connect and learn from one another.
Various$10,000
Busselton Hospice Care IncorporatedIncreasing the Capability to Support Grief and Bereavement in our Compassionate Community
Empower a community group by providing skills training and capacity building to further support community members experiencing loss and grief.
Busselton$9,100
For a Better Chapman Valley (FABCV) IncorporatedWinter Art Series in Chapman Valley
Facilitate social connection and enhance opportunities for the Chapman Valley community to participate in creative activities through the delivery of art workshops.
Nabawa$7,900

In many rural communities, non-denominational school chaplains promote strong community connection, participation opportunities and engagement to reduce isolation and encourage better physical and mental health. While these positions are generally funded through local donations, in recent years there simply hasn’t been the money to fund them locally due to drought and, more recently, reduced tourism from COVID-19 restrictions.

Through FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together grant program, Scripture Union Queensland received $131,490 to support chaplaincy positions at Ravenswood State School, Charter Towers Central State School and Mareeba State School until June 2022. The grant was made possible through generous donations from the Sidney Myer Fund and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation. 

This funding ensures all programs and activities coordinated by the chaplains, including one-on-one pastoral care conversations and classroom support, are free for all children, young people, families and school staff. These activities help to reduce isolation and increase wellbeing and community participation in communities suffering from the long-term effects of drought.

Since funds were awarded in 2019, the schools have been able to implement change and growth within their chaplaincy programs. At Ravenswood State School, chaplain Anne – a much loved member of the community – was finally able to retire at 83 years old. Her position has been filled by a long term local Charters Towers resident, who works two days a week.

The chaplain at Charter Towers has been able to increase her support to two days a week and is seeing a positive response to the ‘Girls with a Purpose Resilience’ program. Twelve students completed the program in 2019 and there was general consensus among the participants that it was a special time engaging with facilitators and peers. After the COVID-19 school closure in 2020, all girls in grade 6 are now taking part in the program.

A particular highlight for the Mareeba State School has been the implementation of the Bike-Bus program to encourage regular physical activity and increase school attendance and social and community engagement. Since being established in mid-2019, the program has engaged 30 students, as well as parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers and police. It also led to the creation of the Bike Repair Club – an alternative for those who enjoy hands on learning, with all students becoming much more engaged in their education.

The principal of the Mareeba State School, Mandy Whybird, noted the program’s positive impact.

“Our school chaplain provides an invaluable source of support for the students at Mareeba State School. Aside from running friendship groups, supporting children in classes and running lunchtime activities for children who may find the playground challenging, our chaplain also assists in providing breakfasts for children in need and working with children who may have experienced loss or trauma.

“The chaplain also assists to support staff well-being. When our school was shaken by the loss of a teacher last year, our Chaplain was integral to the recovery process for staff,” Ms Whybird said.