Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

In Victoria’s Alpine Valley shire, Alpine Radio is a vital and much-loved way for the community to stay safe and connected. It’s run by Kiewa Valley Community Radio Association Inc, a not-for-profit community radio station located in Mount Beauty in north-east Victoria.

Alpine Radio broadcasts local information into the Kiewa and Ovens Valleys and Harrietville about events and activities, along with music programs and local interviews. It is also an official Emergency Services broadcaster for the region.

Like many of the organisations that responded to our 2021 Heartbeat of Rural Australia study, the station receives most of its funding from local businesses and benefactors. However, the downturn in tourism following the 2020 fires resulted in a loss of income by local businesses, which was further exacerbated by the pandemic. This meant that several of the station’s supporters stopped their contributions entirely or suspended their payments. 

In a bid to regain sponsors and attract new ones, Alpine Radio used a $6,000 grant from the News Corp Bushfire Recovery Fund, managed by FRRR, to bring in external expertise. A Sponsorship and Marketing Manager was engaged part-time for six months to keep in touch with current sponsors during the lockdowns. If they couldn’t pay their sponsorship fees because of the downturn in income, the business continued to be mentioned on air (free of charge) or was suspended until the business could reopen. The radio station also contacted many of the local businesses that were not necessarily sponsors but were changing their business model to offer takeaway meals and drinks, and they broadcast these changes to the listening public for free.

This strategy created a lot of goodwill within the community and, as a result, Alpine Radio signed up several new sponsors once businesses were able to open up and start getting regular income again. Previous supporters also came back on board too.

The grant helped bring financial stability to the station, which in turn enabled them to continue to employ a paid station manager. This means that Alpine Radio can continue to deliver local communications, media and play a critical role during emergencies.

The station’s President, Nicholas Brown, said that the goodwill created across the Kiewa and Ovens Valleys is what they were most proud of.

Tomorrow Today Foundation (TTF) is the community foundation for the Benalla region in Victoria. It connects people, resources and ideas to create a stronger, more resilient and prosperous rural community.

Like many community foundations, Tomorrow Today has a community fund that receives donations to their corpus, and the income generated from that investment provides grants for Benalla and district projects. In FY22, they distributed more than $89,500 in grants to groups, families and individuals across the region.

Their fundraising is supported in partnership with FRRR through a Community Foundation Fundraising Account, which enables tax-deductible donations to be received on behalf of TTF.

One of the key projects Tomorrow Today fundraises for is their Education Benalla Program (EBP) – an initiative that aims to improve educational outcomes for Benalla’s children. In FY22, they worked with over 120 local partners to run activities that give every Benalla child the chance to thrive in life.

Their transformative program aims to create systemic changes to educational, social and environmental challenges, with the overall goal of raising the education and training completion rates of Benalla’s 17-24 year olds to equal or above the Victorian average to break the self-perpetuating cycle: poor school retention leads to life-long social and economic disadvantage; and disadvantage results in poor levels of school retention. The program starts at the very beginning of the education journey, working with families from the earliest ages and stages to prepare children for school and ensure they are ’ready to learn’.

And the results are in: there is significant quantitative and qualitative evidence indicating that the initiative is having the desired impact. In the 10 year anniversary publication of the EBP released earlier this year, Tomorrow Today’s founder and former EBP Convenor Liz Chapman OAM described how the last 10 years has been ‘a wild ride’. In that time, the percentage of children deemed developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains has decreased significantly, bringing Benalla much closer to state and national averages (source: 2021 Australian Early Development Census, which measures how young children are developing in their first year of full-time school).

“If there was a Tomorrow Today in every town, the positive contribution to community, education and engagement with young people would solve most of the common problems we face. I have enormous respect for the work they do.”

Danny O’Donoghue, Executive Officer of the NE Tracks Local Learning & Employment Network in the EBP 10 year anniversary publication

You can add your support by donating securely online, or check out the Tomorrow Today Foundation website to learn more about their work. To learn more about FRRR’s Fundraising Accounts for not-for-profits and community foundations, get in touch with Jo Kemp, our Philanthropic Services Manager.

Health care in rural areas is so often lacking and this scarcity of services, coupled with workforce shortages, means that many chronic health conditions are poorly managed and preventative health programs can be hard to find.

That’s why our Program Coordinator, Jeanice Henderson, was excited to travel to Kerang in northern Victoria last month to learn more about the progress of the innovative Rural Health Matters project.

Funded through an FRRR Enhancing Country Health Outcomes (ECHO) grant in 2020, Northern District Community Health (NDCH) is making good use of their $115,000 grant, funded by Beyond Medical Education. They have employed Emily Wood as Buloke, Loddon and Gannawarra (BLG) Project Coordinator, and are leveraging a truly inspirational health partnership spanning three Local Government Areas and multiple health services. This collaborative placed-based, systems approach is delivering a suite of local initiatives to help improve the current and emerging health needs for BLG Shire residents.

Plans for the original launch of the Rural Health Matters project were thwarted by COVID lockdowns. However, Mandy Hutchinson, CEO of NDCH said the delays meant the August event became a real celebration of what has been achieved so far and what is to come; a chance to share and applaud the amazing work and local partnerships that are starting to shift the dial on local health outcomes.

It was easy to see from the original grant application that a lot of the hard work had already been done. The BLG Local Health Community Services had researched and created the ambitious BLG Health Needs implementation plan, and made a solid start on various projects.

The FRRR ECHO grant is helping them to take this to the next level. Emily has been tasked with mapping the current health service provision across the three Shires and identifying the existing gaps and opportunities for further collaboration. She is also responsible for running a community awareness campaign for Heart Health risk factors; developing an allied health community of practice with a focus on chronic disease management and bringing people together for an annual chronic health forum; and working closely with new initiatives such as the Sustainable Rural Health Project.

Emily said that the ECHO grant for the Rural Health Matters (RHM) project has enabled a backbone for additional work to be developed, implemented, or supported and promoted across the BLG region.

“Alongside the identified KPI’s of the RHM project, there has been the opportunity to continue facilitation of an existing Chronic Disease Management: Community of Practice (COP) for allied health professionals and nurses which had previously had facilitation funding for 12 months through Murray PHN. This role enabled not only the continuation of the COP but also allowed me to act as a conduit between the systems level planning and the on the ground experience and feedback of the allied health staff – as was the case with the Murray PHN Sustainable Rural Health project.

“I have also been able to support the application for the Smoking Research Project, which has since been funded by the Department of Health. Currently the RHM project is also supporting the facilitation of a reference group for the Smoking Research Project and the development of an EOI for the position.

“Alongside this work, the RHM project has enabled me to participate in a range of BLG network meetings involving Community Health and Health Promotion – ensuring alignment of work and priorities where possible but also avoiding duplication. I’ve also been able to support and work closely with the Murray PHN Sustainable Rural Health Project, the AgriSafe Clinics at NDCH and both the MoveIT! Project and the Healthy Heart of Victoria project in Loddon.

“Lastly, it cannot be overlooked that the meetings of the BLG for the RHM project oversight also facilitated COVID coordination and support between local health services through sharing of learnings, experiences and challenges during meetings. The ongoing opportunity for the health services across the BLG region to discuss COVID at these meetings has not only strengthened relationships but created partnerships and pathways for support that will continue to benefit the BLG community.”

Jeanice said, “It was really heart-warming to see and feel the incredible level of genuine enthusiasm and commitment in the room on the day. The depth and breadth of collaboration between the groups represented at the event was amazing, but so too their willingness to seek greater collaboration with others. It was also inspirational and affirming to hear how the ECHO grant has triggered further investment.“

In many aged care facilities social isolation among elderly residents has been an ongoing battle, especially during COVID, as restrictions and lockdowns prevented family and friends visiting loved ones for almost two years. Luckily for the residents of Eventide Lutheran Homes (ELH) in Hamilton, Victoria, the future is now looking decidedly more social.  

HEADING: New wheels for Eventide residents.

Thanks to a $10,000 Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) grant supported by Ian Rollo Currie Foundation, ELH was able to purchase a golf buggy that has been assisting with the transport of residents with mobility and sight issues around the facility. This has been especially useful for building social connection among residents who previously may not have engaged with organised activities due to the difficulty of getting around.

The golf buggy has three seats available to move the residents around in a comfortable and protected way across the facility, including the gardens, the golf course, and any other location the residents wish to visit.

The purchase of the buggy has been an absolute success for not only the residents, but for the staff and volunteers as well. After 18 months of almost constant lockdowns, the volunteers and social activities staff have been very excited to see more activities in the facility and to see the enjoyment of the residents. Staff members have also been seen taking more ownership over projects and events within the facility.

In one instance, a resident was taken for a drive around a nearby golf course where he had previously played golf with a handicap of four for 50 years. He was visibly moved by the experience of visiting the golf course once again.

The buggy arrived at Eventide on the 8 November 2021 and was christened with a celebration morning tea and rides for residents outside. Unfortunately, the weather was not so kind, and the rides had to be cut short. But since then, the buggy has been moving people around the grounds with no issues.

“Apart from the obvious enjoyment of the residents it was exciting to see different staff members taking ownership and being part of the project. After 18 months of almost constant lockdown, none or very few volunteers and few social activities staff were very excited to have social activities in the facility and see the enjoyment of the residents. This had a positive effect on staff and they are busy planning events for the buggy.
Visitors who have been prevented from freely seeing their loved ones for almost 2 years have been excited and engaged in the project and will be able to take their loved ones for rides outside.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twenty-one projects in Victoria’s main dairy regions – Gippsland, Northern Victoria, and South-West Victoria – have been awarded $91,833 in grants, which will help to build the capacity of local community organisations and improve digital connectivity.

The grants are through the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program, which is delivered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR). This marks the 20th year of the program, which has seen more than 500 grants awarded, valued at more than $2 million during that time.

The latest round of grants of up to $5,000 will go to grassroots organisations and not-for-profits that are critical to the sustainability of dairy farming in Victoria.

Gardiner Dairy Foundation Chief Executive, Allan Cameron, said he is delighted to continue supporting dairying communities.

“After 20 years, the Community Grants Program continues to support Victorian regions that are reliant on the dairy industry. Local groups play an important role in enhancing the vitality of these communities.

“These grants will help local organisations in many small towns to thrive with initiatives that range from COVID recovery and disaster preparedness, to improved digital capabilities and facility upgrades. The grants help to ensure the viability of these organisations,” Mr Cameron said.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said there was strong demand for this kind of support.

“Half of the projects receiving funding are geared towards building organisational capacity or improving access to the internet or digital technologies. This is a reflection of how the last couple of years have impacted remote, rural, and regional community groups and a great reminder of why it’s important to engage in conversations with the locals on the ground and find out how we can adapt our approach to better serve the needs of their communities.

“We are delighted to have maintained such a strong partnership with Gardiner Dairy Foundation for the last two decades,” Ms Egleton said.

Community groups were presented with their funds at a series of ceremonies held in the regions during June and July. A complete list of the projects supported is available below. They include:

  • Gippsland Dairy Region – The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation Inc received $5,000 to enhance literacy outcomes for Indigenous primary school children with a dedicated tutoring program.
  • Northern Dairy Region – Corryong Neighbourhood House Inc received $5,000 to grow the organisation’s capacity to support the community with the provision of computer equipment and software.
  • South-Western Dairy Region – Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Trust Inc. received $4,752 to build organisational capacity through developing digital capability that will promote and enable wide engagement with Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum.

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

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant

GIPPSLAND

The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation Inc

Post COVID Literacy Support for Aboriginal Students in the Gippsland region
Enhance literacy outcomes for Indigenous primary school children with a dedicated tutoring program. 

Bairnsdale $5,000
Camp Cooinda Incorporated

Training Safety Boat Operators for Camp Cooinda
Build organisational capacity by training and upskilling volunteers to run camp activities. 

Banksia Peninsula $3,000
Manna Gum Community House Incorporated

Manna Gum Gathering Place - Stage 3
Improve the facilities of Manna Gum house with an electric BBQ for community gatherings.

Foster $5,000
Neerim District Soldiers Memorial Hospital

Communication Integrity - Satellite Phone
Improve the disaster preparedness of Neerim Soldiers Hospital with a Satellite Phone to maintain communications in an emergency. 

Neerim South $3,050
Port Albert Maritime Museum

Letting History Speak
Enhance tourism experience at the Port Albert Maritime Museum with audio installations to increase inclusivity and access.

Port Albert $5,000
Toora Primary School

Netball lines in Stadium
Increase access to all weather facilities for the Toora Primary School and surrounding community.

Toora $5,000
Trafalgar Holden Museum Inc

Replacement of chairs
Increase organisational capacity and community safety with the replacement of dilapidated chairs at the Trafalgar Holden Museum.

Trafalgar $5,000
Newry Hall Upper Maffra Mechanics Institute Incorporated

Hall Internet Connection
Reduce the digital divide for the Newry community with the provision of enhanced internet infrastructure at the Newry Hall.

Newry $3,000
Venus Bay Tarwin Lower and District Mens Shed Incorporated

“Stop Washing Dishes by Hand and Greater Community Participation”
Enhance operational infrastructure to support volunteer vitality through the purchase of a dishwasher for the Venus Bay Tarwin Lower and Districts Mens Shed.

Venus Bay $5,000
Welshpool and District Primary School

IncrediGirls
Develop lifelong educational opportunities for girls of Welshpool and District Primary School through the delivery of the IncrediGirls program focused on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) activities across the community.

Welshpool $5,000
NORTH EAST VICTORIA

Corryong Neighbourhood House Inc

Digital Growth
Grow the organisations capacity to support the community with the provision of computer equipment and software.
Corryong $5,000
Girgarre Community CentreBuilding Connections with Technology
Build the capacity of Girgarre Community House to increase community access to online services in collaboration with neighbouring town Stanhope.
Girgarre $5,000
Kyabram Development Committee IncorporatedKyabram Tastes & Tunes
Strengthen the social and economic outcomes of Kyabram through support of the Tastes and Tunes Festival.
Kyabram $5,000
Rochester Community House IncIt’s Time for New Tools
Improve facilities and equipment to increase participation and safety with the purchase of new tools for the Rochester Mens Shed.
Rochester $2,900
SOUTH WEST VICTORIA

Anam CaracHouse Colac Inc

Strengthening Community Connections through Information Technology Final stage
Build organisational capacity to support resident’s socialisation and staff training with Smart TV equipment.
Colac$2,446
Archers of Warrnambool Associated IncorporatedCombined Clubs Mower
Improve equipment to support volunteer participation with a mower to maintain grounds for combined community activity and tourism.
Allansford $5,000
Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Trust Inc.Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum digital engagement project
Build organisational capacity through developing digital capability that will promote and enable wide engagement with Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum.
Camperdown$4,752
Loved and Shared IncorporatedLoved & Shared, Establishing the Warehouse
Increase organisational capacity of this start up not-for-profit group to repair and distribute nursery equipment and children’s clothing and items to the community.
Warrnambool$5,000
Pennyroyal Hall CommitteePennyroyal Hall Refurbishment
Improve community facilities at Pennyroyal by replastering the local hall.
Pennyroyal$5,000
Purnim Recreation ReserveUpgrade Pavilion Kitchen Appliances
Upgrade the kitchen facilities at the Purnim Community Recreation facility to support community events and activity.
Purnim$3,500
Simpson Indoor Bias Bowls Club IncIndoor Bowls Carpet Mat upgrade
Boost volunteer vitality with the provision of replacement bowls carpet to support community activity for the Simpson community.
Simpson$4,235

The FRRR team recently received some lovely feedback from the Management Committee of The Lakes Entrance Mechanics Community Hall. In 2021, they applied for a Strengthening Rural Communities grant to make upgrades to the community hall. Here’s what they had to say…

The Lakes Entrance Mechanics Hall Management Committee is delighted to announce that the new chairs, purchased with the support of a grant from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR), have arrived and are ready to use.

The Lakes Entrance Mechanics Institute Hall is the hub of community events. Ceremonies, celebrations, meetings, community clubs, federal and state elections, breakfasts, parties, dances, concerts and bingo all take place within its four walls.

Our old chairs were dilapidated, heavy, hard to stack, hard to move, and took up half of our storage space. Committee spokesperson Pennie Anderson is delighted. “I love these chairs’, she said.

“They are lightweight, ergonomic and stack easily on specially designed trolleys, so a whole stack of 20 can be moved by an average sized person. They take up half the space of the old ones in the storeroom”.

Purchased locally from Workplace Systems in Bairnsdale, the chairs have been met with approval from the regular hall users. Below are some of the comments from community members:

“They are awesome– very easy to move and set up for our productions” – Di Dixon, President, Lakes Entrance Amateur Dramatic Society

“We found the handling of the chairs a much easier exercise all round. Also, when chairs were moved around during the meeting there was not the annoying scraping noise on the floor” – Stan Barker, President, Lakes Entrance Garden Club

“They look very smart and are much quieter on the floor” – Bingo, Lions Club

During recent community planning led by Murrindindi Shire in the Yea region of Victoria, which is located around 100km from Melbourne, the need to increase awareness of local history and culture was highlighted. To address this need, a working group, named Honour the Taungurung Community Project Group, was formed.

The group, which are part of the Yea Community Service Group, set out to address a lack of local information and visual acknowledgement of the past and present Taungurung people. The group decided that the creation of a meaningful Taungarung designed art installation was the perfect way to begin telling the true history of their shire.

Yea Community Service Group successfully applied for a grant of $28,734 from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. The grant funded the artwork, engineers’ drawings, Council permits and the installation, as well as a welcome ceremony, research and project administration.

Now, with the project complete, the significant and celebratory artwork is located in the main street of Yea and acts not only as a centrepiece for the town but also as a meeting place and a celebration of local history.

Once the art installation was completed, an unveiling and welcoming ceremony was held and attended by many town members. As a result of this project, the town now has a meaningful site where Indigenous days of recognition can be celebrated, as well as an enduring landmark in honour of the Taungurung people. Community connectedness, sense of place and community identity have all been strengthened in the months following the installation.

This case study is courtesy of the Gardiner Dairy Foundation

A new teen fitness program in Kyabram is inspiring community spirit and building fit and healthy bodies.

A health and wellbeing centre has been established by Kyabram Blue Light at the town’s P-12 College, thanks to $5,000 from the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program in partnership with Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR).

The centre has proven to be a holiday hit with local teenagers and will be used regularly during the school year.

It is part of the KyFit police and teen gym-based mentoring program and, according to organiser Senior Constable Mitchell Bull, the benefits are wide-ranging.

Teenagers have played a central role in establishing the gym in an old storeroom at the school.

“The kids have done the majority of it,” Senior Constable Bull said. “They put together a wish list of equipment, posters and information and then volunteered on weekends to load trailers and remove rubbish and then helped in designing the layout and setting up and testing the equipment.

“It’s not just given to them on a silver platter – it’s a community effort and we all chip in. For six or seven weekends in a row we had up to 10 kids at the gym helping out. We removed six trailer loads of rubbish from the storeroom.”

The gym includes two bench presses, two rowing machines, two magnetic resistance bikes, two treadmills, two decline sit-up benches, sets of dumbbells from 3kg to 10kg and 13 spin bikes for classes.

The Gardiner Foundation grant also helped with installing fans, electrical power points and tiles for the floor.

“We made every cent count and called in favours left, right and centre and had a lot of volunteer assistance with everything,” Senior Constable Bull said. “It’s nothing fancy but it’s equipment tailored to young people.”

The gym is the latest development in the KyFit program that started in 2019 and is run by Kyabram Blue Light using police members, volunteers and community members.

“It was identified there was a need for a sporting or physical program that didn’t require the time, cost and travel commitments of the likes of football or netball,” Senior Constable Bull said.

“The gym will help those who may not have the opportunity to be involved in the local gyms or sports clubs.”

Personal trainers, defence force members, police and other community members help with the program, ensuring young people can access a variety of training programs ranging from boxing to swimming sessions and pitting their abilities against the police fitness test challenge.

A weekly in-school program attracts at least 13 participants and after-school programs are reaching about 30 teenagers. The school also uses the facilities for physical education classes.

Senior Constable Bull said the grant had helped to empower local young people. “We used the gym over the school holidays, allowing kids to drop in when there wasn’t much else to do – we can barely keep up with the demand,” he said.

“A lot of kids want to join the program now because they’ve seen the benefits the others are getting. It’s helping with their physical and mental health and the kids are seeing the benefits of physical activity and working out with other people.”

Police can also use the fitness programs to help break down barriers between officers and young people.

“The kids get the benefits of getting to know local police and other volunteers and mentors,” Senior Constable Bull said. “It’s about building a relationship between police officers and young people and showing we’re approachable if there is a problem in the community that needs to be discussed.”

It’s also beneficial for police. “It means we’re not always seeing the negative side of things in the community and we get to work towards positivity,” Senior Constable Bull said.

The program is free for local teenagers who also receive a free sports top when they get involved.

In recognition of his work with young people, Senior Constable Bull was named Citizen of the Year for Campaspe Shire at the 2022 Australia Day Awards.

Now in its 20th year, the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program is delivered by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR). Grants of up to $5,000 help not-for-profit organisations in small Victorian dairy communities deliver projects that will benefit local people and strengthen their ability to deal with local issues and enhance existing community infrastructure.

Applications for the 2022 program opened on 1 March and close on 13 April. More information can be found at https://frrr.org.au/funding/place/gardiner-communities-grants/

$120,000 in Gardiner Community Grants available

The annual Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program (Gardiner Community Grants) has opened today. Delivered in partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR), this round marks the 20th year of the program, which is focused on supporting communities across Victoria’s three dairying regions.

Celebrating a 20 year partnership funding Victorian dairy communities

This year Gardiner Community Grants will encourage projects to focus on building the capacity of community organisations and improving digital connectivity. The new focus is in response to insights from FRRR’s Heartbeat of Rural Australia Report, which was published late last year.

The report highlighted that there was a significant digital divide in rural communities, compared to urban areas, and that local not-for-profit organisations needed capacity building support to be able to do their vital work, particularly following the impacts of back-to-back disasters, including COVID, on fundraising and volunteers.

A digital connectivity grant project might involve upgrading infrastructure and facilities, improving digital access or providing training that enables the community to benefit from digital services.

A building capacity grant aims to support organisations to sustain or grow the effectiveness of their operations. Funds may be requested for salaries to increase the organisations paid workforce, training for volunteers, upgrading office equipment or supporting strategic planning and improved governance.

The small grants program, which has $120,000 in available funds for grants up to $5,000, will continue to support a broad range of community projects that local groups identify can make their community socially, economically or environmentally stronger. Applications for events to enhance cultural vibrancy, volunteer planting projects to support environmental sustainability, extending education and training opportunities, support for infrastructure projects or programs to improve health and wellbeing are all encouraged.

Allan Cameron, Gardiner Dairy Foundation Chief Executive Officer, said Gardiner is committed to strengthening Victorian dairy communities and is pleased to be partnering with FRRR for the twentieth year to support innovative, community-driven projects.

“Investing in the communities that are at the heart of the Victorian dairy industry is critical to the sustainability of dairy farming in Victoria. Since launching the program with FRRR in 2002, Gardiner Dairy Foundation has supported over 500 local projects and distributed more than $2 million to Victorian dairy communities.

“Gardiner is committed to supporting the needs of the communities as they change and evolve, now, and in the future. That’s why, this year, we are encouraging initiatives around digital literacy and organisational capacity, to help local groups respond to the current needs of Victoria’s dairy communities,” Mr Cameron said.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that the Heartbeat of Rural Australia Report called for more support to go to community groups to address critical issues, and it’s wonderful to see Gardiner Foundation respond.

“Our Heartbeat Report highlighted significant gaps and challenges for rural communities, but also highlighted the critical role that local not-for-profits play in meeting the needs and filling the gaps in rural communities. That’s why we value our longstanding relationship with Gardiner, because they, like us, are committed to working together to support these vital community groups in the long-term.

“For 20 years, Gardiner’s Community Grants have consistently boosted Victorian dairy communities with contributions towards large important community projects, and significantly enabling many smaller community organisations and projects, often for items and activities that are less accessible through government or major philanthropic funding,” Ms Egleton said.

Applications for the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program open Tuesday, 1 March and close Wednesday 13th April 2022 at 5 pm AEDT. More information can be found at – https://frrr.org.au/gardiner-communities-grants/.