Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Up to $5,000 available, plus free grantseeker workshops

Gardiner Dairy Foundation, in partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), is inviting community organisations in Victorian dairy regions – Gippsland, northern Victoria and south-west Victoria – to apply for grants of up to $5,000.

The annual Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program is delivered through FRRR, which has partnered with Gardiner Dairy Foundation for the past 19 years.

Grants are made available to registered not-for-profit groups and can be used for a wide variety of community activities including community arts, health and wellbeing, environment, infrastructure, education, history and much more.

To assist community groups in preparing their grant applications, Gardiner Dairy Foundation and FRRR are running free grant seeker workshops in each of the three Victorian dairy regions. A webinar will also be hosted. (see details below). These workshops provide invaluable advice on how to put together a competitive grant application.

In 2021 Gardiner Dairy Foundation will make available a total funding pool of $120,000. Since launching the program with FRRR in 2002, Gardiner Dairy Foundation has distributed almost $2 million to Victorian dairy communities and has supported a total of 471projects.

“With better seasonal conditions in most regions, morale in dairy communities has improved over the past 12 months,” said Gardiner Dairy Foundation Chief Executive, Clive Noble. “People can breathe a little easier and now is a good time for community groups to look at some of the projects they may have deferred.

“I’d like to encourage community leaders to take advantage of these grants, to leverage the money available with other inputs and to continue to improve and enrich their dairy communities.

“Strong and vibrant dairy communities are vital to a strong dairy industry and vice versa.”

Sarah Matthee, Acting CEO of FRRR, said that the grants are designed to give dairy communities the boost they may need to make great things happen.

“Last year was tough for most rural communities, and Victorian dairy communities were no exception. We’ve seen from previous grant recipients that a small grant can open doors for further funding, and it will be great to visit some of last year’s grants recipients to see what kind of opportunities have grown from the funding, and how they have used the grants to help address the needs of their communities.

“We know that these communities are determined, inspiring and resilient and full of great ideas. That’s why the Gardiner grants are deliberately flexible – to allow local leaders to respond to what’s happening, and address the biggest priorities. In previous years, that’s been anything from community gardens to festivals, small infrastructure to training. I look forward to seeing what this year’s applications bring.”

Applications for the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants Program open Monday, 1 February and close Tuesday, 16 March 2020 at 5 pm AEDT.

Grant seeker workshop timetable

Join Gardiner Dairy Foundation and FRRR at one of our free grant seeker workshops. Find out how to put together a competitive grant application.

The webinar will be held:

Date: Thursday 4 February 2021
Time:
12:00pm – 2:00pm
Register at:
https://events.humanitix.com/gardinercommunitygrants

Workshops will be held at:

Warragul
Date:
Monday 8 February 2021
Time:
6:30pm – 9:00pm
Location:
Mercure Hotel, 23 Mason St, Warragul

Colac
Date:
Wednesday 10 February 2021
Time:
10:30am – 1:00pm
Location:
Colac Bowling Club, 4 Armstrong St, Colac

Tallangatta
Date:
Thursday 11 February 2021
Time:
10:30am – 1:00pm
Location: Tallangatta Integrated Community Centre, 33 Towong St, Tallangatta

For more information or to register for the workshops, visit https://frrr.org.au/funding/place/gardiner-communities-grants/.  

Unlike most other youth music programs, CRASHENDO! Bairnsdale is not only about the tunes. Modelled after Venezuela’s National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs El Sistema Global, CRASHENDO! uses music education as a vehicle to help children develop their self-esteem, resilience, and social skills.

To support the purchase of new instruments and to help cover tuition fees, the CRASHENDO! team successfully applied to FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program, receiving a $10,000 grant funded by The William Buckland Foundation (managed by Equity Trustees).

They sent us a detailed plan outlining how they planned to use the funds over the course of two years, and how excited they were to get on with their music classes, events, and other activities.

What they couldn’t have known, however, was that the years that followed – 2019-2020 – would be some of the most challenging years their community had ever experienced.

The CRASHENDO! program, which supports around 120 children in Bairnsdale and surrounds, had a great start to the year in 2019, with in-schools tuition, pre-orchestral, orchestra and early years programs in full swing. They also hosted several special events such as the Latrobe Orchestra Workshop and the Christmas Street Parade, both of which brought much joy to the community. 

But as Christmas drew closer, so did the devastating bushfires that were already tearing through parts of NSW and VIC. And when the semester was set to begin again in the new year, the CRASHENDO! students had no school to return to.

The facilities, including all their instruments, were destroyed in the fires. Several families in the community had also lost their homes.

But despite these unimaginable challenges, children and tutors alike demonstrated once again the resilience and fighting community spirit we so often see in rural and regional Australia. The classes were moved to another school, and the children found some relief in returning to something familiar and normal – their music practice.

With support from their wonderful and engaging tutors, and by working together in groups, the children continued to develop both their musical skills and interpersonal skills.

But as we all know too well, 2020 brought with it its own set of challenges.

Soon after the COVID-19 virus reached Australian shores, life for the Bairnsdale community was once again turned upside-down. The community went through two remote learning periods (April – June and July – September), which meant all programs had to be moved online.

During this those unusual times, CRASHENDO! Bairnsdale Youth(ful) Orchestra (CBYO) reduced their sessions, halted expansion plans, and cancelled concerts and community performances.

The future was looking uncertain and bleak. But the CRASHENDO! team – both children and staff – were not about to give up that easily. They already knew the strength they had within them, especially when working together, so they kept their heads high, their Zoom cameras on and their smiles BIG – as they found new and engaging ways of delivering their programs.

Instead of having concerts, they produced videos. Instead of cancelling all Special Events, they scaled down the delivery time and incorporated video compilations. The creativity was flowing and proved to be a great learning experience across the board.

Watch a clip from the adorable video performance here.

“Although extremely challenging we have been extremely excited about the opportunity to learn new ways of delivering programs, administration and promotion,” Hilary Rigg, Crashendo! Bairnsdale Coordinator said.

She explained that while the number of participants decreased during online delivery, it also allowed them to widen the scope of musical styles and instruments on offer in the program, as well as the geographic area in which participants lived (across wider Gippsland and Melbourne). As tutors could dial in from anywhere, CRASHENDO! also grew their pool of highly skilled tutors, from areas including Melbourne, Geelong and even interstate.

“We have widened networks, forged new or deeper collaborations with other local musical groups and personnel, and kept musicians connected and playing. Hence, most importantly contributing to the well-being of our community!”

Hilary Rigg, Crashendo! Bairnsdale Coordinator

For the residents of Coragulac and its surrounding communities, having access to excellent early childhood education with the right facilities is a top priority for local families.

The Coragulac & District Kindergarten has provided care and education for their small community for many years. The facility’s three staff and local volunteers run a three-year-old program for 21 children, and a four-year-old program for 20 children.

Play-based learning helps to develop coordination, motor skills and problem solving skills, while focusing on social skills that are invaluable to kids, such as how to get along with their classmates, how to communicate and follow general rules. It also allows kids to follow their imagination and explore their interests.

The energy and imagination the kids bring to the kindergarten is endless, however their ability to play outside was often met by challenges due to weather, and between the scorching summer heat and chilly winter days, the kids weren’t able to enjoy being outside for very long. 

This made some play-based activities very difficult, as the kindergarten lacked a suitable area for things like pot planting and chalk drawing. To continue providing great childcare for local families, the kindergarten needed to upgrade their facilities.

The Kindergarten was awarded $5,000 through the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants program for their Sheltering Our Children for a Bright and Happy Future project, which built a new verandah for outdoor learning and activities.

The new space allows the kids to enjoy being outside without worrying about the weather, and provides an area for ‘messy’ play-based learning. In addition to the kids who attend the kindergarten during the week, the space is also used after school and on the weekends by families with school-aged children and children with disabilities, as it provides a sheltered, fenced and safe play space.

Daylesford is around 105 km north west of Melbourne. Like any small town, some children struggle with certain aspects of their learning, which can have a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Following an assessment of student literacy skills, the Daylesford Primary School identified a number of children whose reading was below the expected literacy standard. To support these students, they implemented a research-based one-on-one initiative to develop their students’ reading and comprehension capacity outside of the regular curriculum.

The MultiLit (Making Up Lost Time in Literacy) program also seeks to build self-esteem and confidence. The School first received an FRRR grant for this program in 2013 and saw significant improvements in the children. The program has attracted regular support ever since, including a Tailored Grant this year for $25,000 that enabled another 18 students to participate in the program.

Once again, it delivered great results. One child started the year having to have text read to him. By year’s end, he was reading independently. Trevor Edwards, Principal of Daylesford Primary at the time, explained that the learning confidence gained by these children had transferred into other areas of study.

“We are most proud of the fact that we not only provide a highly effective and individualised learning program but an environment where students’ wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence is enhanced and nurtured. “The most challenging component is determining who can participate in the program, as there are many students who need this individual assistance. We prioritise and support those children with additional reading needs, but the generous funding has everlasting impact.”

When the Centre for Participation (CP) purchased a food van, named the ‘Harmony Van,’ they knew straight away that with the right tools they could address a lack of job ready hospitality trainees in a new and innovative way.

A lack of job ready hospitality trainees was a big issue for the community. Whilst tourism and hospitality are identified as key drivers of economic development in the Council and Regional Strategic Plans, local businesses were impacted by a shortage of trained cooks, chefs, baristas and food service assistants. By providing training and experience in hospitality, food handling and barista skills to marginalised groups, CP would able to address a skills gap and ensure that trainees were likely to gain employment in the community.

The Harmony Food Van allows CP to deliver workshops and training that supports migrant and refugee families in the region. This enables them to contribute financially to their families, to assimilate into the community through work and volunteering, and to express their culture through food, art, and service. Even better, participants get to go on the road and cook food from their cultural roots- so everyone gets to try something new!

A $4944 grant from FRRR, funded by The Ross Trust and the Portland House Foundation meant that the van could be equipped with a coffee machine, milk jugs and other accessories to allow trainees to gain barista skills alongside their hospitality training.

With the funding, CP was able to hold weekly training from April 2019 as part of their Hospitality Workforce Pathway Program. They attended over 40 community events, with eight volunteers supporting paid staff at a total of 97 trainees; 85 migrant community members and 12 young people with a disability. Project Coordinator Robert Millar said; “Whilst there are multiple benefits to our rural community as part of this funding, the most successful to us was that 8 migrant ladies and 2 young people with a disability who have gained employment as a result of taking part in the program.” Not only is the project is still running, and the early success has enabled them to open their own social enterprise café, ‘The Laneway.’ Migrant women and young people with a disability are welcome to take part in working at the cafe, creating opportunities particularly for disadvantaged people to break into the workforce, grow their skills, make new social connections, and get involved in the community.

Yackandandah is a quaint village located in the valleys of the Stanley State Forest in North East Victoria. Known for its gold mining history, the town is well preserved and popular with tourists. However, the impending closure of the towns medical centre looked to be a big blow for full time residents, particularly those living in the Yackandandah Bush Nursing Home.

Without a local ambulance and limited public transport options, older and younger residents alike had their health put at risk by the potential closure of the local medical clinic. Yackandandah Health, who also run the nursing home, stepped in, assuming ownership of it and setting about ensuring that the residents could receive the care they needed.

The clinic was not in the best condition and was only able to operate 1.5 days a week, which is why a $37,367 from FRRR as part of the Caring for Ageing Rural Australians was so important. With a fresh coat of paint and new seats that were safe for the older residents to sit in while being attended to, and a new doctor, the clinic is now able to offer medical care in a comfortable setting five days per week.

Annette Nuck, who is the CEO of Yackandandah Health told the FRRR team; “Yackandandah was at risk of losing their medical centre. This project has enabled us to provide a modern general practice for the community. In the 12 months of operation, we have grown the business to now support two doctors providing care 5 days per week. The practice has also added midwife care services after the community requested this in a survey. We have a practice nurse, practice manager and receptionist – all local people gaining employment in their town.

“The community has supported and embraced the practice. We have over 700 patients registered, with ongoing community support with fundraising to further improve our services.”

Outcomes like this for rural areas are incredibly important. On average, Australians living in rural areas have much poorer health outcomes, live shorter lives and are unable to access the healthcare they need due to distance or availability. Clinics like the Yackandandah Health Medical Centre are vitally important to closing this gap and increasing wellbeing and health outcomes for our ageing rural Australians.

Free online session to find out how you can help your community prepare for future disasters

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) is inviting community members in Myrtleford, Beaufort, Korumburra, Paynesville, St Arnaud, Whittlesea and Yarra Junction to find out how FRRR’s Disaster Resilient: Future Ready (DR:FR) program can support them to build a disaster resilient community at a free webinar on Thursday, 3 December at 7pm.

DRFR Vic launch

Attendees will learn how FRRR’s DR:FR program works with communities to understand the skills and resources needed, and any barriers that may hinder them from being better prepared for the next natural disaster. Participants will also hear from Strathewen local, Steve Pascoe, who will share on his experiences, having actively been involved in the recovery of bushfire-affected communities throughout Victoria over many years.

The seven communities invited to take part in the webinar have been identified by FRRR as areas that experience high frequencies of flooding, bushfire, drought, and/or heatwave and may be willing to participate in the DR:FR program.

Nina O’Brien, FRRR’s Disaster Resilience & Recovery Lead, explains that the DR:FR model gets people actively involved in determining what it will take for their community to be well prepared before and bounce back stronger and better after a disaster.

“DR:FR is a practical and inclusive program that works with local people to identify actions that will better prepare them in times of natural disaster. The Foundation then provides resources and support to implement the initiatives the community has identified will improve localised disaster resilience.

“The program is based on leading research and practice in community-led natural disaster preparedness.  We’ve already piloted this program in three NSW communities, with great success, and we’re building on that experience to ensure even stronger outcomes for at-risk communities in rural Victoria.

“I encourage all community leaders and anyone who cares about reducing the impact of disasters on their community to participate in this free online information session.”

This live workshop will take placeon Thursday, 3 December at 7pm, with the recording made available to those who register. A second, follow-up session will be held for each community, which will help FRRR to further understand the unique challenges and opportunities, past experiences with disasters, and to generally establish the community’s readiness to participate in the DR:FR program.

Register HERE or for more information contact Bethea Robertson, Project Coordinator at b.robertson@frrr.org.au or on 1800 170 020.

For centuries, red gums have dotted the landscape in south-west Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. A few community members from the small town of Cavendish in south-west Victoria understand the importance of these trees to the local natural environment. But they wanted to share their passion more widely and put the spotlight on these fantastic trees.

A creative approach

In 2017, this small group set up the Red Gum Festival Development Group Incorporated (RGFDG). One of their first projects was an arts festival, designed to explore and celebrate all aspects of the red gum species and hopefully, increase community understanding and willingness to protect the local environment. They also hoped that it would help to attract more tourists who already come to see the famous trees, and in turn support the local economy.

Red Gum Festival, Cavendish – photo by Julie Millowick

A $3,410 grant from FRRR was the initial funding for the inaugural Cavendish Red Gum Festival.

A committee of 12 and a team of 57 volunteers launched the inaugural Festival in April 2018. They worked hard to establish strong relationships with numerous local groups, including the Cavendish Recreation Reserve Committee, primary school, Lions Club and Men’s Shed, to ensure the project had extensive support.

To spread the word and build momentum in the lead up to the Festival, the RGFDG hosted sculpture, photography and writing competitions, with winners announced during the Festival. On the day, there was a wide range of activities, including markets, food stalls, exhibitions of wood-turning and musical performances.

Other core elements of the Festival were the science-based exhibits and a symposium featuring experts in forestry, conservation and tree science, and a bus tour of notable tree specimens and new plantations. These contributed to a document that is being shared with local Landcare groups, farmers and other interested parties to help preserve the trees. There is also a plan to generate a map of red gums, as a way of monitoring their size and health.

Sustainable solution

A second festival is planned for 2020, and it’s hoped it will become a regular community celebration. The growth of this arts festival has the potential to build community pride, attract tourists and significantly contribute to the local economy. Plus, by raising awareness of the importance of the trees and knowledge of their needs, the community, including landowners, will be better positioned to care for and protect them.

Art drew the crowd, and data and awareness will preserve the red gums. The Red Gum Festival was chosen to participate in the Art Resides Here project as the community is using the appeal of arts and cultural activities to raise awareness about the local environment.

They will tell their story at Artlands Victoria in Castlemaine and Bendigo in October 2018.

Ever heard of Wunghnu? It is a rural Victoria town, 215kms north of Melbourne and has a population of 270 residents. Situated in the farming region of the Goulburn Valley, many locals have a strong passion for vintage machinery – so much so that the Goulburn Valley Vintage Tractor and Farm Machinery Club has been running for around 30 years and has 75 members.

All Club members have a common interest in vintage machinery, whether is be tractors, engines or old farm machinery and they meet once a month to discuss any issues and hold regular working bees to keep the facilities and sheds in good working order.

A grant from FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program, along with some keen negotiation skills and Club funds, helped to purchase a lathe and a sand blasting cabinet for the Clubs most recent vintage restoration project.

Every Wednesday, Club members come together to socialise and work on restoring a 800 Hp Crossley Engine.  This engine is a significant part of the region’s history, servicing Radio Australia as a backup power supply generator many years ago. 

The Club saved the 800 Hp Crossley Engine from scrap and had the huge task of restoring the mighty engine – the members had the skills but didn’t have the equipment they needed.

The lathe allowed Club members to fabricate and make new machinery parts, and after a lot of hard work and toil, the volunteers were very proud to see the engine running for the first time in 20 years. It can be viewed at the Club’s annual Vintage Rally.

The William Buckland Foundation in Victoria is proud to support this project through FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program and see a piece of the Goulburn Valley history restored and enjoyed by local residents.