Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

A grant originally intended to help the Gong-Dal Aboriginal Corporation increase opportunities for the Gapuwiyak community in East Arnhem Land was partially diverted to help the community respond to COVID.

The FRRR Westpac Rural Communities Grant of $10,000 was originally intended for tourism business education and mentoring programs in the Northern Territory, to support the organisation in its capacity and capability as it embarked on a niche tourism venture. However, as 2020 unfolded, the organisation recognised that there was a more urgent need to support the community in managing and responding to the emergency that COVID had created.

General Manager Juli Cathcart said that half the grant was used to employ experienced facilitators to run workshops, develop resources and support community engagement with the Gapuwiyak and Homelands COVID-19 Dhäwu Ganamirr Mala (COVID-19 Both-Ways Community Engagement Group).

The second half was directed toward the original purpose and used for facilitating workshops, recording and documenting the Miriŋu Dhukarr – Warriors’ Walk – cultural tourism project.

The COVID-19 response group was formed by Yolŋu leaders to provide intercultural advice to government agencies and other stakeholders and ensure culturally safe and appropriate community engagement.

The facilitation included education and training for 15 local Yolŋu people about COVID and a Local Pandemic Action Plan and Outbreak Management Plan. It included key materials in plain English and Djambarrpuyŋu, the local Indigenous language, as well as ‘just-in-time’ advice and support for the local police, clinic and other stakeholders.

This work empowered 900 local Yolŋu community residents in Gapuwiyak and Homelands by giving them knowledge and understanding they needed to keep their families informed of COVID and the NT government responses.

“This ensured a highly responsive and culturally safe COVID Local Pandemic Action Plan, and directly contributed to the development of respectful and trusting relationships between local Yolŋu leaders and community members, and our stakeholder organisations and employees in relation to the local management of COVID and safety of Gapuwiyak and our Homeland communities,” Juli Cathcart said.

“Feedback received was that as a result of this work, local Yolŋu community members felt respected, well informed, heard, assured, secure and safe in a time of great uncertainty, which improved everyone’s quality of life. This work was also key in the development of trusting relationships between stakeholders and Yolŋu community members. The very high uptake of vaccinations in Gapuwiyak and Homelands (80% of eligible community members) compared to other Aboriginal communities and the rest of Australia in 2021 can also largely be attributed to this work. This is a potentially life-saving outcome in a community where chronic disease placed at least 60% of our population in extreme danger if they should contract the coronavirus.”

The second part of the funding supported the development of a museum and a Yolŋu cultural tourism initiative comprising a series of heritage trails across Arnhemland. They follow the foot patrols of the Miriŋu (Yolŋu warriors) who formed the first Northern Reconnaissance Unit with Dr Donald Thompson and defended the Northern coastline during WWII. A high-quality documentary about the Miriŋu Dhukarr Project will also to attract funding to enable the development of this Yolŋu cultural heritage trail and tourism initiative that is of huge local cultural and historical importance as well as of National historical significance.

It is also funding ongoing workshops to enable Yolŋu Elders and Leaders to work with both Yolŋu and Balanda soldiers and veterans, as well as young Yolŋu people to ensure the intergenerational transfer of important and endangered Miriŋu cultural traditions, stories, knowledge and skills.

When COVID lockdowns hit, it created issues for Boys to the Bush, a program that provides support for disadvantaged youth from a variety of regional and rural communities in NSW.

Distance learning and daily life disruptions created challenges. Camps were cancelled and the Boys to the Bush program was impacted at a time when disengaged senior school and school leaver youth required work experience and guidance the most.

CEO and Director Adam DeMamiel said restrictions impacted the way Boys to the Bush normally runs its program, which involves “packing lots of kids in utes and minivans to head out to workplaces and farming properties for MENtoring programs.”

A FRRR Westpac Rural Communities Grant of $10,000 helped ensure the boys, aged 10 to 19, could continue to connect and learn life skills, as well as earn accreditation toward employment in their community when restrictions lifted.

The funding enabled them to purchase workshop equipment for applied construction and maintenance projects in Albury, including much needed power tools, a chainsaw and a hydraulic log-splitter. The equipment is used for building furniture, making repairs to infrastructure and furniture and for their woodcutting social enterprise, ‘Tooled for (Winter) fuel’.

The program gives the young people an opportunity to visit properties in the region to cut trees, bringing the wood back to the Boys to the Bush shed to be split and stacked. The wood is both sold to community members as well as donated to people in need. As their skills develop, they can work on other woodworking projects for themselves and gifts.

“These tools have been used regularly by over 200 kids in the past 12 months alone. This is more than double what we expected.

“Tooled for Fuel” significantly boosts our capacity to provide a safe environment for working on applied construction and maintenance projects. We can welcome guest mentors to demonstrate techniques and fundraise for a sustainable future for Boys to the Bush.

The program helps the young people participate and become more engaged in their community, which Mr DeMamiel said can play a major part in turning lives around and has potential to end generational cycles of disadvantage.

“I am most proud of our ability to give back to the community. Instead of us asking the community to support us all the time we are able to in a small way donate things of value back,” Mr DeMamiel said.

$500,000 in grants for rural and regional communities

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) has partnered with Westpac Foundation to help in distributing $500,000 to not-for-profit (NFP) organisations in rural and regional communities throughout Australia.

Each of the 50 rural NFPs awarded a Westpac Foundation Rural Community Grant has received $10,000 for projects that will improve the education, training and employment opportunities in their communities. These grants reached rural communities in nearly every state and territory.

This is the first time that Westpac Foundation has partnered with FRRR to take their annual community grants program truly national, to encompass rural, regional and remote communities.

Susan Bannigan, CEO of Westpac Foundation, says the Rural Community Grants will help to create strong and more inclusive communities in rural, regional and remote areas, providing assistance in what has been one of the most challenging years on record.

“Supporting organisations focused on employment, education and training is at the heart of Westpac Foundation’s strategy. Through our partnership with FRRR we have been able to extend our reach to new communities across Australia. In addition to funding, these organisations will have access to a range of non-financial support to help them through this time and beyond.”

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, says this is fantastic for rural and regional communities, who play such a vital role in Australia’s prosperity and vibrancy.

“These communities are facing continuing challenges to growth and development – from drought, to bushfires, to floods, and now COVID-19. Targeted financial support for education, training and employment pathways is critical during these times, particularly for vulnerable groups.

“Through Westpac Foundation’s Rural Community Grants program, we can back local groups to improve the opportunities within their communities, so they can continue to prosper,” said Ms Egleton.

Some of the 50 projects awarded include:

  • One Vision Productions Limited in Byron Bay, NSW received $10,000 to increase educational engagement through its One Vision Productions Online Youth Engagement Program, which will provide training in creative media vocations for young people at risk.
  • Gong-Dal Aboriginal Corporation in Gapuwiyak, NT received $10,000 to empower Yolngu people through a business education program to develop tourism businesses on their homelands.
  • Cape York Girls Academy Limited in Wangetti, QLD received $10,000 to empower young indigenous mothers through targeted education and wellbeing programs to support their futures and enable leadership in their communities.
  • Foodbank of South Australia Inc in Murray Bridge, SA received $10,000 to enable access to food education courses for vulnerable people including those with a disability.
  • Rural Alive & Well Inc in Avoca, TAS received $10,000 to support individual and community mental health through mental health education-related activities in rural Tasmania.
  • Castlemaine State Festival Ltd in Castlemaine, VIC received $10,000 to expand access to arts education for youth at risk through the Castlemaine State Festival Education Program to enable vocational pathways development.
  • Big hART Inc in Roeburne, WA received $10,000 to build digital skills for young people at risk through professional development and practical industry experience to increase employability.

In addition to funding, all grant recipients receive pro bono support and access to leadership development programs, legal support, and financial capability training via Westpac’s Changemaker program.

The full list of grant recipients and their activity summaries are below.

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Activity Summary




Bowraville Innovative Social Enterprises Precinct Incorporated

Sewing for Self Sufficiency

Build organisational capacity to enable vulnerable community members to develop their skills and support enterprise opportunities.



Boys To The Bush Ltd

Tooled for (Winter) Fuel

Develop the skills of young people at risk through mentoring and practical building projects that support living and learning capacity.



Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group Inc

Work Ready Workshops

Provide employment pathways and education for people with a disability through workshops focused on workplace skills.



First Peoples Disability Network (Australia) Limited

Headphone Hustle

Engage and support young people with a disability who are at risk of homelessness through creative workshops building skills and educational engagement.

Coffs Harbour


Making Tracks Far West NSW Inc

Making Tracks Work Crew

Foster educational engagement and skills development in young people at risk through bush education programs. 

Broken Hill


National Indigenous Culinary Institute

NICI Skills for Success

Develop the employability of young indigenous people through delivering culturally appropriate mentoring and career support program.



One Vision Productions Limited

One Vision Productions Online Youth Engagement Program

Increase educational engagement through providing training for young people at risk in creative media vocations.

Byron Bay


Regional Opportunities Australia Ltd

Creating Job Opportunities for Refugees and Migrants

Build employment pathways through partnerships and training to support refugee and migrant employment in regional Australia.



South Narrabeen Surf Lifesaving Club Inc

Bush to Beach

Expand educational opportunities for indigenous youth through extracurricular experiences of participating in metropolitan Surf Life Saving Club programs. 



Stewart House

Disadvantaged Children Receive Health and Wellbeing Support at Stewart House

Provide education opportunities and life enhancing experiences for young people at risk through access to learning and wellbeing excursions in a capital city.

Broken Hill


The Dunn & Lewis Youth Development Foundation Limited

Future Employment

Increase employment opportunities for young people at risk through targeted programs to develop skills and set employment pathways.



The Shift Project Byron Incorporated

The Linen SHIFT – Laundry with a Conscience

Build skills to enhance digital operations and enhance program delivery to benefit disadvantaged women with employment opportunities.

Byron Bay


Wagga Women’s Health Centre

Workshops for Economic Wellbeing

Build organisational capacity to deliver workshops for women at risk of domestic violence to increase financial literacy and personal management skills increasing employability. 

Wagga Wagga


Western Plains Regional Development Inc

Financial Security Empowers Lives

Enabling participation in evidenced based training to empower regional lives by identifying and developing transferable skills to increase employability.



Women’s Centre for Health and Wellbeing (Albury-Wodonga) Inc

Our Sisters Closet

Build organisational capacity through support of retail and digital programs that enable women at risk to undertake training and seek employment.




Djilpin Arts Aboriginal Corporation

Djilpin Arts Training and Employment

Build organisational capacity to enable local indigenous women to be trained to take up employment opportunities.



Gong-Dal Aboriginal Corporation

Tourism Business Education Workshops

Empower Yolngu people through a business education program to develop tourism businesses on their homelands.



The trustee for Karrkad-Kandji Trust

Preserving Kunwinjku: West Arnhem

Deliver cultural education opportunities for indigenous people through developing the bilingual resources for the Nawarddeken Academy.



Wanta Aboriginal Corporation

Yuendumu Driver Training

Build community capacity by supporting a new locally operated bus service to increase related training and employment opportunities.




Base Services Inc

2nd Shot Technology Upgrade

Build organisational capacity to train young people at risk through delivering programs to build employment skills.



Cape York Girls Academy Limited

Living and Learning Together

Empower young indigenous mothers through targeted programs of education and wellbeing to support their futures and enable leadership in their communities.



Community Spirit Foundation Limited

Innovation in Remote Indigenous Education Provide education opportunities for secondary students through a program to enable cultural empowerment and to develop resilience.

Palm Island


Creative Regions Limited

Crash Box Crew

Engage young people in education opportunities through creative learning experiences to foster personal growth and healthy relationships.



MultiSkill Centre Ltd

Wizz Up Red Hot Skills at RedDoor

Enhance learning opportunities for youth at risk through social enterprise facility improvements.

Cloncurry & Mount Isa


TRACTION for Young People Ltd

Youth TRACTION in the Scenic Rim

Positively re-engage youth at risk through practical bike repair and building workshops that expose them to employment pathways. 




Foodbank of South Australia Inc

Foodbank SA – Murray Bridge Food Education Program

Enable access to food education courses for vulnerable people including those with a disability.

Murray Bridge


Iwantja Arts and Crafts

Iwantja Arts Intergenerational Short Film Project

Build capacity for cultural empowerment in an indigenous community through training and skill development to produce a local film. 



Nature Foundation Limited

Kids on Country

Build knowledge of conservation practices in remote Australia for young indigenous people to connect with country and develop workplace skills.



Youth Opportunities Association (SA)

Wellbeing, Resilience and Leadership Interventions for Whyalla’s Youth At Risk

Support personal leadership development for disadvantaged or disengaged young people to engage them in education and employment pathways.




Disabled Surfers Association of Aust

Disabled Surfers Association of Australia Training

Expand opportunities for volunteers to be trained to support people with a disability to participate in a surfing and water safety skills program.

Clifton Beach


North and North West Tasmania Sexual Assault Support Services Inc

Send Noods – Relationships, Respect and Sex – Educational Program

Build organisational capacity to deliver educational programs on domestic violence and respect for women, to vulnerable young people, and to enhance social development and educational engagement.



Rural Alive & Well Inc.

RAW Conversations in the Bush

Support individual and community mental health through mental health education-related activities in rural Tasmania.



Second Echo Ensemble Inc

Second Echo Ensemble Pathways to Work Program

Provide training for artists living with a disability to support ongoing education and develop employment opportunities.




Black Duck Foods Ltd

Healing Country, Sharing Knowledge, Building Ideas

Engage and reconnect Indigenous community members to traditional harvesting methods to develop Indigenous employment and enterprises. 



Castlemaine State Festival Ltd

Castlemaine State Festival Education Program

Expand access to arts education for youth at risk to enable vocational pathways development.



Christie Centre Inc

Growing Skills in Horticulture

Build employment skills of people with a disability in a Learn Local horticulture course and support employees to expand work opportunities.



Corryong Neighbourhood House Inc

Work & Learn

Enable organisational capacity to deliver training and support two apprentices in their employment skills development.



Down Syndrome Association of Vic Inc

Expanding Education Support Services (ESS) in Regional Victoria

Increase education opportunities through expanding targeted classroom support for children with Down Syndrome in mainstream secondary schools.



Eat Up Australia Ltd

Education and Food Security

Support children to participate in education by providing emergency food packages to families in need during Covid-19. 



Food Next Door Co-op Ltd

Small-Scale Farmer Internship Program Transport and Translation Support

Mobilise community support to enable new migrant groups to access training programs that build knowledge of Australian farm operations.



Gallery Kaiela Incorporated
Kaiela Arts

Upskilling in Digital for Delivery

Build organisation capacity by developing employee’s digital skills for online service delivery.




Scholarship for Primary School Students

Enhance indigenous secondary students’ educational outcomes through a targeted support program. 



Health Futures Australia Ltd

S.H.I.F.T Enterprising Youth

Build capacity for community development through Youth Wellbeing Innovation Labs that engage young people in social enterprise development.

Daylesford – Hepburn – Creswick


The trustee for Kindred Spirits Foundation

Latrobe Valley Reading Program

Enable literacy skill development through expanded reading programs to support employability.

Morwell, Traralgon & Moe


Zoe Support Australia

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Provide wrap around service delivery for disadvantaged young mothers to access education, training and employment opportunities.  




ABC Foundation Limited

Self-Transition through Resilience, Empowerment, Awareness and Motivation (STREAM) Program

Build individual and community capacity through a program of personal development and employment pathways. 



Big hART Inc

Digital Training Program

Build digital skills for young people at risk through professional development and practical industry experience to increase employability.



Enterprise Partnerships WA

Activating Remote Entrepreneurship

Develop foundational skills for indigenous people through a train-the-trainer program to develop local enterprises.    



Girls from Oz Ltd

Creating Positive Life Changing Opportunities for Girls in Remote Australia

Provide educational, vocational and cultural opportunities for girls in regional Australia through learning excursions to an Australian capital city.