Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Grants available to fund youth-focused community projects

FRRR is encouraging not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) in rural communities to work with local young people to adopt or adapt one of the six project ideas developed at this year’s ABC Heywire Youth Summit. The ideas emerged in response to the concerns identified as being most current and critical for youth in remote, rural and regional Australia.

Group of people standing in front of a building
Heywire Youth Summit 2024 participants

Funded through the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program, grants of up to $10,000 are available to kickstart initiatives that promote equitable access to local services and foster a sense of belonging and connection to peers and to the land.

The six ideas developed by the 35 young Summit participants during the week-long youth leadership and skills development event are:

  • Bussin’: How might we create more accessible transport options for young people in regional and rural communities?
  • MEE (Mentoring Educating Empowering): How might we close the gap in accessing quality education for young people in regional, rural and remote communities?
  • A Place for You: How might we improve accessibility to mental health services in remote and regional areas of Australia?
  • The Bigger Picture: How can we empower young people in regional towns to celebrate their differences and foster connection among themselves?
  • Safe Sphere: How might we ensure that young people in regional and remote communities receive relevant and comprehensive sexual education?
  • Youth 2 Grassroots: How might we promote a stronger connection between individuals and their land by fostering a culture of environmental protection and stewardship?

There is $100,000 in funding available nationally, thanks to the generous support of The Sally Foundation, David Mactaggart Foundation and private donors. An additional $17,500 is also available specifically to fund projects in Queensland, thanks to a partnership with The John Villiers Trust.

Amy from Mount Isa, Queensland, is a 2024 Heywire Winner and was part of the group that developed the Youth 2 Grassroots project. Amy said, “I love living in rural Queensland, and it was incredible being given this opportunity through Heywire to come up with an idea to improve life for other country kids. I’m so excited to see what comes from our idea.”

Deb Samuels, FRRR’s People Portfolio Lead, said the Foundation’s long-term partnership with ABC has led to significant outcomes for young people and communities.

“Having run the Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program for 12 years, we have been lucky enough to witness the impact that these young leaders, their ideas, and the funded projects have had on rural Australia.

“From mental health first aid training and career open days, to events that foster social and cultural connection and understanding, each project ensures young people have an active role in fostering a place that they are proud to call home.

“It gives me hope for the future of rural Australia when I see young people working to tackle issues, many of which echo the concerns we see in rural Australia more generally, head on. The projects that these grants fund help young leaders to address issues of equity and wellbeing and change the underlying narrative of what rural communities “don’t have”, by creating a future where we can celebrate all that rural Australia can offer its young people,” said Ms Samuels.

Justin Stevens, ABC Director News, said the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program empowered young people to turn their ideas into reality.

“The ideas generated at the ABC Heywire Summit are developed by young people in regional communities, for young people.

“The grants that contribute to this help provide remote, rural, and regional communities a tangible means for encouraging the next generation of leaders to have a voice and act on issues that matter to them and their peers,” Justin said.

To date, more than $1.5 million in community and philanthropic investment has helped to fund more than 190 projects in more than 142 communities.

Applications close 5pm AEST Wednesday 29 May, and recipients will be announced in August. More information about the six ideas is available on ABC’s Heywire website, and more information about the available grants can be found on the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program webpage.

The Shire of Cunderdin serves the small towns of Cunderdin and Meckering in the Wheatbelt region of WA. In addition to the usual Council services, the Shire also supports local community groups to help build a place where residents are happy and proud to live by providing excellent community facilities, services and community resilience.

The Council works closely with the Cunderdin Youth Council. This group of extraordinary young people identified that youth in the region have almost no support when it comes to mental health. This is backed up with research by the Commissioner of Children and Young Western Australia, which identified that many regional and remote communities have inadequate age-appropriate services and limited infrastructure such as transport and recreational facilities. Young people in the Wheatbelt raised concerns about confidentiality, lack of anonymity and stigma as impediments to seeking help for mental health issues. The Youth Councillors identified the desire to increase their knowledge of mental health, how they can access support and also how they can support their friends with mental health issues. This need led to the Youth Wellness Project being created.

The Shire of Cunderdin received a $5,000 grant from FRRR via the Nutrien Ag Solutions Community Grants program. It went toward helping increase the knowledge and skills of parents and carers of young people, as well as that of young people in Cunderdin and Meckering, with a focus on mental health support strategies and how to access external mental health support.

As part of the Youth Wellness Project, the Shire hosted the first Mental Health Parent Information Night. The session aimed to reduce stigma associated with mental health among the community and youth, with a guest speaker from Armed for Life Foundation, which focuses on how to support parents, carers and students with mental health related issues.

Research also identified an acute shortage of services and programs for young people who require early intervention and/or treatment services because they have a mental health issue. Crime statistics for the Wheatbelt show that most issues appear to be more of an anti-social manner, including online / cyber bullying, which  at times progresses to physical assaults. Other issues include mindless damage, which largely is attributed to boredom.

The project that the Youth Council put forward to the Shire of Cunderdin also sought to address these critical issues that young people from the Wheatbelt face every day. The second element of the Youth Wellness project included a full day session, designed to be interactive and free flowing, sharing experiences and building the young people’s confidence in identifying mental health knowledge, and when and how to access support.

Nearly 60 students from Cunderdin District High School, along with five teachers, attended the Youth Wellness Day, which was again run by the team from Armed for Life Foundation. While plans fell through for representatives from various allied and mental health agencies to attend the day, handouts provided information on the services that are available to the community.

Liezl De Beer from the Shire of Cunderdin said that while they would have liked a few more attendees at the information night, they were proud that 15 parents chose to attend. She also said that COVID was a big disruptor, causing them to postpone the event at very short notice.

The Shire of Cunderdin and its Youth Council will continue working together with support such as the Cunderdin Community Resource Centre, Cunderdin Police Officers and local schools to continue building and strengthening their relationships to bring about improved support for local youth.