Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

On Boonwurrung Country

The primarily agriculture-based Bass Coast community is a two-hour drive, south-east of Melbourne. It’s therefore perhaps not surprising that it’s one of the fastest growing areas in regional Victoria. Wonthaggi is the main centre, with a population of around 8,000 in the township and many more spread across neighbouring towns and hamlets. There is a significantly lower level of weekly income than the Victorian median and a lower proportion of school leavers (19%) participate in higher education compared to the state average (36%). Much of the employment is seasonal, part time or casual. This meant that COVID had a severe impact on the area, with many families falling through the gaps of the Government financial assistance packages.

Established in 1910, Wonthaggi Citizens Band (WCB) is managed by a voluntary committee. Its vision is to develop and nurture musicians, enabling them to provide music for the benefit of the Bass Coast community.

With COVID having an impact in an already challenging socio-economic environment, the group wanted to give an affordable music education to young people. Their aim was to introduce them to the wonder and benefits of music and encourage their participation in the band by offering subsidised tuition on brass band instruments from a qualified music teacher. It also sought to strengthen connections by bringing participants together for rehearsals in a supportive environment.

There is much documentation on the educational, cognitive and physical benefits to be received from learning music on a brass instrument, particularly in improving numeracy and literacy skills. Research shows that children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not. Further, with the high focus on childhood obesity, participation in a marching brass band cannot be underestimated for improved physical health. It improves general fitness, flexibility and muscle strength through both breathing techniques and the physical activity of marching – giving an alternate physical activity to young people not interested in sport.

This project also responded to the Bass Coast Shire Youth Action Plan, which identified the lack of options for those not interested in sport and the lack of access to appropriate arts and culture.

The organisation successfully applied to FRRR, through the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Community Grants program for $5,000 to help them establish the program and cover the initial tuition fees subsidy.

As a result, 10 young people aged between 10 and 13 had their first introduction to brass band music. These participants received half-hour individual lessons in a variety of brass instruments and then came together to learn how to play together as a band. At the end of this period, eight young people remained engaged with Wonthaggi Citizens Band and have joined the Youth Band to further their music. These young people have formed a strong social connection with one another, which assisted them during the lockdown periods when they kept in touch online. Feedback from both young people and their parents have acknowledged the benefit young people received from their participation when many others were struggling in coping through the impacts of COVID.

This project has also created social connections between generations, as the three bands of Wonthaggi Citizens Band intermingle and participate in joint performances. The music learnings by the young people have been “outstanding”, as has their participation levels. This was in no small way due to the quality of the tutor and her ability to engage with the young people, and with the senior band members who volunteered their time to assist and mentor.

“We’re excited that this project is set to have a lasting legacy, with the band set to undertake a two-year project to work with 20 ‘at risk’ students at a local primary school, using brass band music to re-engage them,” said Sandra Mousey, a volunteer on the project.

“The community is more engaged and participative, students are more engaged in learning and there are generally stronger levels of resilience in the community,” she wrote.

For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.

Gooniyandi Country

The town of Yiyili is located six hours east of Broome in the heart of the Kimberley region. At the town school, 90% of the time, fewer than one third of students are in attendance. This is often due to young people being impacted by intergenerational trauma and grief, family and domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse, all of which are contributing to poor mental and physical health in the youth of Yiyili.

With engagement in education and work steadily decreasing, last year the Yiyili Aboriginal School decided to start ‘BikeRescue’, a program where young people could attend multiple workshops each week to refurbish and repair second-hand bikes.

Supported with a $25,000 Strengthening Rural Communities grant, funded by John T Reid Charitable Trusts, the training was carried out by Youth Councillors, as well as bicycle maintenance and refurbishment specialists. During the sessions, the students were taught how to adjust gears, fit new brakes, clean and maintain bikes and organise the workshop to function more efficiently. There was also a strong focus on self-management, resilience and self-regulation.

At the end of the program, the students sold the bikes to give them an understanding of how to run a small business. As an added benefit, this meant that there were affordable bikes available to children and adults in the community. The students that participated in the program were also allowed to each keep a bike for themselves.

As a result, the young people were really proud of the bikes they had managed to rescue, and of having invested their time and energy into a productive project. By participating, they also strengthened their community connections and developed more positive attitudes towards school and work.

As an added bonus, community members have been employed by the school on a casual basis to help students run the bicycle repair workshop and the Yiyili community group have secured funding to continue running the program.

Youth mental health is an issue that many organisations and communities across the country work hard to improve. Raising awareness through conversation and proper guidance is crucial to improving and strengthening the mental health of young Australians. In the northwest of Victoria, you’ll find the city of Swan Hill where Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) are doing just that. As the leading advocate for young people aged 12-25 in Victoria, they work closely with young Victorians and the sector to support them and deliver effective advocacy.

Over the past two years, YACVic have hosted the ‘Turning Ideas into Action’ and ‘What Matters’ youth forums across Victoria. Through these forums, young people have identified mental health as a major priority. A report conducted in 2010 (Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice) identified young Aboriginal people are at increased risk of experiencing mental illness and are also less likely to engage with mainstream youth mental health services. To improve this situation, YACVic wanted to create a space that would be culturally safe and relevant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

YACVic sought funding to deliver culturally specific Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training program – Deadly Yarning & Learning. The training session would target 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and then ten additional people to work with them on a regular basis as mentors in Swan Hill and Robinvale. The training would be provided by AJ Williams-tchen from Girraway Ganyi to make sure that both the content and delivery is done in a competent and safe manner.

Using a $13,480 In a Good Place (IAGP) grant, supported by CCI Giving, YACVic would partner with local services in the area including Mallee District Aboriginal Services and Robinvale Secondary College to provide the training over two days in each location. The following six months would then involve regular monthly community of practice sessions for the 20 participants to discuss how they have been able to put into practice their training since the initial sessions. The catch ups would also be used as a safe space for debriefing and continued peer learning and development, but also as a way to identify any key issues that had arisen in the community.

After having one training session in each location, YACVic were required to quickly adapt the original plan, with the COVID pandemic and lockdowns causing serious disruptions to the project. To ensure the safety of everyone involved, YACVic decided to postpone the face-to-face youth training component of the project until restrictions eased. They were, however, able to take the mentor training online, which proved to be quite beneficial as they were able to bring five more people on as mentors.

By undertaking the training and participating in the monthly community of practice sessions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people will gain skills in MHFA, connect with each other, relevant workers and service providers and increase their confidence and leadership skills while helping to shape local, culturally safe responses to mental health.

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.

$208,000 in grants awarded to 23 projects

Twenty-three projects in remote, rural and regional Australia have been awarded grants through the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program to bring to life ideas developed at the Heywire Youth Ideas lab. These projects will tackle a range of issues such as discrimination, youth-led peer support, multigenerational connection, mental health and career opportunities for young people.

FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grantsfor 2021 awarded

These grants will mean that community organisations and local not-for-profits can implement community-led initiatives that will have a lasting impact.

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said she is impressed by how all those connected with the program managed to pivot to respond to COVID-19 conditions.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ABC was unable to hold the usual Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra. Instead, they adapted and ran the first Heywire Youth Ideas Lab in Broken Hill. The determination of the young people of Broken Hill, and their willingness to make a difference inspired these projects, which will create meaningful change when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, skills development and equality in our remote, rural and regional towns.

“These grants highlight the importance of both providing support on the ground and ensuring that young people are driving the conversation about their priorities. These community-led initiatives, which all involve young people, will facilitate events, training and mentorship that will bring people together and ensure that our remote, rural and regional communities continue to thrive,” Ms Egleton said.

Youth Ideas Lab participant Emerson said that she feels proud to have been a part of a program that will make a difference for so many Australians.

“When we were telling our stories and developing our ideas at the Youth Ideas Lab, it was such an inspiring experience, but it was difficult to imagine our ideas actually being put into practice. Now, hearing and reading about all the wonderful projects that are going to actually happen because of the ideas that we brought to the table is amazing!”

The involvement of young people also extended to the assessment of the applications. For the last three years, the FRRR Program Advisory Committee, which reviews the assessments made by staff and recommends grants to FRRR’s Board, has been made up of former Heywire participants. The group learns about committee processes and governance, before participating in the assessment committee. FRRR directors, staff and some donors are on-hand with ABC staff to provide support. This is a deliberate approach to continue to invest in young people, so they can play an ongoing role in strengthening their communities.

Some of the 23 projects being funded are listed below:

  • CareSouth Deniliquin in Deniliquin, NSW, received $5,080 to develop the Support Squad idea bycreating a youth peer support network that will run an art therapy mentoring program.
  • Nganmarriyanga School Council Incorporated in Nganmarriyanga, NT, received $10,000 to develop the Open Field Fest idea by developing students’ creative skills with song writing workshops that showcase community, culture and language.
  • Heal.ed Tribe in Coombabah, QLD, received $5,400 to develop the Contribute to the Change ideaby supporting young women with a lived experience of an eating disorder to share their story and reduce the stigma surrounding it.
  • Umeewarra Aboriginal Media Association in Port Augusta, SA, received $10,000 to develop the Open Field Fest idea by growing the number of young first nations artists participating in music festivals in Port Augusta through a skills development program.
  • Beacon Foundation in Hobart, TAS, received $9,640 to develop the Discover your Future idea by encouraging secondary school students to adopt an entrepreneur mindset with a program to imagine, design and develop new businesses and products.
  • Youth Live 4 Life in Maryborough, VIC, received $10,000 to develop the Contribute to the Change ideaby developing a network of youth who are trained in mental health first aid and knowledgeable about the support services available to them.
  • Derby District High School in Derby, WA, received $10,000 to develop the Discover your Future idea by developing youth skills in horsemanship to broaden their career aspirations and provide a pathway into the pastoral industry.

The grants are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Sally Foundation, Erdi Foundation, Findex Community Fund, David Mactaggart Foundation, MaiTri Foundation as well as several private donors.

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

The StoryLink Project
Council of the City of Broken HillCreate an inclusive community where diversity is celebrated through videos of young people highlighting the rich cultural makeup of the region.Broken Hill, NSW $10,000
GiveOUT IncSupport the young LGBTIQ+ community with a capacity building project, empowering them to tell their stories and create vibrant sustainable organisations.Online, VIC $10,000
Satellite FoundationImprove community understanding of the difficulties faced by youth who have a family member with a mental illness, with a video series highlighting the everyday prejudice faced by these youth.Gippsland, VIC $10,000
Support Squad
CareSouthCreate a youth peer support network by running an art therapy mentoring program.Deniliquin, NSW $5,080
Human Nature Adventure TherapyEmpower youth to share their mental health journey with their peers through a mental health training and storytelling workshop.Ballina, NSW $10,000
Young Men’s Christian Association of SydneyEstablish an LGBTIQ+ support group for the youth of Cooma and provide training to create leaders within the group.Cooma, NSW $9,878
Rascal Robot Art SpaceSupport youth to develop the skills and connections to establish an arts and culture festival that is fun, safe and inclusive for the community.Beaconsfield, TAS $9,800
Wimmera Development Association IncorporatedDevelop leadership skills for young multicultural youth in Wimmera to help them develop their own support networks.Horsham, VIC $10,000
Open Field Fest
Greater Hume Shire CouncilIncrease social opportunities for youth through the development of a fun and inclusive youth event.Culcairn, NSW $10,000
Nganmarriyanga School Council IncorporatedDevelop students’ creative skills with song writing workshops that showcase community, culture and language.Nganmarriyanga, NT $10,000
Umeewarra Aboriginal Media AssociationGrow the number of young first nations artists participating in music festivals in Port Augusta through a skills development program.Port Augusta, SA $10,000
Food is Free Inc Support Ballarat youth to create a community festival that celebrates sustainability through workshops, emerging artists and recycled art.Ballarat, VIC $9,904
Contribute to the Change
Snowy Monaro Regional CouncilImprove mental health literacy and awareness, by training a series of mentors to provide one-on-one support and guidance to youth.Cooma, NSW $9,200
RichmondPRA LimitedBuild the mental health literacy of Broken Hill youth through wellbeing workshops.Broken Hill, NSW $3,500
Heal.ed TribeSupport young women with a lived experience of an eating disorder to share their story and reduce the stigma surrounding it.Coombabah, QLD $5,400
Riverland Youth TheatreEmpower youth to explore their identity through performance art and costume design to image their best, bravest future self.Renmark, SA $10,000
Youth Live 4 LifeDevelop a network of youth who are trained in mental health first aid and knowledgeable about the support services available to them.Maryborough, VIC $10,000
Hindmarsh Shire CouncilCreate meaningful conversations about mental health with a youth presented podcast series with mental health professionals.Nhill, VIC $10,000
Discover your Future
Far West UCPrepare Broken Hill youth for their future careers by holding a networking event with local experts and education providers.Broken Hill, NSW $7,269
Sydney School of EntrepreneurshipInspire the youth of Dubbo to explore new pathways beyond school with a challenge-focused innovation and entrepreneurship program.Dubbo, NSW $9,150
Beacon FoundationEncourage secondary school students to adopt an entrepreneur mindset with a program to imagine, design and develop new businesses and products.Hobart, TAS $9,640
Food & Fibre Great South CoastInspire Geelong youth to explore a career in the food and fibre industry by connecting them with young leaders in the field.Geelong, VIC $10,000
Derby District High SchoolDevelop youth skills in horsemanship to broaden their career aspirations and provide a pathway into the pastoral industry.Derby, WA $10,000
Sally Foundation Trailblazers Development Fund grants awarded
E-Raced – 2020 Trailblazers grant recipient

The Sally Foundation Trailblazers Development Fund has awarded grants totalling $26,650 to support six youth-led initiatives that address the needs of remote, rural and regional communities in Australia.

Trailblazers are invited to apply for funds to help them to take their project ideas to the next level, or for personal development opportunities to build their skills and networks and boost their capacity to strengthen their community.

Joanna Kemp, FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager, said:

“The Trailblazers program builds the capacity of young people that have come through the ABC Heywire program by activating their ideas and vision for a vital and vibrant remote, rural and regional Australia.

“As an initiative of the Sally Foundation, and supported by the ABC, the Trailblazers program has shown to be an important stepping stone for the young people involved to achieve and exceed their goals within their communities, it’s a great opportunity for them to gain confidence in applying for and delivering a grant,” Ms Kemp said.

Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good (DIYDG) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander CorporationSaltwater Sistas Levelling Up
Build capacity of Trailblazer participant to promote marine conservation among Indigenous girls and women through support to develop skills in ocean photography to share via social media channels.
Coffs Harbour / Lady Elliot Island$5,000
Cunnamulla & District Show Society IncorporatedFocus on Female Ruralpreneurs
Build the capacity of Trailblazer participant to support rural and regional women in business by attending a certificate course in Training & Assessment and delivering a podcast and webinar program.
Rotary Club of Sunnybank Hills IncWCMX & Adaptive Skate
Increase community awareness and accessibility for people with disabilities across Australia to participate in wheelchair motocross and build mobility skills through development of demonstration wheelchairs for adults and children.
The South East Junction, Mental Health Activity and Resource CentreEveryone has a Role to Play
Grow awareness and education of mental health issues in the Limestone Coast region through the delivery of two community Mental Health First Aid programs.
Mount Gambier$4,400
Mindfull Aus LtdChanging the Narrative - In Motion
Boost education and awareness of mental and wellness in rural and regional communities through a series of video interviews featuring Gippsland residents.
Right Mate IncorporatedSober Mates is Changing the Way Australians Socialise!
Grow community awareness about how alcohol use can affect mental health and wellbeing in rural and regional communities and create opportunities for young people to socialise at alcohol free events.

Did you know that some schools in remote Australian communities might have as few as 15 books in their library?

That discovery in 2017 prompted Corey Tutt to start sourcing and supplying resources himself, initially from his personal library. DeadlyScience Limited was established in 2020, and is now a registered charity. Through DeadlyScience, Corey is seeking to inspire a new generation of scientists.
It focuses on providing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and early learning reading resources to remote Australian schools to help increase engagement.

The initial priority is schools with a high proportion of Indigenous children. Where possible, and appropriate, DeadlyScience sources materials from Indigenous authors, artists, and translated versions in Indigenous languages. In the three and a bit years since inception, DeadlyScience has had more than 110 schools requesting resources.

They have delivered more than 16,000 books, 500 telescopes (and basic science kits), 80 educational resources and six greenhouses (plus seeds, and educational materials to support food production projects) to more than 100 Australian schools and/or communities.

This growth looks set to continue as the organisation gains more momentum and profile. Another key activity involves maintaining a website to support teachers in remote schools with access to high quality scientific research and relevant experts in their fields (also of Indigenous background, where possible). 

In 2020, DeadlyScience partnered with FRRR to set up a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account, allowing them to attract tax deductible contributions from a broad range of donors to expand their activities and support the overall capacity and operations. 

You can add your support by donate securely online, or check out the DeadlyScience website to learn more about their work.

To learn more about opening a Not-For-Profit fundraising account, get in touch with Jo Kemp.

Tackling stigma around youth mental health

Mental health difficulties are the most common health challenges for young people, with between 20-25% of Australian adolescents experiencing a mental health or substance abuse issue in any given year. In the Bega Valley, youth mental health has been identified as a major issue facing the region. With a lack of public transport, limited education opportunities and few social spaces for young people – outside of playing a sport – a youth dance organisation has become an important alternative and a vital hub for self-expression and creativity.

Bega-based fLiNG Physical Theatre provides opportunities for young people to work with local and visiting professional artists to create original contemporary performance projects. They aim to give voice to regional perspectives, and designed a powerful youth-centric research and performance project called ‘My Black Dog”, which set out to learn about and support the mental health of young people living in the Bega Valley.

The project had two components; the creation of a moving, original performance exploring youth mental health, and the design and delivery of wellbeing workshops for high school students exploring how they can creatively and practically support their wellbeing. But to deliver it, they needed increased resourcing and capacity.

A grant of $17,700 from FRRR’s In a Good Place program, funded by CCI Giving, was awarded and spread across the project to help realise the final performance outcome. It enabled the employment of two fLiNG Alumni, who returned to the Bega Valley to perform in the work, demonstrating potential future pathways for younger fLiNG Company members, who look to these people as role models. Funds also supported a local year 12 fLiNG Alumni to be employed to co-deliver the Art & Wellbeing workshops in schools around the region, ensuring the program is relevant and speaks on the level of those it’s being delivered to.

The live performance, entitled ‘My Black Dog’, was co-created with fLiNG Company members (14-18yrs) across all aspects of activity. The work’s themes – isolation, disconnection, grief and bullying – were set in a school context, and recognisable for many in the young audience. The uncomfortable territory also revealed the characters’ resilience and capacity for them to reach out and support one another.

It ran for a season of eight performances. This project reached more than 750 individuals, and the Art & Wellbeing workshops were delivered to 152 students in local schools. It all helped to break down stigma, learn about what is occurring in the community, and help generate conversation on an issue that is often difficult to talk about. Each performance was supported by local mental health professionals.

The community response to the show was exceptional, and many were inspired to share their own stories. Exploring and talking about the difficulties that young people come up against is the best way to begin to solve and heal them, and fLiNG Physical Theatre is contributing to the conversation in a highly creative and collaborative way. It was the recipient of the 2019 WayAhead Mental Health Matters Award for Youth, and shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award.

Gabriella Rose, fLiNG’s Co-Artistic Director, explained that the project has enabled a deeper understanding of how mental health issues may present in a young person, and what things can be done to support them.

“It has also revealed the enormity of the problem in regional areas, the lack of infrastructure and support available to isolated people. Through round table discussions with school welfare officers, mental health workers, parents and teens, it revealed how overwhelming the situation can be, but also how hard people are working to build better support structures around vulnerable young people in our community.”

The project’s final report also notes:

“Ultimately the My Black Dog project reiterated that within our community, mental health issues are common, and they can impact everyone. fLiNG’s Artistic Directors saw the Bega Valley community take up the offer to connect with this work and to start a conversation. The more we talk about mental health, the better we will become at looking after ourselves, recognising when we need support, and helping each other get through it.”

When a popular city-based summer school music program made plans to bring the beat to the bush and put on a show alongside it, the whole community of Tenterfield NSW let the rhythm takeover. 

Recently ravaged by drought and fires, the small town was experiencing some hard times. Charitable organisation Hartbeat of the Bush teamed up with the Cuskelly College of Music’s Winter Music School in a bid to provide Tenterfield and the surrounding communities with a brief respite from it all – the result was a week long ‘Beat of the Bush’ festival during the July 2019 holidays.

Dr James Cuskelly has run a Summer School music program in Brisbane for years, but it was his long-held dream to bring the music back to the bush, to his roots. Despite the evidence that incorporating music in a child’s education shows life changing benefits, such as improving literacy, numeracy, confidence, behaviour and wellbeing, 63 percent of primary schools in Australia offer no classroom music. In regional and remote schools, there is limited or no musical and arts based education, and opportunities for children to actively participate as performers and artists, under the mentorship of professionals and in front of an audience, is rare and for some non-existent.

Hartbeat of the Bush supports arts, music and cultural development programs in regional and remote communities. This initiative was designed as a whole of community project, to enable participants to socialise with others from across and beyond their region. In total, around 160 participants attended the Winter School, travelling from Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Ashford, Texas and Newcastle and lots of other little places in between. 

The program kicked off with the Big Chilly Sing, a day-long singing and song-writing workshop that gave locals a chance to converge and get the toes tapping. This was followed by a range of courses and concerts for students of all ages delivered by more than 50 teachers, many of whom are internationally-acclaimed. 

A range of concerts were also put on by the Winter School music educators themselves, which were attended by 220 people each night. Locals and visitors alike were treated to a folk concert, jazz performances, a chamber music concert, an opera night, a piano concert and of course, the final night culminated in one of the biggest concerts Tenterfield has ever seen. The finale was a rendition of the legendary Peter Allen song Tenterfield Saddler, performed by all of the Winter School attendees, and arranged by Pete Churchill, who led the Jazz studies program.

Musical experiences like this help children develop social skills and build confidence. Children from all over the region who had never met one another, played an instrument nor sung in a choir before this program amazed their family members with the talent and skills they had learnt in just five days. Many of these children are still in contact with each other and cannot wait for the next event.
What’s more, the economic benefits for the town were significant, with cafes, restaurants and retail outlets benefitting from a lot of foot traffic at a time when the drought impact was being deeply felt. A large number of local community groups were involved in some way, from making lunches and morning teas to providing venues for the concerts. 

Hartbeat of the Bush President Ms Helen McCosker said it was a whole of community effort. 

“The whole community was abuzz – even though we had had fires, drought and could no longer drink the town’s water, we had provided the businesses with a little sense of what was normal, something to look forward to and grow for our little country town.”

The $20,000 grant received by Hartbeat of the Bush was funded by the Australian Government through FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program. This covered the costs of running free daily buses within a 100 km radius for commuters from Warwick, Bonshaw, Glen Innes and Tabulum, as well as accommodation at the local Tenterfield Motor Inn for tutors (both overseas and those from Brisbane) and volunteers.

24 projects funded that will bring young rural Australians’ ideas to life

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) has awarded $185,855 in grants for 24 community-led projects that will help tackle the real, and at times confronting, issues faced by young Australians living in rural, regional and remote areas of the country.

Funded through the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program, these grants will support local community groups to adopt, adapt and implement one of six ideas that were developed by 55 young leaders who attended the 2020 ABC Heywire Regional Youth Summit. These ideas address the most pressing issues facing young Australians, including the environment and climate change, cultural inclusivity and diversity, access to education and shared spaces, and career pathways in agriculture.

Now in its eighth year, the Youth Innovation Grants are usually announced at an event hosted by the ABC. This year, due to COVID-19, community groups were awarded their grants at a virtual awards ceremony earlier this afternoon.

The 24 projects will support young people in rural communities throughout Australia, ranging from as far north as Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, to Sippy Downs in Queensland, Orange in New South Wales, Golden Square in Victoria and Hobart in Tasmania, across to Karoonda in South Australia, and as far west as Geraldton in Western Australia.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that although each place has its unique challenges, these grants show that there are common themes and concerns among young people throughout rural Australia.

“We’ve been heartened to see such an impressive response from rural communities wanting to address these six ideas and implement them in ways that are relevant and meaningful to the young people in their own community.

“We are inspired by the work that the ABC does to help shine a light on the issues affecting young people and thank our donor partners for their continued support. It’s through these partnerships that FRRR is able to support communities and their young leaders to come up with ideas and solutions that empower them to forge their own future,” Ms Egleton said.

ABC Director, Regional and Local, Judith Whelan, said that these young leaders and their ideas demonstrate the strength and resilience of Australia’s rural and regional communities.

“Heywire is a fantastic demonstration of the ingenuity of our young people and, thanks to the support of FRRR and its donor partners, we can help bring their inspiring ideas to life. It’s clear from this year’s Heywire ideas and Youth Innovation Grants that Australia’s future is in good hands.” Ms Whelan said.

2020 Heywire Winner, Sam Kane, from Golden Square, Victoria, was one of the young leaders that developed Skillin’ It – a locally-driven initiative that enables knowledge-sharing between individuals and community organisations to build skills that young people are keen to learn about.

“I’m thrilled that Skillin’ It, an idea that our group of 6 young people developed while at the Heywire Regional Youth Summit, is now being piloted in my local community in Central Victoria.

“To be part of this project from the brainstorming, to it now being implemented in my community with a partner organisation, means a lot to me – and shows just how far one idea can go,” Mr Kane said.

Some of the other projects inspired by the six Heywire Youth Innovation Grants ideas are:

  • Centralian Senior College, in Alice Springs, NT received $10,000 to adapt the Filling The Gap idea by providing Alice Springs youth with the opportunity and platform to Fill the Gap in education by telling local Indigenous stories, to be incorporated in local curriculum and promoted throughout the community.
  • City of Albany, WA received $9,038 to adapt the Green Book idea by promoting grassroots environmental activities through the delivery and filming of five hands-on environmental workshops that will be released at Albany Sustainability Festival and through schools.
  • Towri Aboriginal Corporation in Bathurst, NSW received $10,000 to adapt the L.E.D. (Let’s Embrace Diversity) idea by celebrating the rich culture and history that Aboriginal people have to offer by enabling local youth to lead local education.
  • Northern Gulf Resource Management Group in Dimbulah, QLD received $9,979 to adapt the We Need Farmers idea by developing relevant local educational resources for schools in the Northern Gulf Region through the creation of three, youth-created farming documentaries.
  • Yarram Neighbourhood House, VIC received $10,000 to adapt the Skillin’ It idea by cultivating youth skills in project planning, hospitality and horticultural skills through the establishment and delivery of a foodbank and community garden program.
  • Migrant Resource Centre (Southern Tas) in Hobart, TAS received $10,000 to adapt the Filling the Gap idea by empowering young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to educate the wider community about their culture and histories.
  • Stand Like Stone Foundation in Mount Gambier, SA received $10,000 to adapt the Just Relax idea by promoting understanding about life with disability across area schools by the delivery of a hands-on, educational program.

To date, through $1.2 million in community and philanthropic investment, including the support of a number of donors, such as The Sally Foundation and the David Mactaggart Foundation, the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants have helped to implement around 100 youth-developed projects in more than 160 communities.

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

Jump to: Filling the Gap | Green Book | Just Relax | L.E.D. | Skillin’ It | We Need Farmers





Filling the Gap

Centralian Senior College

Provide Alice Springs youth with the opportunity and platform to Fill the Gap in education by telling local Indigenous stories, to be incorporated in local curriculum and promoted throughout the community.

Alice Springs, NT


Chancellor State College

Enrich the education of Chancellor State College and empower young people by providing a number of excursions and workshops, where students can learn about diverse cultures, and share their learnings with the student body.

Sippy Downs, QLD


Migrant Resource Centre (Southern Tas) Inc

Empower young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to educate the wider community about their culture and histories.

Hobart, TAS


Green Book

Snowy Mountains Grammar School Limited

Increase access to environmental education and empower young people to spread environmental messages through workshops and blogs.

Jindabyne, NSW


Alice Springs Town Council

Provide access to youth education on environmental actions and host a youth-led climate change seminar featuring environmental workshops.

Alice Springs, NT


Bundaberg Regional Council

Upskill youth development action team to enable delivery of hands on environmental activities and an educational awareness film event for youth.

Bundaberg, QLD


Beechworth Secondary College Student Representative Committee
Beechworth Secondary College

Rejuvenate edge of the Beechworth Secondary College school grounds to increase biodiversity in fire ravaged environment and create an outdoor classroom.

Beechworth, VIC


City of Albany

Promote grassroots environmental activities through the delivery and filming of five hands-on environmental workshops that will be released at Albany Sustainability Festival and through schools.

Albany, WA


headspace Geraldton
Youth Focus Inc

Promote environmental awareness through participation in conservation works at a youth camp and delivery of local environmental solutions via video productions.

Geraldton, WA


Just Relax

Youth Action Committee of Karoonda East Murray
District Council of Karoonda East Murray

Improve disability access and road safety through the development of a concept plan to establish a safe walking / riding / wheelchair accessible pathway.

Karoonda, SA


Just Relax: Let’s talk about (Dis)ability
Stand Like Stone Foundation Ltd

Promote understanding about life with disability across area schools by the delivery of a hands-on, educational program.

Mount Gambier, SA


L.E.D. (Let’s Embrace Diversity)

Towri Aboriginal Corporation

Celebrate the rich culture and history that Aboriginal people have to offer by enabling local youth to lead local education.

Bathurst, NSW


Council of the City of Broken Hill

Celebrate diversity and empower local youth through a Colour Run #neonglow.

Broken Hill, NSW


St Giles Society

Increase awareness of Tasmanian youth with a disability to enable visibility of life challenges and foster community-wide change.

Launceston, TAS


Autism Support Network Albany Inc

Increase awareness and understanding of Autistic young people in the Albany community through the production of short videos.

Albany, WA


Skillin’ It

Part of Things
Barmera District War Memorial Community Centre Inc

Upskill youth through creation of a youth-led digital bank of workshops to be presented at an International Youth Day Festival.

Barmera, SA


Glenhaven Family Care Inc

Build community resilience and increase opportunities for youth employment through workshops in job readiness training for youth.

Sheffield, TAS


Jumpleads NFP Limited

Develop skills of ten young people through a mentoring program which will result in the completion of a community project.

Golden Square, VIC


Yarram Neighbourhood House Inc

Cultivate youth skills in project planning, hospitality and horticultural skills through establishment and delivery of a foodbank and community garden program.

Yarram, VIC


Boyup Brook Community Mental Health Action Team Inc

Increase access to learning opportunities via two 10 week ‘Skillin’ It’ programs for youth.

Boyup Brook, WA


Shire of Collie

Support life skills development through provision of ‘Skillin’ It’ workshops for youth in Collie.

Collie, WA


We Need Farmers

Bowraville Central School
NSW Government Schools

Highlight opportunities in farming industries through creation of school resources by senior students and excursions to local farms.

Bowraville, NSW


UCA – Kinross Woloroi School

Create an awareness of opportunities in agriculture via youth producing seven video documentaries and learning resources for primary schools in the region.

Orange, NSW


Northern Gulf Resource Management Group Ltd

Develop relevant local educational resources for schools in the Northern Gulf Region through the creation of three youth-created farming documentaries.

Dimbulah, QLD