Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

FRRR acknowledges the devastating affects that Cyclone Seroja has had on a number of remote communities across Western Australia.

Cyclone Seroja

Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said that the Foundation knows recovery for these impacted communities has only just begun, with reconnection of power an immediate priority, and the rebuilding damaged houses, farms and public assets to occur in the months and years ahead.

“We also anticipate that the activities of local community groups, which are so vital to the ongoing fabric of Western Australia’s remote, rural and regional communities, will be significantly impacted. But we also know these groups will play a vital role in supporting their community through the recovery journey.

“FRRR encourages any donors interested in assisting these affected communities to donate to charities registered with the ACNC, and to consider supporting the needs of communities through the medium-long term recovery journey, in addition to their more immediate needs,” Ms Egleton said.

FRRR has a long history of assisting communities to recover from disasters. We have facilitated support to communities recovering from the recent NSW floods; the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires; 2019 Townsville floods; Cyclones Debbie and Larry; the 2013 floods and Blue Mountains bushfires; Cyclone Yasi and the 2011 flooding through Queensland, NSW and Victoria; the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires of 2009; and ongoing droughts; and to those places preparing for future disaster events.

“More frequent and intense climate disasters means that Australia needs to be proactive in how we fund communities to assist with their preparedness activities, and to have funds available to support them through the medium to long term aftermath of a disaster.” Ms Egleton explained.

Any funds donated to FRRR to support WA communities affected by Cyclone Seroja will be allocated through the following two key mechanisms:

  • FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program, which is open all year round, and assessed quarterly. Grants of up to $10,000 will be distributed; OR
  • FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund (DRRF). The DRRF was initiated in August 2019, in response to an increasing frequency of disasters. FRRR wanted to ensure it had a corpus of funds invested, so that it can provide some support to disaster impacted communities whether they’re large or small, in the public eye for a long time or swallowed by other events, or are well-supported philanthropically, or not. Donations made to FRRR’s DRRF are pooled and invested, making it a gift that keeps giving, with earnings drawn off every year to be distributed to communities impacted by disaster through grants in programs such as Strengthening Rural Communities. The DRRF currently holds over $4M, which is invested. FRRR will provide support to community groups recovering from the impacts of the cyclone over the coming years, by applying a portion of the earnings from this fund.

FRRR welcomes donations to either of these mechanisms. All donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia.

Beyond FRRR, the Foundation encourages everyone to consider the impact that this cyclone has had on many individuals and communities across WA, and consider giving to a DGR-1 endorsed ACNC registered charity, which can support individuals and their communities through the recovery journey.

For more information, contact Sarah Matthee, FRRR’s General Manager, Partnerships and Services.

By Natalie Egleton, CEO

Over the past month, I’ve had dozens of conversations with community leaders, local, state and commonwealth governments, philanthropic foundations, and corporate partners, that have all circled around the question of disaster resilience and best practice giving. I’m encouraged by the growing sentiment that recognises the increasing frequency and severity of disasters, yet also see a pressing need to shift our approaches to funding disasters as one-off events.

Time to evolve disaster philanthropy in Australia
Natalie Egleton, CEO

The floods that have devastated so many areas across NSW and parts of Queensland this month are yet another in a series of disasters that rural communities have had to face in the past year. Many of those communities have experienced prolonged drought, bushfires, minor flooding, and now catastrophic flooding. For these communities, the rebuild, recovery, and long-term renewal will call on yet more reserves of social capital. Support will be needed that doesn’t compartmentalise their various disaster impacts and which acknowledges the deeply fatiguing and depleting effects of successive disasters on people, communities, and local service systems. 

At FRRR, we view disasters as environmental shocks that remote, rural, regional communities regularly experience. We know they are inevitable and increasing in frequency and severity; what makes them complex is not knowing when they will occur, where, or the severity and nature of their impact.

Recovery and preparedness are only as strong as the social ties, quality of community infrastructure, depth and breadth of skills and networks, cultural knowledge, and the health of local service systems, non-profits, and community groups.

That’s why investing in social capital – preparing for future disasters and adapting to changing conditions after a disaster – underpin our ongoing work outside of disasters. Mitigation and making advances through technology is vital, but only effective when people within communities – those who will act first and drive recovery and preparedness – are invested in.

Our approach is to provide support where there are gaps or quick responses are needed in the short term, however we focus the majority of funds on the medium-to-long term recovery and future preparedness efforts of rural communities. Funding medium to long-term recovery ensures that resources are available to help communities when they are ready, beyond their immediate needs that arise during the emergency.

Adapting and evolving

In operational terms, FRRR has a standing disaster philanthropy model that we scale when a major disaster occurs. Each year, with support from hundreds of donor partners, we provide grants and capacity support to around 500 hundred remote, rural and regional communities across the country via almost 800 grants. This reach gives us a good footprint and connection points that we can naturally tap into when disasters occur.

Right now, we have almost 1,500 active grants in place for diverse projects in remote, rural, regional communities nationally; around 40% of these are supporting community-led recovery and resilience initiatives.

When the 2019-20 bushfires hit FRRR had to scale our processes very quickly. We expanded existing grants programs that have a national footprint, as well as brokered funds management for corporate partners to support short-term recovery.

In the space of a month, FRRR went from having about 700 donors to 30,000 donors. We had to ensure our systems could cope and we needed to scale up our communications and finance management resourcing. At the same time, we were engaging in working groups and forums with Governments, philanthropy, and connecting with fire-affected communities where we had active grants and relationships.

When COVID-19 hit, our biggest challenge, aside from looking after our people, was adjusting our community engagement approaches.

While regional Australia is great at working remotely, working on recovery, trying to engage with largely volunteer-led community groups and not-for-profits is really done best in person.

Understanding the local context can be done remotely but it’s not ideal. We also found that as restrictions came into place, a lot of community groups went to ground.

We knew there would be significant impacts from COVID-19 on recovery from the 2019-20 bushfires because the lockdowns would essentially stall social recovery processes, which are most effective when people come together physically, to process and heal.

One of our big, but unsurprising observations during COVID was the gaping hole in digital inclusion – equitable access to stable telecommunications, low levels of digital connectivity in households, and low digital literacy in what are largely ageing populations. In the Snowy Valleys for example, we learnt that 24% of people didn’t have an internet connection at home. In Tasmania, connectivity is inconsistent and communities very isolated.

At the same time, we were seeing independent news publications falling over and rural communities were becoming even more isolated.

The shocks and disruptions just kept coming and the readiness wasn’t there. And then, large parts of NSW were impacted by once-in-a-century floods.

We hear a lot about needing to increase resilience and I am of the firm view that that is coming from the wrong angle. There is an abundance of resilience, but only so much that any strong community can absorb and bounce forward from.

Embedding disasters in regional development practice

The past year has proven the repeated warnings of many. The frequency and severity of natural disasters will cost society, economies, biodiversity, and liveability. We need to do things differently.

In our work partnering with a community in NSW focussing on their non-profit sector capacity building before the 2019/20 bushfires, it was clear that those organisations and community leaders were more ready to respond to the recovery process and opportunities it presented. These same communities are now facing an unimaginable clean up and recovery from flooding. Our role is to be there, offer patience, continuity, flexibility, and agility to move how and when the community is ready with fit-for-purpose funding and resourcing support. The critical piece here is that when we do this work between disasters, reserves of social capital can be replenished and expanded. Communities are more able to engage with mitigation and do essential future-focussed work to strengthen their response to risk and climate change.

Innovation and renewal – applying learnings to support flood-impacted communities

Since the bushfires, we have reviewed and adjusted our approach to funding the core operating costs of the community groups that are so essential to the fabric and vitality of remote, rural and regional communities.

With the funding model of our national small grants programs being relatively unpredictable and dependent on donations from our partners, it is difficult for FRRR to commit to resourcing beyond one-off grants that seed and strengthen locally led projects.

However, throughout the pandemic, the FRRR Board recognised that the depletion of fundraising revenue, volunteer capacity, and local sponsorships, coupled with increased vulnerability and successive disasters, presents a serious threat to the survival of community groups and local not-for-profits. We recognise this as being critical at this point in time, so we will support core overhead costs until the picture changes. It will still be one-off funding but will help to keep the lights on and people working on key issues, while communities and organisations adapt and evolve through the recovery.

This approach translates to better practice for disaster philanthropy overall.

Given what is unfolding in NSW and Queensland at the moment, it is time that we stop looking at disasters as one-off events and view disasters as a constant. This means that we need to invest in underlying capacity and capability at the community level.

The new National Resilience, Relief & Recovery Agency, along with several State Agencies, are now modelled through an all-hazards lens and hopefully the policy and funding settings will follow. Philanthropy can then play a meaningful role beyond responding to successive crises.

It’s certainly where we are focussing more and more of our efforts, and we welcome more conversation on this.

More than $250,000 distributed to impacted regions

FRRR, in partnership with News Corp Australia, has awarded $279,940 in grants to support 12 projects in communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires, some of whom are now facing the complexity of recovery from multiple disasters.

News Corp Bushfire Fund grants
SAVEM Inc in Onkaparinga, SA was awarded a $21,050 grant in September 2020 for their Field Hospital Essential Equipment Project

Funded through the News Corp Bushfire Fund, grants ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 have been awarded to community groups in fire-affected regions across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.

The funding will go toward community initiatives that support infrastructure rebuilding and social recovery, such as helping people connect; alleviating pressure on volunteers; or critical upgrades to communities’ facilities, activity that will build community capacity and preparedness for future disasters.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, explained that several of the recipient communities are now dealing with floods, which makes it all the more important to support them and get this funding on the ground.

“Local not-for-profit organisations and community groups are responding to complex and intersecting challenges. The recovery of many bushfire-affected communities was significantly hampered by COVID-19 restrictions and many are only now starting to make inroads,” Ms Egleton said.

“Some communities are also navigating the ongoing impact of drought while in other areas, the recent flooding will add further to the complexity. However, the underlying issues that these projects were seeking to address will still be there, so these grants are critical to continuing recovery.

“Where project challenges arise due to the flooding, we will work closely with these communities to ensure they are supported to adapt their plans and deliver on the goals they have for local recovery. 

“It’s wonderful to partner with an organisation like News Corp Australia, who have committed support to these fire affected communities over the last year that has allowed us to be flexible and respond as different needs emerge and the recovery journey evolves,” Ms Egleton explained.

News Corp Australia’s community ambassador, Penny Fowler, said the strength of these fire-affected communities is truly inspiring.

“Many of the communities supported with this funding have felt the effect of multiple natural disasters over the last few years – whether drought, flood or fires – yet they continue to move forward. The importance of having well-equipped community facilities that enable people to come together to support one another, or to get back to some semblance of ‘normal’ came through really strongly this round,” Ms Fowler said.

“We are very pleased to be able to work with FRRR to ensure that those community groups on the ground, doing the heavy lifting and supporting their people, have what they need to continue to do so.”

Some of the projects funded include:

  • Container of Dreams Limited – Drake, NSW – Covered Work Area for Tiny House Building – $25,000 – Build an undercover work area, so that no matter the weather conditions, volunteers can safely build tiny houses for those still homeless following the fires.
  • Upper Murray Innovation Foundation / Thowgla Community Recovery Committee – Thowgla Valley, VIC – Thowgla Valley Fire Preparedness – $23,095 – Improve the community’s preparedness to respond to future fire events, and other disasters, by purchasing portable fire-fighting equipment and UHF radios, strengthening community resilience.
  • Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Incorporated – Stanthorpe, QLD – Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail – $25,000 – Employ a coordinator to address volunteer fatigue and enable the ongoing delivery of a largely volunteer-run art events program to help drive local engagement and attract tourists.
  • Mount Torrens and Districts Community Association Incorporated – Mount Torrens, SA – Dunnfield Community Space – $25,000 – Increase community connections by creating a playground, reflection and meeting spaces, and a community garden in the Dunnfield Community Space using timber from the fire ground.

FRRR encourages all grant seekers to subscribe to our eNews and social media channels to be alerted when other funding opportunities are announced, and to be inspired to develop their own community-led projects.

Visit here for more information on FRRR’s grant programs to support communities before, during, and after a natural disaster or drought, and build communities’ climate resilience. Anyone wanting to directly support medium to long-term flood recovery can do so at https://frrr.org.au/giving/flood-recovery-appeal/.

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

OrganisationProject LocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
Blicks Community IncorporatedCommunity Action Plan: Rebuilding Together - Our Sustainable Environment
Enable the community to recover from bushfires and better prepare for future emergencies by developing an Environmental Sustainability plan.
Dundurrabin$25,000
Broulee Surfers Surf Life Saving Club IncorporatedKitchen Renovation
Improve the club's ability to support and service the community during times of emergency through kitchen renovations at the club house.
Broulee$25,000
Container of Dreams LimitedCovered Work Area for Tiny House Building
Improve the capability of Container of Dreams by building an undercover work area allowing volunteers to build tiny houses in all weather conditions for displaced community members.
Drake$25,000
Eden Community Access Centre IncorporatedPower for the People
Enhance the efficiency of the Eden Community Access Centre by installing solar electricity to support the reduction of running costs and provide a more reliable power source during times of emergency.
Eden$22,500
Melanoma and Skin Cancer Advocacy Network Limited (BlazeAid)Bushfire Recovery: Keeping Volunteers Sun Safe and Skin Serious!
Improve BlazeAid's capability to protect volunteer health by providing broad brimmed sun hats to be worn when they are supporting the rebuild of community infrastructure.
Cobargo$15,000
Southcoast Health and Sustainability AllianceMaking the Moruya Pre-School Kindergarten a Heatwave and Bushfire Haven for Young Children and Their Parents
Improve the Moruya Pre-School's ability to prepare their facility to protect young families of the community by upgrading fire defence systems and installing solar electricity at the centre.
Moruya$25,000
The Big Scrub OrchestraRebuilding Lives of Children Experiencing Trauma from the 2019/20 Bushfires with Music
Encourage children's recovery and learning through music by providing access to big band music experience in the Richmond Valley region.
Rappville$25,000
QUEENSLAND
Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail IncorporatedGranite Belt Art and Craft Trail
Boost the capability of Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Incorporated to deliver art events across the Granite Belt region by employing an event coordinator locally.
Stanthorpe$25,000
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Kingston Brigade Lecepede CFS GroupLacepede CFS Wellbeing Retreat and Learning Zone Development
Strengthen and support the volunteer fire brigade crew to reduce stress and increase community safety during emergencies by providing a breakout space including learning area for volunteers.
Kingston$25,000
Mount Torrens and Districts Community Association IncorporatedDunnfield Community Space
Help locals recover and reflect by providing a community space including playground and community garden constructed with trees recycled from local fire grounds of the 2019/20 bushfires.
Mount Torrens$25,000
VICTORIA
Tambo Upper Primary SchoolHistorical Hall Kitchen Rebuild
Expand the use of the community hall by upgrading the kitchen to provide a well-appointed facility for the community to use, particularly during times of emergency.
Tambo Upper$19,345
Upper Murray Innovation Foundation - Thowgla Community Recovery Committee (CRC)Thowgla Valley Fire Preparedness
Improve the community's ability to respond to future fire events by providing portable firefighting equipment and radios for the Thowgla Valley.
Thowgla Valley$23,095

Focus on medium to long-term recovery in flood-affected rural communities in NSW & QLD

FRRR has launched a Flood Recovery Appeal to support remote, rural and regional communities in New South Wales and Queensland devastated by this month’s floods. Donations can be made to the Appeal in general, enabling FRRR to distribute the funds where needed, or allocated to specific regions or communities.

FRRR Flood Recovery Appeal

FRRR has supported remote, rural and regional communities across the country prepare for and recover from natural disasters since 2006. To date, FRRR has distributed more than $26 million for community-led disaster recovery and resilience initiatives, including more than $4 million for projects supporting recovery from the 2019-20 bushfires.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said the Foundation stands ready to support the recovery of flood-affected rural regions of NSW and Queensland.

“It’s hard to fathom that rural communities could face any more challenges than they have in the past year, but sadly they are. Many places devasted by the floods have also been dealing with the impacts of drought, the bushfires, and COVID-19 restrictions,” Ms Egleton said.

“In terms of disaster recovery, FRRR’s approach is to provide support to local community groups and non-profits where there are gaps or quick responses needed in the short term, however we focus the majority of funds on the medium-to-long term recovery and future preparedness efforts of rural communities. Funding medium to long-term recovery ensures that resources are available to help communities beyond the immediate needs that arise during the emergency.

“From our experience, we know disasters have a long-lasting impact – it could take a decade or longer. As recovery gets underway, communities will have different concerns and needs, meaning that recovery will happen at different rates, depending on the community and local priorities.

“Donations to our Flood Recovery Appeal will help to fund a diverse range of initiatives that reflect the needs the community identifies, but it could include rebuilding infrastructure, supporting vulnerable community members and the overall mental health of locals, providing opportunities for locals to reconnect and share their experiences, as well as looking at ways of improving resilience and how the community can prepare for future disasters,” Ms Egleton explained.

FRRR’s programs and partnerships in flood-affected communities are already in place or ready to scale up, including:

  • Strengthening Rural Communities: a flexible national grant program with a targeted bushfire recovery stream, now to be expanded with a flood recovery stream to support short, medium and long-term recovery.
  • Back to School: a partnership program with place-based organisations such as Community Foundations that provides K-mart, Target, and local business vouchers for school supplies that directly helps children and families.
  • Disaster Resilience & Recovery Fund: an invested fund enabling support to be provided for many years to come. Fund earnings are distributed via FRRR’s grant programs for medium-to-long term recovery.

“In the face of these successive disasters, the last year has also shone a light on the generosity of Australians. Australians want to lend a hand, even though it’s been tougher than usual for many, given COVID-19.

“We hope that this same desire to give will continue in the face of this latest disaster as these communities will need support long after the waters have receded,” Ms Egleton said.

Donate to FRRR’s Flood Recovery Appeal here.

Black Saturday funding available for community-led initiatives

Twelve years on from the devastating 2009 Victorian bushfires, FRRR is offering another round of funding to support impacted communities as they continue to rebuild, reconnect and recover.

Black Saturday funding available for community-led initiatives
Whittlesea Community Garden

Supported by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF), the funding is available through FRRR’s Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W) program and the Grants for Resilience & Wellness Kinglake Ranges (GR&W Kinglake) program. The grants of up to $20,000 will support not-for-profits and community-based organisations to lead projects that aid recovery and build community resilience.

The GR&W and GR&W Kinglake Ranges programs fund initiatives that:

  • Improve mental health and wellbeing of communities and individuals;
  • Enhance wellbeing and resilience of pre-school, primary and secondary school-aged children and young people;
  • Strengthen community connections, sense of place and community identity; and
  • Increase the community’s ability to prepare for future disasters.

To date, FRRR has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to local groups, thanks to VBAF funding, which comes from the generous contributions by the general public following the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. Through this round of funding there is a total of $360,000 available for GR&W grants and a total of more than $700,000 available for GR&W Kinglake projects.

Nina O’Brien, FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, said that the impact of COVID-19 has increased the need to support recovering communities to reconnect socially and continue to enhance their wellbeing.

“Despite the restrictions that the pandemic has put on people coming together, local groups report services and activities that enhance wellness and resilience are still well attended. One program funded twice previously by FRRR, the Be Well in the Ranges program, has been fully booked out, and the Yinnar Memorial Hall exercise group continues to attract 30-40 participants each week,” Ms O’Brien said.

“The GR&W programs provide flexible support to respond to issues as they emerge. More than a decade since the fires, communities are focusing on building resilience for the future,” Ms O’Brien explained.

Applications for both GR&W and GR&W Kinglake close at 5pm AEDT, Wednesday 21 April 2021.

Potential applicants should visit the GR&W and GR&W Kinglake webpages and review the guidelines before applying.

Networks to Build Drought Resilience and Drought Resilience Leaders

FRRR will soon be providing increased support into remote, rural and regional communities to prepare for the impacts of drought, after being selected by the Australian Government to deliver its Networks to Build Drought Resilience program. FRRR is also part of a consortium delivering the Drought Resilience Leaders program.

Funded through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund, both programs will help remote, rural and regional people access the tools, skills and support to build and foster leader networks, and to develop and roll out drought resilience initiatives in their communities.

The Networks to Build Drought Resilience (NBDR) program will help people in agricultural communities to develop skills, participate in risk management planning, and foster projects that encourage connectedness and improve wellbeing. It will also support small-scale infrastructure projects to make community facilities drought resilient to increase overall wellbeing and reduce social isolation.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program will support future-focussed initiatives led by local community groups and network organisations that play such a vital role in local and regional resilience

“Networks and community leadership are the backbone of strong, vibrant communities and are essential to ensuring future preparedness for drought and the associated social, economic, environmental impacts that can be so devastating for remote, rural, and regional communities.

“This is an exciting opportunity for building drought resilience from the ground up and we look forward to supporting the fantastic ideas and solutions that we know are ready to go across the country,” Ms Egleton said.

Through the Drought Resilience Leaders (DRL) program rural leaders will be able to access training and support that will help them to develop and undertake a project to build drought resilience in their communities. Partnering with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) and the Rural Economies Centre of Excellence (RECoE), FRRR will manage a grants stream that will allow leadership program participants and their communities to activate their community-strengthening ideas.

Ms Egleton said that this program means more opportunities for local people to take the lead in finding meaningful and tailored solutions for their community’s increased climate resilience.

“Local leaders know how to get things done. They know how to bring people together, to motivate and to problem-solve. Backing these leaders is key to ensuring the long-term vitality of Australia’s remote, rural and regional communities, particularly those battling drought.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the ARLF and RECoE to provide these local leaders with access to such invaluable training and help them to bring their drought resilience projects to life,” Ms Egleton said.

For more information visit
The Hon David Littleproud MP – https://minister.awe.gov.au/littleproud/media-releases/drought-leaders-networks-programs
Australian Rural Leadership Foundation – https://rural-leaders.org.au/arlf-to-lead-consortia-to-deliver-drought-program/ 

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.

Ocean Shores community groups join forces to be Disaster Resilient: Future Ready

Bendigo, 4 June 2020: Two Ocean Shores community groups are sharing $40,000 in grants for projects that will help the community to better withstand and recover from any future disaster, thanks to the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready (DR:FR) Get Ready NSW program.

Initiated by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), the DR:FR program is a multi-stage, place-based program that enables communities to receive support for the needs and priorities they identify as important to help them be more resilient in the face of natural disasters. 

Ocean Shores is one of three NSW communities, along with Wee Waa and North Richmond, that is participating in the program. Through community consultation over the last 24 months, Ocean Shores residents identified their priorities as building social connectedness and community resilience and preparedness, and leveraging the knowledge and experience of local Elders and Indigenous peoples to support environmental land care and management.

FRRR’s DR:FR Program Coordinator, Fiona Bradshaw, says FRRR has been heartened by the eagerness and determination of local leaders to come together and collaborate to address the needs of the community.

“I have been so impressed with the enthusiasm of Ocean Shores’ residents to take this program and run with it. Byron Youth Service and Ocean Shores Community Association will work together to respond to what is important to their community and support one another in the process,” said Ms Bradshaw.

Byron Youth Service’s Ocean Shores Youth Response Team (OSYRT) project will focus on empowering local youth to engage in community life and play a role in the disaster preparation process.

With their $25,000 DR:FR grant, the OSYRT project will offer local youth five weeks of skills-building and awareness workshops, including sessions from a local Indigenous facilitator. The aim is to boost their morale and self-confidence and provide an opportunity to role model positive behaviours for younger students and enhance a sense of community spirit whilst raising awareness around disaster preparation in the community.

The Ocean Shores Community Association (OSCA) received $15,000 to support its Ocean Shores and District Community Information Flooding Map project, a priority identified during the DR:FR roadshows. 

Having been severely affected by flooding and inundation from Cyclone Debbie in 2017, the map will improve community flooding preparedness and resilience and develop community connections and networks.

OSYRT workshop participants will also support OSCA’s project by gathering stories of resilience and lived experiences during natural disasters from both older and long-term local residents, which will be incorporated in OSCA’s map.

FRRR has been able to develop and implement the DR:FR program with the generous support of partners including NSW Government, The Maple-Brown Family Foundation, Doc Ross Family Foundation, Ronald Geoffrey Arnott Foundation and a number of private donors.

Bendigo, 14 October 2019: The Wee Waa Rotary Club will build a Community Arts Hub and fund a Cultural Trail as part of the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready (DR:FR) Get Ready NSW Pilot, thanks to a grant of $40,000 from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR).

The DR:FR program enables communities to receive support for projects they identify as important initiatives to help them withstand and recover from any future disaster.

Wee Waa is one of three communities in the state, along with North Richmond and Ocean Shores, that is participating in the program to better prepare them for disasters. Through community consultation over the last 18 months, Wee Waa residents identified that building social connectedness and community resilience as well as fostering a deeper connection with the local environment will enable them to better withstand and recover from disasters.

The Wee Waa Local Aboriginal Lands Council (WWLALC) will pilot Cultural Trail Tours, beginning in October. WWLALC CEO Robyn Keeffe said that the tours would focus on providing traditional knowledge about the land and country while the creation of an Arts and Cultural Hub plays a vital role strengthening in Wee Waa’s social fabric.

“As traditional custodians of the local lands, the Kamilaroi people can share unique insights into the country, helping community members to understand how local environmental factors influence impacts by natural disasters, like drought and flood. The tours will take in the Tulladunna Reserve, a culturally significant site containing a Bora Ring, and Scarred Trees. 

“WWLALC has completed restoration at Tulladunna Reserve and manages the land in partnership with Corrective Services, providing meaningful work for their participants instead of being incarcerated. Tulladunna Reserve is also a meeting place for knowledge sharing not only for the Aboriginal Community but for the community at large. We have had a number of events at the site and will continue to do so.

“Partnering with Wee Waa Chamber of Commerce and Rotary to establish the Arts and Cultural Hub encourages local Aboriginal artists to display their art and culture. This brings the local Aboriginal community closer to the wider Wee Waa community and provides important alternative income streams, especially as the current drought has reduced employment opportunities.”

Anne-Maree Galagher, President of the Wee Waa Chamber of Commerce, said that the grant is a demonstration of community groups working together for the common goal of showcasing the town’s cultural heritage and arts, for locals and visitors alike.

“We are grateful that Wee Waa was selected for the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready Get Ready NSW pilot and we believe that our community’s resilience and ability to work together in times of need, such as during the current drought, has been greatly enhanced as a result. We thank FRRR and its partners for their assistance and generous grant to our community.”

FRRR has been able to develop and implement the DR:FR program with the generous support of partners including The Maple-Brown Family Foundation, Doc Ross Family Foundation, a number of private donors and the NSW Government.

Bendigo, 2nd March 2018: The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has announced that three NSW communities will be the first to trial a new national framework to improve community disaster preparedness and resilience.

The pilot communities are Ocean Shores, Wee Waa and North Richmond. With support from the NSW Government through the Office of Emergency Management, as well a number of philanthropic partners, the pilots will identify effective approaches to building community resilience and determine what is needed for their communities to be better prepared and more resilient in the event of a natural disaster.

These three pilots are the first in the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready program, which will empower local communities to co-design a framework and provide an evidence base that aims to ultimately increase awareness of risk and build capacity to strengthen the disaster preparedness and resilience of communities throughout NSW and Australia.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR says that with more frequent and severe natural disasters, there is clear evidence that their effects can be mitigated with better community preparedness but that each community needs to be involved in developing its own approach that is relevant to their context.

“We know that when communities are better prepared for disasters, they recover faster and more effectively than those that are not. So, we are using the latest research into how communities can build their resilience to inform these community-led, place-based pilots.

“Each of the pilot communities is either at-risk or has experienced the impact of a natural disaster in the past. Most importantly, they have the capacity and interest to participate in this new approach to developing community-led preparedness.

“To help us develop this into a national framework and ensure it is robust, we have engaged the University of Sydney to support and evaluate the co-design process and the approaches adopted by pilot communities.

“Local leaders will use the framework to identify priority community initiatives, which we intend to fund with grants. The projects will be evaluated to establish evidence of best practice approaches that can be adopted and adapted on a national-scale for other communities, so they too can improve their preparedness and resilience,” explained Ms Egleton.

FRRR has been able to develop and implement this program with the generous support of partners including Prince’s Trust Australia, Ronald Geoffrey Arnott Foundation, a number of private donors and the NSW Government.

FRRR estimates that this project requires a minimum of $1.5 million over the next three years to deliver the program nationally.