Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
Freestone is a small, farming community located west of Brisbane, in Queensland. The town has been hard hit by ongoing drought, job losses and declining mental health and wellbeing among community members.
In 2015, the Freestone Memorial Hall began holding ‘Friday friendlies’ to bring community members together for social catch-ups. These events were particularly important as the drought worsened in 2018, with the economy slowing down due to layoffs. As times got tougher, the attendance at the Friday Friendlies increased.
Because of the importance of this social event, the Freestone Memorial Hall wanted to ensure the space was safe, could host the growing number of visitors, and had the updated facilities needed to ensure everyone could come together for a good time.
Freestone Memorial Hall was awarded a $10,000 grant, funded by the Australian Government, and administered by FRRR as part of the Tackling Tough Times Together Grant Program, to upgrade their facilities, install a data projector and integrated PA system and undergo renovations to fix an unsafe floor.
“Since installations and repairs have been completed, we have run five Friday Friendlies with increasing numbers at each Friendly. We are now averaging 50 people per night with a broad cross section of the community coming together to share their experiences of the month. This has proved particularly important as the drought continues,” Simon Goddard, a volunteer committee member for the Hall, told FRRR.
“We are even getting people back to the Friday Friendlies as they hear of improved facilities and increasing numbers. It is becoming self-perpetuating and has a very promising future.”
The new projector has been a popular addition for many locals, who enjoy getting together to watch live sports and tournaments.
The grant also allowed the community group to purchase a fridge, which not only keeps their drinks cold for events, but generates some income for the Hall. This modest but sustainable income makes it possible for the community to host bigger and better events together. So far, the Friday Friendlies continues to be a success for the Freestone community, with many looking forward to attending the gathering every week.