Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The Taromeo Rural Fire Brigade (TRFB) are a busy bunch. While you could be forgiven for thinking their remit was fire preparedness and firefighting, this group of volunteers actually take on a significant number of emergency service preparedness and response activities, as well as community education and outreach. After an increase in fires in the area, they were in need of more trained community volunteers, particularly young people and women, to support their efforts.

Alongside the challenge of more fires in the area, the TRFB were facing challenges with engaging with younger and older members of the community. They were concerned about their understanding of how bushfires can spread and their preparedness and resilience levels if a fire was to occur.

A grant of $4,170, donated by the David MacTaggart Foundation meant that the TRFB were able to create the ‘Don’t Burn the Butt’ community engagement campaign. The TRFB worked with other community organisations in the delivery of ‘Don’t Burn the Butt’ including South Burnett Regional Council, Blackbutt Benarkin Aged Care, SES, Qld Police Service, Blackbutt Medical Centre, Blackbutt Festival and Blackbutt Benarkin Aged Care Association.

The TRFB conducted a door to door engagement campaign, with volunteers knocking on every door in the community to talk about the importance of being prepared for bushfire season, and the benefits of becoming a volunteer. They also ran workshops for community members who were interested in becoming volunteers, to teach them the skills they would need, and were able to purchase equipment that they needed to ensure that they could respond effectively to any fires that occurred.

Les Lane, First Officer of TRFB, told FRRR; “The delivery of a Community Engagement Strategy was a very positive outcome for this project. We now have an additional 4 members of the brigade with truck licenses to respond to fires. This has already proven to be of benefit to the community and the brigade by enabling more team members to be active fire fighters when needed.”

Now, more community members are equipped with the knowledge and support they need to keep themselves and their families safe for this bushfire season, and many more to come.

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.

30 communities share in small grants

Schools, sports clubs and a rural fire brigade are among the 30 not-for-profit organisations in rural and regional cotton-growing communities to receive a $5,000 boost from the Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities program.

This year marks the seventh round of the Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities program, which the Crop Science division of Bayer delivers in partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR). This year’s program takes the total investment into cotton communities to more than one million dollars.

Local cotton growers nominated each of the not-for-profits that are receiving funds, which will help strengthen community resilience and positively impact the wellbeing of cotton-growing communities. 

FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said a consistent theme across nominations this year was a strong desire to boost morale and maintain community spirit in the face of drought.

“Local cotton-growing communities, already dealing with the stresses of sustained drought, have told us of the additional strain caused by COVID-19 restrictions. For these groups, normal fundraising activities have been turned on their head with local businesses, already struggling to survive, unable to lend their support to these community organisations,” Ms Egleton said. 

“It’s wonderful to have partners like Bayer to be able to help to alleviate some of their fundraising challenges as they work hard to keep their communities connected and address critical community needs.

“There are so many not-for-profit groups and local charities doing wonderful things to make cotton-growing communities great places to live and work. This year we’ve seen many groups seeking support to develop and build organisational and community resilience. Their determination to see their communities thrive, despite the challenges they face, is inspiring,” Ms Egleton said. 

Bayer Crop Science Head of Customer Marketing for Australia and New Zealand Tony May congratulated the winners and said the funding will assist in bringing people together again after being disconnected by COVID-19 restrictions.

“Many of the projects being funded will ensure cotton-growing communities can interact and connect with one another safely during the pandemic,” Mr May said.  

“The grants will help build community gardens, upgrade facilities for digital learning and enhance outdoor areas to foster connections.”

Gogeldrie Rural Fire Brigade in central north Riverina NSW, was a recipient of one of the 30 Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities grants. The brigade plan to use the grant to invest in suitable gym equipment to ensure the safety of its users. Currently gym users are improvising, including dragging around spare tyres tied on with rope.   

On hearing they had been successful, Gogeldrie Fire Brigade Captain David Pike said it was fantastic news and would make a big difference to their small community.  

“Providing appropriate gym equipment will be a nice reward for our volunteer fire fighters and motivate our farmers to come together and put their health and wellbeing first, more often,” Captain Pike said.

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

Jump to : NSW Communities | QLD Communities

OrganisationProjectLocationGrant
NEW SOUTH WALES
Darling River Food & Fibre (Bourke)
Bourke & District Children’s ServicesEnhance community identity and connection through the installation of a culturally relevant outdoor space.Bourke$5,000
Gwydir Valley
Moree & District Historical SocietyDevelop organisational resilience and capacity through the installation of solar panels.Moree$5,000
St Philomenas Catholic School Moree P & FSupport school engagement and enhance learning outcomes through the construction of an outdoor classroom.Moree$5,000
Lower Namoi
Wee Waa Branch Country Women’s Association of NSWIncrease community inclusion through construction of a safety ramp to support access to the CWA hall.Wee Waa$5,000
Wee Waa Rotary Club IncSupport organisational capacity through the purchase of a portable coolroom.Wee Waa$5,000
Macquarie
Trangie Country Women’s Association – Country Women’s Association of NSWIncrease community inclusion through the installation of safety railing to a newly installed ramp at the CWA hall.Trangie$5,000
Warren Central SchoolSupport life long learning through the establishment of a kitchen garden program.Warren$5,000
Warren Youth Support Group IncorporatedFacilitate positive engagement and support of young people through the installation of a permanent gazebo and outdoor furniture.Warren$5,000
Mungindi Water Users
Mungindi Junior Rugby League Club IncFoster social wellbeing and connectivity through a kitchen upgrade.Mungindi$5,000
Southern Valleys
Coleambally Central School P&C AssociationEnhance educational opportunities through the construction of a covered area linking classrooms and providing a safe all-weather play area.Coleambally$5,000
Gogeldrie Rural Fire BrigadeSupport individual and community health and wellbeing through the purchase of gym equipment.Gogeldrie$5,000
Griffith Public School Parents and Citizens AssociationIncrease educational opportunities through the purchase of readers for junior classrooms.Griffith$5,000
Hillston Billylids IncEnhance educational opportunities and social skill development through the purchase of digital learning resources and upgrade to play area.Hillston$5,000
Country Education Foundation of Coleambally-Darlington Point Incorporated (CEFCPD)Support lifelong learning, education and training through the support of a grants program that enables young people to complete post secondary education.Coleambally$5,000
Murrumbidgee Shire CouncilFoster community health and wellbeing through fencing of a community garden.Coleambally$5,000
Upper Namoi
Carroll Community Bus IncorporatedFoster community connectivity and resilience through repairs to the community bus.Carroll$5,000
Ooranga Family Mobile Resource Unit Assoc IncProvide access to diverse learning environments through the replacement of the existing kitchen.Gunnedah$5,000
Spring Ridge Public School Parents and Citizens AssociationEnable participation in educational opportunities through support of an annual student trip to Canberra.Spring Ridge$5,000
QUEENSLAND
Central Highlands
Rolleston Cricket Club IncBuild community resilience through the purchase of a defibrillator and ice making machine.Rolleston$5,000
Darling Downs
11th Light Horse Darling Downs Troop Inc.Support the preservation of local history by upgrading facilities that house historical memorabilia.Highfields$5,000
Cecil Plains History GroupSupport organisational resilience and the promotion of local history through the installation of a rainwater tank and purchase of display stands.Cecil Plains$5,000
Friends of Jondaryan Woolshed IncEnhance the preservation and promotion of local history through exhibit fencing to protect historical artifacts.Jondaryan$5,000
Rotary Club of Dalby IncIncrease organisational capacity through upgrade of existing catering trailer.Dalby$5,000
Wheatlands Primary P&C AssocEnhance student learning opportunities and support community connection, through the provision of a protected outdoor space.Wheatlands$5,000
Dawson Valley
Theodore Bowls Club IncorporatedDevelop organisational resilience and capacity through the provision of a ride on mower and outdoor vac.Theodore$5,000
Dirranbandi
Dirranbandi Arts Council IncorporatedIncrease volunteer comfort and safety through the installation of meeting room air conditioning and security cameras to community spaces.Dirranbandi$5,000
Macintyre Valley
Lundavra Primary P&C AssociationSupport student wellbeing and community resilience, through the purchase of a water tank to maintain school grounds.Lundavra$5,000
Macintyre Ag Alliance Inc.Support environmental outcomes through the purchasing of weed spraying equipment.Goondiwindi$5,000
St George
St George Tourism and Museum Association Inc.Support community resillience and raise community morale through restoration of a historical building.St George$5,000
Northern Australia (North of Latitude 21.15 degrees South)
Cowboys Charity LimitedSupport learning opportunities for Indigenous students through fit out of boarding room accomodation.Townsville$5,000

In our fourth and final podcast in this series, journalist Cameron Wilson discovers that a shared interest in conservation and environment can be a potent driver of social cohesion. We discover how botanical art has been an unlikely catalyst for an environmental project in outback Queensland and discuss the reasons why these projects break down isolation.

Speaking with botanical artist Jenny Mace and FRRR and AEGN Board member Annie Grindrod, we learn the value of people getting involved in projects that take into consideration the wider environment, and how this can be something that relieves the pressure of land owners during tough times.

The Boulia Shire, located in Central West Queensland, has been in drought since April 2013. With a total population of 426, Boulia residents are turning to community groups to stay active and connected.

These not-for-profit groups are relying on events – such as BBQ fundraisers – to sustain their activities. But it’s not easy. Without access to commercial BBQ equipment, fundraising opportunities are limited. Some groups choose to use privately owned BBQ’s, but these are clunky to move, and raise concerns about volunteer safety.

The Boulia Shire Council is the main employer in the area and supports 12 local community groups. To provide better fundraising opportunities across all groups, the Council set a new objective in 2018 – to source a multi-purpose BBQ unit.

The Council receieved a $26,000 grant from the Tackling Tough Times Together program, funded by Tim and Gina Fairfax, to purchase their new Chill’n’Grill BBQ trailer. The trailer included a fridge and safety equipment, which would allow community groups to transport and operate it safely.

Since its arrival in January 2019, the BBQ trailer has been widely used in the Boulia community. It was first fired up for Australia Day celebrations, which was a big hit on all accounts. Later in the year, the Central West Hospital and Health Services used it for its ‘Health & Wellbeing’ visits and for the Man with a Pram’ Father’s Day function. The BBQ trailer quickly became a popular meeting spot at these events, as attendees could gather around it to share a snack, socialise and show support for neighbours experiencing hardship.

“The trailer has made our working times so much more enjoyable,” said one group organiser. “Great resource. Easy to use, very clean and also easy to clean.”

The Boulia Shire Council is proud of its new fundraising equipment. They are committed to covering ongoing costs for the trailer and are confident their local groups will continue to use it. “This is the start of a domino effect,” a Council representative said. “Better experiences for organisers mean a better chance of more activities, events and functions for the community.”

Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network (QRRRWN) is a member and volunteer based, multi-generational, not-for-profit organisation for women from, or supportive of rural, regional and remote (RRR) areas, across all sectors and industries. Their focus is on building strong and diverse communities through connecting, developing and inspiring RRR women.

In 2018 they received $5,000 from FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program, funded by the David Mactaggart Foundation to fund a history project as part of their 25th anniversary, which was celebrated at the QRRRWN annual conference in Kingaroy.

The project paid tribute to the QRRRWN women whose vision 25 years ago helped shaped the organisation as it stands today, as well as the communities they live in. Interviews were conducted with past and present QRRRWN women, and featured their stories, wisdom and achievements in a series of videocasts. These snapshots of the life of the organisation were launched at the QRRRWN 2018 Conference as part of an exhibit featuring memorabilia from the last 25 years.

There is also now a history page on the QRRRWN website, with a series of videocasts that members, prospective members, as well as the general public, can view. This history webpage hosts the previously hidden collections of QRRRWN history that can be viewed as slideshows: https://www.qrrrwn.org.au/history-project/.

Project lead and QRRRWN board member Dr Cecily Jensen-Clayton said that years of drought, economic downturn, cyclone damage and the shrinking of rural communities have led to a loss of energy and motivation in leadership.

“The greatest success from my perspective was the performance and effectiveness of the history project team. What I am most proud of is that these outcomes are enduring, these outcomes being legacies that continue to energise leaders, their communities, and the QRRRWN organisation.”

One significant benefit of the history project was that it showcased to younger members the greater capacity and capabilities of the organisation. One millennial board member has now gone on to take up an executive position this year, and other participants were gifted with new and different ways to think about using their voice as leaders, commensurate with the objectives of the organisation.

For the residents of Mission Beach in Queensland, there was a lack of safe water play facilities in the area, due to no community swimming pool and the presence of deadly marine stinging jellyfish in the local beach during the summer months.

The Rotary Water Park/Splash Pad project was developed to provide a special place for the children of Mission Beach to play with their families and friends. It would also offer an opportunity for visitors to experience the Water Park/Spray Pad facilities at the Mission Beach beachfront, bringing much-needed tourism to the area.

The project also was also a part of the Cyclone Yasi recovery initiative for Mission Beach. Yasi caused major destruction in the community in 2011. The Rotary Club of Mission Beach opened a Fundraising Account with FRRR in 2014 to enable keen sponsors to receive a tax deduction for any donations.

In December 2018, the Club reached their fundraising target and began construction early the following year. A project five years in the making has become a reality and been a huge success for the Mission beach community. You will now find the Water Park filled with families, with children enjoying the new water-play facilities.

One of the project managers who helped deliver the water park advises other community groups to “never give up”, as persistence was integral to their success.

The Mission Beach community await to see the impact of the Water Park on local tourism for the Summer holiday season but expect to see the same great outcome it has had for locals.

The provision of a fundraising account was just the boost the Atherton Rotary Club needed to give a historic military igloo built in the 1940s as part of the war in the Pacific.

The town of Atherton in the Tablelands Region, Far North Queensland and its surrounds were key in Australia’s World War II effort, the location of a major war cemetery, general hospitals, military camps and ordinance depots. Around 100,000 military personnel were stationed in the region at the height of the war in the Pacific between 1943 and 1945 as the Japanese threatened to invade Australia.

The igloo, built in 1943, provided an essential space for social activities hosting entertainment events for thousands of patients and staff from the neighbouring Rocky Creek Hospital. Six of the structures were built originally with the one in Atherton the last still standing.

Falling into disrepair, the Atherton Rotary Club drove a fundraising campaign, using the FRRR fundraising account and a $20,000 grant from the Culture, Arts, Tourism and Community Heritage(CATCH) grants program to restore the facility and create a military museum.

Getting the igloo to lock-up has been a major undertaking, with the funds contributing to dressing rooms for the theatre stage, lighting, emergency exits, major floor repairs including restumping, and a stainless-steel kitchen for the use of hirers in the future.

Jo Barnes from the Atherton Rotary Club said that the igloo’s revitalisation was a “great relief to Rotarians involved in what at first appeared to be a huge, maybe impossible, undertaking,” she said.

“The builders are proud of their achievement in bringing it together and having the opportunity to work on a building with so much local and Australian significance.”   “Visitors are intrigued, excited and challenged to remember what their past relatives have said to them about being at Rocky Creek during the war.”