Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Nestled in the heart of the Bundaleer Forest lies a quiet haven where local South Australian families can visit to reconnect with nature, and each other. Just eight kilometres from Jamestown, the picnic area of the Bundaleer Forest and the idyllic Maple Walk have been a local favourite for years. And yet, something was missing.

Until 2018, families would have to drive more than 200km to visit the nearest nature play park. These types of parks provide an opportunity for children to ignite their imagination, and enjoy learning and developing key skills while being surrounded by nature.

After the devastating bushfires that tore through the Bundaleer Forest in 2013, it became clear that the community needed a new tourist destination to drive business into the area.

After three years of work by the Northern Forests Community Initiatives Group, The Bundaleer Forest Community Areas Association (BFCAA) was formed. Their mission is to protect, preserve, promote and enhance the recreational, environmental, cultural, historical and educational values of the community areas of the Bundaleer Forest – and delivering the nature play area was just one of their initiatives.

The local community applied for the FRRR Small Grants for Rural Communities program, which provided $5,000 in funding for the nature play area, thanks to support from The Yulgilbar Foundation. Over 12 months, the community banded together to design and build the new park, with enormous input from the BFCAA volunteers, and Lion Club volunteers.


The finished nature play area is full of things to do, with a basket swing, picnic table & story time area, goblin & fairy house, mud kitchen, stepping logs, giant xylophone, swinging bars, tight rope and climbing rope. The facility has encouraged local schools, kindergartens and other groups to visit locally, and enjoy the benefits of having such a fun and engaging play area right on their doorstep.

Each of the nature play structures has a specific goal for promoting the development of strength, creativity, and providing a sensory experience. Children can experience being in nature and enjoying the fresh air, while developing their balance, body awareness, concentration and gross motor skills.

“Anyone who sits quietly and observes children playing in the Bundaleer nature play space will fully understand the impact of this project. While it is impossible to measure, there is a phenomenal impact on many levels of children development through nature play. It’s where children’s imaginations can come to life, and world where fairies and dragons are more real than make believe. It’s where children cooperate to make music together on the giant instrument, and learn to take turns on the swing and hold the hand of a younger chid as they learn to balance on the stepping logs.”

Mel Kitschke
Bundaleer Forest Community Areas Association

The Pain Revolution, in conjunction with the University of South Australia, set out to establish a community-led health initiative to promote best-practice pain management services in country NSW and Victoria, by raising awareness of pain neurobiology and the use of a bio-psycho-social pain model of education and care.

If that all sounds quite complicated, these facts are simpler to understand, though not very easy to digest:

  • One in five Australians lives with chronic pain. In those over the age of 65, this increases to 1 in 3.
  • According to The Pain Revolution, persistent pain is a bigger disability burden on rural Australia than cancer and diabetes combined.
  • It is the most common reason for early departure from the workforce, and a known risk factor for severe depression and suicide.

What’s more, access to pain management services is poor in rural communities, and most attempts to address the problem include ‘travelling health teams’ and ‘country visits’ from city health specialists. With GPs reporting that they have insufficient knowledge, skill and self-efficacy to deliver best practice for persistent pain patients, The Pain Revolution stepped in to design a sustainable program of training, mentoring and resourcing with a focus on local capacity building.

Founded in 2017, The Pain Revolution is a cross sector collaboration led by Professor Lorimer Moseley from within the School of Health Science at the University of South Australia. It also draws on expertise from others working in the field, holding strong partnerships with the National Rural Health Alliance, Pain Australia, Australian Pain Society, the Australian Physiotherapy Association and the Australian College of Sports & Exercise Physicians. Their collective aim is to embed the capacity to deliver best practice pain education and care within rural and regional communities, and they are doing this through the Local Pain Collectives (LPC) program.

Pain science is an area with lots of interesting research and developments; new and effective approaches have been identified to prevent and manage persistent pain, placing emphasis on active approaches (movement and learning based) rather than passive ones (drugs, massage and surgery). These new self-management approaches can seem counter-intuitive amongst health professionals unless they have an understanding of contemporary pain science. International guidelines now universally recommend education as first-line treatment, but this is rarely delivered effectively as part of usual care.

The Pain Revolution determines where to target their efforts by assessing which rural and regional communities are flagged by the Australian Health Atlas as having excessive opioid prescriptions, back fusions and knee replacements. In response, the LPC program aims to upskill GPs and allied health professionals in best practise pain education and care within these communities, and establish a supported network amongst this difficult area of medical practice.

The Pain Revolution provided scholarships to twelve health professionals who live in regional communities across NSW/VIC. These individuals were trained to organise and deliver pain education events to the general public and other health professionals, and become clinical leaders and ‘champions for change’ within their community. Funding from the Enhancing Country Health Outcomes (ECHO) grant program enabled them to form a Local Pain Collective and deliver pain education in six regional areas of NSW: Wollongong, Nowra, Jindabyne, Cooma, Wagga Wagga and Albury/Wodonga.

Each Collective has delivered activities including pain education sessions, clinical support for knowledge to practice transfer, and a facilitated platform for peer-to-peer learning and resource sharing. A three-day workshop strengthened the network, bringing together the local pain educators, the reference group, content experts and facilitators, and monthly network meetings followed. The workshop also informed where skills could be developed, and this fed into the design and delivery of a monthly webinar series. Topics of direct relevance to the rural and regional context included understanding opioids, appraising evidence, facilitation skills, implementing behaviour change principles to pain care, and choosing words carefully when talking to pain patients.

In their application, Pain Revolution wrote that the project would deliver benefits on three levels. Of course it would benefit the rural and regional-based GPs and allied health professionals that participate. By improving pain education and care, it would also benefit the 1 in 5 rural Australians who suffer from persistent pain and the many more at risk of it because of a lack of up-to-date information and care.
The third level of benefit really speaks to the aims of the ECHO grant program:

“The extent to which persistent pain impacts entire communities – almost everyone is affected – means that this project will benefit entire communities by promoting informed self-management and resilience.”

FRRR is delighted to have been able to support this program, which is clearly making a difference to the lives of many rural people.

Content warning: this article deals with sensitive themes including self harm that might be disturbing for some audiences.

For students facing adversity in communities across SA’s Eyre Peninsula, a long-running resilience program helps them to create a future where they not only cope, but thrive.

Youth Opportunities runs a 60-hour, 10-week wellbeing and resilience program that provides young people, especially those that are disengaged and disadvantaged, with the tools and knowledge to overcome obstacles associated with life’s challenges – from bullying and anxiety to family dysfunction and drug and alcohol abuse.

In SA’s eastern and western Eyre Peninsula, drought is impacting on local families, increasing financial strain and social isolation. Port Lincoln High School, Tumby Bay High School and Whyalla High School report more than 30% of families are receiving financial assistance with school fees and materials. Statistics show farming communities across the state experience mental health problems at twice the rate of the general population, and for youth in the area, opportunities are low and suicide rates are higher than average.

The powerful program has found a 52.1% reduction in the number of teenagers at high risk of developing a mental health disorder as a direct result of training with Youth Opportunities.

Grants Officer, Mrs Sacha Burkett talks of a ‘ripple effect’ from the program. “This comes from young people making significantly better life choices, strengthening their personal relationships and becoming strong leaders amongst their communities.

“Following the delivery of our first program in Cummins, one local council member told Youth Opportunities she had “clearly witnessed much more community spirit and a behaviour change in young people in town”.

Youth Opportunities is structured to heavily subsidise the cost of delivery so the burden isn’t placed on budget restrained schools and low-income families, but remains accessible to those who need it most. The program has been running at schools successfully since 2008, but local drought and financial stress means there has been a decreased capacity to fundraise locally for the program to continue.

Against this backdrop, FRRR awarded a $20,000 grant, through the Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) program, thanks  to the support of the Australian Government. The grant part-funded local trainer’s salaries, training materials, administration, travel, graduation costs and sustained graduate engagement.

Across the three schools, 54 Year 10 students (aged 15 and 16) attended the program. Trainers combined practical experience and coaching, delivering content within a supportive group environment, extending the groups’ skills ‘in areas not typically part of school, but important for life’. Upon completion there was a Graduation Ceremony celebrating the journey, personal changes, achievements and outcomes of the students.

Feedback from the students illustrates the immediate benefits on their outlooks:

  • “I am feeling a lot happier and I am pushing myself harder to achieve my goals.”
  •  “I have developed the confidence I need within myself.”
  • “Youth Opps has really changed the way I think about everything, by not looking back and moving forward in life.”
  • “By opening up to challenges and new habits, I have found a new side of myself I never thought I would find.”
  • “Youth Opps has helped me to see my worth.”

All graduates are now being supported to reach their educational and personal goals through an additional two years support from Youth Opportunities trainers, focusing on reinforcing program content and helping graduates continue to achieve and succeed post-program.

Mel Degner, Principal Cummins Area School, wrote that the program cuts through and proves relevant for students of all backgrounds, giving them significant long-term skills and strategies.

“Through the Youth Opportunities Personal Leadership Program, many of our students reconnect with their families by learning how to communicate more positively, others change their goal planning to include further education or a newly discovered career path, and the majority discover important things about themselves and begin to value their self-worth.“

Similarly, Nicky Prosser, Principal Tumby Bay Area School, says the program has contributed to a positive shift in school culture, helping students manage their responses to negative experiences.

“Youth Opportunities delivers valuable outcomes for or students – positively impacting classrooms, friendship groups, families and the wider community.”

FRRR is delighted to have been able to support a program making such a positive difference.

Pinery Fire response supported by Community Foundation Account

Foundation Barossa’s story is a particularly good example of how FRRR’s Community Foundation Accounts are able to help a community respond to emerging local needs quickly and efficiently. The account is flexible in the way that it can fundraise and grant funds, and direct funds toward a great variety of projects in the geographic area.

Incorporated in 2002, the Foundation was formed to fundraise and support local community projects, many of which are innovative and unique to the region. The Foundation runs an annual small Community Grants program, however many of the small not-for-profit organisations in the Barossa do not have DGR status. For this reason, Foundation Barossa opened an FRRR Community Foundation Account (formerly known as a Donation Account) to provide a way to streamline and increase the number of grants that could be allocated.

Located 50 km north-east of Adelaide, the region includes the major towns of Nuriootpa, Tanunda, Lyndoch and Angaston, and a number of smaller communities. The Foundation’s focus area for support is the sustainability of the Barossa’s environment and heritage, and the annual grants are a well-known and integral part ort of the community.

In 2015, the Foundation renewed their account – which had become inactive – to include fundraising to support fire relief and recovery after the Pinery Bushfire. The fire was devastating for the region – it burned from 25 November to 2 December 2015, destroying 91 houses, hospitalising 90 people and killing two. 

With the help of FRRR’s DGR status, this Community Foundation has been able to fundraise for and support a great variety of wonderful community projects, including purchasing equipment for educational programs, upgrading vital community infrastructure, providing transport services for cancer patients, enabling garden revival projects, constructing memorials for the two local individuals who lost their lives, and publishing a book recording historical information from the area.

Below is a summary of projects that are being supported in the region through the granting of almost $50,000 via the Account.

Bushfire Garden Revival

The goal of SA Bushfire Garden Revivals is to assist as many impacted families to rebuild their home gardens as possible. Garden therapy offers significant health and wellbeing benefits and helps recovery from trauma, through both distraction for families and regeneration of land. Following the Pinery bushfire, the Samson Flat Garden Revival team restructured their project to assist any South Australian bushfire event, quadrupled their team, and grew rapidly with a new focus on assisting Pinery families. 

SA Bushfire Garden Revival

They went from 3 collection points for donations to 11 around the State. Funds are used to purchase garden items such as tools, greenhouses, garden statues, native plants, fruit trees and citrus trees. The number of families who lost their home gardens is far greater than the number of homes lost overall, and gardens are mostly uninsured and impossible to put a dollar value on. Through providing assistance, plants and garden items to fire affected families, the SA Bushfire Garden Revival team hopes to share their experience in garden therapy and horticulture to assist them to rebuild their home gardens with colour, love and life.

The Barossa – From Federation to the Fifties

The Baross A Vision Reslised

The Regional Heritage Network was granted funds to coordinate a publication of the book ‘The Barossa – From Federation to the Fifties’. Local historians formed a working group to write the book, which will be a companion volume to the successful 1992 publication The Barossa – A Vision Realised, which focused on the settlement history from 1839 to 1900. The next 50 years – from 1901 to 1950 – outlines the progress of the Barossa region, the people and its culture. It is to be published in October 2017 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of settlement in Angaston and Bethany and other townships over the next ten years.

iPads as sensory tools for behaviour management in special needs kids

The Barossa Outside School Hours Care Service wanted to ensure that they are accommodating for the high level needs of special needs children in their care. The two iPads that were purchased – one at each of their sites in Nuriootpa and Tanunda – will be used as sensory tools to enhance communication with non-verbal autistic children. The iPads can also be used for managing high-level behaviours in children that are a safety risk to themselves and others, and require distraction and calm down time.

A seat for Janet

Hamley Bridge Community Association was supported with funds to construct a memorial piece to commemorate the life of Janet Hughes, a community-focused, caring individual who was one of two people who perished in the Pinery fire storm on 25 November, 2015. Janet had opened up the Hamley Bridge Institute on the day of the Pinery fire storm to give refuge to community members who were looking for a safe haven, before becoming trapped in her car. A mosaic reflection bench in Janet’s favourite colour is to be erected to acknowledge and respect Janet’s selfless actions that  showed her community spirit. You can find a video of the community’s involvement in the project here.

A Seat for Janet

Landscape Greening Project

The Owen Uniting Church’s Landscape Greening project will provide $100 vouchers to a local garden centre for the families who had gardens burnt but were lucky enough to save their homes. Members of the church are distributing the vouchers personally, first visiting homes in the reguib the fire started, and moving east as money is raised for further vouchers. This small gesture will enable fire-affected families to purchase tools, native plants and trees to rejuvenate their destroyed garden areas and provide hope, new life and distraction, literally in their backyards.

Wasleys Supper Hall

The recently renovated / refurbished Wasleys Supper Hall has been an invaluable community asset since the Pinery Fire. It was used as the local Recovery Centre immediately following the fire, assisting those from Wasleys and District. It provided access to physical goods (food, clothing, bedding, crockery, cutlery etc) and also provided a space for people to come and have a cup of tea and a chat if that’s what they needed. The Supper Hall is also used on a regular basis by lots of local groups including Creative Chatters (a group that was formed post-fire to assist mainly women from the fire region), and by the Wasleys Community Group Inc for meetings. The Hall is hired out privately on ad hoc occasions.

Wasleys Supper Hall

As the Supper Hall has no heating or cooling, it is extremely cold during the cooler months and very hot during the warmer months. The Community Foundation Account is supporting the installation of reverse cycle air conditioning to make the space much more comfortable and even more attractive to users.

Cancer patients’ ‘Butterfly Car’

The Barossa Area Fundraisers for Cancer were supported by the Community Foundation to provide signage and decoration for their cancer patient transportation – the Butterfly Car. The butterfly decoration gives it great visibility and the vehicle is well recognised. This important community service stepped in to cover the total cost of transport for patients on their way to hospital for treatment, after a government subsidy for this transport ceased.

Owen Men’s Shed and Alan Tiller Memorial

The Owen Men’s Shed began construction in October 2015, and completion of the shed itself was just prior to the Pinery Fires occurring in November 2015. Alan Tiller was one of the men instrumental in both the building of the shed and the development of the organisation in Owen. Alan lost his life battling the blaze in the Pinery fire.

There are around 15 members of the Owen Men’s Shed from communities that have been impacted by the fires. The Foundation is supporting upgrades to the current shed, including stormwater connection, equipment and materials for projects, as well as a memorial for Alan Tiller.

Freeling School Mosaic

Following the Pinery fire, staff and students at Freeling Primary School devised a project to create a series of mosaics with images celebrating the Freeling Community. The project would involve staff, interested students and members of the community. This project will help the students to move on from the bushfires and heal through creativity.

The newly refurbished jetty at Smoky Bay, a community of only 198 residents, was opened last month as part of the jetty’s centennial celebrations. The restoration included newly decked areas with fishing booths, railing and new lighting, as well as shelters, seating and picnic facilities.

The refurbishment has been a long-time aim of the Friends of the Smoky Bay Jetty subcommittee of the Smoky Bay Progress Association, in collaboration with the Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation. The jetty is the centre-piece of the town, but it had fallen into disrepair due to lack of funds and lack of capacity to raise them.

The project was estimated to cost $360,000, with half being raised by the community and the balance via matched government grants. FRRR supported the committee by hosting a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account (previously known as a Donation Account), which allowed the community to raise these funds locally. The money raised went towards the design and reconstruction of the dilapidated section of the jetty.

Congratulations to the community of Smoky Bay on such a mammoth task. Make sure you add this little town to any future visit you may be doing in South Australia.