Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Saddleworth in South Australia is a small rural town with a big heart. With less than 500 people, it’s a tight-knit community where the residents easily walk from one end of town to the next in 20 minutes. 

The town has faced some hardships in recent years, making it difficult for locals to access basic recreational sites that larger towns could enjoy easily. With a high number of low-income families living in the area, most without cars, it has become increasingly important to have an accessible and safe playground in Saddleworth for kids to enjoy.   

For over 77 years, the Saddleworth Lawn Tennis Club has been providing the town with facilities for sporting events and recreational activities. The Club is located on the Saddleworth War Memorial Community Centre, and honours those who lost their lives in World War II. The Club features the only publically accessible playground in the area, providing play and entertainment for nearby families. 

The small playground that was in desperate need of an upgrade, as the equipment was becoming non-compliant, and was at risk of being removed entirely. The playground was also sitting in direct sunlight, making it difficult for kids to enjoy playing on hot days when UV levels were extraordinarily high. 

After losing their local supermarket to a fire in 2016, the community was feeling deflated, having lost a major asset to their town. However, when the Club decided to fundraise the amount needed to improve the playground, over 20 volunteers put their hands up to help out, and six local businesses offered their support. 

The team applied for the FRRR Small Grants for Rural Communities grant, which provided $5,000 for stage one of the playground upgrade. These funds paid for a new shade cover the playground, that will ensure kids can continue to enjoy the area even on sunny days, and not just the early morning or late afternoons as they had become accustom to. 

Stage two of the upgrade encompassed replacing some of the equipment on the playground, including a garden border, softfall and bench for families to enjoy, while they sit under the shade sail. The work was carried out by local volunteers. The community can now enjoy their local playground and the newly refurbished facilities.

With summer well under way, the Club has more Junior Teams attending, with more children looking for some entertainment while their siblings play tennis. The new playground is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, and has created a real impact amongst the community.

When faced with the heartbreaking reality of rising deaths among young people, the team at Byron Youth Service (BYS) stepped in to remind their community that young lives matter, and that everyone deserves to feel happy, safe and valued. 

Since 1987, BYS has been advocating for young people between the ages of 12 to 24 years old, by creating, supporting and leading community action. Made up of a team of eight staff and ten volunteers, BYS has been the primary provider of youth services in Byron Bay and the surrounding area since their inception. 

Sadly, for many disadvantaged and at-risk students in the area, there is no access to computers or the internet at home. Having access to the right information and support can help these students overcome issues such as mental health, substance misuse, self-harm, sexual assaults and eating disorders. 

Among one of their many projects, the team at BYS runs Mullumbimby Cottage, where up to 40 disadvantaged students access outreach programs using modern technology, that are designed to build resilience and create a sense of place. The programs on offer at the Cottage provide skills training and facilities that help support and empower young people to overcome the challenges they may face. 

Being able to discuss the issues they’re facing without fear of shame, fear or embarrassment is key in building resilience – and BYS has found that delivering programs using technology can support better outcomes than traditional methods might. 

The laptops at Mullumbimby Cottage allow BYS to run information sessions, show videos, and educate participants on safe social media privacy settings. In both individual and group settings, laptops allow youth workers to provide the support needed to disclose any issues or concerns young people have, in a safe and trusting environment. 

And, after using the same computers to access these programs for over a decade, Mullumbimby Cottage needed a major technology upgrade. Through FRRR’s ANZ Seeds of Renewal program, BYS received a grant for $6,895, which allowed them to purchase five new Apple MacBooks. In addition to having access to the programs BYS run, the new laptops are also available for writing resumes, searching for jobs, researching courses and completing homework. 

The contribution Byron Youth Services has made to their local community is incredibly important, and FRRR is proud to support Mullumbimby Cottage on their mission to help every young person reach their full potential.

Situated 55 km east of Adelaide is the small rural community of Mount Pleasant. Mount Pleasant acts as a hub for a range of nearby smaller towns including Springton, Eden Valley, Cromer, Birdwood, Palmer, Tungkillo, and Cambrai. The town contains services that cater for the region, such as a public library, a kindergarten and primary school, a hospital, supplies stores, and a post office.

Mount Pleasant is a thriving and innovative community, that holds local events that bring people together, like a monthly Community Dinner, the Annual Mount Pleasant Agricultural Show, and a weekly farmers market. The flourishing community hosts a number of local groups and service clubs and the region also encompasses a number of successful farming and agriculture small businesses.

Established in 2000, the Mount Pleasant Natural Resource Centre Inc (MPNRC) is an active local organisation that works to promote environmental awareness, sustainability and best-practice land management. The community centre provides a significant gathering and activity space and proactively seeks to generate increased visitation, economic opportunities, new jobs and a sense of community for Mt Pleasant residents.

The energy and enthusiasm of volunteers’ play are a big part in MPNRC’s success with nearly 60 active volunteers currently involved with the centre.

Wanting to foster this passion for community engagement, MPNRC realised that their workspace needed a revamp so that it could be bigger, brighter and more inviting, increasing the workshop capacity and volunteer workspace to make it into a safer, all-weather environment.

With a $4,800 grant from the Small Grants for Rural Communities program, collaboratively funded by individual donors, and the enthusiastic assistance of volunteers, MPNRC’s refurbishment of The Share Shed (as the locals call it) saw the community and tradespeople join forces to weatherproof, install, refit, replace, repurpose the shared workspace.

The new space has had a positive ripple-effect throughout the community. The revamped Share Shed has hosted held a number of community upcycling workshops, including school workshops, and Mount Pleasant’s inaugural Makers in the Garden Market. MPNRC’s fundraising sales have increased and the expanded volunteer space means the Centre’s volunteer numbers have increased and MPNRC been able to employ four additional staff members.

Sharing with FRRR just how impactful The Share Shed project has been for the Mount Pleasant community, Faye McGoldrick, MPNRC Coordinator expressed MPNRC’s gratitude and said: “Thankyou – this project means a lot to our volunteers and community. It is fantastic to find funding to expand and build on projects that enable us to increase our community support and engagement.”

The challenge of attracting volunteers to support charitable organisations serving the community is universal, but exacerbated further in remote communities where the potential pool from which to recruit helpers is that much smaller to start with.

This was the challenge NT Friendship & Support Inc (NTSF) faced when they received a grant from FRRR to help them with their volunteer recruitment drive. The group’s mission is to provide professional care and promote an accessible, inclusive and supportive community.

The organisation has a waiting list of vulnerable Katherine region seniors seeking to be paired with a volunteer to assist them, from attending medical appointments and support services, to simply joining them for a cup of tea and a chat. Community members access the service via a referral from a regional assessment team and to be eligible must be 65 year or older, or 45 years or older for Indigenous community members.

Katherine currently has three aged care facilities, all of which are at capacity, with the only other alternative residential aged care facility located 330 km away in Darwin. NTFS has 25 people on the waiting list, five of whom are a high priority for the service. These identified seniors are at risk of isolation and loss of independence. Research suggests that, whenever possible, it is important that people have the opportunity to remain in their communities, connected to country, and independent as long as possible.

NTFS had hoped to recruit and train ten new volunteers, and used the $4,090 grant from FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program, funded by The Yulgilbar Foundation, to run an advertising campaign to increase their volunteer numbers. Katherine has a transient population which includes the RAAF base at Tindal, and the town relies on families from Tindal to be able to fill vacancies of volunteer positions.

Sadly, the recruitment drive wasn’t nearly as successful as they were hoping, due largely in part to the low turnover of families at Tindal. Of the initial 13 people who registered their interest in volunteering with NTFS, for various reasons, this translated into only two new volunteers.

Part of the grant was supposed to cover the cost of National Police clearance, Ochre Card Cultural training and First Aid certification for up to ten people (the magic number they were hoping to recruit). NTFS found themselves with surplus funds, so after seeking approval for a variation to their grant agreement, they applied the funding to another of their initiatives, the Seniors Community Bus, to ensure Seniors are supported through the COVID-19 crisis.

With no public transport available in Katherine, this service enables the organisation to support Seniors in getting to and from local services and various medical appointments, unhindered by the cost of high fees on taxis when they are available. The bus adheres to social distancing requirements (5 passengers as a maximum in a 14 seater bus), with rigorous hygiene and disinfection control measures in place.

So while the NTFS team and volunteers are stretched to their limits, they continue to provide valuable and necessary services to marginalised and vulnerable members of their community.

Shooting Stars is a unique program, formed by Netball WA and Glass Jar Australia in 2014. It uses netball as a vehicle for empowering young Aboriginal women living in remote WA to improve their school attendance rates, while promoting health and wellbeing.

Shooting Stars aims to drive social change and close the gap created by gender imbalance in Indigenous support programs. Less than 30% of Aboriginal girls complete year 12, and the importance of the link between education and employment is well documented.

Participation in the program is incentivised with the opportunity to be rewarded with attendance to a camp and this has a huge impact on the success of the overall program delivery. Girls must meet the Shooting Star program benchmarks – either maintain an 80% or above attendance rate or show an improvement of 20% or more from the previous term, and exhibit exemplary behaviour in class.

“Being accepted onto the camp empowers these girls to feel that if they work hard, anything is possible.”

Funding of $5,000 from Round 33 of FRRR’s Small Grants program contributed to the Confident Me Cultural Rewards Camp held in Meekatharra in June 2019. Thirty girls, aged between 13 and 18 years, travelled On Country with Elder Noeleen Gilla, who led cooking and art activities. The cooking activity led to an engaged discussion around health eating habits and what the girls could do to better support their health and wellbeing by making healthy choices about what food they consume. The Confident Me workshop, a part of the Dove Self Esteem project, was a major component of the camp, and helped the girls focus on self-esteem and confidence, learning about media literacy, body image in the media, and how to manage social pressures. The camp culminated in a yarning circle about their experience of the camp, “They shared ideas in a safe, culturally appropriate environment and learned from one another and from camp facilitators.” The yarns are recorded and transcribed for evaluation of the camp. As you can see, the Camp is much more than a netball program!

“We are most proud that we are able to reward Shooting Stars for their improved attendance and behaviour at school. By supporting them to make positive choices throughout the school year we were able to reinforce their success through the Reward Camp, showing them that their hard work is valued.”

Melanie McKee, Community Investment Coordinator, 2019

Drake is a small town in the shire of Tenterfield, located on the border of NSW and QLD. With one pub, one shop, one community centre and most properties coming in at around 100 acres, there is little opportunity for interaction and entertainment between community members. There was an interest among residents in learning more about permaculture, particularly as the land can be quite unforgiving when trying to grow food and plants. 

The Granite Border Landcare Committee (GBLC) saw an opportunity to teach the community new skills, create new shared community resources and foster connections and relationships between neighbours through the creation of a six-part permaculture workshop series.

With a $4,000 Small Grant, funded by The Yulgilbar Foundation, the GBLC was able to create and deliver this workshop series over a six month period.

Amanda Craig, who managed the program, said the project established a strong, energetic, community focused group with a core membership of 10 people.

“While the overall aim was to establish a permaculture group, which it has done, the community benefits are greater than that.”

“The group members and other interested people that attended workshops have established strong ties within the small isolated community and are now branching out to include other activities as the recent garden make over at the community resource center,” Amanda said.

The workshops included Build a Chook Pen, Build a Raised Garden Bed in a Mandala Circle Garden, Learn to Build Compost Bays, Building Swale’s Workshop, Propagating Vegetable Seedlings, Build a Wicking Bed and How to Build a Greenhouse. The six-month series helped to build community connectedness, improve local community infrastructure, and develop a volunteer community group.

Since completing the series, this group has continued to hold workshops and is working on beautifying the garden around the local community centre.

Bendigo, 11 July 2019: Twenty-six projects in Victoria’s three dairy regions will share in $120,326 in grant funding from the Gardiner Dairy Foundation’s Working in Dairy Communities Small Grants program, run in partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal.

In its 17th year, the Working in Dairy Communities Small Grants program offers up to $5,000 to help build Victorian dairy communities’ capacity to deal with local issues and enhance existing community infrastructure.

Gardiner Dairy Foundation Chief Executive, Clive Noble, said the grant funding aimed to strengthen dairy communities through supporting local initiatives.

“These grants help to create more resilient communities, enhance infrastructure and assets that all local people can benefit from,” Dr Noble said.

“Many of these projects leverage support from multiple sources to build community facilities where locals gather, like halls and clubrooms; support lifelong learning through education and training; and create community arts and health programs. Others look to contribute to creating a more vibrant, cultural community.”

“The Working in Dairy Communities Small Grants program continues to bring us these wonderfully creative ways of strengthening the various support mechanisms that many of us, at one time or another in our lives, will fall back on,” said FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton.

“I’m continually amazed by the exponential value and genuine long-term impact that is created from these grants funded by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation. It’s a program we are very proud of.”

A complete list of the projects supported is below. They include:

  • Gippsland Dairy Region – Fish Creek Community Garden received $5,000 to commission and install a new artwork at the community garden, connecting it to the rest of the town and engaging local residents and tourists.
  • Northern Dairy Region – Greater Shepparton City Council received $5,000 to build community resilience through delivery of mental health first aid training in the communities of Tatura and Tallygaroopna.
  • South Western Dairy Region – South West Community Energy received $5,000 to strengthen environmental awareness and education outcomes by fitting out a renewable energy education van.

Since the launch of the annual program in 2002, the Gardiner Dairy Foundation has invested more than $1.7 million in this program and has supported a total of 445 community projects.

Bena Public Hall IncFish Creek Community GardenFoster Primary SchoolFriends of the Lyre Bird Forest Walk IncHeyfield Tennis ClubLoch Memorial Reserve IncMirboo North Playgroup and Toy Library IncNyora Cricket Club IncProm Coast Centres for Children IncState Coal Mine – Rescue Station Arts IncCobram District Childrens Services IncCohuna and District Progress Association IncCorryong and District Memorial Public Hall IncGreater Shepparton City CouncilGreta Valley Landcare GroupMurrabit Men’s Shed IncRochester Community House IncStanhope & District Development Committee IncTatura Civic Halls Committee IncAnam Cara House Colac IncCamperdown & District Community HouseColac Otway Residents Action Group IncEmmanuel College IncPort Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail CommitteeSouth West Community EnergyThe Courthouse Camperdown Inc  

The Blue Mountains Food Co-operative has been supporting and empowering the community to eat well and live healthily and sustainably in Katoomba, NSW for almost 50 years – well before it was trendy!

They have a shop in which they sell fresh and bulk whole foods, seeds, and ecofriendly products, give 10% of their surplus to support local not for profit food and social justice related programs each year, and engaging with community through education programs (Wellness Wednesday, Mending Mondays), and outreach programs at the North Katoomba Community Hub and Katoomba Community Gardens.

The co-op is always looking for new ways to get people excited about health and wellbeing, and it’s no secret that the low intake of fruit and vegetables and high intake of fast food and processed snack foods is a major public health concern in Australia.

Establishing good eating habits in families with young children is crucial as a poor diet in children can increase disease and obesity, and impact negatively on physical development and cognitive functioning. Socio economic factors can be a big factor in the quality of a child’s diet; ‘Nourishing Families’ was devised as a program to support families with young children in the North Katoomba, the Blue Mountains LGA with the greatest level of disadvantage, to establish healthy eating patterns to improve their long term health and wellbeing. The five session pilot program of cooking workshops for parents and carers of children 0-5 years was run in 2017, building knowledge, skills and confidence for families to make nutritious food for from affordable seasonal ingredients, with the added benefit of social connection and conversations about food through a fun shared activity.

The program was supported with a $2,100 Small Grant thanks to Scenic World Blue Mountains, and run at the North Katoomba Community Hub Play and Chat playgroup. The program was flexible to the responses and needs of the group and gathered feedback and input from the participants pre and post program, both formally via surveys and informally through conversation. Families learnt how to make delicious and healthy family meals for the first few sessions and then focussed on cooking skills that were requested by the group, including making sauerkraut and muesli bars.

Gaining confidence in the kitchen is a great outcome, meaning these families will be willing to try new things, new flavours, and find ways to reduce food waste.

“I have enjoyed learning about new ways to cook and trying a cooking technique (fermenting) that I hadn’t been brave enough to try before.”

“All the new ingredients and flavours that I’m not normally brave enough to buy.”

“I actually went home and used some of the ideas.”

“Great way to use up the dead and dying veggies” (re fried rice recipe)

Whats more, a kitchen garden project at the hub also grew out of the pilot. It was established in November 2017 and has some great crops growing. You can read more about it here.

Having established that the model achieves its aims on a small scale, the co-op plans to deliver the program for a full year to achieve a larger and more long lasting impact for families with young children in North Katoomba. The program will form a basis for a collection of recipes and health information that can be an ongoing resource for Play and Chat families and their networks.

In 2012 the Lockhart River community voiced a need for male health initiatives and thanks to funding from FRRR’s Small Grants for Small Rural Communities program the Lockhart River Men’s Cooking Program was born. Lockhart River is a remote Aboriginal community located on the east coast of Cape York, approximately 800km from Cairns (a 12 hour drive on primarily dirt roads), with a population of 542.

The grant of $2,243 provided much needed cooking equipment, nutrition education resources, promotional materials and healthy food to cover the cost of the cooking sessions. The program was a joint project between Apunipima – Cape York Health Council and Disability Services Queensland and was delivered by Apunipima Dietitian Rob Tyson.

Poor nutrition contributes to the high rates of chronic disease amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The program created an opportunity for disengaged men and those with disabilities to take part in regular healthy cooking and nutrition sessions at the Lockhart River men’s shelter.

The program focused on developing the participant’s skills and knowledge in preparing economical and nutritious meals using ingredients available from the Lockhart River retail store. Throughout 2012-2013 the men’s skills and confidence with preparing and cooking meals improved and the feedback about the program was very positive. 

Some quotes from the 2012-2013 participants.

“It was wonderful, I appreciated it and everyone who went there learnt something.”

“It was good and I will keep coming along.”

The success of the program will see 2013 sessions held during the Men’s Group meetings in order to encourage more men to attend the sessions.    

Given the positive feedback and good results of the program Apunipima – Cape York Health Council will continue to support the program throughout 2013-14.