People, Place, Prosperity - Sept. 2019
An update for FRRR's donor partners

From Natalie's desk...

Optimism and innovation do not feature much in stories about rural, regional and remote Australia at the moment – however, it is what we experience every day in our work at FRRR. I’m delighted to update you on some of what we have been working on over the past three months and shine a light on the many terrific things communities are doing to sustain and strengthen themselves, despite and often because of the challenges they experience.

We have awarded 144 grants in the last quarter, distributing just over $4M into rural, regional and remote communities. This contribution will typically be leveraged three-to four times in communities, resulting in an investment of over $12M. Given the tough conditions in many country communities at this time, this contribution will have far broader impacts than simply being an economic boost.

As noted below, demand for support continues to be high, with communities facing a myriad of pressures, but also opportunities, and we are currently assessing another 661 applications, seeking around $10.6M in support.

Earlier this month, FRRR's Board met in Canberra, under the interim chairmanship of Anne Grindrod. The meeting (pictured right) was the first for new board members Hon. Simon Crean and Hon. John Sharp AM. Sadly, it was the last for Steven Kennedy PSM, who has been the Government's representative. He has taken up a senior role in Treasury, and we wish him well in his new portfolio.

In Canberra, we also briefed several Ministers and Shadow Ministers on our work and launched a perpetual Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund, which is outlined further below. The Fund is off to a great start thanks to a generous $500,000 contribution from founding partner Aussie Farmers Foundation.

The Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit in Canberra was a thought-provoking two days exploring the current state of democracy and the role of philanthropy in enabling civic participation and leadership and investing in our democratic institutions such as media. I particularly enjoyed presenting with Australian Community Philanthropy and Stand Like Stone Foundation on the power of Community Foundations.

In closing, I want to thank all of our donor partners for your ongoing support and trust in FRRR. It is an exciting time for FRRR, as we approach our 20th anniversary in 2020. I look forward to sharing with you our 2020-2025 strategy and plans for celebrating our anniversary with you in the next edition.

Warm regards

Natalie Egleton
Chief Executive Officer

Insights from the bush...
It’s important to stop and reflect on what we see, hear and learn through our work. There is a huge potential in regional communities, and many solutions lie at our fingertips, but first, we need to understand the issues. Below is a snapshot of some of our team's recent observations and insights.
  • Local not-for-profit groups need support around attracting, retaining and upskilling volunteers; compliance, especially in an increasingly complex regulatory environment; and collaborating for efficiency.
  • Philanthropy needs to help fill the gaps, especially in more remote areas, as with small rate-bases, local authorities struggle to support the community. While the likes of Progress Associations have great intentions and enthusiasm, often they need support to determine where and how they focus their efforts.
  • Drought and wellbeing are still very real issues. The impacts are deepening, and the prolonged nature of this drought means those volunteering to support their community are finding it particularly tough to continue, given the impact on their operation.
  • Having opportunities to share stories and to have hope is critical. We see this in both face to face sessions in communities, and the significant increase in the number of calls to FRRR's office.

Renewed focus on disaster resilience and recovery

Earlier this month, FRRR launched a new, dedicated Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund to ensure flexible, fit-for-purpose funding is available to support preparedness and recovery, whenever it is needed. With more than 100 bushfires burning on that day, it was timely.

It also continues FRRR's long history of supporting medium to long-term disaster recovery. With support from our donor partners, since 2006, FRRR has provided over $19M, across 1,383 projects.

The resilience and preparedness element of the Fund is just as vital as providing support following disaster. According to IAG’s At what cost? Mapping where natural perils impact economic growth and communities report, 20 per cent of Australia’s GDP and 3.9 million of its population are in areas with high to extreme risk of tropical cyclones, and about 11 per cent of GDP and 2.2 million people are in places with high and extreme risk of bushfires. There is a strong business case for disaster risk reduction, with the US National Institute of Building Sciences, for example finding that every dollar invested in mitigation can save six dollars in future disaster costs.

Our founding partner in the Disaster Resilience and Recovery fund is Aussie Farmers Foundation (AFF), which has generously donated $500,000. These funds, together with other donations, will be invested within FRRR's corpus. Annual returns from the Fund will be granted out to support locally-led preparedness initiatives and disaster recovery in rural, regional and remote communities.

Read more about the Fund here, and if you would like more information or wish to discuss any aspects of how the Fund will work, speak with Sarah Matthee.

Granting update
Between the end of June and mid-September, we awarded grants to 144 projects, distributing just over $4M. This was from 384 requests, seeking $8.4M in support. Forty per cent were first-time applicants, indicating that FRRR continues to reach new people, and highlighting the demand for support.

Our most in-demand program was Strengthening Rural Communities. There were requests for $3.25M (259 requests), and we awarded about $1M in grants. Unfortunately, we had to say no to 216 groups.

We were delighted to receive a new four-year commitment to this program from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, which will enable us to invest in the Northern Territory and Queensland. We also welcome the continued partnership with Portland House Foundation with a focus on Victorian communities experiencing disadvantage. However, we still face a funding shortfall in other states.

Heywire grants announced
Investing in the next generation of leaders is more important than ever, and it was a pleasure to announce the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants in August. Seventeen communities shared $135,516 in grants to pilot one of seven innovative ideas developed at the Heywire Youth Summit back in February. A huge thanks to our donor partners - The Sally Foundation, Findex Community Fund, David Mactaggart Foundation, Rural Affinity and Private Donors.

These projects tackle some of our big rural challenges, including mental health, connectedness, life skills, agricultural education and careers, and entrepreneurialism. We need to constantly look for new and different solutions and approaches because we know that one size doesn’t fit all. This is the strength of the Heywire grants – fostering innovation while building the skills, confidence and leadership of regional youth. We look forward to sharing the outcomes and impact of the 2019 Heywire grants in future editions.

Back to School prepares to open
Last year, with the support of our donors, FRRR partnered with community foundations and not-for-profit organisations around rural, regional and remote Australia to deliver 11,683 $50 vouchers valued at over $584,100 to families in need. Applications for the coming 2020 school year open this week and we welcome contributions to the Back to School program. Families and carers across rural, regional and remote communities can experience significant hardship at the start of a new school year, and this program provides a much-needed boost that has deep and lasting benefits.

"One parent, in particular, approached the school to share how her daughter felt valued and recognised - her new shoes helped her to walk tall and boosted her self-confidence."

"I’m not sure that we will ever know the ripple effect that these
vouchers bring to the well-being and mental health of the
parents who receive them, and in turn their thinking about how
their life is at the time, and how they value themselves as
providers for their children."

We currently expect to receive requests for over 13,000 vouchers, and currently, only have enough funding to distribute 4,000. If you would like to help, please contact us or donate.

Fundraising Accounts enable economic renewal
In June 2019 the Red Earth Community Foundation South Burnett (RECF) fundraising account, in partnership with FRRR, was expanded to enable RECF to support charitable projects led by local non-DGR entities in the South Burnett region of Queensland.

This partnership recently supported the purchase of seven buildings in the small town of Proston. Community group Proston QLD Ltd used the funds to purchase the buildings and will now start to refurbish them to attract new businesses and reinvigorate the outdated shopping precinct. It is planned that the shops will house a Community Information Centre, cafes and retail shops. This is a great example of how FRRR’s Community Foundation Accounts can enable positive outcomes in rural and regional areas.

Donor Spotlight: Tim Fairfax Family Foundation
The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) has been a long-term partner of FRRR, first supporting the Foundation in 2005. TFFF recently agreed to contribute to the Strengthening Rural Communities program to ensure small grants are available to communities across the Northern Territory and Queensland.

In an interview with FRRR, Executive Officer Samantha Jorgensen explains what TFFF values most about FRRR; how they worked together to initiate the Tackling Tough Times Together program; the value they see in contributing to collaboratively-funded programs run by FRRR; and in particular why they are supporting Strengthening Rural Communities.

It’s been a constant conversation - FRRR are our eyes and ears on the ground. What’s happening right now; what’s going to be happening next year and three years down the track.

- Samantha Jorgensen, EO, TFFF

Partnering opportunities
Local charities in Wangaratta to pitch at crowd-funding event

FRRR is partnering with Into Our Hands Community Foundation and The Funding Network Australia to host a crowdfunding event at the Wangaratta Performing Arts and Convention Centre on Tuesday 26th November 2019. Three local charities will each pitch to the audience on the night for funding and in-kind contributions to support their innovative social programs.  

While the local charities are still to be determined, the focus will be on creating opportunities for children, youth and families in Wangaratta. The local champions, will be supported to help articulate their unique story and showcase how their programs improve the lives of Wangaratta’s most vulnerable.

FRRR invites you to join us at the event. If you are interested in attending or contributing to this event and leveraging FRRR's contribution, please contact Sarah Matthee.

Grants in Action
FRRR's small grants are used to support a myriad of different kinds of projects, with outcomes as diverse as improving community connection, stimulating economic development or building community resilience.

Below are two recent examples of projects that we funded on opposite sides of the country.

Creative Harvest reaps rewards
Baw Baw Sustainability Network Inc (BBSN) helps people reduce their energy use at home and improve their health through gardening and growing food.

Creative Harvest, run by BBSN, is an annual open gardens scheme designed to promote and inspire the value of food-producing gardens.

The 2019 event saw 13 gardens open in January, each with at least one, and sometimes three artists, working and displaying their work, providing an added incentive to visit. There were a variety of sustainable organic gardens on show, including community gardens, town gardens, two organic commercial vegetable growing enterprises, a garden grown to supply a food studio, and others on large blocks out of town.

A $2,000 Small Grants for Rural Communities grant, funded by The William Buckland Foundation (managed by Equity Trustees) enabled BBSN to produce promotional materials, as well as bus hire, fuel, catering, and a 'Thank You' afternoon tea for the gardeners.

Their promotional efforts paid off, with 1,039 people visiting the gardens. Attendees ranged from young families establishing new homes and gardens to older gardeners seeking new ideas, enthusiasm and exposure to organic concepts.

This was a creative approach to building community understanding of sustainable living, particularly fresh food production. It also helped to connect people with ongoing opportunities to learn more about organic gardening and strategies to reduce energy use in the home, and ultimately, it contributes to better health outcomes for the community on many levels.

All secure at Wiluna Fire Station
Wiluna lies approximately 950km northeast of Perth, in WA. It is a service centre for the local Aboriginal people, the pastoral industry, the Wiluna Gold Mine, and people who work on mines in the area on a FIFO basis.

The Wiluna Town Bush Fire Brigade, the only fire service within the Shire of Wiluna, primarily services the disadvantaged Indigenous community. In recent years, the Brigade was inactive due to limited volunteers, and so had its funding cut. However, it has recently successfully re-established itself.

The Fire Station has been the target of break-ins and vandalism over the last few years, demoralising the volunteers. These criminal acts usually occur overnight, and with no camera surveillance in the area, identifying offenders and holding them to account has been impossible. Some volunteers' cars have even been stolen from the station while they've been attending emergencies.

To help address this situation, the Brigade received a $5,226 Small & Vital grant from the Strengthening Rural Communities program to purchase and install security cameras at the Station. The grant, funded by the Kapikarnpi Community Fund, has significantly increased the security of the Wiluna Fire Station. There is now 360-degree external camera surveillance of the fire station via four cameras, along with internal surveillance monitoring the personnel door and roller doors.

The cameras act as a deterrent, but perhaps most importantly give the community peace of mind that vital community emergency services infrastructure are protected from criminal activities. It's hoped this will also assist with the Brigade's ability to recruit and retain volunteers.

Thanks again for your support of rural, regional and remote communities.
If you have any questions about the above, or would like to reach out for a chat, please contact
Sarah Matthee, Partnerships and Services Manager at (03) 5430 2399 or

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