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

WATCH: Paint it and they will come...

Silo art is transforming drought-ravaged landscapes, with their overwhelming imagery rising out of the wide brown land. These colourful projects are providing confidence in local communities that is otherwise hard to come by in dry times.

FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together grants have boosted silo art in communities including Barraba in the New England region of NSW, Wirrabara in South Australia and Pingrup in south-east Western Australia. In repurposing these often community-owned assets, the nearby towns are benefiting from increased visitor numbers, and the economic boost tourism can bring.

Additionally, the strategic and vibrant use of many hundreds of litres of paint is bringing these communities together, creating a spirited response to the drought.

Read more about the impact of silo art projects in communities like Barraba, Wirrabara and Pingrup.

From Natalie's desk...

This week marked the end of an era at FRRR, with our inaugural Chairman, the Rt Hon. Ian Sinclair AC, and founding board member Bill Kelty AC, announcing their retirement last week.

I was delighted to be interviewed with Ian for the Good Weekend magazine’s Two of Us column, which allowed me to reflect on his time as Chairman, and in particular, his influence on me in my role as CEO, and a mum! I extend my heartfelt thanks to both Ian and Bill for their guidance, support and insights, and their commitment to FRRR over the past 20 years. Their contribution and stewardship has been enormous and has set us up for a strong future. Annie Grindrod will be Acting Chairman until Tim Fairfax AC takes up the role of Chairman in January 2020. You can read more about the changes in this media release.

Operationally, it’s been another busy quarter. As you can read below, we have assessed or are in the process of assessing 581 requests for funding across ten programs and year to date have granted out $8.5M. We've also been recruiting to fill some new roles to help meet our growth and expanded granting activities. Check out our team page on the website to meet the new faces. I am especially pleased to have Karyn McLeod join us at the end of this month as General Manager Grants & Impact. Karyn comes to us from New Zealand and has a strong background in philanthropy.

We've also begun our strategic planning process, and we will be seeking to engage with a number of our donor partners and key stakeholders over the coming months, to help us shape our focus areas for the coming five years. This input, alongside insights from the communities we partner with (such as the team from Theodore Community Link, who I visited last week - pictured above), will be critical to ensuring we continue to deliver on our mission in a way that adds the greatest possible value for all our stakeholders.

Finally, we have started planning for our 20th anniversary next year, and we will be seeking to engage as many donors as possible in those celebrations including visiting the communities we've supported together to secure the economic and social strength of Australia’s rural, regional and remote communities. If you're interested in getting out and about with us, feel free to drop me a line.

Until next time …

Natalie Egleton
Chief Executive Officer

Insights from the bush...
FRRR believes local leaders are best placed to know what their communities need, so we make spending time in communities a high priority, gaining a deeper understanding of the issues and opportunities, so we can better direct funds to need and impact. Over the past three months, our staff have visited 18 communities. While there are regional differences, there are some common themes, observations and challenges: 

  • The 15th National Rural Health Conference reinforced that the role of philanthropy in strengthening rural and remote health is significant, with potential to facilitate further innovations to benefit all people who live, learn, work and play in rural and remote Australia. The grants that FRRR can provide to these communities are having a sustained and significant impact in addressing issues such as aged care funding deficits, attracting a skilled workforce, improving community wellbeing and supporting better mental health. For more insights into mental health, read FRRR's submission to the Productivity Commission Review on Mental Health.
  • Meanwhile, in far north and western Queensland, the devastation and flow-on effects of the flooding is becoming more apparent. Some displaced families still haven’t been able to return to their homes, and farmers are in crisis after losing high numbers of their stock in the floods, only to then have a locust plague decimate pasture regrowth. These cumulative impacts are leading to troubling reports of increases in mental health challenges, and even reports of domestic violence and child abuse. These issues are a high priority for support in the medium to long term.
  • The effects of the drought are still being felt across the country. While it may be off the front pages and our TV screens, conditions are at breaking point in many communities. For some towns like Wee Waa in NSW, if there is no summer crop planted in October, there is genuine concern about the future of that community, as it will be the third year in a row without a crop. Many grantseekers have emphasised how important it is to support opportunities for communities to come together, whether the focus is around a museum, the local Men’s Shed or an art or cultural activity. These kinds of activities help to relieve current stressors and symptoms of the drought, build social cohesion and a sense of belonging, and most importantly, build capacity and resilience for the future.

    FRRR director Annabel Dulhunty joined staff in visiting several projects in drought affected NSW earlier this year. In this reflection on the trip, she highlights the way those affected are just getting on with things, and finding ways to connect and support their communities in positive and creative ways. This includes proactive job creation opportunities, as well as finding subtle ways to provide support to those doing it tough. 
  • The impacts on farmers are one thing – but there's only so long that businesses in drought affected communities can continue to survive. With no work, the community shrinks as families leave town, reducing services available for health and education, for example. Unemployment is becoming a bigger issue, and its impact is exacerbated in smaller communities. We've heard cases of people not having enough petrol to get into town, which adds to the isolation of rural life. Local fundraising for community organisations is increasingly challenging, given these current economic conditions, making the role of philanthropy more important than ever.
  • Data drought continues to be a significant issue - poor internet connections and bandwidth restrictions are a real limitation. This lack of service has more profound impacts than meets the eye. Digital literacy levels are comparatively lower in non-metro areas, not necessarily due to a lack of training, but because some people simply cannot afford to have mobile data coverage. Local businesses also face daily challenges such as not being able to use platforms like Dropbox to share and store files or the capacity to run an online store if the connection doesn’t exist, or is not sufficient to enable the technology which many in Australia take for granted. 
But it is not all doom and gloom as we are seeing that communities are coming up with some innovative ways to address their local issues such as managing the tyranny of distance that impacts the level of medical and mental health support. In rural Victoria and NSW, for example, communities are leading an initiative to reorient traditional methods of pain management away from a reliance on acute health services and medications and towards an evidence-based bio-psycho-social model of education and care. We'll share more of the positive stories in the next edition.

Click here to read a more in-depth report on insights from the past quarter.

Help us celebrate our 20th anniversary

As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations next year, we will be inviting our donor partners to join us in visiting some of the communities that have received your support to see first-hand how together we are making a difference. It will also be an opportunity to identify areas for further assistance. We are also exploring a range of other ways to mark this milestone, and would welcome any ideas you may wish to suggest.

If you have suggestions, our Partnerships and Services Manager Sarah Matthee is keen to hear from you. Feel free to give her a call on 03 5430 2399 or email

Granting update
In the last quarter, our staff have assessed or are in the process of assessing 581 requests for funding across ten programs. We surpassed our target for annual granting during the third quarter of the financial year, granting out $8.5M, and raising $10M, thanks in part to the expanded national drought program. And more funds will go out before the end of financial year.

Demand remains high for funds to support communities still experiencing drought. For the Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) round that closed at the end of April, we received 100 applications requesting a total of $4,055,073 for projects worth $9,769,615. The TTTT team continues their community visits, with Program Manager Emma Thomas and Program Support Officer Fiona Bradshaw recently spending two days in Wee Waa, NSW and Deanne Cavalier, National Drought Program Coordinator running grant seeker workshops in the communities of Buloke Shire, in Victoria. Outreach to Central and Northern NSW and Queensland is currently being arranged for July.

We’ve also awarded the first round of grants from the refreshed small grants program, Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC). The program, which now awards grants quarterly, is proving very popular, with 178 applications received, and 46 grants awarded totalling $342,620. 

Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) shortlisting underway
IRCF is a new place-based program focused on strengthening the capacity and capability of grassroots not-for-profit organisations in rural, regional and remote New South Wales. Five communities - Tumut, Leeton, Junee, Nambucca Heads and Moree - have been shortlisted to be part of the long-term step-change program that aims to invest significant funds over an extended period. All five communities will be able to apply for $60,000 in Start-Up grants, funded by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, to fund foundational activities that support their expression of interest to participate in the five-year program or address key not-for-profit organisational capacity needs. Resources and funding will be directed towards four strategic priorities i.e. investing in people; internal infrastructure, systems and structures; sector efficiencies; and strategy development.

Disaster Resilient: Future Ready community projects
The first grant has been awarded to the communities participating in the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready place-based pilot in NSW, which involves co-designing a new national framework to improve community disaster preparedness and resilience. The North Richmond community will run a StreetConnect project, designed to engage students and teachers from local schools with residents to determine their existing knowledge of local emergency services and their understanding of flood and bushfire risk and evacuation readiness and routes to safety. Students will encourage the preparation of emergency kits, and connect residents with local RFS and SES. The two other communities are close to finalising their projects too.

Donor Spotlight: Spiire employees
In addition to partnering with trusts, foundations, government and businesses, FRRR also welcomes donations via workplace giving. FRRR is registered with two leading workplace giving platforms: Charities Aid Foundation’s Good2Give and GoodCompany's One Stop workplace giving platform to make it easier for corporations and their employees to donate to causes they are passionate about. But some organisations choose to donate directly to FRRR.

One such organisation that supports its employees to donate to causes they care about is Spiire.

Cameron Clarke, a Principal at Spiire, explains that over the years, Spiire staff have donated to charities, but most of the time there hasn't been a true connection to such charities.  

"So, we went on a hunt to find something more meaningful and closer to our hearts. That’s when we found FRRR helping and leading in regional communities, with a passion for people and places. This resonated with us, especially the focus on “People and Place”, which is very much what we are about. This can be seen in everything we create. We want to leave a positive community legacy."

Cameron's advice when looking for an organisation to partner with is to find one that reflects your values. "There are thousands of charities, so you need to find one that reflects your values and interests. Your charity should be open, transparent and get results."

Read more of what inspires Spiire employees to support FRRR.

If you would like to know more about workplace giving, visit our website or explore Charities Aid Foundations Good2Give and GoodCompany's workplace giving platforms.

Partnering opportunities
Eligible projects needing support

We recognise that many donors are limited by trust deeds in the areas and topics they can fund, but if you have any discretion with your funds, there are certainly communities that could use the support if you have any remaining funds to distribute prior to June 30. There were around 40 Strengthening Rural Communities projects that were assessed in our recent March round as worthy of funding, but that we couldn't support due to the limited amount of discretionary funding we have. There were also deserving but unfunded projects in other programs. 

We have listed some of the projects that still need support on our website. They include:
  • Cook Shire Council, Qld - Seeking $5,000 to run graffiti art workshops for local youth.
  • Crows Nest Historical Society, Qld - Seeking $5,839 to refurbish their military collection display area.
  • Manna Gum Community House, Vic - Seeking $10,000 to support local young mums re-enter the workforce.
  • Gordonvale Community Garden, Qld - Seeking $2,700 to purchase a heavily discounted ride on mower to maintain the community garden.
  • Early Links Inclusion Support Services, NSW - Seeking $18,318 to deliver a community integration program to teenagers with disabilities.
  • King Island Council, Tas - Seeking $4,018 for the development and maintenance of their Foundations to Flourish program’s website.
If you are interested in supporting any of them, or contributing to the Strengthening Rural Communities program, please contact the Partnerships Team
Support local research into early-years speech development and its impact on education

The Pam Gunn Memorial Axedale Trust, which has an FRRR Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account, is seeking funds to support a research project to evaluate the difference in children’s oral and pre-literacy skills when they have been supported with explicit intervention during their pre-school year. The research would compare the results of students from two kindergartens in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas - one kindergarten where input from a Speech Pathologist has been provided for the whole year; and one where this support is not provided.

They require $33,000 by the end of June 2019 to proceed with this important piece of education research. They also continue to raise funds to support their work in kindergartens providing speech therapy for disadvantaged children. This study would also help secure long-term funding for such programs from government and philanthropic bodies.

Learn more and donate.

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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