People, Place, Prosperity - August 2020
An update for FRRR's donor partners

FRRR acknowledges to the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work
across Australia, and we pay our respects to Elders, past and present.

Celebrating 20 years of FRRR
This year marks 20 years since FRRR was established. As FRRR's CEO, Natalie Egleton, outlines in the film below, COVID-19 has impacted our planned celebrations across the country, so we have launched an online campaign to celebrate the faces and places that have shaped FRRR.

We invite you to watch the film, and to follow our social media channels over the coming months to learn more about some of the people and places that are part of FRRR’s story. We've already shared some thoughts from our Patron, Baillieu Myer AC and our founding Chairman and Patron, Rt. Hon. Ian Sinclair AC. If you’ve missed any of the stories to date, you can catch up on our 20th anniversary webpage.

If you would like to contribute to the celebrations, we’d love to hear your reflection on FRRR - either as a quote, picture or video. Please email it to

20th Anniversary YouTube Video

From the CEO's desk...

As the insights from across our team attest, things continue to be challenging in country Australia, given the ongoing drought, floods, bushfire recovery and of course COVID-19.

However, one thing remains constant – the resilience and sense of community across rural, regional and remote Australia. With the support of you, our donor partners, FRRR continues to be able to help local leaders respond to these challenges. We are very grateful for this support and the trust you place in us to ensure that funds get to communities when they need them.

As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt across Australia, at FRRR we’re seeing first-hand how quickly communities are adapting and finding ways to stay connected and support one another. That's why our focus has remained on continuing to get funds into rural, regional and remote communities. In many cases, we've supported variations to the original proposals to enable our community partners to develop alternative solutions to continue to deliver services and support their communities.

For some, that has involved taking events online, such as the Gunning Arts Festival or the Yinnar Memorial Hall over 60’s Exercise group. For others, they have found socially-distanced ways to safely come together and make things happen. Other groups that have had to cancel their fundraising events have turned their hand to things like producing masks or hand-sanitiser or doing a drive-through scone-drive, instead of their regular festival, as a way to raise income. Great examples of creativity and more evidence for our approach of trusting locals to know what's going to work in their community.

With your vital support, FRRR has approved just over 300 grants valued at nearly $6M since the start of April. Despite working from home and juggling the challenges of lock-down, our team continues to assess grants and ensure that support gets out into the hands of people who can use it to build strong, vibrant and more resilient communities. I am very proud of all of my team, who as you can see in the film above are equally as passionate and excited about FRRR as I am.

I am also excited that in the coming weeks, we will continue to celebrate the people and places that have helped shape FRRR and set us up for the the future. Over the coming months, we will launch our new strategy and continue to be responsive as community needs continue to evolve, just as we have for the last 20 years.

Best Wishes         

Natalie Egleton
Chief Executive Officer

Bushfire donations making a difference
Since the summer bushfires, FRRR has distributed more than $1.8M in bushfire recovery grants. Here is a snapshot of four projects that are among the 74 locally-initiated projects we have supported, reflecting the diverse needs that emerge as recovery continues. 
  • Wellways Australia secured a $25,000 grant from the News Corp Bushfire Fund to build vegetable and sensory gardens in Bega, New South Wales and surrounding local communities. This project leverages local experience and knowledge of what the community needs and what works in practice. The vision is that produce will go to local people in need, with any excess used as fodder by the Potaroo Palace Animal Education Sanctuary. The gardens will also be a food source for bees. Wellways also aims to ultimately offer horticulture and retail training opportunities. However, in the short-term, the gardens will be a place where people affected by the fires can gather and share their experiences. While only a few weeks since the funds were awarded, Bega Valley Council has provided the land and are also supporting a development application to enable power and sewage. A local Indigenous-owned building company has offered to provide a donga (a portable building), which will become a core meeting space for things like art-therapy. Local young people will be engaged in painting the donga, and plans are evolving to include Koori medicinal bushtucker plants. If planning approvals come through quickly, they will be turning over the first sods in a couple of months.
  • Music in MallacootaMeanwhile, in Mallacoota, Victoria, talented locals have already used their $24,938 News Corp Bushfire Fund grant to run a community-led healing project, based around music. Despite COVID, the group gathered on the beach to hone their performance of a locally-composed piece of music, performed by a ukulele orchestra, with lyrics sung by local students. They were surrounded by stars with messages of hope and support from groups in the US that have survived similarly challenging natural disasters. Watch the video, which showcases their talents, and the lovely surroundings.
  • Mallacoota Youth Group is using a $100,000 grant they received thanks to the support of Sony Foundation Australia to fund the activities and operations of an emerging youth centre called The Sanctuary. Led by the young people themselves, with the support of local community members, The Sanctuary will provide pathways for young people to access mentoring, social networks and resources in the community. It will also be a space to study, play music, make art, play games, organise programs and events and run workshops.
  • Support from R.M.Williams enabled us to grant $25,000 to the Orara Ms Stephanie LuckValley Progress Association to engage two community recovery officers to lead the establishment of community hubs in Glenreagh and Nana Glen, on the NSW north coast. These staff are door-knocking, asking what support people need, and then helping them access that support.
  • The Local Leading Ladies Incorporated project, which received $50,000 through the Visy Tumut Region Bushfire Fund had planned to build the economic capacity of individuals and businesses in the Snowy Valleys through face to face workshops. However, when COVID-19 struck they quickly adapted to online training offerings and specifically focused on the new challenges presented by the pandemic to provide the skills and support needed for local economic recovery and reduced financial hardship.
Without the generosity of our donor partners - the hundreds of individuals, businesses and trusts & foundations - we would not be able to support the recovery of these local communities. Thank you - your donations mean we can continue to support communities like these to take control of their recovery when they are ready to over the coming years, prioritising the projects that they know will make the biggest impact.

Review our bushfire grants page to see the full list of grants we've awarded to date. We will continue to update this page, so feel free to check back from time to time.

Insights from the bush
Despite FRRR's staff all working from home, team members continue to engage frequently with communities across the country. Different needs are emerging in different parts of Australia, but there are some common themes: 
  • With states at different levels of restrictions, COVID-19 is having a varied impact on communities across Australia – but one way or another, all have been affected over the last five months.
  • Local fundraising activities are very limited, making communities more reliant on grants and philanthropic support.
  • We are also seeing increased requests for more capacity building support, and help to upskill staff and volunteers in not-for-profit (NFP) organisations.
  • There is a need for flexibility in terms of how groups use grant funds, as well as timeframes for reporting, resulting in more requests for variations to grant agreements. FRRR has also deferred or extended acquittal periods, recognising the impacts in community.
  • The cumulative impacts of drought, fires, floods and COVID are telling on volunteers and staff of local NFPs, with local leaders also noting increased concern around the mental health of their communities. Natalie participated in a podcast hosted by Philanthropy Australia exploring this topic, including the different ways that mental health can be addressed in the community. This has been confirmed in external research too, such as that undertaken by The Xfactor Collective.
  • Fatigue is setting in and for many there has been a general a decrease in volunteering as focus turns towards their families and concerns of job security following the impacts of the pandemic. Volunteers are often older and health and safety concerns relating to COVID-19 mean many community group have been unable to offer their normal services.
  • While some groups have the option to take activities online, inconsistent telecommunications access and mixed levels of digital literacy mean it's not a realistic option for some groups.
  • FRRR is seeing increased requests to fund local people to take on recovery coordination roles as a means of taking charge of their own recovery with known and trusted people.
  • While it's no longer on the front pages, drought is still a very real issue in large parts of the country as this map of Queensland shows, and this story from WA.
  • Rural communities are eternal optimists and innovators and despite the challenges, community groups have been able to adapt their models to keep a source of income, such as offering delivery services, making hand sanitiser or face masks.
  • We are inspired by the growing success of community-led solutions - especially the renewal of local media ownership, which is a reversal of media closure trends.

Donor Spotlight: R.M.Williams
At the height of the bushfire crisis this past summer, R.M.Williams announced a long-term partnership with FRRR.

Mark MullerIn a recent interview, Editor-in-Chief of R.M.Williams OUTBACK Magazine Mark Muller right) explained that the partnership came about because the company was seeking a practical, independent and respected pathway for R.M.Williams to give back across the country.

He said that it was FRRR's connections and insights, as well as rigorous governance processes, that led R.M.Williams to partner with FRRR. “The grant recipients are organisations and endeavours that we wouldn't necessarily know about ourselves, but are a vital part of the underlying warp and weft of what makes communities strong.”

Mark also spoke about why R.M.Williams split its initial donation between bushfire recovery and support for the broader Strengthening Rural Communities program. "The recent bushfires rightly got lots of attention, but there is a whole lot going on outside the fires that is just as important, and where there is just as great a need. That's why we decided to split our support between disaster recovery and ongoing support. It gives us confidence that our engagement is not a knee-jerk reaction to one particular event, and has longevity."

“To assign a dollar value to every engagement belies the fact that of course the dollar is not the only measure of value; there is much of worth that can be done that isn't done for a commercial return, but for a cultural return – both to us within the business and to the broader base of R.M.Williams customers, and communities everywhere.”

Read the full interview to learn more about why R.M.Williams is working with FRRR and Mark’s perspective on what to look for when seeking a philanthropic partner.

Partnering Opportunities

Strengthening Rural Communities program

FRRR currently has a significant shortfall in untied funding for the regular stream of the
Strengthening Rural Communities program.
Community BBQ trailerThis is the arm of the program that supports the everyday needs of communities - from maintaining or enhancing community infrastructure, to improving access to services, or ensuring equality of opportunity through things like education resources. 

While the current round has more than $600,000 in funds available, all bar 7.5 percent of this is ‘tied’ - i.e., it can only be used in specific regions or to support particular types of projects aligned to donor-preferences. In recent rounds, we have had requests for nearly three to four times the amount of funding available, so there has been significant unmet demand.

With many community groups facing reduced local fundraising opportunities due to COVID-19, and increased costs as they find alternative ways to deliver their programs and services, such as going online, or hiring staff, we expect future demand will be just as great.

FRRR is therefore seeking more broad-based, untied funding, so we can help communities do what’s most relevant and valuable for them.

If you can assist, please contact FRRR’s General Manager – Partnerships & Services, Sarah Matthee.

Picture You in Agriculture

Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) believes that we need the best and brightest young people working in agriculture. To make this a reality, they run a range of different programs designed to equip them with the skills needed to navigate the world, give them confidence to share their stories and support them to take on leadership positions, all while contending with the many changes life will throw at them.

Working closely with experienced leaders, PYiA provides skills development and training programs for emerging leaders in agriculture, teachers and students using cross-general mentoring to foster knowledge, skills and a teamwork mentality. This is achieved through four cornerstone programs, offering a path from primary and secondary school through to young achievers and ultimately to future leaders. Those four programs are:

  1. Kreative Koalas – a primary school program focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals that invites young people to co-design a bright future;
  2. The Archibull Prize – connecting students and teachers with agriculture, through a design competition that invites students to investigate and solve the big questions the planet faces;
  3. Young Farming Champions – a training and mentoring program that encourages story telling; and
  4. Youth Voices Leadership team – bringing together the alumni for the Young Farming Champions program to explore leadership in agriculture.

Like many other charitable organisations, PYiA is facing significant challenges because of COVID-19. For example, the Archibull Prize program’s budget has taken an 80 percent hit. This extreme impact means they are seeking new partners.

PYiA holds a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account with FRRR. These accounts leverage FRRR’s unique tax status, so community organisations can more easily attract philanthropic funding. The advantage for donors is that all donations over $2 in Australia are tax deductible. 

Learn more about PYiA and if you'd like to support this initiative, donate via PYiA's FRRR Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account.

Learn more about PYiA

FRRR is grateful for your support of rural, regional and remote communities. Thank you.
If you have any questions about the above, or would like to reach out for a chat, please contact
Sarah Matthee, General Manager – Partnerships & Services at (03) 5430 2310 or

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