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

Sam Kavanagh founded Bootstraps in Gatton, in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley
. It is a volunteer-operated charity that runs leatherwork classes and acts as a drop-in recovery centre for former service personnel and the wider community. It provides the opportunity for those who may be suffering from social isolation, PTSD or having difficulty connecting with family or society at large, to practise the craft of leatherwork as a kind of therapy. This craft was taught to Sam by his father. The program facilitates reconnection and social interaction, with participants saying it helps to keep them in a good headspace. 

WATCH to learn about how Bootstraps enhanced their operations and capacity with two ‘tools’ that were funded through FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program.

This film is part of a series focusing on inspirational community groups in remote, rural and regional Queensland, who share their insights on applying for grants and generating great outcomes for their communities. The videos are generously funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

Subscribe to FRRR’s YouTube channel so you don't miss any of these wonderful stories. Click on the thumbnail below to watch the video, which will open in a new window.

From the CEO's desk...

Giving, in all its forms, has been one of few shining lights over the past year and a half. We have also witnessed immense generosity and agility in remote, rural, and regional communities as they continue to grapple with the effects of bushfires, floods, cyclones, and the pandemic. Philanthropy has stepped up in force to back them.
While working from home, managing patchy internet connections, home-learning, and many cancelled travel plans, last financial year the FRRR team delivered $20m to more than 800 initiatives across the country. This ranged from support for bushfire recovery, locally led climate solutions, community leadership development, capacity building of not-for-profits, and local economic renewal. Thank you for choosing to partner with FRRR to fund the most pressing and promising ideas and initiatives in some of the smallest parts of Australia. We look forward to sharing highlights in our upcoming Annual Review.  
Last week, we launched a research project: "Heartbeat of Rural Australia: How are rural community groups and non-profits faring?” Our aim is to amplify the voices and experiences of remote, rural, and regional communities and target much-needed funding and capacity-building support where it is needed most and can have the greatest impact. This project will be open for a month and we'll release our findings in November. Read more about it below

We will also soon release the Get Ready Disaster Resilient: Future Ready pilots program research summary report, which provides practical insights and guidance on facilitating community-led disaster resilience and preparedness efforts. I would love to have you join us for a webinar on 7 October, where we’ll dive into what the findings mean for strengthening resilience in rural communities. Again, there is more information below.
Looking ahead, our suite of programs and partnerships continues to expand and we were pleased to announce new collaborations with Suncorp and Nutrien Ag Solutions last month. These are both multi-year partnerships with a core value of investing in locally-led efforts to improve community wellbeing and building back better after disasters. I would also like to thank those who have generously given to the $1.125m matched funding opportunity for the Future Drought Fund’s Networks to Build Drought Resilience program – we have reached 80% of the funding target and welcome further support.  

Until next time,

Natalie Egleton
Chief Executive Officer
On Dja Dja Wurrung country
FRRR launches Heartbeat of Australia study

FRRR has identified a gap in data that means the story of the social and economic role of grassroots community groups and not-for-profits in remote, rural and regional communities isn't being told. There is also little data that quantifies the effects of cumulative shocks and stressors, like natural disasters, on these organisations and their communities.

That’s why FRRR commissioned the Heartbeat of Rural Australia study, which is currently underway. It involves surveying a wide range of grassroots community groups and not-for-profit organisations to understand how they are faring. 

I think we all agree that we are living through a major moment in history for Australia and it's vital that we capture the stories of remote, rural, and regional communities. We are fierce advocates for the critical role that these organisations play in the social and economic strength of their own communities, and the nation as a whole. 

This study intends to provide a quantifiable picture of how this part of remote, rural, and regional Australia is faring, where they most need and value support from outside partners, and importantly, an open source data tool to support them to advocate for their priorities and needs.

Natalie Egleton

The more responses we receive, the more valid the data will be. We’d therefore welcome any assistance to spread the word about the Heartbeat of Rural Australia study, using the resources in this communications pack. The survey closes 30 September.

We look forward to sharing the results in November. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this project, please contact our Insights and Learning Manager, James Depasquale or visit

Putting communities at the centre of preparedness and resilience building
Webinar on 7 October to explore what it looks like in practice

Kim McDonnell photographed by Kristoffer Paulsen.
Since 2017, FRRR has worked closely with three NSW communities, with Resilience NSW, and with University of Sydney on an applied research project designed to understand what it takes for communities to be better prepared for disasters.

The Get Ready Disaster Resilient: Future Ready (DR:FR) pilot project involved wide community consultation, identification of community-led ideas to address the specific disaster context of each community, funding to implement the ideas and a formal independent research and evaluation initiative to assess its effectiveness.

The summary research report will be released later this month. Among the many findings is that for disaster resilience efforts to be impactful and meaningful, affected communities need to be actively engaged and involved in the process.

We're hosting a webinar on Thursday 7 October, at 11am AEDT, to explore insights from the research in more detail. Note, the Summary Report will be shared with participants in the lead up to the webinar.

Register Now.

FRRR acknowledges the support of the Joint State and Commonwealth Natural Disaster Resilience Program for the action research component of the pilot project.

FRRR also appreciates the support of our donor partners in the rollout of the broader DR:FR initiative across Australia, including Sidney Myer Fund, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Maple-Brown Family Foundation, Simon Kucher and Partners, Ronald Geoffrey Arnott Foundation and the Doc Ross Foundation.

Insights from the bush

Our Program Portfolio Leads recently discussed some of their collective insights with the FRRR board. Below is a snapshot of what they shared. 

Organisations and people are stretched
  • Prolonged and cumulative disaster events have led to deep fatigue from people working on the ground, and we cannot underestimate the trauma, burden and overload currently being experienced by volunteers, and what few paid staff there are in small NFPs. 
  • Many groups feel that they don’t have the capacity to respond to opportunities – to make the initial request, or to deliver, report and acquit - there’s a need for greater investment in organisational resourcing and skills development
  • In the context of continuing change and disruption, communities are dealing with a lot of issues around wellbeing and mental health
  • We are frequently hearing about the stresses in community and individuals. We’ve seen withdrawal from trying to collaborate and do things together - people are becoming more focused on just surviving.
"The community largely stands together and there is a strong sense of community support and collaboration and a collective desire to overcome difficulties." - SRC WA applicant

Trending - vibrant and virtual
  • There is increased demand for public arts projects, such as murals and art walks to boost community connection, celebrate identity, and stimulate the local economy, as well as for ‘reboot’ events that were cancelled or scaled back over the past 18 months due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Some community groups have harnessed the power of digital – from Arts festivals to exercise classes for people over 65 who weren’t able to turn on a computer when they started. They now access content via Zoom and will use that as a frequent mechanism to stay connected.
"The COVID 19 epidemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 festival and the reduction of the 2021 festival to only three sessions. We need circuit-breaker assistance to regain the momentum of the festival and establish our new models of operation." - SRC VIC applicant

Digital transformation has happened rapidly, but not for everyone

  • Those that don’t have the resources – and importantly the capability - are starting to be left behind as the world has become accustomed to virtual meetings. We need to continue to proactively seek ways to support them, so they aren’t left behind.
We are having great conversations beyond money
  • Grants are important, but just being on the phones, answering questions and offering support and guidance to local volunteers can be nearly as valuable.
  • In the programs where we are doing deep place-based work, the local people we have on the ground supporting not-for-profits can help to create leverage. They can facilitate amazing partnership opportunities and help to do things more collaboratively.
Volunteer-led initiatives are driving a sense of hope and ambition
  • We have seen several examples recently where FRRR’s investment in seeding projects or start-ups, or supporting communities to build their capacity has been leveraged significantly, and these efforts have been underpinned by strong and diverse partnerships and collaborations. For example:
    • FRRR partnered with the Wee Waa Community on the development of local cultural and artistic ideas and building connections and capacity to implement these. The community developed a Five Year Business Management Plan for the Wee Waa Community Arts and Cultural Centre (WWCACC), which was fundamental in securing a long-term affordable, purpose-built premises in partnership with Narrabri Council. In a great example of leverage, WWCACC received an additional $382,197 under the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program (R2).

    • With the backing of a $142,897 Tackling Tough Times Together grant, the Sunset Strip Progress Association Inc in NSW leveraged an additional $252,200 for their tourism renewal project to construct the Sunset Strip Boulevard Walk of Fame. This included $22,200 from Regional Arts Fund to employ two artists in residence to create two murals and 13 public art works that will be displayed along the Walk of Fame and on six vacant house blocks owned by the Menindee Local Aboriginal Land Council. As a result, the local Council secured NSW Government funding for a new public toilet ($115k) and adventure playground ($85k). Sunset Strip Progress Association has funding for an electronic information sign ($15k) and Tourism Info / Bus Shelter shed - ($18k); and Council has now also received Destination NSW funding for tourism signage.

    • The Mujaay Ganma Foundation Aboriginal Corporation in the Nambucca Valley received $38,443 through the Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program. The funds supported a garden concept to be realised, and three local trainees to be employed. This catalysed access to funding for two years for an additional five trainees via the Governments Bushfire Community Fund. All of this has happened while they experienced fires, flooding and COVID.

    • Also in the Nambucca Valley, telecommunications servicing and connectivity is a major challenge for residents and NFPs, especially following the fires and during COVID. Through connections made in developing and supporting the implementation of the Nambucca Valley Roadmap, the local FRRR Program Facilitator gathered NFP input and passed this feedback on to Council. This helped contribute to a $971k investment in upgraded telecommunications solutions.

    If you’d like to know more about anything above, we would be only too happy to elaborate. Just call 03 5430 2399 or email

Donor spotlight: Portland House Foundation

House Foundation (PHF) is a family foundation based in Melbourne. They first connected with FRRR in 2013 when they donated to BlazeAid’s not-for-profit Fundraising Account held with FRRR. In the last few years, PHF has supported FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities and Back to School programs, including bushfire streams. In total, they’ve generously donated more than half a million dollars to support Victoria’s remote, rural and regional communities.
In this edition of donor news, Paula Thomson, Philanthropy Manager at Portland House Foundation shares their appreciation and understanding of the challenges that disadvantaged members of remote, rural and regional communities can face, and their belief that small grants are often the seed funding needed to support an idea that will make a big difference to local people and their livelihoods. PHF has a history of collaboration, in fact they see it as the key to funding.

Read the full conversation.

Our progress, with your support

Last financial year we awarded more than $20 million in grants to more than 850 projects. Of the funds we granted out this year, $4.1million was in response to 2019/20 Bushfire Recovery.

Across all our programs, the team assessed nearly 2,000 applications, which was almost a 33% increase on the prior year, reflecting the ongoing need for support. As of the end of June, we had 1,176 active grants, 93 of which have been given extensions in response to the changing needs and capacity of community groups who are in a constant mode of adaptation.

In the last quarter, we distributed $4,776,150 to 234 projects via seven programs. The average success rate was 62% (vs target of 50%). Forty-one per cent of distributions were focussed on natural disaster resilience and recovery. There were 109 new applicant organisations, mostly via the TTTT, SRC, and Yulgilbar Fund programs. This continues to reinforce the breadth of community organisations that need support.

It was also a busy quarter for our Not-For-Profit fundraising accounts, with two in particular - DeadlyScience and St Paul’s Carcoar Community Facility - receiving the most donations for the quarter, 158 ($182,361) and 115 ($635,506) respectively.

We made 67 distributions during the quarter to our account partners, with the largest to the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) to support operational costs and expansion of their Social Enterprise Schools program.

Here are a few examples of the impact your support has had in communities:
None of this would be possible without the ongoing support of our donor partners.  Thank you again for the trust that you place in FRRR that we can get the funds you donate where they are most needed.

Partnering opportunities

Future Drought Fund's Networks to Build Drought Resilience

An enormous thank you to all those who have supported the co-funding opportunity for the Future Drought Fund's Networks to Build Drought Resilience program. 

An initiative of the
Australian Government, the Future Drought Fund's Networks to Build Drought Resilience program is designed to build strong social connectedness, strengthen social capital, and support activities that enable regional communities to be more prepared for, and resilient to, the impacts of drought.  Grants can support events, projects, activities, training, and small-scale infrastructure that assists communities to build their capacity by strengthening social and community networking, support, engagement, and wellbeing. 

The Australian Government’s investment of $3.375m needs to be matched by a $1.125m contribution from FRRR and our partners, to enable $4.5 million in grants to be available for on-ground community capacity building projects, across two funding rounds.  We are delighted to say that $900,000 has been raised to date.

We are almost there, with a further $225,000 needed to meet our target.

We welcome contributions, big and small, to help us meet this target and provide funding for transformational drought resilience projects in remote, rural and regional communities. The Future Drought Fund's generous commitment means that for every $1 you donate, there will be more than $3 of on-ground grant impact generated. If you'd like to know more, email Sarah Matthee or call 03 5430 2399. 

Community partner spotlight

Carcoar community comes together to purchase local church

An opportunity to purchase the local Anglican Church and create a much-needed community meeting place was too good to miss. But the Carcoar community had just 90 days to raise $450,000.

For a community of just 300 people, that was initially seen as an impossible task. However, with a prompt approval of a request to establish an FRRR Fundraising Account, through which they could offer tax deductible donations to their supporters, saw them achieve the goal with five days to spare!

Since the deal was done, the community has embarked on the task of renovating the building. They would greatly appreciate any support, particularly to enable them to install an accessible toilet and an updated canteen.

Read more

FRRR is grateful for your support of remote, rural and regional communities.

If you have any questions about any of these stories or would like to chat at all, please contact:

Sarah Matthee, General Manager – Partnerships & Services on 0448 990 800 or

You have been included in this distribution of the newsletter, as you have previously kindly supported FRRR or one of our Fundraising Account partners.

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Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

PO Box 41, Bendigo   VIC   3552  |   03 5430 2399  |

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