30 November 2023

$1.6m in regional grants provides a shot in the arm for small communities

| Katrina Condie
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Strengthening Rural Communities grants fund projects that foster community connectedness and wellbeing. Photo: FRRR.

Community organisations in regional areas across NSW will share in almost $1.6 million worth of small grants to support local initiatives and strengthen communities.

Awarded through the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s (FRRR) flagship Strengthening Rural Communities program, the grants will fund projects that address a range of diverse needs, including fostering community connectedness and wellbeing, and supporting ongoing COVID and disaster recovery and preparedness.

The grants range from $750 for a lawn mower to help local volunteers prepare the community for future bushfires, to $25,000 for an emergency preparedness program to empower people with disabilities through tailored disaster readiness education and planning.

Conowindra’s Age of Fishes Museum will receive $9000 to purchase Big Blue engineering blocks to enhance hands-on STEM education for children and visitors to the museum’s playground, while Griffith’s Valmar Support Services will receive $10,000 to modify the steps, handrails and interior of a community bus used by its aged care clients.

The Bega District Volunteer Rescue Group will use $2070 from FRRR to update the vertical rescue gear used by volunteers, and the Eden Country Womens’ Association (CWA) branch will receive a boost to celebrate its 70th birthday, with a kitchen upgrade to the value of $10,000 to meet safety standards.

Eden Tourism Incorporated will receive $3500 for the installation of interpretative bird signage at Lake Curalo, a locally significant environmental and tourism site that was impacted by the 2020 bushfires.

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The community of Tanja will benefit from a $23,700 grant for Edgy Art Incorporated’s Beauty from the Ashes – Transformation Through Fire program. The arts program is aimed at fostering community cohesion and healing after the Black Summer bushfires through a series of community bronze casting workshops using fire to create lasting, beautiful objects.

The Friends of Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens’ Wellness Walk aims to increase wellbeing in another bushfire-impacted community by enhancing connection with nature through creating a NatureFix trail with local cultural information in the botanic gardens thanks to a $14,950 grant from FRRR. There’s also an app with guided audio wellbeing activities.

Narooma Men’s Shed has received $7102 to purchase stackable chairs for its Furniture for Place of Last Resort program, while The Men’s Table Limited at Batemans Bay will use a $10,000 grant to strengthen its Ripple Effect – Regional Communities of Connected and Contributing Men support program with a series of workshops.

Botanic garden and visitor centre

The Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens’ NatureFix trail will include an app with guided audio wellness activities for visitors. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

The Upper Lachlan Landcare group’s Moving Better Grazing Practices into the Spotlight program will benefit from a $9780 grant to create opportunities for local farmers with expertise in resilient grazing practices to inspire other landholders to adopt best-practice pasture management in the Crookwell area.

The Gundagai Neighbourhood Centre’s Car for a Cause program, which helps vulnerable residents impacted by flooding to access services by purchasing a vehicle, has received a boost of $25,000, while the Bowning Public School and Citizens’ Association will receive $10,000 to celebrate 175 years of Bowning Public School during the Back to Bowning Weekend.

Air-conditioning will be installed at the Numeralla Hall thanks to a $9673 grant, and the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation will receive $9922 for the 2024 Miima Warabinya – Skyfest astronomy festival.

FRRR’s Place Portfolio Lead Jill Karena said the Strengthening Rural Communities program had provided consistent support for local not-for-profit groups in rural places, helping to fill funding gaps needed to get projects off the ground or bring them to conclusion.

“FRRR’s small grants have supported rural Australia for the past 23 years,” she said.

“We have awarded nearly $18 million in small grants since 2019 and the program’s flexibility is one of the key reasons why it continues to be so popular.

“Flexible funding means that we can support projects that meet a wide range of needs, reflecting what the community sees as a priority. For some, this may be a new roof for the town hall. For others, it may be an event to bring people together, and for others it could be mental health first aid training.

“Virtually every part of Australia is recovering from one or more disasters, from the pandemic to floods, bushfires or drought – and many have experienced successive or even overlapping events.

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“The cumulative effect means that even within the same region, there are people working to respond and support recovery, while others are putting planning and training in place to build their resilience and prepare for the next, inevitable, event.”

Jill said grassroots organisations, often led by volunteers, played an important role in the vitality of rural Australia.

“They drive the projects that maintain and sustain their communities. But to do this, they need funds,” she said.

“We’re honoured to play a small part in helping rural Australia thrive and we encourage others to join with us to support local initiatives that really do make a difference.”

The program is collaboratively supported by donors, ranging from private individuals to larger foundations. This round there were a further 50 funding-ready projects, requesting more than $610,000, that FRRR could not support.

“We are urgently seeking new partners, so that we can fund more projects like these in the future,” Jill said.

FRRR accepts applications for this program which awards funds four times a year. Local not-for-profits and community groups are encouraged to review the program guidelines and apply. For more information about the SRC program or to make a donation, head to the Foundation for Regional Renewal website.

Original Article published by Katrina Condie on About Regional.

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