It’s hard to believe it’s practically November already – the year is just flying by and we are certainly busy finalising things before the Christmas period is upon us.
I’ve been on the road meeting many wonderful people and organisations, hearing about some great initiatives responding to key challenges, and discussing past and future partnerships and programs.
This included attending a Rural Women’s celebration in regional Victoria, the Crawford Fund Conference, RIRDC Rural Women’s Awards finalists lunch and Awards Dinner and the NFF Blueprint for Agriculture round table, as well as the Australian business and arts Foundation (AbaF) annual awards night.
Tomorrow FRRR will co-host a Rural & Regional Affinity Group forum in Canberra for philanthropic grant makers. It promises to be a great event, with some interesting speakers and I expect valuable discussion about a range of ways philanthropy can better support rural and regional communities. You may like to follow the discussion on Twitter - #ruralforum.
In addition to all these events, we’ve been assessing grant applications for several programs that closed during the month. We had 619 applications for Small Grants for Small Rural Communities and 55 for CARA. On top of that, the RRR assessment committee had to meet twice to get through the large number of applications in the last round. We will be announcing the outcome of all of these applications soon, so keep an eye on our website, Twitter or Facebook.
We are currently inviting applications for Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W), the new program to assist Victorian bushfire communities, as well as the Lachlan Region Community Grants Program (closes 2 November), the Qld & NSW RRR programs for flood and cyclone recovery and STEPS. So we will no doubt continue to be busy.
Finally, we are calling for new partners for the Back to School program. As we highlight below, there are inevitably more projects than we are able to fund, so if you are able to support us – at any level – please do not hesitate to get in touch!
Until next time...
Back to School program
The Back to School program is currently seeking partners for the next round of the program.
This national program provides gift vouchers redeemable for items such as school uniforms, bags and stationery items to rural students in need, ensuring they get off to a great start, and helping local communities at the same time. The financial backbone of the program is the Sidney Myer Fund, which has committed $250,000 per year until 2014 as a challenge grant – FRRR must raise 50% matching dollars for the 2013 program.
Given we have 44 community partners for next year, we fully expect to be over-subscribed for the funds we have available. Every little bit of support will make a difference and we welcome donations from individuals as well as groups. Anything you can do to help another child get their school years, and their education, off to a good start would be appreciated!
If you would like to be involved, review this brochure about how you can support the Back to School Program and you can even donate online.
Resources for Communities
FRRR wants to help rural and regional communities learn about resources that may assist your organisation's administration, help you carry out special events or fundraise, for example. Each month we will introduce you to a group, service or website that we believe you will find interesting.
The Our Community Community Funding Centre provides free help sheets, services, newsletters, books and training to help community groups improve their fundraising abilities and become healthier and more viable. We recommend you spend some time reviewing these resources - but be sure to make a cup of tea before you sit down – there is a plethora of information!
Repair-Restore-Renew grants making a difference in Queensland's recovery
It can be very difficult for communities to recover from a natural disaster. With the support of 17 generous partners, the 2011 Repair Restore Renew (RRR) Queensland Flood and Cyclone Recovery Program was initiated after Cyclone Yasi and floods devastated large parts of Queensland, with the view to supporting community groups in the medium to long term recovery process.
To date, 21 Queensland projects have received funding. Here are just a few updates on the progress of some of the projects.
A pneumatic telescopic communications and lighting tower has been installed in Murgon to assist emergency services during operations and natural disasters. Murgon SES Support Group Inc. volunteer Grant Geddes says they are excited that “our new awesome advanced equipment has arrived and is in operation”. The equipment can save lives by providing a well-lit area and consistent communications channels for emergency services personnel working around dangerous situations.
The Laidley Agricultural & Industry Society received funding to repair the damage caused to the show grounds during the 2011 floods. This showground is widely used by the community for a range of activities including: a stop-over for tourists, community groups, families and also the annual show. The group was innovative in the fencing solution they chose as part of the repair: the new steel fencing can be adapted to the needs of different community activities, such as showjumping or, by removing some round fence pieces and replacing them with square corners, it converts to the square field required by polocrosse.
The El Arish Community Sport and Recreation Association Inc. are dancing on the tables with happiness, after the RRR program, with the support of the Visy Employees Community Foundation assisted with the purchase of 15 new tables, as well as extra chairs and a trolley for the community hall. As a result five new weddings have been booked for 2013. This is great news for the local business community; previously most local brides held their weddings in towns between 30 minutes and two hours drive away.
We will soon be announcing the next round of RRR grant recipients, so follow us on Twitter or Facebook to learn about the projects we are supporting.
A different approach to AGMs
Our involvement with so many different organisations means we are privileged to be invited to attend many AGMs. This month, we've been very impressed with the way a couple of organisations in particular have chosen to highlight what they do.
We were among 120 guests invited to attend the Shepparton Villages AGM held at Tarcoola Village Activities Centre. Over the last five years, FRRR has supported various services for the Shepparton Villages including Diversional Therapy, the Men’s Shed and a bus lifting device upgrade.
The usual business of an AGM was delivered with eloquent humour, making the evening very enjoyable. It also included a taster of the history of the Villages, which is being researched by local volunteers (including residents) under the guidance of author and historian Stella Barber, who addressed the group. The meeting finished with a presentation that celebrated the diversity of residents, their interests and talents, the dedication of staff, and excellence in governance.
We also attended the Tomorrow:Today Foundation's AGM in Benalla. It began with guests being treated to refreshments while the Little Giggles PlayGroup performed. We then heard from some high-school girls participating in the Connect9 program, which helps them build their self-confidence and their knowledge about future career options, thanks to local mentors. Finally, we learnt about the Hands on Learning program, which helps students develop practical work-ready skills with the suport with local businesses. After a short interlude for the formalities, we were able to resume networking. This approach certainly made for an innovative, engaging and well-attended AGM, which was attended by more than 60 people.
Kumuwuki Big Wave Regional Arts Australia National Conference
FRRR recently attended the Regional Arts Australia conference in Goolwa South Australia. The program – part conference, part festival - was jammed packed with speakers, presenters, performers, practitioners and panels, covering a wide range of topics.
It wasn't all play - the four day festival explored, celebrated and discussed the areas of resilience in the face of rapid change, the environment and our impact, cultural and community leadership and the role that art can play across all of these themes. Amongst the many highlights was the inclusion of the Ngarrindjeri people across all aspects of the event.
More than 550 delegates from around Australia came together to share new developments, trends, ideas and practices in arts and culture. Examples of best practice in community arts, and their connection to the broader community through collaboration and participation were inspiring, thought provoking and reaffirming of the resilient nature of individuals and communities in rural, regional and remote Australia.
FRRR is currently seeking partners to run a national Culture, Arts, Tourism and Community Heritage (CATCH) program in 2013.
In the media
Healthy art program continues in Mission Beach
The Mission Arts Come Together Program is to run for a further nine months following positive outcomes from the 15 week pilot program, as reported by the Innisfail Advocate.
The program aims to build healthy connections between community members and enhance resilience and wellbeing as part of the Cyclone Yasi recovery efforts. The major grant they received from FRRR, together with funding from Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, enabled the extension of these community sessions, which are facilitated by skilled community members of Mission Beach, Queensland.
Project coordinater Sarah Johnston said that without the major grant from FRRR and the Visy Employees Community Foundation, the program could not have continued. Phase 2 of the program will include youth art classes, Realist Drawing, and Tai Chi, allowing more social interaction for all ages and cultural activities that meet a broad range of local interests and needs. To help people deal with emotional recovery a Life Mastery series also begins at Mission Arts in October. You can read more online.
Bridging the wetlands in Pinnaroo
The Pinnaroo wetlands in South Australia is an area of ongoing progress. As reported in the Border Times, the next big project is a boardwalk and viewing platform over the western channel.
The structure will be financed using the FRRR grant received earlier this year by the Friends of Pinnaroo Wetlands. While the design is still being finalised, the new footbridge will provide a safe and sturdy platform for spotting turtles and ducks among the calming stillness of the Pinnaroo wetlands environment.
A boardwalk already in place over the eastern channel was built by volunteer labour and has made the crossing from north to south a much safer experience for visitors to the wetlands. A weekend working bee was held recently which saw trees and plants moved to their final homes, an extension of the southern path, removal of the shed graffiti, some painting and the spring weeds around the pond being taken care of with a layer of mulch.
Grant amps up Mission Evolve Music Fest 2012
Thanks to FRRR, the fourth annual Mission Evolve Music Fest had a bigger line-up than ever for 2012, as reported in the Innisfail Advocate. The festival entertained crowds with 28 bands and six DJs.
The Mission Evolve ethos is about supporting local artists and creating opportunities for performers to showcase their talents. The festival included a jam stage, songwriter showcase, Kid’s Fest, circus play, fire dancers, free workshops and roving performers, as well as free camping all weekend, and plenty of bar food and market stalls. Sounds like a great event!