Skills, Training, Engagement & Practical Support (STEPS)
The STEPS Program welcomes applications at any time, with applications assessed quarterly.
The next round of STEPS will close 31st July 2013.
Applicants are encouraged to contact the STEPS coordinator on 1800 170 020 to discuss project ideas and submission timing for this highly competitive program.
The STEPS program is a joint initiative between the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Department of Planning and Community Development.
Since the 2009 fires many individuals and community groups across fire-affected areas have taken on key leadership roles to help drive their community’s rebuilding and recovery. The STEPS program is designed to enhance leadership in rural communities, improve the ability of not-for-profit groups to develop and implement community projects and ensure community groups avoid experiencing the effects of volunteer fatigue.
STEPS offers a flexible, independent source of funds to support not-for-profit community groups affected by or impacted by the Victorian 2009 Bushfires.
Applications are welcome at any point in time and are assessed quarterly. Funds will be granted quarterly dependent on the funds available. To ensure your application is considered at the first available assessment meeting, please contact the project officer Hannah Jakab to discuss the optimal date for you to have your application submitted.
The STEPS program aims to support projects that build community resilience, create community networks and partnerships, and encourage the development of community leadership. Click here for a printable brochure.
The STEPS program will provide grants under five separate categories:
- Community Leadership: Projects that assist members of community groups to learn effective communication, motivation and planning skills through attending established leadership training courses. (Application form)
- Training and Skill Development: Projects that enhance the skill base of community groups through enabling members to attend formal training courses or workshops. (Application form)
- Strengthen Community Networks and Communication: Projects that encourage communities to work together, network, share information and learn from each other. (Application form)
- Mentoring: Projects that provide community groups and individuals within community groups, access to support and guidance through a suitable mentor. (Application form)
- Practical Human Resource Support: Projects that provide evidence that human resource support is needed to allow successful completion of recovery related initiatives. (Application form)
- Grants will be made in amounts from $100 to $30,000 depending on the category of the project.
- Projects must directly relate to communities affected by or impacted by the Victorian 2009 Bushfires.
- Projects must be for a charitable purpose (benefit the wider community).
- Projects which contribute to community renewal and/or rebuilding in the areas of social and community wellbeing, economic, environment, health, education and culture will be considered.
- Projects requiring assistance which can demonstrate a benefit to the community in the medium to long-term recovery process.
- Applicant organisations must have an ABN or Incorporation Certificate
New Community Leadership Program:
10 Community Leadership Programs operate across Victoria. These not-for-profit organisations are led by the community for the community. The results have been real and tangible for individuals, community & industry groups, and the wider region.
A gap has been identified in the bushfire affected region of Victoria where such a program does not exist and limited opportunities exist for those who would like to resource and strengthem their community or industry group, extend their regional networks, and reinvigorate and encourage existing and emerging leaders.
The STEPS Program has supported Community Leadership Loddon Murray to conduct a feasibility study for the establishment of a leadership program for the region encompassing Mitchell, Murrindindi, Nillumbik, Yarra Ranges & Whittlesea areas. A series of community conversations have been held across the region and it is believed that there is a high need and strong support for a community leadership program to be formed.
For more information about the proposed program or to participate in the on-line community survey, click here to access the Community Leadership Loddon Murray website.
Examples of STEPS supported projects
Traralgon South Practical Support. The Traralgon South and District Association is a local community association which supports the bushfire affected communities of Callignee, Koornalla, Le Roy and Traralgon South. Approximately 18 months ago, the TSDA took over all the bushfire support activities of the Community Recovery Committee, including 13 ongoing projects. This placed considerable strain on the voluntary committee and other community members of the TSDA, many who are themselves bushfire affected. STEPS funding has allowed the group to continue to employ their Admin Officer until further funding is secured. Traralgon South and District Association Inc. - $5,100
Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House Practical Support. STEPS funding has permitted the Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood house (KRNH) to employ a part time Grant Administrator / Book Keeper / Community Development worker for 12 months. The practical support position will assist the Neighbourhood House to manage over 15 Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF) grants. Additional demands have been placed on existing staff members and community group volunteers to manage recovery projects. The position will assist groups that are in need of support to successfully keep to timelines, keep adequate records and acquit grants. Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House - $27,142.50
Stanley Post Office and Community Hub - Management / Coordinator. Stanley has a population of 700, and is located near Beechworth in the Alpine region of Victoria. Following the devastating economic impact of three major fires in the Alpine Region over the last ten years, the Stanley Post Office and General Store closed in December 2010. Within days the community had called a meeting which attracted 60 people and resolved to return postal services back to the community. Under the banner of Stanley Rural Community Incorporated (SRCI), the community secured a license from Australia Post and a portable building which was placed on Council land and fitted-out with the assistance of the Council and in-kind donations.
The post office is manned by a roster of 30 volunteers. A local volunteer was in charge of running the store and coordinating the volunteer effort. FRRR have provided funding to pay the coordinator for one year to ensure that the project receives the on-going support and development needed to succeed in the mid – long term. The building has become a community hub, with the coordinator and volunteers providing a function as a central communication and information link. The coordinator has also become responsible for publishing monthly community newsletter “Nine Mile News”. Stanley Rural Community Incorporated- $16,380
Toolangi / Castella Practical Support. Community House staff and volunteers have been a pivotal resource and coordination point for the communities of Toolangi and Castella since the 2009 bushfire disaster. Due to the workload associated with coordinating and supporting over 11 bushfire recovery projects, staff at the Toolangi Castella District Community House were permanently working more hours than they were paid. FRRR provided funds to the Community House to allow them to employ existing staff for an additional 20 hours per week. It is hoped that the grant will assist to reduce the volunteer fatigue experienced by staff at the Community House. Toolangi District Community House - $27,817.33
Marysville and Triangle Practical Support. Volunteer fatigue is a major issue for the Marysville community. Volunteers have worked tirelessly to initiate and assist in the recovery and rebuilding of the Marysville Triangle. Many of the community groups in the Marysville Triangle are currently in need of a high level of support to complete recovery projects. STEPS funding will allow the Recovery Committee to employ a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) who will provide much needed relief and support for the community.
The CLO will work with a range of community and organisation stakeholders to support community recovery and ongoing health and wellbeing initiatives. The position will play a key role to support the Marysville and Triangle Economic Leadership Group, helping to progress recovery priorities and advocate for resources and solutions. The CLO will work closely with community groups and assist them to complete recovery projects. Moreover, the CLO will provide resources, training and opportunities for skill development in order to strengthen and develop the sustainable growth of Marysville Triangle community groups into the future. Lake Mountain Resort Committee of Management - $30,000
Kinglake Trust Reserve Landscaping Project. All facilities on the Kinglake Trust Reserve were destroyed in the 2009 fires. Volunteers on the Reserve Committee have dedicated their time to rebuilding the facility. To date the Reserve Committee has cleared the grounds, fenced the area, reestablished the car park and restored electricity. Funding was secured to rebuild the Riders Club building, the horse yards and related facilities, which are complete and in use. In addition, the ‘Ellimatta’ Youth Building has been constructed on the Trust Reserve. The final stage of the restoration is to landscape and beautify the area. Volunteers on the committee were suffering from fatigue after devoting time and effort to the project over the past two years. STEPS provided funds to engage a landscape gardener to support the project to completion. Kinglake Trust Reserve - $12,000
Kinglake Memorial Reserve Practical Support. The Kinglake Memorial Reserve is undergoing a major $2 million refurbishment due to significant damage from the 2009 bushfire. All user groups of the reserve have experienced reduced levels of volunteers since the fires and are experiencing significant stress in trying to run their organisations with the additional pressure of overseeing the redevelopment. STEPS provided funds to the Memorial Reserve Committee to employee an Executive Officer for a period of 10 months. The Executive Officer will assist to increase the capacity of the community groups, oversee the $2 million redevelopment of the reserve precinct and provide specialist support and advice to community groups that use the reserve. The project aims to ensure the groups are sustainable and will not require a high level of external support in the future. Kinglake Memorial Reserve Committee of Management - $26,250
Connecting Youth. The Flowerdale youth group was started after the 2009 fires to provide activities for disengaged youth in the area. Over 50 children regularly attend the junior youth group and between 10 and 20 youth attend the senior group activities. With the assistance of Government and Rotary funds, a building to house the youth group has been constructed in Flowerdale. The program is coordinated by volunteers, a number of which have dedicated significant time to ensuring the program is a success. Volunteers coordinating the program are experiencing fatigue and are finding it difficult to continue to commit to the planning and coordination of activities. STEPS funding will allow the Community House to employ a Youth Worker to develop and implement a sustainable program at the new youth space. Flowerdale Community House - $28,252.80
Healesville Men’s Shed Support. Many of the participants at the Healesville Men’s Shed are experiencing mental and physical health issues and are in need of high levels of guidance and support. The level of support required to continue the program is beyond the normal expectations of a volunteer coordinator and would most likely result in significant volunteer fatigue without practical human resource support. STEPS funding has allowed the Learning Centre to employ a support worker for 15 hours per week for a period of 12 months. Healesville Living and Learning Centre - $19,500
Events Coordinator Kinglake Ranges Festival. A festival was held in the Kinglake Ranges in 2007. Due to the inaugural festival success the community aimed to make it a biannual event. Due to the 2009 bushfire disaster the event was postponed. The Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House believes that it is important for the community to resume events that occurred before the fires and aim to support the community in planning a festival to be held in 2012. The Festival will be a great opportunity to strengthen and showcase the community groups, local Artists, Primary Schools, Bolly-gum Park and small businesses.
The capacity of the community and community groups after the fires has been fractional. Many groups are very supportive of the festival however have minimal time and energy to plan and implement the project. STEPS funding has allowed the Neighbourhood House to employ an event coordinator to ensure the festival will go ahead. The grant will provide a number of benefits to the Kinglake community. Firstly, the fatigued community of Kinglake will be supported in their endeavour to hold a biannual festival and an event coordination manual will be developed to assist in the organisation of future Kinglake festivals. Secondly, the community of Kinglake are provided with an event that will result in building and strengthening economic and social capital in the area. And finally, an individual in the Kinglake area will be provided with a short-term employment opportunity as the event coordinator. Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House - $9,200
Rebuild Historical Society Collection Project Coordinator. The Marysville & District Historical Society’s (MDHS) entire collection was destroyed in the 2009 fires. The society has been fortunate to have the support of Mr Andrew Mackenzie (professional Librarian and Archivist) in re-establishing the MDHS’s collection. Mr Mackenzie has assisted the Society to source, gather, process and rebuild the Marysville collection. He has donated over 1,500 rare items from his own collection and has conducted a worldwide search to identify relevant items to include in the display. STEPS funding will allow the society to employ Mr Mackenzie for a period of twelve months to assist Historical Society volunteers to bring the project to completion, train the volunteers so that the collection is managed in the future and to act as coordinator for the celebration of Marysville’s 150th birthday in 2013. Marysville and District Historical Society - $30,000
Training and Skill Development
Into Our Hands - Fire Affected Communities Learning Together. Mudgegonga is a small community in the Alpine Region of North Eastern Victoria. It was one of the areas affected by the devastating events of the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
In 2011, the Mudgegonga and District Landcare Group coordinated an application to the STEPS program, a joint initiative between FRRR and the Department of Planning and Community Development, to undertake a series of workshops to equip local residents with the skills necessary to encourage greater involvement in community activities and to conduct a feasibility study to assist with development of a Community Foundation.
Fourteen representatives from six local community groups attended seven training sessions. Each workshop was designed to help connect the community by improving communication, problem solving, strategic planning and grant writing abilities, as well as identifying future opportunities.
The program, which concluded in February, was an overwhelming success, with one participant saying, “The program has expanded my view of what is possible and given me more confidence to take on more within my community.”
Three-quarters of the way through the course, 70% of the participants said they had increased their knowledge of Community Foundations and their purpose. 70% also felt encouraged and supported to take on a community role.
As one attendee said, “I have really gained a lot of confidence from participating in the course. I am excited and enthusiastic about the philanthropic fund and its huge potential long term benefits for our local community.”
Based on the success of the pilot program, the STEPS Program funded another series of workshops, which means a further 20 participants will benefit from the training. Mudgegonga & District Landcare Group Inc. - $29,417.75
First Aid Training. Members of the Myrtleford Men’s Shed recognise the need for their community to be prepared for future disasters. The group were successful in receiving funding to conduct a First Aid Training Course for members of the Men’s Shed and the wider community. An invitation to participate in the training has been offered to other local groups. The First Aid Course will benefit members of volunteer clubs in a number of ways. Firstly, volunteers who are trained in first-aid are also more likely to be more knowledgeable and conscious of safe behaviour in their working environment, thus preventing injuries. Secondly, providing first aid training to volunteers in the Myrtleford area may be the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Myrtleford Men's Shed - $1,506
Through Women’s Eyes: Increasing Disaster and Community Resilience. Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) applied to STEPS for funding to run a training course for 30 women in the alpine region that would provide skills and training in relation to disaster management, prevention and recovery. WHGNE recognise that women have a unique perspective on community danger and safety. The training will be facilitated by the WHGNE and informed by the internationally recognised “Working with women at risk: Practical guidelines for assessing local disaster risk” research. Women’s Health will apply a highly interactive “Learning Circle” approach to the training. This approach will encourage training groups to share, express and build on knowledge through a process of open dialogue and deep reflection around issues and problems. Women who participate in the training will gain increased knowledge regarding local risks, hazards and strengths and increase their ability to become agents of change in their own communities. Women's Health Goulburn North East - $19,100
Strengthening Community Networks and Communication
Gippsland Women’s Forum. The Gippsland Women’s Forum was developed three years ago as part of the Women Leading Change, Government initiative (DPCD) with the aim to support rural women, who in turn support their families and communities in challenging times. The decision to run the forum was a result of severe drought and hardship in the Gippsland community. The second year of the forum saw many parts of Gippsland affected by bushfires; the impact on the local communities was significant. It was decided to conduct the forum to encourage women to come together and support each other, link with support services and begin the recovery process. The Yarram & District Health service applied to FRRR for funding to hold a third Gippsland Women’s Forum in 2011.
Women from across Gippsland were invited to attend the FRRR Gippsland Women’s Forum, which was help on Saturday 26th January 2011 at the Yarram Secondary College. The forum opened with an inspiring presentation by Ms Janine Shepherd, international athlete. Ms Shepherd succeeded through insurmountable adversity following a tragic accident, to become an enigma to others struggling to overcome issues in their own lives. Most of the women who attended the forum evaluated Ms Shepard’s presentation as the highlight of the day and for some the leading factor as to why they came.
Participants then selected from over 16 workshops, which were conducted in the morning and afternoon. Examples of the workshops included:
- Exploring your talents: A journey of self-discovery using drawing materials and collage to reconnect with yourself.
- Raising Teenagers: Exploring current issues and parenting styles
- Mechanical Wizards: Teaching how to change a tyre, check your oil and water and general maintenance on your car.
- Developing your DIY skills: Useful tips for home repairs such as tiling, painting and wall papering.
- Glamour and everyday jewellery made the easy way: Basic skills you need to design and craft earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
- Mindfulness and Happiness: How to identify what you are feeling, the role of frustration and anger, managing feelings and moving forward.
- Minding our busy-ness: Ways in which to address how the busy-ness of our lives can be managed so that there is time and space for some self-nurturing.
At completion of the workshops participants took the opportunity to network and foster friendships developed during the day’s activities.
The forum was followed by a Gala Dinner at the historic Regent Theater in Yarram. During the dinner participants were entertained by Mr. Brad Blaze. Mr. Blaze rapidly created three portraits of prominent women - in a style which he describes as a mix between Mr. Squiggle and Rolf Harris. Mr. Blaze generously stayed on after his performance and drew characters of most of the women in attendance. An auction was held at the end of the evening which raised $1,000 to go towards women’s events in Gippsland. The auction was superbly run by local auctioneer David Phelan. Items that were auctioned included the three paintings by Mr. Brad Blaze and a massage chair.
150 women attended the forum and 98% reported that they would be interested in attending future forums. Many of the participants travelled significant distance to attend. The event has shown that there is definitely and interest in the community for women specific activities. Yarram & District Health Service- $15,750
Fiddlehead Festival of Community Regeneration through Music Making. STEPS funding will assist Community Music Victoria (CMV) to run The Fiddlehead Festival: A celebration of state-wide community regeneration through music-making. The Fiddlehead Festival project will involve collaboration, story-sharing and music-making between community groups in fire affected areas of Central Gippsland and across Victoria. Together they will produce and participate in a single day festival in Yinnar (Central Gippsland). The intention of the event is to celebrate and contribute to the growth of the power of community music making in the recovery of Victoria’s fire-affected communities. The process will be facilitated by CMV, six key groups will co-organise the event, 15 – 20 groups will participate and it is anticipated that upwards of 500 people will attend.
Music often communicates where words fail, and music therapy has been proven to connect with those who were thought to be unreachable, making it an ideal medium for working with those who have suffered psychological trauma. Music can be used to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote rehabilitation. Playing music or singing together creates a social and creative environment in which friendships and connections can flourish and communities are strengthened as a consequence. Community music groups have contributed significantly to the capacity of some communities to deal with disaster and the Fiddlehead Festival will be an opportunity for people to testify to that and celebrate what has been created together. Community Music Victoria - $10,000
Community Information Exchange and Calender of Events. The Kinglake Ranges Foundation have received funding through the STEPS program to support and strengthen community groups in the region through providing opportunities to build their capacity and skill base. The grant will allow the foundation to make a number of resources available to community groups in the region including community resource kits and training programs, a newsletter, web site and calendar of events. The resources kit and training will assist community groups to improve their governance skills such as the development of committee roles & responsibilities, legal duties, risk management strategies, strategic and business planning, and policy. The newsletter, website and calendar of events are intended to increase participation, communication and networking between community groups in the area.
Community groups in bushfire affected areas have experienced a number of issues due to lack of communication and networking between groups. A number of new community groups have formed since the fires and a number of others have taken on roles that are not within their normal capacity. Communication between community groups provides the opportunity for groups with similar priorities to work together and avoid replicating projects. Additionally, community members who are aware of opportunities to assist with rebuilding and recovery initiatives are more likely to become involved. By strengthening community communication and networks, communities will be better prepared to cope with future disaster events. Kinglake Ranges Foundation - $17,371
Community Foundation Feasibility Studies. Three regions were supported to undertake feasibility studies to evaluate the long term viability of a local community foundation. The feasibility study explores the geographic area to be served, the options of developing a stand-alone foundation or affiliating with an established one and considers the size of the population and the ability of the community to fund the costs of operating the foundation. Each region is now considering the recommendations or completing their feasibility studies. Mitchell Community Resources and Advocacy Group (MCRAG) - $7,000, Marysville & Triangle Transition Committee - $7,000. The already established Kinglake Ranges Foundation received $5,000 to assist them develop a strategic plan.
Fire Affected Community Scholarship. Community Leadership Loddon Murray Inc. run an annual Leadership Program which aims to develop and build on participant skills and knowledge, ability and understanding, assisting them to become more effective community leaders. CLLM applied to STEPS for funding to allow an active community member in a bushfire affected area to participate in the 2012 program. Community Leadership Loddon Murray - $7,000
Leadership programs increase social and human capacity to build resilient and vibrant regional communities that are more able to adaptable to change. Unfortunately, financial disadvantage is a considerable barrier to participating in leadership training. FRRR and DPCD recognise the importance of encouraging new and emerging leaders to develop skills and experience in community leadership and the need to create a bigger and more diverse pool of active and capable leaders for the future. Community groups in bushfire affected regions are encouraged to nominate emerging leaders and apply to STEPS for funding to support participation in established Leadership Courses across the state.
Developing Skills in Community Leadership. The Mitchell Shire does not currently have a Leadership program available. Mitchell Shire is struggling in the area of Community Development and is in need of skilled leaders to engage with community groups and assist them to work together. A member of the Mitchell Community Resources and Advocacy Group (MCRAG) was nominated and successful in their application for a supported place in the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program (LMCLP). STEPS funding will assist the participant to attend the course. Mitchell Community Resources and Advocacy Group (MCRAG) - $2,285