Communities with strong local leadership have proven to be best placed to be sustainable. It takes investment in people of all ages, as well as investing in the capacity of organisations to equip them to better address community-specific needs and in turn, bring a community together. Several FRRR grant programs have successfully supported these kinds of initiatives.
Fitness connects and saves lives
The Fit For Free program in the Toolangi district was an interim measure to help residents recover from the 2009 bushfires. It is now an integral community fitness and wellbeing program, achieving truly remarkable results – helping to make life worth living again.
Read their story
The Fit For Free program has been offered by the Toolangi District Community House Inc. for the past six years, with the last few years supported by FRRR through the Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W) program, funded by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. Initially intended as an interim measure to help local residents recover from the devastating bushfires of 2009, the program has ended up being an integral community fitness and wellbeing program.
In the July 2014 GR&W round, FRRR agreed to fund an evaluation of the impact of this long-term program. The results were truly remarkable, showing not only improved physical fitness, weight loss and reduced diabetes, but perhaps more importantly, clear evidence of improved mental health and greater community connectedness.
Kerry Starr, Coordinator at the Community House, is passionate about the program’s impact.
“There were a number of participants originally on anti-depressants who no longer are, but one went as far to say that the program was the only thing that made her life worth living. It made her get out of bed.
“We have found that one of the most beneficial parts of the program is the discussion afterwards over some fruit and a drink. This is where people share their stories and support one another.”
The community as a whole also gained from this program, with improved support for local activities and services, as well as a marked increase by participants in volunteering and involvement in community groups. This is a strong indicator of increased connectedness and, therefore, resilience.
Untold stories bring the community together
The Yarrawonga and Border CWA ran a series of writing workshops that encouraged community members who had experienced the impacts of drought, flooding and a tornado to reflect and work through the effects of hard times.
Read their story
In a five-year period, the Yarrawonga district in Victoria was impacted by drought, flooding and a tornado. With a $1,000 grant from the Small Grants for Rural Communities program, donated by The Estate of the Late Edward Wilson, the Yarrawonga and Border CWA ran a series of writing workshops. Their aim was to encourage rural and isolated community members to talk, reflect and write about the important women in their lives, while also working through the effects the hard times have had on their families.
The CWA hosted 240 participants in 30 free sessions and collected 125 stories about local women, recounting their lives from settlement to the present day.
In their final report to FRRR, they wrote that they had no idea how important these sessions were to become for the participants who began turning up at the CWA rooms every Monday morning to write about their story, as well as sit and talk to others.
One of the project coordinators, Noel Hunt explained that so many stories remain untold and are lost when people have passed away.
“But to share what other women have gone through, what other girls have gone through makes us appreciate everything they left to us in our lives.”
Some of the past participants still meet once a month and CWA branch members gained valuable skills in the planning, project management, budgeting, recording and collection of the stories and images.
The Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory Inc. used a $10,000 grant to work with MyNT to run and film an event called #theRACEDarwin to help break down racism and raise awareness of the cultural diversity in Darwin.
Watch their video
The Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory Inc. used a $10,000 FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grant to work with Multicultural Youth NT (MyNT) to plan, hold and film an event based on the popular TV show, The Amazing Race.
It was called #theRACEDarwin, with RACE being short for ‘Racial and Cultural Experience’. This fun activity was a great way to break down racism and raise awareness of the cultural diversity in Darwin.
#theRACEDarwin proved popular and the footage was widely visible across social media platforms popular with the diverse Gen Y target audience.