FRRR has been connecting rural Australia and philanthropy since 2000.
Our formation arose out of concern about economic and social decline in many rural areas and a proposal at the National Regional Summit in 1999, which followed on from discussions between Baillieu Myer AC and then Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson AO.
At that time, the Sidney Myer Fund was seeking a way to acknowledge the centenary of the arrival of their name-sake in Australia in a manner that would benefit country people, while the Government saw the Summit as a means to find ways that rural and regional Australia might address the decline, especially in the wake of one of the worst droughts in living memory.
One of the ideas that emerged was that philanthropy could play a strategic role in enhancing the assets - natural and human - in regional Australia's economic and community development.
“As one of the driving forces behind the creation of FRRR I am more than happy with the progress of the organisation over its first 15 years… Every dollar contributed by Government, by Philanthropy, by Partners, and by individuals has made a real contribution to rural, regional and remote Australia. I wish FRRR well in the years ahead.”
Baillieu Myer AC
And so FRRR was incorporated and awarded charitable status in 1999, with the Sidney Myer Fund and Federal Government as members. Both of these entities nominate one Director to the Board. The Sidney Myer Fund gifted $1 million and, during the Summit, the Prime Minister, John Howard OM AC, pledged a $10.7 million grant to be awarded in 2000, with a further $3.8 million to be offered as an incentive to raise further capital. In addition, ANZ Trustees and The Pratt Foundation each donated $1 million.
Early in its inaugural year, FRRR ran its first grant round, receiving more than 260 applications from across Australia. Among the projects funded in the first round were a number of feasibility studies for community foundations - a relatively new concept. Since then, focused support from FRRR and Philanthropy Australia has helped drive the movement forward.
L-R: The underwater observatory at the Busselton Wharf, one of the first grants ever funded by FRRR;
Cyclone Larry in northern Queensland was one of the first natural disasters to which FRRR responded;
Bringing the community together - one of FRRR's specialities - at a 'Drought Not Out' event at Culgoa.
The Foundation eventually set up its headquarters, appropriately, in the hometown of Sidney Myer's first store - the regional Victorian city of Bendigo. It continues to operate from there and to follow the principles and ideals first set down at the Regional Australia Summit.
FRRR remains Australia’s only national philanthropic Foundation dedicated to rural and regional Australia.
FRRR is responsive to emerging and evolving community needs and the programs we offer reflect this. Sometimes programs run their course and are closed or put into hiatus - another need emerges, a donor partner moves on to funding something else or the issue or challenge the program was addressing is resolved.