$17M in grants available for drought-affected communities

Bendigo, 25 October 2018:  Responding to Australia’s drought crisis, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) today announced the expansion of its Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) grant program to provide support to drought-affected communities across the country over the next three years.

Tackling Tough Times Together

More than $17 million has been committed to the program through donations and grants from government, philanthropy, business and individuals, including $15 million in Australian Government funding. Generous contributions have also been made by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, ANZ, Paul Ramsay Foundation, Sidney Myer Fund, Pratt Foundation, Australia Post, Westpac Group, The Snow Foundation, Santos, Aussie Farmers Foundation, Ronald Geoffrey Arnott Foundation, Qantas Foundation, NRMA, Rex Airlines and private donors from across the nation.

From today, community groups in drought-affected areas can apply for grants of up to $150,000 to support locally-led responses to the drought.

FRRR’s CEO, Natalie Egleton, says that the program has been structured to be as flexible as possible to meet the diverse needs of communities.

“From our work supporting rural communities over the last 18 years, we know that when farmers are doing it tough, the whole community struggles. With reduced cash-flow, money dries up for the things that keep the community connected – just when they need it most. We also know that every community feels the effects of the drought in different ways.

“Tackling Tough Times Together will provide support across a spectrum of needs and opportunities, from the small things that will help people to support each other, to more systemic or regionally focused projects that will build social and economic strength. It’s deliberately flexible, so funds will be available to help communities do the things they identify as important to support one another during the drought and to lay the foundations for future recovery,” she explained.

“The actual things funded will vary depending on need – from upgrading facilities in local meeting places or events that bind communities, such as rodeos and shows, to skill development sessions to generate alternative income; or funding excursions or new books, so school kids don’t miss out on an education. In short, whatever local leaders and the community decide they need.”

Long-term supporters of the TTTT program Tim and Gina Fairfax said they were pleased to see the grants being extended to more communities in need across Australia.

“We know from personal experience how tough it is to be on the land during a drought. That’s why we worked with FRRR to develop this program. It has certainly made a huge difference over the last four years in communities across Queensland, and we welcome and encourage its expansion to other drought-affected communities. We urge communities to apply for support.”

Grants can support projects that focus on:

  • Reducing social isolation by facilitating strong social cohesion and connection;
  • Supporting and engaging the community in leadership development and skills training;
  • Supporting opportunities for social and educational participation and addressing disadvantage caused by the drought, for children and young people;
  • Reducing volunteer fatigue and building the capacity, capability and sustainability of local not-for-profit organisations to provide support to their communities, particularly where they are playing an increased role during the drought; and
  • Supporting local economic recovery or renewal through projects that stimulate economic activity and cash flow within communities.

The current drought is the fourth major drought since the turn of the 20th century and comes worryingly close to the end of the Millennium Drought (1996–2010), meaning some communities have had minimal opportunity to recover.

Evidence shows that droughts have an impact far beyond poor agricultural conditions. The effects include poor nutrition and mental health, with a 2012 report titled Suicide and drought in New South Wales, Australia, 1970–2007 finding that the relative risk of suicide can increase by up to 15 per cent for rural males aged 30–49 as the severity of drought increases.

The tourism industry is also likely to suffer with a 2010 Tourism Research Australia report revealing that the Murray River region lost an estimated $70 million due to reduced visitor days in 2008.

The latest climate modelling shows that widespread drought relief is not expected until 2019; however, it will take many years for communities to recover and as such the TTTT program will allow not-for-profit community groups and organisations to apply for grants on an ongoing basis for at least three years.

Further details about the program are available at www.frrr.org.au/grants/TTTT.

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