New partnership to support community groups in the Shoalhaven

Bendigo, 30 April 2020: The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and The Snow Foundation have announced a $2.5 million, multi-year partnership that will help boost the confidence, ability and skills of not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) in Batemans Bay, Nowra and Ulladulla.

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This partnership has been formed to support a placed-based program - Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF). This program was first launched in 2018, with FRRR and the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation partnering with local organisations in Leeton, Junee and Nambucca Valley across a five-year period.

Now, with the support of The Snow Foundation, FRRR can build on the momentum of this important program to support organisations across the Shoalhaven region to keep going, and ultimately, thrive.

The IRCF Shoalhaven program will see FRRR work with local NFPs over a five-year period to determine how they can best help themselves, so they can effectively focus on what they set out to do to help their community.

To kick-start the program, each community will receive up to $175,000 in Start-Up Grants for NFPs in Batemans Bay, Nowra and Ulladulla. FRRR will work with local groups to determine how this funding can be best utilised so it makes the greatest impact now, and into the medium to long-term. These Start-Up Grants are flexible and designed to support organisations in their capacity to deliver services. This support could include costs like investing in community leadership, skills and training, strengthening communications and networks, human resources, mentoring or even wages for operational planning.

FRRR’s CEO, Natalie Egleton, says the team at The Snow Foundation share FRRR's belief that local leaders are best placed to know what is going to make the biggest difference in their community.

“The drought, bushfires and now COVID-19 have highlighted the important role that not-for-profit groups play across the Shoalhaven region. They are embedded in the community, so they know what is needed. However, many groups are struggling to know how to sustain themselves so they can continue this important work. Through the IRCF program, we will work with local leaders so they can more effectively focus on what they set out to do and help meet both the current and emerging needs of their communities.

“The answers will come from within the community. FRRR's role will be to act as facilitators and supporters, to enhance the ability of local leaders to deliver the change they wish to see. The ultimate aim of the IRCF program is to break the cycle of a reliance on short-term funding and invest in the long-term viability of core not-for-profit groups.”

The Snow Foundation’s Founder and Chair, Terry Snow AM, says that he expects NFPs in the Shoalhaven region to respond enthusiastically to the IRCF program.

“The great thing about this program is that it's far more than just being about giving out grants. They are important, of course, but the heart of this program is about bringing community groups together, sharing insights, pooling resources and finding ways to work together, to become stronger and much more effective, and ultimately to help create a stronger community. This is critical, as we have so much to do to rebuild following the devastating bushfires and now the challenges of COVID-19."

FRRR’s IRCF Program Manager, Alli Mudford, says that it's fantastic to be able to bring this program to the Shoalhaven area, which is focused on securing the long-term future of community groups.

“This program will see us work with these communities over a sustained period of time, so the not-for-profit groups become stronger, more resilient and are able to fulfill their missions with greater impact.

"We know from our experience with our partner communities in NSW that communities have ideas – they just need the time, space and resources to come together and share ideas and collectively build solutions to problems.

"FRRR recognises the importance of having a local coordinator on the ground to implement the program. We are currently working to employ someone locally who can bring their deep local knowledge and existing contacts to this project. This project coordinator’s role will be to provide community level support to enhance the delivery of the supported projects, to add value to other locally driven initiatives, and to strengthen cross-sector and cross-community collaboration."

The first step of the IRCF program is to bring local leaders together. This would normally be done face to face, but given the current situation, it will be online, with separate online meetings for each community, from 4 to 6 May. Details of these workshops are:

Participants can register for a session by visiting FRRR's website: https://www.frrr.org.au/cb_pages/IRCF_Shoalhaven.php

Once the initial workshops have happened, local organisations will be able to apply for the Start-Up Grants. Individual, locally governed NFPs are eligible to apply, although collaborative applications are encouraged, as FRRR has found that organisations often have similar needs. More details are available on FRRR's website. Applications for Start-Up Grants will close Friday, 29 May 2020.

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