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$1.3M in grant funding boosts drought-affected communities

2 min read

As Australia’s on-going drought conditions continue to take a toll, it has never been more important for communities to come together to maintain morale. To help, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) is distributing over $1.3 million to 47 community groups in drought-affected regionals across Australia, through its Tackling Tough Times Together grant program.

The funds will be shared throughout communities in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, with over half of the projects geared towards reducing volunteer fatigue and building organisational capacity for the groups that are such a valuable asset during tough times.

Tackling Tough Times together is funded with the collaborative support of more than 15 donors from government, philanthropy, business and individuals, including the Australian Government which committed $15M to be distributed over three years. 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, Henroth Group, Stockland CARE Foundation, Santos, Ronald Geoffrey Arnott Foundation, NRMA, Rex Airlines and private donors from across the nation.

FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton explained that despite some reasonable rain in some areas, the drought is far from over, and there is significant need right across Australia.

FRRR received more than 100 applications requesting over $4M for funding in this round of the Tackling Tough Times Together program. Most came from small, isolated rural communities that are really suffering as a result of the extended drought.

“When people don’t have the money to spend in small towns, or just a few families move away, businesses become really vulnerable and communities struggle to survive as there are less people available to pitch in and help,” Egleton said.

Schools are usually at the heart of small communities, Egleton added saying that when times are tough, schools often feel the brunt of it. Educational opportunities for children and young people are a key focus this round, with lots of wonderful initiatives to let kids be kids during what can be a really distressing time.

Another area where communities are seeking support is strengthening the capacity of local community groups. Volunteer fatigue is at an all-time high, and community groups are struggling to raise funds for day to day operational issues, like electricity bills and insurance, let alone the likes of governance training or bringing in external expertise.

“I was lucky enough to visit a recent Tackling Tough Times Together recipient, Theodore Community Link, who received a $12,000 grant to run a two-day workshop with its committee members, Chamber of Commerce and local Council,” Egleton said.

The session is designed to help develop the group’s leadership potential, and clarify their strategic direction, as well as explore structural options for group following a significant bequest.

“The external perspectives were an important part of laying the foundations for a community with a strong, clear vision. It was great to be able to support these local leaders who are working hard to create a thriving community able to withstand all sorts of challenges into the future.” she said.

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Pearl Dy is a community manager and journalist. She is passionate about business and development particularly involving not-for-profits, charity and social entrepreneurship.


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