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Community projects to tackle drought through latest round of grants

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The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) has awarded $1,454,165 in grants for 41 community projects that will help tackle the challenges that drought-affected communities across Australia continue to face through its award-winning grants program, Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT).

The grants will support a wide range of initiatives that are designed to meet the needs of people in each drought-affected place, from Lake Cargelligo in NSW, Atitjere in the NT, Hughenden in QLD, Truro in SA, Murrayville in VIC, to Brookton in WA.

These projects will help to create community cohesion and resilience by creating supportive environments, reducing social isolation and increasing community engagement in remote, rural, and regional communities across drought-affected Australia.

Although parts of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia having received substantial rainfall thi

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s year, these regions, as well as many other parts of the country, continue to be affected by the long-term impacts of persistent rainfall deficits.

Nina O’Brien, Disaster Resilience & Recovery Lead for FRRR, said that while it’s no longer on the front pages, the impact of the ongoing drought continues to be top-of-mind for FRRR.

“Despite recent rain in some places, we know the effects of long-term rainfall deficits don’t just disappear. It takes 18 to 24 months of sustained average rainfalls for communities to finally be able to move beyond the immediate impacts of drought. Most communities have had nowhere near this amount of rain – and many have had none at all, which is why communities still need support. This has been made evident by the record value of funding requests we received for this round of TTTT,” O’Brien said.

The pandemic added extra financial strain to communities already dealing with drought, resulting to additional pressure felt by many local groups and very fatigued volunteers. Community cohesion plays such an important role in drought recovery and COVID-19 restrictions have only exacerbated the social isolation and disengagement that many of these communities have been working hard to tackle.

Through this latest round of grants, O’Brien said FRRR hopes to help communities rebuild some of that social cohesion through projects such as facility repairs and upgrades, community events and festivals, and more.

“Thanks to the support of our donor partners, we can take a little pressure off them and help their great ideas come to fruition,” O’Brien said.

Projects to help reduce stress and fatigue 

Among the 41 recipients of the grant is Aldersyde Agricultural Hall Inc. And the Port Augusta branch of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association in South Australia.  

Aldersyde, which received $110,000 to upgrade their facilities said they planned to use the funds to increase accessibility and reduce volunteer fatigue through upgrades to the Aldersyde Agricultural Hall kitchen, toilet facilities, water storage, veranda, and parking area. 

FRRR’s Deane Cavalier, who manages the TTTT program said the project will help reduce the fatigue of volunteers and ensure sustainability and safe use for the foreseeable future.   

“The drought has had a significant toll on the community and this project shows that they can innovate and respond to opportunities. The use of the Hall from the local community is wide and varied, with the added benefit of it being a stopover for Caravan Clubs several times during the year,” Cavalier said. 

Meanwhile, the Port Augusta branch of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association in South Australia will receive $19,186 to support opportunities for social and educational participation and address disadvantage caused by the drought for children and young people 

The ICPA plans to use the funds by providing beehives for Students of the Air – Port Augusta region.  

“The project has been developed as a collaboration with the School of the Air and local education services and provides an innovative approach to the learning in very isolated geographical locations that are highly impacted by drought,” Cavalier said.  

“This unique educational activity will offer a new and hands-on learning approach to the art of bee keeping, resulting in an increased engagement in learning and improved educational outcomes,” she said. 

 

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