This is the most funding awarded in any one round in the 25 years of FRRR’s small grants programs, and demand for support continues to rise.
“One of the best parts of my job is seeing the way people in remote, rural and regional areas come together to support one another,” said FRRR Place Portfolio Lead Jill Karena.
Thanks to donations from many generous supporters, 213 grassroots not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) across rural Australia will receive grants ranging from $465 to $50,000.
The projects will address diverse needs, including ongoing COVID and disaster recovery, strengthening community resilience and preparedness, and addressing small, yet vital, needs of remote, rural and regional communities.
Karena highlighted that the wonderful volunteers in local groups continue to find meaningful ways to support their communities.
“We see it time and again in the projects that are put forward, usually led by volunteers, all of whom want to make things better for their community. So I want to acknowledge all those people and thank them for all they do.”
Karena emphasised the diverse impacts of successive shocks COVID and various disaster events have on remote, rural and regional communities. Talking more about the mental health implications of this sustained stress are clear but so too is the commitment to improving things, especially by combatting social isolation.
“In the southern Arnhem Land community of Ngukurr, in the Northern Territory, Wanta Aboriginal Corporation’s Ngukurr Bagai Barista Social Enterprise Cafe project is an inspiring example of the community working to reduce social isolation and foster resilience. The Corporation will use a $47,075 grant to create a community gathering space by fitting out a café to be used as a vocational teaching site,” added Karena.
Karena highlighted an increase in creative recovery projects, as communities shift from responding to the immediate impacts of the pandemic or other disasters and begin to look at the longer-term recovery and resilience needs of their region.
“Mapleton State School in Queensland will use a $6,588 grant will support a therapeutic drumming program.”
“The program is a creative way for the learning community to improve social connectedness, reduce levels of anxiety and enhance the process of recovery for young people from the pandemic. Similarly, the people of Gingin, Western Australia, will use their $10,000 grant to include wellbeing activities in the Flavours of Gingin Festival to help the community connect and build resilience.”
The reality is, that FRRR would have liked to support far more projects, as there were many great initiatives seeking funding, with the impacts of inflation adding pressure to already small budgets and the capacity of locals to contribute to projects. However, FRRR simply didn’t have the funds to do so.
“Our research has confirmed these kinds of arts projects have a unique ability to build long-lasting community resilience and wellbeing, and local capacity for disaster preparedness, response and recovery,” added Karena.
Karena enthused that projects like those that this program supports are often catalytic, so FRRR is actively seeking additional partnerships to enable more of these initiatives to get the support they need.
“Since 2000, FRRR has delivered more than $155 million to nearly 13,000 projects, most of which are funded by small grants through programs like Strengthening Rural Communities. And we see the amazing impact that these small grants can have on a rural community.”
“Remote, rural and regional areas make up nearly a third of Australia’s population and generate approximately two-thirds of its net exports, so ensuring the vitality of these communities is not only critical to the wellbeing of those who live in these places, but it’s also vital for a sustainable Australian economy,”
“Flexible programs like SRC mean that communities can access funding to develop and lead projects that meet locally identified needs and priorities – which are often about bridging gaps in services that many in the cities take for granted, like public transport or being able to access health services, without travelling hundreds of kilometres.”
FRRR always accepts applications to this program, which awards funds roughly four times a year. Local NFPs and community groups are encouraged to review the program guidelines and apply. More information about the SRC program is available at www.frrr.org.au/src.
To support grants like this through FRRR, make a tax-deductible donation at frrr.org.au/giving/.
Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.