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Rural communities awarded more than $210,000 in grants to stay connected

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FRRR awards $213,343 via Telstra’s Connected Communities Grant Program to 30 local groups and not-for-profits (NFPs) across remote, rural and regional Australia for projects embracing technology to foster the resilience, environmental sustainability and liveability of their communities.

This is the first round of Telstra’s Connected Communities Grant Program, which is the core of its new partnership with FRRR (announced February 2023). The focus of the program is on fostering a resilient community, a more sustainable community or a more liveable community.

“Keeping rural communities connected has never been more important, which was reflected by the strong response we received from communities all over remote, rural and regional Australia,” said Natalie Egleton, FRRR CEO.

“We’re really excited to see this program beginning to come to fruition and to see funding going to rural communities that have been doing it really tough the last few years,” said Loretta Willaton, Regional Australia Executive and Regional Customer Advocate at Telstra.

Awarded grants range from $1,849, which will be used to provide the Victorian community of Strathbogie with access to free Wi-Fi at the local hall, through to $10,000, for projects such as Collinsville Connect Telecentre Group’s cyber security workshop for older members of their Queensland community.

“This round of grants has highlighted the ways in which digital connectivity goes hand-in-hand with social and cultural connectivity,” added Willaton.

This round saw most projects fall into the liveability category with a range of initiatives being funded like the provision of Wi-Fi connectivity, new digital equipment, the training of volunteers and community members to build their digital knowledge be it for cyber security, social media or simply navigating new computing hardware and software that would contribute to better operations of community events and organisations.

“That’s what this program is all about- keeping people connected in the most important sense of the word,” said Willaton.

Egleton highlighted that there was a lot of interest in the program, with the Foundation receiving many applications for high-quality projects.

“With so many impressive initiatives on the table, we are grateful that Telstra increased its commitment this year to more than $213,000. There are so many different ways to keep a community connected, and more importantly, a lot of positive outcomes that can be achieved and we look forward to seeing these ideas come to life,” said Egleton.

Some other examples of the projects being funded are below:

  • RiverSmart Australia Limited – Warren, NSW – Grow cultural and environmental knowledge of the rivers and wetlands around Warren by the creation of an app to provide information and digital upskilling to the community. $10,000
  • Goondir Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders Corporation for Health Services – Dalby QLD – Improve digital capability of First Nations health service with video conferencing equipment to enhance staff and stakeholder communications improving overall service delivery to clients. $10,000
  • Callington A & H Society Inc – Callington, SA – Build organisational capacity with software to improve local show operations, developing digital capability for volunteers, and efficiencies for participants. $3,700
  • Live Well Tasmania – Wynyard, TAS – Build community resilience with preparedness by purchasing equipment to provide power during outages including a generator, solar panels, and rechargeable radios and torches. $5,398
  • Poowong Public Hall Inc – Poowong, VIC – Improve community facilities with digital tv and laptop for the Poowong Hall meeting facilities to enhance functionality and support increased use. $2,312
  • Broome Community Resource Centre Inc – Broome, WA – Support community digital access with upgraded computers ensuring people in and around Broome have access and can be trained in current software use for social and economic needs. $10,000
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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.


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