More local funding to prepare rural regions for drought

FRRR has announced the final projects awarded grants through the Community Impact Program, which is part of the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative, funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund. The grants are designed to enhance drought preparedness through strengthening, enabling and building social capital.

In this final tranche of Community Impact Program funding, delivered in partnership with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF), grants of nearly $1 million have been awarded to support 15 organisations in delivering 19 projects across the Central West region of NSW, the Eyre Peninsula region of SA and the Loddon Campaspe region of VIC. 

FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, Nina O’Brien, says that there are a range of projects being funded in each area, which reflect local priorities.

“All these projects have come about thanks to a robust, locally-led co-design process. In Central NSW, for example, we saw more than 20 organisations, including First Nations groups, actively engage in helping to prioritise what would make a difference in their region.

“The Central West of NSW has been impacted by flooding, as well as bushfires on top of the Black Summer bushfires. These events, combined with prolonged drought conditions have left the community fatigued and in continuous recovery.

“This funding, which will be coordinated by Regional Development Australia – Orana, will support projects including strengthening local leadership and networks through a series of events; a seminar for rural women, which will create a safe space for sharing and creating connections; and educational activities. Other projects in this region will include a pilot program to increase access to better mental health support; a series of networking and social support activities targeting young women; and workshops providing culturally sensitive information in different languages targeting the diverse multicultural community living in the region.

“It’s a similar story in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, where the program activity will be coordinated by Agricultural Innovation and Research Eyre Peninsula. The co-design process saw 37 participants from the not-for-profit sector, government, small business and general community invited to have input. Four projects have been supported, again with a series of events and activities focusing on different groups, including rural women, young farmers (through peer-to-peer learning) and the broader community, with a focus on building understanding of drought and drought preparedness at a farm, environment and whole of community level.

“In the Loddon / Campaspe region, in Victoria, there is a history of drought, although in late 2022, the region experienced significant flood damage. Several communities remain displaced with the recovery and rebuilding process hampered by a variety of factors, including volunteer fatigue. Despite this, there was strong engagement in the co-design process, including the local traditional owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. 

Coordinated by LEAD Loddon Murray Inc, there are four projects that will be supported in this region, including redevelopment of the Bridgewater Community Hub to build a community garden and sensory garden, backed up by eight community workshops to share knowledge. There will also be an education program – ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather’ – involving local community mapping of the network and focused capacity building support. 

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans will lead a project that will employ a local coordinator who will work with Council, Landcare, community organisations and private landholders to heal Country, building understanding of traditional land management practices and ways to restore the land. The final project will focus on building and strengthening networks and building capacity of individual leaders in climate resilience,” Ms O’Brien explained.

In addition to the projects that are being supported, each region will also engage in a leadership development activity. ARLF Chief Executive, Matt Linnegar, says these activities include either a community leadership program, leadership action initiative, group coaching or change-maker workshops.

“The activities will be tailored to each area and we’re already working with the local community partner lead organisation to work out the best timing for the various activities. Leadership development is a critical part of building the social capital required to strengthen drought resilience. It helps to create and build local networks, as well as develop the skills and knowledge to take action and address challenges and make the most of opportunities.”

Participants also gain access to the wider alumni network of the ARLF. “It’s these connections that prove invaluable to people. When they’re stuck, there’s someone to ask for advice,” Mr Linnegar said.

FRRR is currently inviting applications for small grants to support activity in parts of the country where no Community Impact Program grant awarded.

Other elements of the Future Drought Fund’s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative are also underway, including a Mentoring program and an online network connecting community members involved in projects in each of the regions, both led by ARLF. FRRR has also launched a portal providing access to experts to support delivery of their projects, if local expertise isn’t available.

Community Impact Program grantees have commenced delivering project activity, increasing connection across regions and supporting locally identified and driven drought preparedness activities. Some activities delivered so far are young farmer network events, women’s events and local field day type activities in several regions, with strong local participation and attendance. From FRRR’s perspective, it is exciting to see the momentum being created by passionate locals keen to see their regions remain connected, and vibrant as dry times increase across many communities nationally.

Grant recipients list

New South Wales: Region 03 Central West
Regional Development Australia - OranaCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 03 Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Central West region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration. Central West NSW Region$49,608
Hovells Creek Landcare Group IncorporatedBuilding community networks, community support and resilience to drought through social and learning activities. Increase awareness of and change attitudes to drought preparedness through the delivery of two community workshops focused on holistic property management during drought.Cowra, Weddin, Hilltops, Cowra, Hovells Creek, Wyangala$14,700
Oriscon Incorporated Creating Connections Project Stimulate a change in awareness of and change attitudes towards drought preparedness at the community level through the development of a multilingual knowledge and information sharing website, two community workshops and a networking event supporting migrant community members in connecting, accessing, and understanding localized climate adaptation and drought preparedness activities and information across Central Western NSW.Dubbo, Warren, Gilgandra, Wellington, Nyngan, Narromine, Wellington, Stuart Town$10,000
Voices of Women IncorporatedEMBRACE: Voices of Women Dubbo Build a shared experience that can be drawn upon for support during drought through local networks and social support for young women 18 – 35 through the delivery of an intensive creative workshop focused on building relationships and confidence of young women.Dubbo$9,550
Watershed Landcare Group IncorporatedHolistically Strengthening the Capabilities and Resilience of our rural Community Enable the community to build their local leadership, networks, and social support mechanisms at a community level through the delivery of three connection and networking events and Holistic Management training focused on a comprehensive drought and disaster resilience approach to agricultural practices and decision-making. Mudgee, Gulgong, Rylstone, and Kandos$40,700
Tradies IN SightNSW Real Reconnections Tour Build local networks and social support mechanisms required to better prepare for drought through the provision of eight informal mental health events focused on connecting regional men.Dubbo, Narromine, Gilgandra, Coonabarabran, Warren, Nyngan, Cobar, Tattenham, Parkes, Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett$18,417
Watershed Landcare Group IncorporatedEmpowering Watershed Women Stimulate a change in awareness of and attitudes towards drought preparedness through the delivery of a seminar for rural women focused on providing a safe space for communication, support, mentoring, professional development, and empowerment.Mudgee, Cudgegong $10,000
Coonamble Chamber of Commerce IncorporatedWellbeing Changemaker Assistance Program
Support members of the Coonamble Chamber of Commerce (80+ members) and their families to face drought and other stresses through the provision of access to mental health support services as community workshops and the provision of space locally for mental health support services in Coonamble.
Coonamble Shire$85,465
Western Rural Connect Inc.Western Rural Connect Networking and development Events
Build local leadership, networks, and social support to build drought and other disaster resilience through the delivery of three Women in Agriculture events over two years.
South Australia: Region 23 Eyre Peninsula
Agricultural Innovation & Research Eyre Peninsula IncorporatedCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 23 Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Eyre Peninsula region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.Eyre Peninsula SA Region$30,760
WoTL Ltd Better Connected Communities Engage 12-15 young women in remote and highly drought sensitive communities to participate in a series of workshops covering a range of topics with overt social drought preparedness themes and outcomes.Cleve, Franklin Harbour$77,456
District Council Of Cleve Future Farmers Support a change in awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness at the community level through the delivery of learning workshops for two target audiences 1. high school students 2. families, industry, and broader community. Cleve$47,000
WoTL LtdRegenerate Rural Women Learn and share innovative ways to build drought resilience by engaging approximately 15 local women in a comprehensive program covering topics to build personal resilience, refine decision making skills, clarify priorities and goals, and enhance personal, family and community wellbeing in Ceduna and Lower Eyre Peninsula. Lower Eyre Peninsula, Ceduna$68,400
Agricultural Innovation & Research Eyre Peninsula IncorporatedYoung Farmer – Facilitated Peer to Peer Learning Share innovative ways to build drought resilience and build local leadership, networks, and social support In Ceduna and Cleve locations AIR EP will offer four field events for young farmers focussing on young people aged 18-35 years. Ceduna and Cleve $60,000
Victoria: Region 28 Loddon Campaspe
Lead Loddon Murray IncCommunity Partner Lead Organisation (CPLO): Region 28 Strengthen drought preparedness and drive local action in the Loddon Campaspe region through the coordination of Community Impact Program activities and evaluation administration.Loddon Campaspe Vic Region$80,000
Lead Loddon Murray Inc2024 Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program - Climate Resilience Enable an increase in the reach and activities of community leaders, mentors, networks, and organisations driving action on drought resilience through the delivery of LMCLP Climate resilience program.Loddon Campaspe Vic Region$80,000
 Kooyoora Women's Network IncBridgewater Railway Station Redevelopment Build depth of social connection and increases skills, knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought and climate change while offering a place for community connection through the further development of the Bridgewater Community Hub. Bridgewate,r Loddon Shire$75,000
Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal CorporationHealing Country across Djandak Stimulate a change in awareness of and attitudes to drought preparedness while increasing engagement with and participation of First Nations community members through the delivery of the Djaara Forest Gardening Engagement Coordinator pilot program, “Healing Country on Djandak.”Campaspe, Loddon, Central Goldfield, Bendigo$100,000
Jumpleads NFP LimitedLet's Talk About the Weather | Drought Resilience Enable communities to identify and adopt innovative ways to build drought preparedness at the community level through the delivery of Let’s Talk About the Weather program across Campaspe, Loddon, and Central Goldfields local government areas.Campaspe, Loddon, Central Goldfields$120,000
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