News

Drought grants to help towns

By Country News

Three northern Victorian and southern NSW towns have received a combined $214000 in grants to help improve their drought-affected communities and stimulate growth.

More than $1.2million in grants have been shared between 43 drought-affected communities across Australia, following the latest distribution of the expanded national Tackling Tough Times Together program.

The grants, which are distributed by Foundations for Rural and Regional Renewal, are funded through the collaboration of more than 15 donors from government, philanthropy, business and individuals, including the Federal Government, which committed $15million to be distributed over three years.

The successful community organisations — ranging from hall associations and local show societies, to progress committees and environmental groups — will receive grants for projects that local leaders had identified as being important to help people come together and survive the drought.

The Western Murray Land Improvement Group received a grant of $150000 over three years to improve the Barham Multidisciplinary Centre to develop it as a hub for innovation, collaboration and business development opportunities.

The group hopes to to attract outside business and research and development organisations for the purpose of developing and demonstrating innovation, and encourage transformative, adaptive communities.

The Murrabit community successfully secured a $20000 grant to build the capacity of the Murrabit Recreation Reserve Committee by improving the food preparation area at the Murrabit Market.

And the North Central Garden Club received $44000 for its ‘Beautify Charlton’ initiative, which will seek to improve the town’s streetscape and encourage economic activity through removal of 80 drought and flood-affected damaged trees.

FRRR chief executive officer Natalie Egleton said the expanded program received more than 200 inquiries, confirming the need for support across the whole country, but especially in smaller communities.

‘‘This is the first call for applications from across the country and we received inquiries from four states, confirming the reach of this drought,’’ Ms Egleton said.

‘‘Not surprisingly, most were from NSW and Queensland.

‘‘Nearly two-thirds of the applications came from communities of fewer than 5000 people, with 33 of them from places of fewer than 500 people, so it’s great to be able to support community groups in small towns where the opportunity for fundraising locally is limited.

‘‘Most requests were to support projects that reduce social isolation, build resilience and enhance community health and wellbeing, with the second most popular purpose being to enhance volunteer and organisational capacity.’’

A number of the project applications spoke about the importance of supporting economic activity in their region.

More information on the grant program is available on FRRR’s website at: www.frrr.org.au