HELPING HAND: Community groups can receive funding to give farmers the support they need during these tough times.
HELPING HAND: Community groups can receive funding to give farmers the support they need during these tough times. Marian Faa

Drought funding to get through the tough times

PEOPLE in drought-affected communities across the country will have access to a grant program over the next three years, from today.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal has expanded its Tackling Tough Times Together grant program to provide support to those who need it most, on October 25.

More than $17 million has been committed to the program through donations and grants from government, philanthropy, business and individuals, including $15 million in Australian Government funding.

Community groups in drought-affected areas can apply for grants of up to $150,000 to support locally-led responses to the drought, which has been recognised as the fourth major drought since the turn of the 20th century.

FRRR's CEO Natalie Egleton said the program was structured to be as flexible as possible to meet the diverse needs of communities.

"From our work supporting rural communities over the last 18 years, we know that when farmers are doing it tough, the whole community struggles,” she said.

"With reduced cash-flow, money dries up for the things that keep the community connected, just when they need it most.”

The program will provide support across a spectrum of needs and opportunities, from the small things that will help people to support each other, to more regionally focussed projects, to build social and economic strength.

"It's deliberately flexible, so funds will be available to help communities do the things they identify as important to support one another during the drought and to lay the foundations for future recovery,” Ms Egleton said.

The things funded will vary depending on the community's need, from upgrading facilities or events which bind communities such as rodeos or shows.

Skill development sessions to generate alternative income, funding excursions or new books for school children are also options for funding.

"In short, whatever local leaders and the community decide they need,” she said.

The grants can support projects which focus on reducing social isolation, engaging the community in leadership development and skills training, supporting opportunities for social and educational participation, reducing volunteer fatigue and building the capacity and capability of local not-for-profit organisations.

To apply for the grant program visit www.frrr.org.au/grants/TTTT.

Round 11 applications will be accepted until November 27.