Project: Recipient: Adam Macrae
Community Partner: Coonamble
Coonamble High School's agriculture teacher, Adam Macrae, is leading the charge to change minds and help shape futures for his agriculture students. In 2014 Adam received a grant to fund a mobile agricultural workshop trailer and equipment to train his students in industry-scale agricultural activities. The mobile agricultural workshop will allow students to gain practical skills in farming and primary industry to prepare them for roles in the workforce.
The School is seeing record numbers of students studying Agriculture and Adam's innovative idea was to work in partnership with the local shire council to develop the 800 hectare Coonamble Common as a student training centre.
A local farmer has also donated a sizable paddock for the students to practice their new-found agricultural skills.
Students, approximately 60% of whom are indigenous, are enjoying opportunities to learn under the guidance of Adam and other local mentors and are acquiring skills such as building fencing and cattle yards, breeding and managing livestock, cropping and beekeeping. This work helps students achieve school qualifications, and in some cases, assists them to gain work placements and future employment.
The funding purchased the trailer and also power tools, fencing tools, a generator and safety equipment. One of the main reasons for Adam's ambition to set his students on a positive path is his awareness of some of the challenges they face. Youth unemployment in Coonamble is nearly 19 per cent, and the shire is ranked fifth in the state for socio-economic disadvantage. The program targets disengaged and low attending students and is designed to capture the interest of these students.
The trailer also allows Adam and his students to travel to local and interstate shows to exhibit their cattle – they store their cattle-showing gear in the trailer and can camp onsite at country shows. Through these trips students are not only learning agricultural skills but also life skills such as learning to cook for each other, maintaining a clean camp and working in a successful team environment.
Project: Recipient: Bryn Francis
Community Partner: Lions Club of Stroud
Location: Stroud, NSW
Bryn's project aimed to assist the community to be happier, healthier and more resilient by helping it to capitalize on opportunities by creating a monthly Stroud Heritage Growers and Artisans Market. This included an upgrade of kitchen facilities in the community hall to commercial standard and also purchase of a commercial coffee machine so local people can be trained as baristas and be employed by local businesses.
Bryn recognised a need to engage and up skill the local youth, as well as build a sense of community. The project aims included:
Bryn, with the support of the Lions Club, worked closely with the local Council to ensure the successful upgrade of the kitchen. Some unforeseen delays to the kitchen upgrade proved advantageous as they allowed extra time to source quality second hand equipment and use of the same builder that was completing the upgrade of the Stroud Community Common Grandstand. This reduced the overall cost and allowed for the purchase of a commercial grade dishwasher and quality kitchen appliances.
The Artisan Markets started with only 24 stalls; and has grown to 41 offering a great morning out for locals and tourists alike. It offers a channel for local producers and artisans to show and sell their work and for the community to connect as a whole.
Project: Recipient: Lisa Dooner
Community Partner: Rock Valley Hall Inc
Location: Rock Valley, Northern NSW
In September 2012 the community-owned Rock Valley Post Office was destroyed by fire.
The Rock Valley Post Office, the smallest in Australia, was the heart of the community of 272 people and the only commercial building in the town. It also doubled as the local tourist information office, where you could purchase local arts, craft and produce. To the community it was much more than just a post office; it was also a central meeting place where the locals could catch up for a laugh or a chat.
As the Post Office was such an instrumental part of the community, Lisa and the Rock Valley Hall Committee started the rebuilding fundraising efforts immediately after the fire and rallied to raise as much funding as possible to rebuild and restore their postal services. This coupled with the insurance money and the RAS Foundation grant, ensured that the rebuilding efforts could commence immediately.
The design plans for the building were donated by a local architect, along with paint, roofing and the plumbing work. Completed in July 2013, the post office, still the original 12x12 foot size on the inside, now has a larger veranda, giving room for people to enjoy a coffee from the store and take in the scenery after they make a post run.
A vital part of the fabric of the Rock Valley community, the post office provides a direct benefit to everyone in the community and is a symbol of their spirit, resilience and determination to band together in the rebuilding efforts.
Project: Recipient: Richard Milligan
Community Partner: Nyngan High School
Location: Nyngan, Far West, NSW
Richard launched a youth project, The Dukes Gear Shed with the objective of engaging young people in school and community activities. As a local high school teacher, he was aware of the challenges facing young people as they made the move from education into working life. Using the Duke of Edinburgh Award program structure, Richard encouraged collaboration between the local high school and community volunteers to provide mentoring for its participants.
Richard and the project team acquired the equipment needed to run the Duke of Edinburgh Award including the purchase of a shipping container and a lockable trailer to store canoes and other outdoor equipment.
In 2012, seven bronze level participants canoed with Richard on the Macquarie River from Dubbo to Narromine. The participants learnt how to canoe, set-up camp and basic survival skills such as navigation, first aid, distress signals and hunting for food. The equipment purchased with the grant has also been used by students completing the VET Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation, run by the charity Barnardos and also by local church groups.
Richard's project has made excellent progress in delivering positive social and personal development outcomes for young people in the Nyngan region including increased youth engagement, improved self-esteem and interpersonal skills.
Local community groups and organisations have been quick to commit their support including TAFE who confirmed that students who completed the full program would have their skills recognised with Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation.
Project: Recipient: Ashley Murphy
Community Partner: CRC Community Church
Location: Narrandera, Riverina, NSW
Narrandera is situated in the Riverina district in Southern NSW on the Murrumbidgee River. Like many rural NSW communities, Narrandera has experienced negative social and economic impacts as a result of its remote location. Ashley's idea was to provide a Community Kitchen that was a safe, fun meeting place for young people to socialise, enjoy a meal, learn about healthy eating and have some exposure to positive role models.
The community has a higher than average number of young, single parent families and parts of the community have been affected by the extremes of flood and drought. Nutrition, in young people particularly, has suffered as a result.
Shortly after being awarded a Community Futures Grant at the 2012 Sydney Royal Easter Show, Ashley's project received a boost from Bunnings Warehouse who donated the demonstration kitchen from the Show. The donated kitchen freed up the RAS Foundation grant to be used to upgrade the hall, including the roof, internal walls, floor and lighting.
Completed in November 2013, the Community Kitchen is already benefitting the Church's youth group activities and the wider community. The project has implemented the following initiatives:
The project received tremendous support from the local community with many donating their time, skills and services to ensure the kitchen was delivered on time and on budget.
Project: Recipient: Tamara Nixon
Community Partner: Oaklands Community Health & Fitness Centre Incorporated
Location: Oaklands, Riverina, NSW
Tamara Nixon believed her community of Oaklands (population 350) could benefit from a fully accessible, low-cost fitness facility for local residents to participate in a range of exercises classes, health education and social activities. The region had suffered from drought for a number of years, followed by widespread floods. As a result, parts of the community were experiencing an increase in mental health issues and financial stress.
The local organising committee secured funding from a number of sources, including the RAS Foundation, to purchase an unused store in the main street to house the fitness centre.
Flexible opening hours has been one of the keys to the Centre's success, as well as offering a range of membership categories to suit different budgets. The Centre offers a range of classes, as well as specialist exercise classes for men, women and the elderly.
Within three months of opening, more than a third of the area's residents had become members and now visit the gym on a regular basis. This contributed to improved mental health and physical wellbeing of residents and an increase in social interaction and engagement of the community. It is hoped this will reduce the impact on the region's health system through championing healthy lifestyle changes.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) students will conduct annual reviews to measure and chart the impact of the Oaklands Community Health and Fitness Centre on the health of the community.
Project: Animals on Bikes Recipient: Rebecca Staines
Community Partner: Cumnock & District Progress Association
Location: Cumnock, Central NSW
Cumnock is a tranquil rural village centrally located between Orange, Dubbo, Parkes and Wellington. The project aimed to create a tourist road route between Dubbo Zoo and Molong, via Cumnock and Yeoval, taking in 120km of paddock art sculptures, called Animals on Bikes. The route is free, open year-round and designed to draw traffic off the main highway onto the secondary road connecting these rural communities.
The primary objective was to grow the economy of the region by increasing the tourist activity in the towns on the art route. The Animals on Bikes project aimed to address many of the common challenges faced by small country towns including a declining population, unemployment, struggling rural businesses and lack of tourist attractions. The RAS Foundation grant allowed local show societies, farmers and schools to create the Animals on Bikes sculptures.
The Animals on Bikes project has had an enormously positive impact on the local region. Road traffic has increased, according to RTA and Council reports, and local businesses are thriving as a greater number of tourists are visiting. The project has also resulted in renewed media interest in the region, and has engaged the local community through their involvement and participation.
Project: The Big Red Bus
Recipient: Emily Burt
Community Partner: Port Macquarie Alive Youth Group
The Big Red Bus visits towns and villages in the Hastings Valley region including Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Gloucester. It operates not only as a youth centre but a place where all community members, young and old, can meet and connect. The bus is staffed by a number of young adults from a range of local community organisations working together as a team to offer services to improve their community. It has also galvanized a large number of volunteers who are passionate about helping others and bringing their community together.
The main objectives of the project were to foster a sense of community, belonging and purpose in the area's young people that would positively affect their lifestyle choices. The project team renovated a 1960s red double-decker bus, fitting it out with sporting equipment, a climbing wall, computer gaming technology and a café. The bus now provides Tuesday evening meals at the beach to over 100 residents each week, as well as a Christmas breakfast. It has provided health checks at local shows such as Gloucester and Wingham, and been there to celebrate numerous community events including Homeless Week and Drug & Alcohol Awareness Week.
The bus has achieved its objective of creating a safe and positive environment for young people to meet friends and youth mentors, and participate in fun activities. It has also delivered programs and activities that enhance life skills and help young people feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to their community.
The Big Red Bus was funded in 2008 and is still going strong.