Only communities can create the future they want for their place.
In the place-based program, we support locals who are taking action to ensure their community thrives.
‘Place-based funders have an intimate tie to a particular place that you can find on a map, and are focusing their work in that place with the people who live there and the organisations highly invested in that place. A place-based funder uses a wide-angle, multi-faceted lens in work that is about community resilience and vitality. They may work on one thing at a time, but do so with respect for local history and culture, a commitment to identifying and mobilising local assets, and an interest in building local capacity to weather the next storm.‘ – Grassroots Grantmakers
Doing place-based work, we have become more conscious of place in all our grant making. To combat entrenched locational disadvantage in Australia we see the need for more long term and flexible place-based work that supports:
- Collaborative community efforts that cut through sectors and silos
- Practical strategies that are relevant to the place and the problem
- Coordinated work that seeks to address the multiple causes of social problems
- Real and relevant opportunities for local education and work
- Capacity-building to sustain communities’ long-term ability to improve outcomes
- Reform for greater local decision-making in how resources are distributed and used locally
A snapshot of Growing Lachlan
In 2010, VFFF decided to establish a place-based program. The aim was to support specific communities over a sustained period of time – to meet their goals and address issues important to them. We sought to enhance our impact by investing in a range of activities in defined geographies, as a complement to our thematic grant making.
Condobolin in the Lachlan Shire and Taree on the Mid North Coast were identified as places with high need and proactive leadership. We took a broad approach in Condobolin and a more targeted one in Taree by supporting a particular project. We were subsequently approached by Sydney Community Foundation for seed funding to develop a place-based program in Warwick Farm in South West Sydney. We worked in different ways in each place, based on the circumstances.
Lachlan Shire in Central West NSW has been the focus of this program since 2013. The Taree project, establishment of First Steps Count, an integrated child and family centre, remains a terrific concept despite persistent advocacy by the group and a $1m pledge from VFFF toward the $3m build. The Warwick Farm program goes from strength to strength.
Since commencing, $2.3m has been committed to the place-based program.
10 years in Lachlan Shire
In Lachlan, VFFF has worked with multiple groups (across community, government, business) on various activities, taking on a mix of funding, convening and supporting roles. Working hands on in Lachlan Shire, has increased our understanding of regional communities and informs our overall grant making – most of which is in regional NSW. Most of the initial grants made in Lachlan have, or are close to concluding in 2016. These were predominantly investments in the core operations and people power in important local organisations.
A research and community consultation project – Growing Lachlan – is almost complete. It has identified Lachlan Shire’s strengths and challenges through data collation and community discussion, enabling residents, policy makers and local organisations to set some priorities towards building a more successful and prosperous community. Growing Lachlan will also provide an evidence-base and springboard for the next stage of VFFF’s work in Lachlan, and in 2016, VFFF will work with locals to determine its most useful role for years four to seven of the program.
Organisations and activities supported include: First Steps Count, Penrith Performing and Visual Arts, Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, Western Plains Regional Development, Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation, Many Rivers Microfinance, Sydney Community Foundation, Beacon Foundation, Condobolin High School, Lachlan Region Community Grants Program, Central West Family Support Group.