Out and About - March 2024

The VFFF team loves getting out and about to see our granting partners in action and attend sector events. This quarter, we spent time visiting our partners and attending events focused on supporting young people and regional communities.

Heywire Youth Summit

In February, Claire Mannion (Foundation Manager) and Natalie Buckett (Program Manager) attended the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal’s (FRRR) Heywire Youth Summit at Parliament House in Canberra. This event brings together young people from rural, regional and remote communities to develop solutions to challenges they face, such as public transport accessibility, mental health and consent education. Following the summit, FRRR provides funding through the Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program to enable community organisations to implement the young people’s ideas. This is a way to move beyond talk into action.

The summit also showcases ABC Trailblazers – young people leading change in their communities. VFFF was pleased to see two Backing the Future recipients highlighted as part of this program – Josie Clarke (Cohort One NSW) as a 2024 Trailblazer, and Jameson Harvey (Cohort Two QLD) as a 2023 Alumnus. This was great validation of the work of these two young people are doing in rural and regional communities.

Josie Clarke (VFFF Backing the Future recipient, Cohort One), Jameson Harvey (VFFF Backing the Future receipient Cohort Two) and Natalie Buckett (VFFF Program Manager) at the Heywire Youth Summit.
Heywire Youth Summit. L-R: Natalie Buckett (VFFF Program Manager), Jameson Harvey (VFFF Backing the Future recipient, Cohort Two), Josie Clarke (VFFF Backing the Future recipient, Cohort One)
Ulladulla High School students sharing the Ulladulla youth roadmap that they developed
Ulladulla High School students sharing the Ulladulla youth roadmap that they developed

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) - Investing in Rural Community Futures 

Jenny Wheatley (CEO) and Claire Mannion (Foundation Manager) had the opportunity to spend a couple of days on the beautiful South Coast of NSW with longstanding partner, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), and peer funder, The Snow Foundation. Together, these partners have a common understanding that small, grassroots not-for-profits in rural communities play a fundamental role in building and sustaining the social and economic fabric of their communities, however, are almost always under resourced and volunteer run. The Investing in Rural Community Futures program was designed to address this capacity building gap by investing in the long term sustainability of the not-for-profit sector across eight rural communities in NSW (involving 95 organisations). VFFF was pleased to see first-hand in Nowra and Ulladulla, the impact this work is having, responding to the genuine needs of each community and building their capacity to thrive. Significant outcomes include First Nations collaborations, financial sustainability, youth engagement, cultural, health and employment impacts and the establishment of local backbone organisations to drive collaborations into the future. The overwhelming observation of the trip was that the strength of these communities lies in the people, and that it is critical for young people to be empowered to play a role in the sustainability of the community sector.

Bringing VFFF Perspectives to Canberra

In March 2024, VFFF Strategic Partner, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL), and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) brought together 25 senior employment and skills and training senior officials and experts for a face-to-face roundtable in Canberra.

The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss effective interventions for youth and shape a response to the youth-focused recommendations in the Rebuilding Employment Services report. BSL shared their experience developing evidence-based practice models for young people, including the VFFF funded National Youth Employment Body (NYEB).

VFFF was motivated to bring the voice of philanthropy to the table and represent the perspective of young people, particularly from rural and regional communities. Jenny Wheatley (CEO) shared observations and learnings from partnerships within our Decent Work portfolio focusing on young people’s experience as they enter the workforce and the challenges faced through compulsory unpaid placements as part of their university degrees.

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on VFFF’s activities