Chairman's Report

Across the nation the year brought many challenges. Protracted drought in Queensland and north western New South Wales, the high Australian dollar, the collapse of coal and iron ore prices and a fragile international economy have had wide economic and social consequences. In many small communities these have been catastrophic.

Our Tackling Tough Times Together program (TTTT) has been one response. Initiated with the generous assistance of the families of Tim Fairfax AC and Gina Fairfax, Baillieu Myer AC and Sarah Myer and other valued donors, TTTT provides targeted grants to assist the most severely drought affected communities in Queensland and north western New South Wales.

Extending our reach

In all our programs FRRR seeks to supplement community initiatives and fill gaps in government programs. To do this, the ongoing support of FRRR donors and partners is critical.  

To each of our eighty plus donors and many partners, including the Australian and some State Governments, the Board and I extend special thanks. Your support has ensured FRRR’s ability to respond positively to the record grant applicants of which nearly 50% applied for the first time. Across all programs you enabled FRRR to be the conduit for more than $6.3 million to community groups this financial year – thank you.

As we approach the 15th anniversary of our founding, the Board conducted a strategic review to ensure optimal use of FRRR resources. Our primary focus will remain on grant-making but it is important we assist rural and regional communities to better help themselves in every possible way.

The rigorous although not onerous reporting process of our programs demonstrates we are adding value. It also affirms the wonderful job of our talented and extraordinarily industrious CEO, Alexandra Gartmann and her small, committed, professional team in the support, advice and encouragement given to the many local community leaders who deliver FRRR projects.

Significant contributions strengthen our programs

With great pleasure I acknowledge the significant contribution of my fellow directors who generously volunteer their time to oversee the organisation and sit on the various grant assessment panels. Their dedication, enthusiasm and commitment are central to FRRR's effectiveness and their input is greatly appreciated.

This year we welcomed two new directors, both of whom represent our Founding Members: Patrick Myer, for the Sidney Myer Fund and Myer Family and Mike Mrdak for the Australian Government. Special thanks to Ms Lindy Shelmerdine and Ms Glenys Beauchamp, their predecessors, both of whom stepped down through the year after assisting FRRR so much during their terms.

Our special thanks to Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, who stepped down as our Patron-in-Chief during 2013/14 and whose interest in FRRR activities was appreciated. We are honoured that her successor, His Excellency General The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) has agreed to be our new Patron-in-Chief and look forward to working with him.  

FRRR is extraordinarily fortunate to enjoy the patronage of Baillieu Myer AC, Lady Southey AC and the Hon John Anderson AO to whom we are greatly indebted. We are proud of their ongoing support.

I commend this report and hope you too enjoy reading about FRRR's activities over the past twelve months.

Rt Hon Ian Sinclair AC