Youth + Disability + Health & Wellbeing + Environment & Conservation + Aged Services

The Northern Rivers Community Foundation has a proud history of engaging with social change philanthropy across a wide range of issues that impact Northern Rivers communities.

As Australia grapples with gaps in public debate, policy, planning and spending, NRCF looks to seek out new solutions and use our collective resources to help co-create positive social change.

Whatever your passion, we can help you make a real difference.

NRCF’s Small Grants Program is our way of ensuring donor’s funds fuel innovative and sustainable projects and programs that have the greatest impact.

We focus on five areas or themes that are timely, of importance to us locally and reflect the interests and needs of the Northern Rivers community:

  • Youth
  • Disability
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Environment & Conservation
  • Aged Services

Whatever your passion, we can help you make a real difference.


Impact youth

The issuegiving quality education to everyone

  • Australia is yet to overcome the enormous challenge of providing quality education to those outside urban centres. While only 10 per cent of Australians live in rural and remote areas, this population is spread across a vast continent with one of the lowest population densities in the world.
  • There is a link between where Australians live and their educational outcomes at all stages of education, with those living in rural and remote communities doing worse than students in urban areas. (The Mitchell Institute)

The approach

  • The Back to School Program is targeted at rural and remote students who are in need of financial support as they return to the school year. In the Northern Rivers, the Program specifically supports ‘Grandcarers’ — grandparents who are primary carers of school aged children, by offering redeemable vouchers valued at $50 for items such as books, stationary, school bags, shoes and clothing.
  • NRCF is a proud supporter of the Back to School Program in partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR). The first Back to School Program in the Northern Rivers funded by NRCF and FRRR began in 2006. Since then NRCF and FRRR have distributed $335,650 worth of redeemable vouchers to disadvantaged children in the region.

“It not only provided them with the material goods but improved their self-esteem and self-confidence as they were no longer ‘different’ to other students.”
— Welfare Coordinator

What’s Next?

Each year there is a shortfall for this program, a gap between what money we are able to raise with our funding partners, and the number of Grandcarers who are needing financial assistance. In 2017 there were requests for over 720 vouchers from 520 Grandcarers, leaving NRCF with a shortfall of $10,100. Thankfully we were able to fill this gap with last minute support from the state government and local philanthropists. We will be rolling out the Program again in February 2018, working with 187 schools across the region. We look forward to your support.

What you can do

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Impact disability

The issueproviding employment opportunities

  • Over 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability. That’s 1 in 5 people.
  • People aged between 15 and 64 years with disability have both lower participation (53%) and higher unemployment rates (9.4%) than people without disability (83% and 4.9% respectively) (Australian Network on Disability)

The approach

  • The Katia Native Bee Youth Employment Project from the Byron Bay Herb Nursery aims to establish a native bee keeping business that provides employment opportunities for local indigenous youth and youth at disadvantage.
  • NRCF awarded them the major annual grant of $25,000 in 2016 allowing them to focus on manufacturing beehive boxes and farming native bees that can be sold or leased to the community and horticultural industry. The bees will be used for honey production as well as pollination of food crops and nut trees such as macadamias.
  • Participants gain experience and skills in carpentry, native bee keeping and an understanding of the use of native bees in local indigenous cultural practices such as food and medicine production and implement making.
  • The Byron Bay Herb Nursery currently employs 23 people in their herb nursery, including 16 people with a disability. They also employ 4 young adults in their social enterprise area, which focuses on providing employment for youth at disadvantage through innovative projects such as composting.

What’s Next?

  • NRCF also supported Byron Herb Nursery’s ‘getting ready for work’ program, enabling students from high school and TAFE to do work experience and gain skills in horticulture and OHS. Three students who graduated from the program have since gained permanent paid employment.
  • This year our Small Grants Program will be asking for applications from disability service organisations across the Northern Rivers. Donations to NRCF will support enterprising and sustainable projects that empower people living with a disability and their families.

What you can do

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Impact Health & Wellbeing

The issuehelping families in crisis

The Buttery is a not-for-profit, charitable rehab organisation located near Bangalow in Northern NSW, Australia.

The Buttery exists to promote & demonstrate that addiction is not a consequence of choice, rehabilitation is. They are committed to assisting people to find their way out of active addiction by discovery of their own self worth, strengths & place in society.

As a rehab, The Buttery specialises in the treatment of alcohol and drug misuse, and problem gambling. There is a long waiting list for a place in the program. Whilst residents contribute 80% of their Centrelink payments each week, the Buttery rely very heavily on fundraising and donations to deliver their life-changing mission. And it’s not only the people being supported with misuse issues that are the only ones affected.

The approach

The INTRA community outreach program supports family members of people undertaking their long-term residential rehabilitation program. Parents and family members whose loved ones are affected by drug and alcohol addiction can feel ashamed, judged and isolated. The effect of this and constant crises can cause extreme ill health for the family.

INTRA is a free counselling service provided for families, which is supported by the Northern Rivers Community Foundation.
A typical comment that the Buttery counsellors have received from people who have benefited from the counselling service program:

“I just want some reassurance that I’m doing OK and that I’m not a bad parent.”

A qualified counsellor is available for family members through either face-to-face or telephone counselling. The program is offered free of charge and receives no government funding. It is supported fully by donations from foundations such as the NRCF as well as individuals in the community.

In 2017 NRCF’s Small Grant Program funded the salary of The Buttery’s Family Counsellor.

What you can do

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Environment & Conservation

The IssueNorthern Rivers wildlife needs careful management

  • The Northern Rivers is where the world’s largest expanse of subtropical rainforest meets mountains forged from ancient volcanoes, overlooking 300 kilometres of spectacular coastline.
  • The Northern Rivers is home to many types of flora and fauna, including some of the most dangerous known to man — the snake.

The approach

Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers Inc. is a not-for-profit network of trained volunteers that is licensed to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured, lost or orphaned wildlife for release back into the wild. This locally based independent organisation has been part of the Northern Rivers community since 1992.

In 2017 Northern Rivers Community Foundation supported NRWC to train their volunteers in snake wrangling. Participants attended from across the region to learn the art of handling venomous snakes and releasing them back into the wild.

“What resonated with me most is that venomous snakes certainly deserve the utmost respect when dealing with them.”
— Volunteer with Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers.

The NRCF is dedicated to supporting environment and conservation-based charities.

What you can do

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Impact aged services

The IssueIn 2027 the majority of the Northern Rivers population will be aged between 50 and 90 years of age

  • The Northern Rivers region is one of the greatest areas of growth for the aging demographic.
  • It is projected that in 2027 the majority of the Northern Rivers population will be aged 50–90. Compare this to NSW as a whole, where the majority of people will be aged 20–45.
  • There will be a greater demand on services that assist the frail and elderly. (Source: Regional Development Australia).

The approach

Home Assistance & Regional Transport (HART) Services are based in Lismore. The Able Gardens project is a social enterprise that assists elderly people and people with disabilities to create low-maintenance, safe and accessible gardens and surrounds, in the privacy of their own home. Many elderly people who have lost spouses or who have experienced a health decline can find themselves in situations where things have ‘gotten away’. The makeover can alleviate undue stress and enable people to stay in their homes longer.

The Northern Rivers Community Foundation awarded a start-up grant to the Able Gardens project, providing essential equipment including a trailer, mower and brushcutter.

Able Gardens has shown to be hugely successful in meeting an unmet need with the elderly and people with disabilities. In 2016 the program had 42 clients and was rapidly growing. Most customers have become regular clients, with the majority of clients requesting weeding, mulching, pruning, rubbish removal and attention to areas that have been neglected.

What you can do

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