Ross River Solar Farm grants support vital community services

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Ross River Solar Farm recently awarded grant funding for two unique community-led programs aimed at supporting those most in need in the Townsville region.

Uncle Alfred’s Men’s Group and Food Relief North Queensland (NQ) have each received a share in the $20,000 funding up for grabs each year through the Ross River Solar Farm Community Grants Program.

Ross River Solar Farm general manager Darren Sexton said the grants program was established to support grassroots projects that would deliver significant benefit to the community, with a strong focus on diversity and community connection.

“We are delighted to be able to provide much-needed funding for projects that will make a real difference to some of the most vulnerable people in the community,” Mr Sexton said.

“Both Uncle Alfred’s Men’s Group and Food Relief NQ provide essential support services and make an enormous contribution to the local community.”

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Food Relief NQ received funding towards a new frontline food delivery vehicle that will assist the charity in providing crucial food relief services to the broader Townsville community.

Food Relief NQ co-founder and Chairman Brad Webb said he was truly grateful for the funding which would help the group supply over 200,000kg – around $1.2 million worth – of affordable and necessary food products each year.

“We don’t receive any government funding so rely heavily on donations and support from our team of around 30 wonderful volunteers,” he said.

“This year, in particular, has been tough for many people and we’ve already supplied over 4000 food hampers to 78 different community welfare groups for distribution to local families in need. Grants such as this go a long way to helping us continue to provide this important food relief service to North Queenslanders.”

Alfred Smallwood, a Traditional Landowner Elder of the Bindal Clan, said the grant funding would be used to purchase new fine woodwork tools for his Uncle Alfred’s Men’s Group to learn bushcraft.

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The 24-hour volunteer-run service aims to provide support, friendship and mentoring for young Aboriginal men caught up in the justice system and by doing so, break the cycle of re-offending.

Uncle Alfred said that unfortunately, in the Townsville region, indigenous people were disproportionately represented in the justice system, with key issues being domestic violence, mental health and addiction.

“In the Men’s Group, we focus on re-engaging with family, culture, community and country through art and craft, music, dance and mentoring. Bushcraft helps people to connect with Aboriginal culture and we’ve found that, as well as learning to make traditional artefacts and fishing tools, it teaches trust and survival.”

“We aim to provide a safe and supportive environment to address key social issues and I’m proud to say that what we do works – 97 per cent of our Men’s Group participants do not go on to re-offend.”

Darren Sexton from Ross River Solar Farm said he was extremely proud to be able to support such important community projects that can make a positive difference to the quality of life for people in the local community.