Featured Grants

Impact Area A: Vulnerable Victorians

Featured Grant: The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Helping to build and strengthen organisational capacity
$125,000 (2015-16)

As part of its strategy to achieve social and economic participation for its 3,000 members seeking asylum, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) established three social enterprises, staffed by its members. One of these is ASRC Cleaning, which provides employment, training and stable income to 10 people.

“People seeking asylum face unique challenges, from barriers such as language to the lack of local work experience and support networks,” says Flor Sedighi, ASRC Cleaning Manager who has recently been granted asylum by the government.
Flor came to Australia from Iran in March 2014. A business manager with extensive experience in sales, customer service and relationship management, she has been managing ASRC Cleaning for a year, with the goal of increasing its profitability and sustainability. Since then, she has managed to grow revenue for the social enterprise by 71 per cent and expand a client-base to include nearly 400 individuals and businesses across Melbourne.

“Our work is important because it gives people seeking asylum the opportunity to support themselves, gain Australian work experience and connect them to the broader Australian community,” says Flor.
ASRC Cleaning was established as a social enterprise of the ASRC to provide much-needed employment to people seeking asylum, as well as to create an ongoing income stream for the ASRC by providing professional and reliable cleaning services to commercial and domestic clients.

Owned and run by a community of volunteers and supporters, the ASRC is upheld by over 1,300 volunteers. More than 90 per cent of its income is sourced from the community via philanthropic trusts like the Ross Trust and individual donors.

Many of the 29,000 people who are seeking asylum in Australia are forced to live below the poverty line while their refugee claims are being processed, which can sometimes take many years. More than 50 per cent of the 550 people who rely on the ASRC’s Foodbank each week do not have the right to work or other financial support. Most do not have Medicare, and all are ineligible for Healthcare Cards. Government-funded English language and employment training programs are limited. Organisations like the ASRC play a vital role in providing access to essential services that support the mental, physical and social well-being of people seeking asylum.

ASRC Cleaning
03 9274 9880

Featured Grant: Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal: Small Grants for Small Communities Program

This program offers not-for-profit community groups in regional and remote Australia the opportunity to access up to $5,000 in grants. In 2013–14 the Ross Trust committed another three years of funding to the program – taking the total funded since 2002 to $1,422,000.

This program recognises that small rural, remote and regional communities have a low capacity to raise funds due to their small population size and reduced opportunities for business sponsorship. They also often find it hard to access philanthropy and pro bono support.

The grants support projects delivering positive local education, environment, social welfare and community wellbeing, health, arts and culture outcomes in such communities. In doing so, they contribute to stronger, more resilient and more sustainable regions.

In 2014–15, the Program distributed its 25th and 26th bi-annual funding rounds. It received more than 300 applications from Victorian community groups. The Trust was able to support 37 projects, investing a total of $112,000. This was a significant contribution toward the total value of the projects supported, which was $608,567.

FRRR’s CEO, Natalie Egleton, says that the Small Grants for Rural Communities program provides support that helps to create the change that communities aspire to achieve. “Small rural communities often find it very challenging to raise funds locally, but they have great ideas. They find all sorts of innovative ways to make their projects happen and this year, for every dollar contributed by the Trust, groups were able to leverage another five dollars towards their projects. We consistently see locally-developed projects achieve lasting outcomes, and each grant enables another community to achieve a solution to a pressing issue,” says Ms Egleton. “The collaboration within communities is particularly inspiring. It’s wonderful to see community groups coming together to support a project. Outcomes from the two most recent rounds have included increased social and economic capital, increased organisational capacity, increased community infrastructure, amenity and connectedness, as well as enhanced networks and community participation – helping to develop vibrant and adaptive communities.”

Visit the FRRR website

Featured Grant: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre: Building organisational sustainability

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) was established to provide relevant and appropriate support, skills, knowledge and resources to asylum seekers to support them to be independent engaged, proud and resilient future Australian citizens.

Since 2001, ASRC has operated as an independent not-for-profit organisation that protects and upholds the human rights, wellbeing and dignity of asylum seekers. Today, it addresses asylum seekers’ needs beyond the direct provision of aid and includes services such as education, training and employment support.

The Trust has approved grants to the ASRC totalling $1,320,000 since 2003 and in 2012, the Ross Trust continued its Collaboration with the ASRC for another three years to support it reach its organisational goals of:

  • Increasing financial sustainability
  • building organisational capacity,
  • creating efficiencies in delivery by building and sector partnerships; and
  • shifting the public conversation about asylum seekers to be based in facts and less in fear and xenophobia

The funding is being used to support key positions within the organisation including the employment of a volunteer manager, financial operations coordinator and financial administration positions. Funding also supports emergency material aid for asylum seekers.

An important development for the ASRC was the relocation of the organisation to new premises at 214-218 Nicholson Street Footscray. This new facility offers the capacity for higher quality service provision and potential for new developments to support their members.

Visit the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre website



Featured Grant: Bendigo Family & Financial Services Financial Management Program

In an effort to raise the levels of financial resilience and wellbeing among those most at risk of financial exclusion and disadvantage, Bendigo Family & Financial Services developed a Financial Management Program. This Program addressed the immediate needs of clients in times of financial crisis by educating participants on the improved use and management of money and debt consolidation and offered a no-interest loan scheme to assist participants get on top of their debts.

Twenty two people participated in the Financial Management Program, approximately eighty percent of the participants were on a Disability Support Pension or had complex issues including mental health issues. Participants attended meetings with a case manager once a fortnight for the first six months and then once a month thereafter and also attended a four week financial group education program. During the program, participants were also able to access support with food through the Bendigo Family and Financial Services Foodbank.

Participants reported that having their debts under control and managing day to day expenses had a profound impact on their quality of life and many reported that having their debts under control allowed them to actively participate in social and community activities and events.