The 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, NSW this month over 17-18 September.

Joining us at the conference is Ms Natalie Egleton, Chief Executive Officer at the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (frrr) who will present on ‘Investing in People, Place and Prosperity: Driving Regional Possibilities Town by Town’.

Ms Natalie Egleton


FRRR recently examined the 26,000 applications and the 8,000 grants it has made in rural, regional and remote Australian communities over the last 17 years. It revealed a number of interesting insights, and confirmed several long-held theories about what it takes to create thriving rural, regional and remote communities.

In this presentation, FRRR’s CEO, Natalie Egleton, will share case studies from a number of communities with a big vision – such as Boyup Brook in WA, the Burnett region in QLD and Marysville in VIC – and draw out the factors they have in common that helped to create strong, vibrant and sustainable communities. It will show how despite facing significant challenges, their strong sense of place, connection and identity have set the community up for a sustainable future.

Some of these common traits include:

• Strong, place-based organisations – the vast majority of organisations making a difference on the ground are local, rather than service providers from out of town.
• Education – a reputable school sustains local communities and lifelong learning supports communities to adapt to changes and challenges.
• Infrastructure – well-equipped and maintained spaces where people can congregate, connect and visit.
• Leadership training – to support community sustainability and innovation.
• Building resilience – for the constant change that impacts rural, regional and remote Australia, including, climatic conditions, natural disaster, industry changes, population growth/decline etc

In short, FRRR’s experience suggests that sustainability, and then innovation, only occur once the right infrastructure, capacity, programs and services are in place. This reinforces the importance of supporting people, place and prosperity in small communities to drive the change and innovation.

1. Community sustainability, and then innovation, only occur once the right infrastructure, capacity, programs and services are in place.
2. Supporting people, place and prosperity in small communities will drive the change and innovation.
3. Locally led and implemented projects get to the heart of local challenges and opportunities.


Natalie Egleton is passionate about facilitating effective responses to issues facing rural communities. She was appointed CEO of FRRR in November 2015, after joining FRRR in 2012 and is responsible for shaping FRRR’s strategy, designing new programs and developing and nurturing new funding partnerships. In her previous roles with FRRR, she was responsible for managing natural disaster recovery and preparedness programs as well as those addressing social innovation. Before joining FRRR, Natalie consulted with Matrix on Board, working with numerous not-for-profit organisations in program evaluation, undertaking research analysis and developing business plans. She also worked with clients to develop financial policies and procedures, strategic plans, organisation reviews, service mapping, feasibility studies and governance models. Natalie has also held in-house roles at Evolve (Typo Station) and at ANZ Banking Group, implementing projects that made a tangible difference to the lives of people living in rural, regional and remote Australia. She lives in the small rural town of Maldon in central Victoria.

For more information on the 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference this September and to secure your spot, please visit

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