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Beneficiaries in 2023

We raised more than $1.5 million for our key beneficiaries: Schools Plus, Rural Aid, Royal Flying Doctor Service and Outback Futures, along with other, smaller recipients.


Schools Plus

Schools Plus exists to help close the education gap caused by disadvantage.


They work with teachers and schools in disadvantaged areas to empower them with funding, coaching and resources to implement initiatives that will help their students succeed.


Up to half of all students in very remote areas are behind in key educational milestones for their age.

The six projects Big Dry Friday supported with 2023 funds were:

  • Macleay Community of Schools ( cluster of 4 schools) 

    • Project goal: To train all school personnel in the Berry Street Education Model (BSEM) to build a whole school/whole of community approach to wellbeing and learning practices through a Community of Practice network.

  • Gray Primary School, NT 

    • By the end of 2024, significantly enhance literacy outcomes to enable all students to become proficient and enthusiastic readers through the implementation of evidence-based Science of Reading pedagogy and personalised intervention support.

  • Parramatta State School, QLD 

    • Project goal: To build capacity of staff to support years Prep-2 to read and write effectively using alphabetic code.

  • Cluster of three schools led by Renmark North School, (SA)

    • To foster a culture of resilience through comprehensive educator and family engagement that will enable students to navigate complex social situations and enhance their overall well-being.

  • Tara Shire State College, QLD (Multi-year project, continued from a single year project in 2023)

    •  Project goal: To build the collaborative and cultural competencies of students in Years 3/4; Year 7 and Year 10 with a focus on cultural analysis, identity, relationships, diversity and building resilience both within the classroom and in the natural environment.

  • Wilson Park Primary School, WA 

    • Project goal: To enhance students’ academic achievements by implementing effective teaching through cross school mentorship to create measurable improvements in learning outcomes.


Rural Aid

Rural Aid is Australia’s most trusted rural charity. It provides critical support to farmers affected by natural disaster through wellbeing and fodder assistance.

The generosity of BDF donors in 2023 enabled Rural Aid to provide a much-needed hand up for hundreds of farming families across Australia. For the majority, it was through a pre-paid visa card to be used how best met their individual needs - but almost always used in their local community.

For others, they received water tanks , replacing many that were washed away in the floods.

Feedback from recipients:

“We lost 95% of our grazing land to bush fire caused by lightning strikes.  Help from Rural Aid at that difficult time, just let us know that someone cared and we were not totally alone.”


“Until you turn a tap on and nothing comes out you cannot experience the true impact of not having water has on a person or family. Our tank has given me and my family such a relief to know we now have more water, even if we have to ration its use for drinking water if things get dry again.

Thank you again for your support.


Outback Futures

Thanks to fund raised during Big Dry Friday 2023, Outback Futures will be focusing on growing service delivery in Cloncurry State School, and providing individual sessions and workshops at both kindergartens to reach as many children as possible. They are also looking to provide education for staff across the State School and kindergartens.


At a community level, their focus is to develop programs for men’s health, intergenerational engagement, and developing a Mental Health Week full of activities and service providers to showcase their services available to the community.


Additionally, Outback Futures is looking at how to roll out a suicide prevention program in the community, as Cloncurry has a history of suicides. They feel it is imperative to engage in this delicate area, to increase the options for education and understanding of the support services that are provided.


Royal Flying Doctor Service

The RFDS is a national, charitable, health organisation delivering primary healthcare and 24-hour emergency services for those that live in rural and remote Australia. 

Areas supported by funds raised in 2023 include:

  • Mobile Dental Service in QLD, within Wandoan and Theodore.

  • Four x midwifery scholarships awarded to nurses in WA

  • NSW Wellbeing Place at Broken Hill

  • Wellbeing program in VIC

The RFDS Wellbeing Places (at Broken Hill, Dubbo and Lightning Ridge) and mobile mental health services are dedicated to bringing mental health care to everyone in outback Australia. The team consists of Mental Health counsellors, First Nations mental health professionals, Mental Health nurses, a psychologist, two social workers, AoD counsellors, community engagement officers, a play therapist, an art therapist, and various supporting staff. Together they travel more than 6,000 kilometres every month to ensure communities get the support they need to cope with crisis, stress, addiction, and the myriad of other difficulties in life.  
Wellbeing Place in Broken Hill which opened in 2020 is abuzz with life and warmth, offering a safe place for people to access mental health and therapeutic services. These welcoming environments have been designed for all members of the community to enhance or maintain their sense of wellbeing. 


They currently have a big focus on the mental wellbeing of children in the outback who experience the same mental health problems as children in metropolitan areas, however they have greater barriers to accessing help. For many families, distance is the biggest contributor preventing access to services because they simply can’t afford to leave their work or family for long periods of time – a gap the RFDS is working hard to close.

RFDS does not charge any patients for clinical services.

Other Beneficiaries


Rural Doctors Foundation

Rural Doctors Foundation is a rural health charity giving people in rural and remote regions better access to lifesaving healthcare. As rural doctors and community members, they care deeply about the places where they live and work – from the most remote outback regions to pristine coastal areas and bustling rural farming districts. 


Generous donations from Big Dry Friday enabled the Rural Doctors Foundation to expand its program of providing rural doctors with a specialised trauma kits and build the foundation for their GPs 4 rural docs program.


They will kick off the first clinics in Charleville, Cunnamulla and Quilpie in March 2024. 

ACRF Lung Cancer Screening Centre of Excellence

While lung cancer has a high potential cure rate if detected at an early stage, lung cancer screening is not accessible to people living in regional areas. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities, who are statistically two times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer, are one and a half times more likely to die from the disease than non-Indigenous Australians.


There is opportunity through research to increase survival from lung cancer and remove health disparities, closing the gap through access to screening.

The ACRF Lung Cancer Screening Centre of Excellence (LUSCE) will be a mobile multi-platform lung cancer research facility focused on the early detection of lung cancer. Funds from Big Dry Friday 2023 will help fund this program.

Rural and Regional Teaching Bursaries

Matilda Barbour (left) who will be attending Dennison State School in Emerald and Kylie Vecchio who is going to Cairns State High

Teacher workforce shortages in Queensland, and Australia more broadly are a well-documented challenging issue with immediate and pressing concern particularly in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas. There is a need to expose teacher education students in urban areas to opportunities in these locations during their course and professional placement experience to enhance employment outcomes.


A significant barrier to participation in these programs is the cost associated with travelling to and living in a RRR location for the period of the professional placement experience. 


Funds raised from Big Dry Friday 2023 went towards 5 x $5000 bursaries for final year QUT students (fourth year Bachelor of Education and second year Master of Teaching) to support professional experience teaching placements and improve educational outcomes in regional settings (early childhood setting, primary school, or secondary school).

Two of the recipients are pictured here: Matilda Barbour (left) who will be attending Dennison State School in Emerald and Kylie Vecchio who is going to Cairns State High.

Further beneficiaries


Beneficiaries 2024

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