Q: When will grants get back to normal?
A: Never is the simple answer, as there is no such thing as normal when it comes to grants. In the over 40 years that Colin has worked in government and had an association with grants and funding in some form, the only normal is constant change. In seeking out funding it has to be remembered that what you are doing, and what Section51 helps you with, is achieving good things for your community. That remains the same. What changes constantly is what the funding providers are looking for and the process they use. We don’t reuse applications, even if it is for the same project, for the reason that every grant program is different to the last.
With drought, fires and now COVOD 19 the change is even more rapid and there really is no normal. Thus, expect change to be ‘normal’ and remember to write every application differently, specific to each grant program, even if the project is the same.
Two references Section51 would like to share with you, both produced before drought, fire and COVID 19. They are from the OECD and the Australian Disaster Resilience Community Recovery Handbook (AIDR 2018).
Working with Change: Systems approaches to public sector challenges OECD (Aug 2017)
Complexity and uncertainty are now the norm—they are contexts—not just risks. The world seems to operate by a new set of rules that are difficult to observe directly. The defence and intelligence communities have called this the VUCA world, which originally described the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity left behind by the end of the ordering function provided by the Cold War. Today, technology, decentralization, the rise of non-state actors and other factors have accelerated the rise of VUCA in every domain
So the question today is: how to account for uncertainty while managing greater complexity and still deliver effective services? This requires a new mindset that acknowledges uncertainty as part of everyday decision making and enables working in iterative ways.
In a context of complexity and uncertainty, traditional analytical tools and problem-solving methods no longer work nor produce their intended purpose. This prompts government leaders across the world to ask: how do we manage increasing complexity while accounting for uncertainty and still deliver public services that adapt dynamically to produce viable solutions? To a degree, the answer lies in public policy makers making decisions in such a way that leads to resilient systems and adaptive structures that incorporate, rather than filter out, complexity.
Australian Disaster Resilience Community Recovery Handbook (AIDR 2018)
The following diagram is from the Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook Collection which provides guidance on national principles and practices for disaster resilience. The Handbook Collection is developed and reviewed by national consultative committees representing a range of state and territory agencies, governments, organisations and individuals involved in disaster resilience. The collection is sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.
Handbook 2 ‘Community Recovery’ is very much worth the read in the current events, see the link below. From the smallest fire to a worldwide pandemic, this handbook provides a wise and logical read on what you and your community will be going though over the next 1 to 3 years. That there is no ‘normal’ and how to manage in this environment, is demonstrated throughout this handbook.
Q: Why are some grants ‘invitation only’?
A: Last week Section51 was contacted by a council asking to prepare an application for the Energy Efficient Communities Program – Community Energy Efficiency and Solar Grants 2020. The council found the grant from the links we provided. The question put to us was why was this grant program, and increasingly other grants, ‘invitation only’.
The answer is that governments, both Australian and State are constantly searching for ways to target the delivery of grant funding and ‘invitation only’ is one of those ways. This is not new, but the use of the words ‘invitation only’ is. Targeting of grant funding can be for a wide range of reasons from the logical such as the fire recovery programs as ‘invitation only’ for fire affected councils, though to ‘invitation only’ for what could be described as outright political reasons. Other grants may be ‘invitation only’ for policy reasons such as targeting health or environment issues. Often grants don’t use the words ‘invitation only’ but only councils in certain areas can apply, such as BBRF4 which was only open for drought declared councils. The Community Energy Efficiency and Solar Grants 2020 is at the unusual end of ‘invitation only’ as it is for:
‘a maximum of 2 projects funded per electorate, with the first 2 eligible projects funded. We will monitor the number of applications received from each electorate and 'close electorates' once we have received 6 applications per electorate. While only the first 2 eligible applications, based on time and date will be funded, we will allow up to 6 in the event there are any that are ineligible.’
Sorry what? Section51 doesn’t even attempt to work out the logic, or lack of, with approaches such as these. We worked inside government for a long time and had to design grant programs at all extremes, from the best and fairest based on equity for all councils and communities though to outright farcical for political reasons with directions to avoid scrutiny. Nothing surprises us, although fortunately equity and fairness far outweigh political, despite recent evidence to the contrary. This grant program is still open in some electorates if you want to have a look.
Q: What did the Treasurer say in Canberra this week?
A: The Australian Parliament came back on Tuesday 12th May 2020 and this included a ‘Ministerial Statement on the Economy, Parliament House, Canberra: The economic impact of the crisis’. Extracts of interest to your council and community recovery and the focus of funding are below:
Our focus will be on practical solutions to the most significant challenges which will be front and centre in the post-crisis world. Reskilling and upskilling the workforce, maintaining our $100 billion, ten-year infrastructure pipeline, cutting red tape to reduce the cost burden on businesses and the economy and tax and industrial relations reform as a means of increasing our competitiveness.
Unleashing the power of dynamic, innovative, and open markets must be central to the recovery, with the private sector leading job creation, not government. We know that a strong economy is the foundation for everything else, and only with a strong economy can you provide the health, education, and essential services that Australians rely on.
Significant product innovation, market diversification strategies and the accelerated uptake of digital transformation opportunities have also been pursued by many businesses in their effort to adapt to the difficult circumstances they are in. This innovation will assist these businesses on the other side. Fifth, continue to grow the economy, create more jobs, guarantee the essential services Australians rely on and keep Australians safe. We have put in place a comprehensive range of measures designed to keep people in jobs and to build a bridge to recovery.
What these words point to is a continuation of the theme that toilet blocks, carparks and school halls may not rate highly on the agenda, as they did with the GFC recovery. While both Australian and various state governments have grant programs open at the moment for bridges, roads and other infrastructure, we may have to wait for a while yet to gauge if local government focused infrastructure programs emerge, for example more rounds of BBRF.
But while it doesn’t sound like local government is getting much of a look in, there are many innovative ways that your community project can be turned into a business support project. For example, in NSW a $15 million boost for streets and shared spaces grant program has just opened to promote temporary intervention projects in local government areas to improve the safety and attractiveness of our streets. We are working with a council on a Main Street project which has the potential to use this state government fund to attract Australian Government funding for business along the street. Innovation is the key and now is the time to get those projects designed or modified to add in the ‘power of dynamic, innovative, and open markets must be central to the recovery, with the private sector leading job creation, not government.’
Q: What is this week’s 3x3?
3 things to do this week:
3 things to do over the next 3 weeks:
3 things to do over the next 3 months: