Q: How do we keep track of what grant funds are available? There are so many announcements, it’s just constant and confusing.
Don’t be confused by announcements. Announcements do not necessarily mean a grant program is open. We know everyone is trying hard to do the right thing but we still have politics and media grabs with State and Australian Government looking for headlines. The same grant program can be announced 2, 3 or more times before it is opened.
To keep track there are three sources you should watch for actual opening of grant programs. For the Australian Government look at Grants Connect https://www.grants.gov.au/. State Governments vary widely as grants tend not to be centrally organised.
In most cases councils are notified of open state grants but in the current climate of working from home and remotely ensure that you receive communication that may end up in councils HR team or other unusual locations. The third approach is to watch the websites of your favourite Department for example PIRSA in South Australia. The Department websites are being kept very up to date and are the most reliable source on what is open and available.
Q: Why are grant programs open for a ridiculously short time?
It’s the time we are in and reflects the changing approach required for grant applications. Section51 has been in the grants space for a very long time both in government and then for the last 10 years as consultants and we can say that 2020 grant applications are completely different to 2010. As we have been around forever, we have the guidelines for Regional Development Australia Fund Round 1 in our archives. They say ‘The Minister for Regional Australia announced a public call for applications to the first $100 million funding round on 11 March 2011, with applications closing during May 2011. That’s just total bliss, 3 months to prepare a grant application, just imagine.
BBRF4 in December 2019 was open for 4 weeks and the recent Showground stimulus funding program in NSW was open for 2 weeks. There are a wide range of reasons why time frames are shorter but for simplicity we can say it is because there is a greater expectation at both State and Australian Government that councils have projects shovel ready. In 2011 it used to be the case that a grant program opened and there was time available to prepare a project from scratch. Not in 2020, where you effectively have to have the projects shovel ready before grant programs open.
Q: How so I get grant projects ready when we just don’t have the resources.
Keep it simple and don’t try to go for every opportunity. Many councils Colin has spoken to over the last few weeks only have the capacity to deliver their existing work program. If that is the case, use existing program works as your application if they fit. If you do have a little bit of capacity design something simple and easy like a park restoration or fencing. Simple is good until you have the space and time to develop a more detailed program for grant funding.
Q: What’s happening in Canberra next week?
Expect a flurry of activity next week as Parliament is coming back to pass a range of legislative measures for the various stimulus packages. Expect more announcements although these may not transform into grants immediately as the focus remains on business and jobs. We will know a lot more for the next Q&A.
Q: Department Insight.
Every now and then we will provide a short insight into a different Department in Canberra. Having lived here for a long time, we know a lot of people in different places, although we tend to avoid politicians. Today is the Department of agriculture, water and the environment. We’re aware that as with many departments there has been a major reorganisation to support frontline COVID 19 response.
Regulatory areas such as EPBC assessment have been boosted to rapidly increase turnaround. Policy areas, particularly in environmental programs have been looking at options for long term recover from drought and fire and flood. We will be watching this space for grants in what has been a largely forgotten area over the last few years.
Q: I have no chance of achieving my BBRF project milestone deadlines and have emailed the Department and received no reply. What do I do and I don’t want to lose the money?
This question was sent into Section51 from multiple councils not only about BBRF projects but many others. Let me tell you a story to illustrate the suggested approach.
About half of Section51 work is engagement by councils to prepare milestone and final reports for successful grants. We take the pain out of the process in exactly these types of situations.
Section51 was engaged by Lithgow City Council (NSW) to prepare milestone reports for Australian Government funded Clarence Colliery Water Transfer System. The project activity was for the construction of a pipeline and associated infrastructure including pumps and switchboards, to transfer treated mine water from the main dam located at the northern end of Clarence Colliery Mine, through a 3.8-kilometre pipeline to Farmers Creek Dam, Council’s water supply. The Australian Government provided $3,895,728 for the project from ‘Water for the Future’ a GFC inspired program. The project was half constructed when on 16 October 2013 a catastrophic fire ripped through the Blue Mountains and Lithgow local government area destroying a large part of the new pipeline. We had lost a year’s work in one day. What we did was:
Make it easy for the Department and they will make it easy for you.
Q: Will there be tourism grants to help with the recovery?
Yes, there is likely to be. We are starting to see this already such as the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery (RTBR) Grants which are currently open and close on 8th May. The Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery (RTBR) Grants program is a $10 million program which has been drawn from the Bushfire Recovery Fund. The program is part of the Government’s $76 million tourism recovery package to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by helping get tourists traveling into bushfire affected regions. On 5th May, Australia’s Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy recognised the importance of tourism saying ‘in a few weeks, there could be a push for local tourism within Australia, including interstate travel.’
Some related statistics we found are that In 2019 Australians traveling overseas spent $46 Billion per annum. In the same period, international visitors spent $45.4 Billion per annum in Australia. Thus, if we can capture the $46 Billion that Australians spend overseas last year and instead this is spent in your region or state, we have the potential to reduce the damage from the loss of international tourists. Now is the time to begin preparing your new marketing strategy to capture the Australian market who will be traveling in Australia and we will be looking out for grant funds to support you
Q: What are 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: