How were the projects and allocations decided?

    Council was given the initial $1M of funding in early January 2020 and a further $225K of funding the following month.  A condition of the funding was that Council must report back to the administrating body (the Office of Local Government - OLG) within 3 months.  

    This funding was unexpected and therefore we had to go from a standing start to build the program very quickly, and the usual methods of engagement we would have prefered to adopt were not feasible due to the tight timescales.  Council did however immediately set up meetings with core agencies (such as SES, RFS, National Parks, Red Cross, etc) in addition to the council's leadership team and the Chambers of Commerce, to create a long list of potential projects.  

    In early March council then hosted 2 x 3 hour workshops where over 70 community members (selected by council) were invited to hear some high level project ideas, discuss themes that were important and share which projects they felt were most important. Participants responded also to an online survey relating to these subjects to help us understand community priorities. 

    These outputs informed a workshop held with councillors, prior to a Council Resolution (formal approval) being made on Apr 3rd 2020 in time for submission of the planned program to the OLG that same week.  Many of these project budgets were estimated, and it was acknowledged by the OLG that the program could be refined if needed  

    By August 2020 there was greater understanding of the projects in the program and what was in scope in order to better validate allocations required.  (some of which was via exploration with the community such as the Food Hub where a number of community members were invited to participate in a workshop).   There was also greater understanding of how the projects could be delivered.  This resulted in some underspends and reallocations, which was again workshopped with council prior to gaining unanimous formal approval (via a Resolution) in August 2020.

    The delivery of the Projects is now the focus of the Program.  

    Can we add ideas to be delivered in the Program?

    The Program has been endorsed and council staff are focused on delivering this extensive program of works (see FAQ how were projects and allocations decided on).  While we recognise that not all ideas have been endorsed directly (with specific allocated funding)  that there is still the opportunity for community groups to drive forward projects that are important with the potential support of the Grant program - where $465K of funds have been assigned.  The grants program is therefore the best way to make sure your idea gets realised - as it is the only funding pool now available! We also maintain a list of all ideas (a long list!) that we will review should future funding opportunities become available.  Feel free to contact us to add an idea to the long list if you don't believe the grant program is applicable to your idea.  We welcome your input, but do recognise that if your idea needs funding, it will be parked and only considered for delivery should new funding become available (together with other remaining ideas on the long list).

    When does the Streetscape Grant open?

    It is currently anticipated that these will open by the end of September and be awarded in November.  Detailed timelines are yet to be confirmed but will be updated here in due course.

    Applications have closed for the Community Event Sponsorship Fund/ Event Stimulus Fund. Were enough valid appications received to fully utilise the extra funds?

    Yes - enough valid applications were received to fully utilise this fund.  A 2nd round is not anticipated.

    What is a deliberative panel and how will the process work in the Shire? How do I get on it?

    The deliberative panel process is currently in the design stage.  We anticipate being able to share the  process detail once the design stage is complete. This is anticipated in early October.  We will update this response as soon as the process is designed.  More on what is a deliberative panel in general terms can be found here in the interim.

    How were the economic stimulus funding projects (branding and streetscape) decided on?

    At an Extraordinary Council Meeting on the 3rd April Council resolved to reserve $145,000 for economic stimulus projects as part of the Bush Fire Recovery and Resilience Program

    In response, Council developed five potential projects and a set of aims and objectives on what the projects should aim to achieve.

    These were:

    1. Have a Shire-wide benefit
    2. Be sustainable and create a legacy which can benefit the economy for years to come
    3. Address and counter the greatest impacts experienced by the economy
    4. Leverage off existing resources and planning
    5. Stimulate an exponential benefit.

    The projects were discussed with key stakeholders as the first phase of consultation. Stakeholders included: Regional Development Australia- Mid North Coast, Business NSW ( State Chamber body) and the Department of Regional Development NSW.  The three Chambers of Commerce were also briefed on the projects and given an opportunity for input and to submit alternative projects.

    The second stage of the consultation included presenting the five projects to a council workshop on the 20th May. Councillors were asked to provide feedback or alternative project ideas.  

    The projects were then posted on Council’s Community Engagement Hub for one month (6th June - 6th July) as the third stage in the consultation process. A survey was created to establish consensus from the community on what projects should be funded  

    The most popular projects voted on were the Street Scape Renewal Grant Scheme and the Bellingen Shire Branding Strategy.

    These results were taken back to the July 29 Council meeting to seek a resolution and endorsement of the two most popular projects. Council resolved to support both the Street Scape Renewal Project and the Branding Strategy

    Can grant applications be made for work already underway or that we want to do this year (ie - prior to award decisions?)

    We are currently investigating this and will update as soon as we gain clarity. We recognise there is some great work happening in the Shire to prepare for disasters, recover and build resilience.  Please don't stop your great work!

    Can auspice bodies apply for more than one grant to support more than one group

    Please contact Maxine Compton, the Grants officer at Council for detailed guidance on a case by case basis.  However, broadly - as long as it is VERY CLEAR in the application that the auspice body is applying on behalf of another group (to meet the grant guidelines), and that group they are applying on behalf of is only making one application in each stream - then this will be a valid application.  

    Is there an opportunity to find out what other people are thinking of applying for in terms of grants? Want to avoid duplication and be inspired by other ideas!

    This was a great question/idea that came up at one of our information sessions from a member of the community.  We are currently investigating holding a sharing workshop for all in the Shire that are percolating ideas for a grant application.  It is likely to be in one location so that everyone can share the diversity of ideas across the Shire.  Keep an eye on our key dates for when this will take place (likely first half of October)

    Why don't you have a facebook presence? Not enough people know about this

    The prefered council method is to engage via Create (well done - you have made it here already!).  Please tell everyone you know about this page and encourage them to see what it is all about, Ask questions or comment in the guest book.  We are also working on a comprehensive communication plan for the Program as we recognise that successful engagement and information sharing is core to building resilience in the Shire.  We welcome suggestions of how we can better engage to help best inform our communications plans. Feel free to get in touch.

    Are there forms to fill in for the grants? I'm having difficulty finding details on Create.

    There is a whole Create page about the grants - see Related Projects in the right hand panel and click on Bushfire Recovery and Resilience Grants for much more information about the Grants program, including grant guidelines and details of how to apply (via an online grant system).  We have also added a link to the grant application system to this page - see the LINK at the top right of this page titled APPLY FOR GRANTS NOW and it will take you straight to the system.