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Our big loss

Saturday, 19th November, 2016

By Michael Murphy

The Far West is losing thousands and thousands of dollars in grants each year because no one is dedicated to coordinate and write funding applications.

Richer city councils across the country typically hire employees to ferret out funding opportunities, liaise with potential recipients, and write applications to bring more government money into their already rich regions.

Our region does not have a dedicated grants writer, and a big push from Regional Development Australia Far West to make it happen has largely been met with silence.

Executive Officer Michael Williams put the call out to organisations to help fund the position, but the only interest shown so far has been from the Central Darling Shire.

“We could work together as a community to employ a grants writer who could probably support the major organisations, but to really get out there on the ground and work with community groups,” Mr Williams said.

“I am sure that (the smaller groups) don’t even know that grants are available,” he said.

Finding and preparing applications is often a difficult process, and it is not desirable to employ out-of-town commercial writers who take a cut of secured funding.

Proposals that actually do get submitted from local groups often don’t stack up against slick applications from other regions that compete for the same pool of money.

Mr Williams said it would be great for the Far West to land the bigger grants worth millions of dollars, and the grants writer would support larger organisations to do this.

But he said it was the smaller ones worth a few thousand dollars each that would make a big difference to community groups and free up local sponsorship dollars.

“There are hundreds of those smaller grants available,” Mr Williams said.

“If we can get out there and talk with people, sit with them and develop applications, it would be a good way to bring that additional funding into our region that we are missing out on.”

He said if the region began to secure more of those smaller grants, it would also reduce the pressure on local businesses.

“If we take the pressure off those guys that are constantly getting applications from community groups, it then helps spread the cash to other needs in the region.”

He said the grants writer would adopt a proactive approach to find out what community groups needed, and then find the grants to match.

But the key was working together as a region to secure more government funding.

RDA Far West sent letters to range of regional stakeholders, trying to initiate a conversation about a grants facilitator, but the response was “disappointing”.

“Unfortunately, only Central Darling Shire was in a position to think of it,” he said.

“A couple of them didn’t even bother to respond to our letter.

“We are not in a financial position to do it ourselves, but if someone rings next week and says ‘let’s do it’, my board would be very interested to see how we could fit that into our budget.”

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