The funding cycle is turning*
The Australian Electoral Commission website says that the earliest possible date for the next House of Representatives and half-Senate election is 6 August 2016.
That is only 21 months away.
What does the Government Federal Member of Parliament want to do in the lead up to an election?
Cut ribbons, unveil plaques, declare projects finished and maybe even announce a few more that are in the pipeline.
The lead-time between grant programs being announced and projects on the ground can be significant, up to 21 months in some cases.
Which is why grant programs from the Commonwealth are appearing again.
At the time of writing, in early October 2014, the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) grant is open, closing on Friday 17 October, which has replaced more than 150 individual programmes and activities with five flexible, broad-based programmes.
Closing on the 20 October 2014 is the 25th Anniversary Landcare Grants 2014–15.
Local government are specifically excluded, except as a sponsor, which still provides a range of options on how you can get involved.
Announced multiple times, but not ready yet, is the $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund starting in 2015–16.
Specifically aimed at local government, as the media announcements say, this will invest in small-scale infrastructure projects at a local level and will create economic development opportunities for people living in regions.
A component of this program is the $314 million Community Development Grants Fund, which will support key infrastructure that strengthens local and regional economies.
These grant programs are real, not speculation, and just part of the overall grants opportunities that are starting to come out of Canberra again.
The funding cycle is turning, and after 18 months of lean times from the Commonwealth, get ready for a rollercoaster 21 months.
Some things won’t change though.
There will be little warning when a grant program is open, the deadlines will be ridiculously short, and the guidelines could be written in another language.
The gulf between the Commonwealth and Local Government stays the same, regardless of who is in power, simple because the outcomes they are looking for are very different to yours.
Regardless, make the most of the opportunity for your community and good luck.
Colin Steele is Managing Director of Section51, a specialist consultancy that assists local government around Australia in applying for grants and with the process and paperwork for delivery.
With over $137 million in grants either obtained, or managed, for local government in the last 18 months, Section51 has a strong record of achievement when it comes to the grants process.
For more information visit http://www.section51.com.au/
*Copy supplied by Section51