Home' ALGY : ALGY Edition 24 2017 Contents THE AUSTRALIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT YEARBOOK EDITION 24 • 41
leading edge local government
LEADING EDGE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
introduced clauses in funding guidelines
saying future funding is dependent
on past project delivery. It is a very
At the same time, municipalities
are under greater pressure to secure
funding for infrastructure projects as
their populations expand. 'Councils not
on top of the grant-making process risk
falling behind,' says Steele. 'No council
can afford to miss millions of dollars
of funding because of poor grant
application skills or processes.'
Reputation for excellence
With a background in town
planning, Steele worked for 32
years in Commonwealth, state and
local government. His work for the
Commonwealth across 11 years included
designing, assessing, managing and
evaluating grant programs for regional
development and local government.
No grant adviser in Australia has
as much experience, across all arms of
government, as Steele. He wrote several
federal grant guidelines, and he has deep
knowledge of a range of programs and
how they might evolve.
'Section51 speaks the language of
government,' he says. 'We understand
how federal, state and local government
interact through grants; the blueprint of
funding systems; why grants are given;
and how they are administered.'
Unlike most grant advisers,
Section51's work extends well beyond
grant applications. 'Lots of advisers can
help councils write applications. But
very few help councils strategically
choose the most appropriate projects
for the grants, prepare for them, write
the best-possible application, and
understand the required attachments
and the subsequent reporting.'
This market gap encouraged Steele
to launch Section51 in 2011. He based
the firm's name on the section of the
Australian Constitution that provides
a key source of power for grants and
funding between the Commonwealth,
states, territories and local government.
The firm has since advised more than
100 councils across every state and territory,
and more than 1000 council representatives
have attended its workshops. Section51 also
advises not-for-profit organisations on grant
applications -- a growing part of the business.
Education is another Section51
strength. The firm conducts more than
20 workshops each year, across capital
cities and regional towns, to help council
staff improve their grant-application
knowledge and skills.
The full-day workshop has four parts:
the grant process, writing grants, grant
attachments and evidence, and project-
delivery reporting. 'Council attendees
get a lot of value from these workshops
and are quickly able to implement best-
practice grant procedures,' says Steele.
The education focus extends beyond
workshops. 'We always try to educate
clients when advising on grants so they
can develop better processes on their
own or with our help,' says Steele. 'We
don't have all the answers or know better
than councils. But our experience writing
hundreds of grants can turn a solid
application into a very strong one.'
Relationships based on collaboration
and trust are another feature of
Section51. The firm counts some of
Australia's largest municipalities as
longstanding clients. 'We never just
write an application and leave, or dump
a successful application on a council.
Everything we do is about helping
councils develop a consistent approach
through the full grant cycle.'
Innovation in grant applications
Section51 recently added a new service,
Grants Head Start, which strategically
prepares councils for multiple grant
applications -- a first for this market.
The service also helps prepare
councils and projects earlier for grants,
in turn ensuring that they deliver
more tailored, comprehensive grant
applications. It also reduces the risks of
rushing to meet grant deadlines, which
can compromise report quality.
'We believe this service has potential
to substantially improve grant success
rates,' says Steele. 'Ultimately, Grants Head
Start is about helping councils be more
proactive, strategic and responsive in
Liverpool and Lithgow councils
in New South Wales have been early
adopters of Grants Head Start, and Steele
says he has received several enquiries
from other councils.
Steele is passionate about the
potential for local government to lift its
grant application success. 'Section51
wants to help councils position
themselves for the future of grant making
in Australia. This funding is so important
for projects that deliver vital economic
and social outcomes in communities.
Grant applications is a critical skill to get
To learn more about Section51,
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