Port Stephens Counsellors have wished for “more and better” submissions from community groups for grants from Community Support Fund

MORE than $20,000 in community support funding was allocated to four Port Stephens groups at the 27 June council meeting, but councillors said they wished that they could be giving away much more.

Royal Life Saving NSW, Hope Unlimited Church, the Rotary Club of Nelson Bay and Tanilba Bay Baptist Church were each allocated funding for community projects ranging from establishing a community garden to providing free meals to families and individuals in need.

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The allocations have been made from the ‘community support fund’, a financial support mechanism that “aims to build sustainable local communities and improve liveability and the wellbeing of the Port Stephens community”.

Round two of the program opened in February this year and attracted applications from 11 local community groups.

Royal Life Saving NSW intends to host a program targeted towards teenagers living in Port Stephens to teach greater awareness and skills in the water.

It’s an initiative particularly welcomed by Cr Leah Anderson, following a conversation she had with a local school principal who expressed concern for the lack of water skills among a number of students whose families struggled to afford swimming lessons.

“I think that’s an excellent initiative and I’m really pleased to see that’s happening,” said Cr Anderson.

She also lauded the efforts of Hope Unlimited Church for their Seeds of Hope community garden, and the Rotary Club of Nelson Bay for spearheading the garden project for Tomaree Hospital.

Tanilba Baptist Church will be able to further its “Community Meals 4U” program with greater resources.

Cr Giacomo Arnott, however, made clear that he was not entirely satisfied with the conclusion of the funding round.

Far from being critical of council spending on these matters, Cr Arnott expressed frustration that Port Stephens Council was not spending more.

“In this instance $70,000 was available and we decided to allocate $21,000,” said Cr Arnott, who then went on to point out that a number of the applications received were from businesses and organisations operating for profit, and even a national organisation with significant existing government contracts.

“I think maybe council staff need to advertise this grant a little bit better because the quality of applications can, I think, be improved,” said Cr Arnott.

“It’s nearly at a point where we’re begging for people to put their funding requests in, which is very strange for a grant body to do.

“I want us to be able to give this money away to groups that I know will do well for our community,” he said.

Cr Chris Doohan agreed, adding that it was the quality of the applications themselves which was just as often an issue in seeking approval.

“Some of the applications we had in this last round were very, very poor,” said Cr Doohan.

He went on to suggest that council may consider providing resources that would assist local community groups in preparing applications that were of an acceptable standard.

“Some of these clubs and groups don’t have the expertise in their committee, and when they open the application find the process quite daunting,” he said.

By Lindsay HALL

One thought on “Port Stephens Counsellors have wished for “more and better” submissions from community groups for grants from Community Support Fund

  1. Filling out grant applications is time consuming on volunteers already giving of there own personal time. Maybe somebody could sit down with these groups and assist with the writing process. The follow up aquital at the end. I understand accountability of the money is important but how much more can one expect of our volunteers.

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