Hepburn Shire Council will deliver grants through a more efficient, equitable and transparent process under changes recommended in a recent review and adopted by Council at its March meeting.

The review investigated Council’s five grants programs – Community Grants, Event Grants, Biodiversity Grants, Landcare Grants and Towards Zero Grants.

The recommendations of the review address the administrative burden and the fragmented approach to grants provided by the Shire. Under the plan approved by Council, EFT staffing for grant programs will be increased and the involvement of Councillors in decision making will be reduced.

Neighbourhood Centres will each receive a $2,500 annual grant and the Daylesford and Creswick community bands will receive a $1000 annual grant without the need so submit an application. This will reduce the administrative burden on Council and on those community groups.

Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, said “This review of Council grants has led to a report recommending some significant improvements, ensuring processes are streamlined and recipients receive funds in a more timely way, including through quick response grants.” “We want to encourage more community groups to get involved in the grant programs and ensure that funds are more widely distributed across the Shire,” he said.

Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, said that grants play an important role in getting community projects off the ground and delivered. “Feedback from grant program applicants and recipients has been overwhelmingly positive, indicating the value and importance of these programs to our communities,” said Cr Hood.

Council undertook a period of consultation with the community and former grant recipients, and this feedback has formed the basis for many of the recommendations. The report also incorporates nine recommendations made by Victorian Auditor General’s Office to all councils after an audit in 2022.

Some of the key recommendations include developing a Council Community Funding Policy to guide all grant making, strengthening the evaluation criteria and scoring matrix program, establishing strengthened evaluation panels, developing a grant handbook, and providing opportunities for community members to complete grant writing workshops. Changes to the grants programs will be made over the coming year.

The next round of Community Grants opens today (Friday 31 March). Apply via www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/grants.