With the announcement of successful applicants under Round Two of the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) there were a number of grant successes that we could be highlighting in this edition of the newsletter, however I wanted to focus on RACQ CQ Rescue and their success as it provides some valuable learnings for other potential grant applicants.
The RACQ CQ Rescue project first came to our attention in Round One of the BBRF where unfortunately they were unsuccessful with their application for funding to assist with new rescue crew facilities and hangar door upgrades at their Mackay based hangar. When Round Two came about, CEO, Ian Rowan and the team at RACQ CQ Rescue decided to apply again and approached Mackay Regional Council and RDA MIW to see if we could provide assistance with their application.
After meeting with Ian and some members of their board it was clear that their project met the guidelines for the BBRF, however there were some gaps in their business case around broader regional economic benefit. A workshopping session was held with RDA MIW, MRC and RACQ CQ Rescue and a number of key regional economic benefits were identified by the group. At this time the RACQ CQ Rescue team also identified that their staff were time poor and would struggle to develop a strong submission before the application closure date. Rather than developing a half-baked proposal they decided to utilise some external support to manage the grant application process and utilised local support for this role. In relation to the overall process Ian Rowan said “The BBRF grant process required us to submit our application in three weeks immediately prior to Christmas! This meant a focussed effort from key staff and frequent meetings with key stakeholders and external contractors for input to meet the Design & Build submission, local and regional economic benefits report and the detailed application support material.”
With the assistance of this external support (and a number of drafts/feedback sessions and further discussions), RACQ Rescue were then able to craft up an application that saw them successful in Round Two and will deliver them $1.62M for their infrastructure project. The project itself is critical to future-proof RACQ CQ Rescue as highlighted by Ian Rowan when he said “The successful application is testament to the fantastic efforts of all organisations who willingly supported the project. This funding will allow CQ Rescue to future proof our hangar operational facility (improved floor space for additional aircraft, upgrade engineering and medical storage space, a VR training facility), improving our operations centre, 24/7 operation crew facilities, kitchen, support staff offices, D&A testing and an ability to be designated as an Emergency Control Centre in cyclones and disasters with direct airside access.”
When looking back at the history of this project and their funding application, there are a number of lessons to be learned from this process, however four immediately spring to my mind:
Lesson 1: Persistence can pay off – don’t be put off by lack of success. Funding rounds are competitive and you won’t always be successful.
Lesson 2: Take on board feedback from previous applications. Learn from the experience when you are unsuccessful.
Lesson 3: Workshop your application with key stakeholders early. Early engagement with key stakeholders is a key to strong project planning.
Lesson 4: In the application use a three-step process of “defining, quantifying and providing evidence of benefits”.
Once again, we would like to congratulate RACQ CQ Rescue on their successful application and look forward to seeing their critical infrastructure project delivered in the near future, so that they can continue to provide their vital service to the MIW region.