Annual Grants is now open

Applications for Annual Grants opened on Wednesday 15 May. Picture: ON FILE

By Dongyun Kwon

Yarra Ranges Council (YRC) approved the 2025 Annual Grants program including increasing the amount of money available to the community.

Councillors approved increasing funding to the three grants under the Annual Grants program along with changes to the Monthly Grants program.

In the Annual Grants program, the Community Development stream was increased by $25,000 to a total pool of $275,000, the Festival and Events and Arts and Heritage streams were increased by $50,000 to a total pool of $300,000 and the limit for large festivals was raised from $10,000 to $15,000.

Streeton Ward councillor Andrew Fullagar said it was his pleasure and privilege to recommend the motion.

“Our multi-year grants provide large amounts to support the key organisations across the shire, areas such as health, emergency relief, music and the arts,” he said.

“Our Monthly Grants provide funding to dozens of individuals and groups for a diverse range of projects and events, and these groups leverage this funding many times through in-kind volunteering efforts.

“The result is a profound rippling effect through the economy in the community, providing avenues to new connections, fostering inclusive actions and spreading goodwill.”

The maximum that community groups can apply for the Monthly Grants program was increased to $1500 aligning with the increase of the budget for this program.

The Business and Trader Group Development stream was increased from $10,000 to $18,000 per year, and another $12,000 was allocated for capacity-building support for not-for-profit Business and Trader Groups.

The Connected and Vibrant Communities Monthly Grants stream was enlarged by $20,000 to support small projects that focus on social connection.

“I’m also personally relieved and delighted that we’ve carefully scrutinised the application forms for our Annual Grants to cull superfluous questions, and it’s now nearly half the length of the previous,” Cr Fullagar said.

“That’s a major cut and it’ll be a huge time saver for applicants.

“Other improvements in the program relate to clear language, budgetary information and more efficient handling of in-kind provisions.”

Community member Wendy Rush raised a question about increasing funding to areas such as arts and events at the meeting.

“Unless they draw clear financial benefit to residents, we’re doing a tough at the moment, evaluating the shire’s wonderful events in the arts, however, I cannot see how we can justify this type of expenditure or increased expenditure in an environment where we have residents in hardship,” she said.

In response to the question, Ryrie Ward councillor Fiona McAllister said she loved being asked provocative questions and being made to think deeply about the money that the council is spending on the right things.

“There are many things we do as a council that are hidden, complex, not popular or controversial, but, I do think our grants programs deliver a huge return for the community,” she said.

“I’m reflecting on the events and the programs and the investment in the community that I’ve seen playing out with these grants in my time on council, and they touch the lives, whether people realise or not, almost everybody in our municipality.”

Due to the council elections occurring in October, panel recommendations for Annual Grants applications will be presented to the council’s Executive Leadership Team for consideration and final endorsement, in line with the council’s Election Policy.

Applications for Annual Grants will be closed on 17 June.