Helping your Group during the pandemic

Dear Scouting colleagues,

Greeting from Scouts NSW!

First, my thanks to the many Leaders who are showing amazing resilience and creativity during these challenging times. Across NSW our Leaders are engaging our youth members in the Virtual Scout Hall, promoting our Scouting@Home* initiatives, and devising new activities and programs to keep our members involved. At a difficult time, a little planning and positive spirit is making a big difference.

Speaking of ‘difference’ … we are in a time like no other in our lives. So difference in our thinking is what will keep our Movement strong. We must harness different and new ways of approaching the challenges in front of us.

This Leader News is important for every Leader in NSW as it is devoted to helping your Group during the pandemic, above and beyond the Scouting@Home program we launched last month. The information below is some of what is available to help you continue to deliver Scouting and to remove some of the pressures on the Group.

I know that many of you are struggling, like me, with juggling the new way of working and schooling – no matter how temporary – and your role in Scouts is something else that you need to do differently.

I want you to know how proud I am of every one of you who has made the effort to keep your Group going during this period of physical distancing. For 113 years, online was not the place Scouting happened. It’s reassuring to see how so many of you have found ways to channel the energy of our youth members in such positive ways. But while many of you have been able to switch easily to a new delivery mode, it’s understandable that there are others who have found it harder to adapt weekly programs or outdoors adventures so they can be run for youth members at home.

With the Federal and State Governments starting to relax some social distancing restrictions, I have asked our COVID-19 Task Force to closely monitor developments and to advise me when we might be able to resume face-to-face Scouting. I will advise you as soon as we can resume face-to-face Scouting and the conditions we will meet.

I hope you find the information below useful – all designed to support our local Groups and Crews. Over the coming weeks, we will seek more ways to provide relief and support for your Group and our Scouting families.

Please let us know if you have, or know of, anything else that we can share with your peers.

With best wishes,

Yours in Scouting,

Neville Tomkins OAM JP
Chief Commissioner
Scouts NSW

* If you need some guidance on setting up your virtual Scout Hall or running your online Scouting program, please contact your District Commissioner or your Region Office so they can find the best person to help you.


Membership and financial support from Scouts NSW

Last month we announced a 50% membership fee reduction in the first quarter for members (other than those with the Active Kids Rebate). This fee relief will have been seen in the first quarter billing to Groups. We are actively considering support for Groups in hardship for the second quarter.

Our Emergency Bushfire Relief Fund and Drought Relief Fund and the Family Support Fund are available to support eligible families by providing practical support with fees, uniforms, equipment, mental health first-aid training and Scouting activities. While we know it can be difficult for some families to ask for help, please encourage your families to use these funds. They are there exactly for times like this when our members need that extra support. All applications are treated very sensitively.

The NSW Government offers families the Active Kids voucher through Service NSW. Please promote the voucher to your families for them to redeem from 1 July for the second half of 2020. Scouting will continue even if normal sports activities do not so the $100 Active Kids voucher can be used for Scouting.


Financial relief from government and service providers

To assist not-for-profit organisations, the government and other service providers have announced ways they will be offering financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSW has 178 Crown reserves on behalf of the community for a wide range of uses. Some Scout Halls are built on Crown land. They do not have freehold title and are regulated by NSW Government legislation

For those Groups located on Crown Land or an ex-Crown Reserve, I have been in touch with the department to request rents be waived. I am yet to hear its response, however you will be aware of the land tax relief package announced by the NSW Government in early April.

Where Groups are unable to pay Crown rent or have suffered a loss of rental or other income as a result of the pandemic, that Group can submit a relief request directly to the Crown. Our State Office team will work directly with the Crown on behalf of all Groups, but you must first submit your relief request letter on behalf of your Group; make sure you send a copy of your Region Office. (You can check with your Region Office if you are unsure of the particular property type for your Group.)

If your Group uses a property owned by your local Council, there is a template for you to complete and submit to claim relief for Council rents and/or fees paid. While not all the 120 Local Government Areas (Councils) have the same approach, the attached PDF document outlines the Local Government amendment authorisation for Councils to waive fees. In some Local Government Areas, the relief provided will be moving payment due dates out to November, giving Groups addition time to raise and allocate funds. Please provide a copy of any request to your Region Office.

Find out more about Local Councils offering COVID-19 relief to community groups. Please take the time to check out your local Council web pages.

Energy and telecommunications providers, as well as waste and garbage services, have all indicated that they would consider requests for relief during the pandemic. This draft letter Groups can use to request financial relief or consideration from providers. Groups should submit this request directly to the provider and ensure your Region Office has a copy.

If your Group has financial arrangements with other organisations, you are encouraged to use the relief request templates attached and customise them to use to request additional financial relief.


Grants available to help Groups

There are many sources of external funding and grants Groups can explore, which could be beneficial to your Group and/or your members.

Community Building Partnership Grants

Last week, you should have received an email from me advising of details of this year’s grant round of the Community Building Partnership Program. This is very popular source of funding for Groups across NSW. Applications open on Monday 4 May and close Friday 12 June. Extensions are not available.

Building on last year’s success, our Grants Administration Officer, Cassandra Armstrong, and I will be facilitating teleconference briefings for any interested Group/ Formation at the following times:

  • 8pm to 9:30pm Thursday 30 April
  • 12 noon to 1:30pm Saturday 2 May
  • 8pm to 9:30pm Sunday 3 May

You can register for these briefings here.

Bushfire related grants

The Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short term payment to help if a declared disaster directly affects your income. You can be eligible for up to 13 weeks to the equivalent of Newstart or Youth Allowances. Applications close 1 July 2020.

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment if a declared disaster directly affects you and your family. Payments can be made up to $1,000 per adult and up to $400 per child under the age of 16 years. Applications close 5 July 2020.

The Rural Assistance Authority Bushfire Disaster Recovery grant program is open to help small business, primary producers, sports clubs and not for profit organisations, following the Declaration of Natural Disaster by NSW Government. Ensure your Local Government Area (LGA) is listed and eligible for this program. Amounts of up to $15,000 are available. Applications closing date depends on the Local Government Area – 24 May, 18 June, 23 June and 2 July 2020.

COVID related grants

The Australia Council Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups grants support practising artists and arts workers for a range of activities including creation of new works, collaborations, exhibitions, performances, recordings, etc. Your application will be assessed on artistic merit, viability and your strategic plan to support arts in Australia. This funding from $10,000 – $15,000 may be relevant to some Groups or activities. Closing dates are 2 June and 6 October.

The PPCA Performers’ Trust Foundation provides grants to promote and encourage music and the performing arts. Applications can be made for a variety of purposes including performances, scholarships, promotion, tuition fees, travel, accommodation, etc. Amounts are $3,000 for an individual or $5,000 for a group or organisation and submissions close four times during the year.

If you are looking for funding for a local project or equipment for your organisation, consider contacting your local IGA Supermarket and asking their support through the IGA Community Chest program. Applications can be made at any time. Closing dates are ongoing.

The Bankwest Foundation has a monthly program offering 40 grants per month go to public vote. Top 6 grants receive $1,000. Remaining applications receive $200. Representative and/or organisation must be an active Bankwest customer.

Grant funding is available from the Harcourts Foundation for small to large scale organisations to support their communities. Applications must be for a specific event, project or initiative. Priority is given to projects that have the widest community impact. Closing dates are 30 June, 30 September and 31 December in 2020.


Opportunity to up-skill as a Leader

Some of us are working less, some are working differently, and some of us have lost work due to the pandemic. You may have the opportunity now to invest in your Scouting career or to up-skill for when your personal work situation changes again. There are many online training courses available to Leaders in Scouts, including: Mental Health training online, First aid training online, and courses through Scouts Australian Institute of Training (SAIT).

Your Scouting career is always something worth consideration. Your development is an important part of your satisfaction as an adult member of Scouts. The Adult Development Plan (Form A10A) is the basis for a conversation that allows you and your team to know where you want to contribute as a Leader and how you want to be developed. Typically, each adult leadership appointment is reviewed every 3 years, but an ADP should be done every year; after all, a lot can change in a year, let alone three years. An ADP is a great way to set goals, learn new skills, grow as a Leader, and establish succession plans for the Group.

Office 365 is new for some people and not so new for others. And like any new piece of technology, sometimes it can be daunting. Who do you ask for help? And especially at the moment when we are delivering Scouting online, where can you get some hints and tips on running virtual Scouting? Speak with your Region Office to find out who is doing online Scouting well and reach out to those people for tips.



I hope this information helps our Group and Formations, as well as our Scout families during these extraordinary times. If you come across other grants or opportunities that you think might assist other Groups, and would like us to publicise, please advise your Region Commissioner or send the details by email to me at [email protected] .

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