December 11 2020

Grants Round Up December 2020

By The Ian Potter Foundation

River refelcting gum trees on the banks
Carr Creek on the Tar Ru Lands in far western NSW, near Wentworth, part of the Murray River floodplain system.
Image courtesy of Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group.

In Round 3, 2020, the Board of The Ian Potter Foundation awarded 13 grants totalling $6,398,000.

Of these over $3 million was awarded across five Environment grants and $2 million to five Community Wellbeing grants. One Early Childhood Development grant ($300,000) was also approved at this meeting.

Two existing major grantees were awarded an additional $900,000.  One to extend an existing pilot project into an important second year and the other to further support the construction of The Ian Potter National Conservatory in Canberra.

Sustainable – Environment

Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group (MDWWG) Ltd
Project: Murray–Baaka (Darling) – Murrumbidgee River and Wetland Connections
$750,000 over 3 years

This capacity-building project will allow this small but highly effective NGO to expand its successful environmental water delivery and waterways restoration program.

MDWWG’s vision is for 1,000km of river connections: re-connecting rivers, floodplains and wetlands, and re-connecting people to the multiple values of these lands and waterways. This project will expand a network of wetlands that re-connect with the Murray and Baaka Rivers through environmental flows and on-ground works; integrate with the environmental management of Gayini and the Great Cumbung in the Murrumbidgee River floodplain; monitor biodiversity improvement, floodplain vegetation and water-dependent fauna; and build the capacity of landholders and Traditional Owners to manage water on their properties.

This grant will support MDWWG to work along over 200km of rivers and wetlands in south-western NSW, to strengthen on-ground restoration and resilience of threatened ecosystems that are experiencing significant loss of biodiversity.

The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is one of the largest - and one of the most regulated - freshwater systems in the world. It has experienced widespread degradation of river and wetland habitats, further exacerbating the impact of major environmental disturbances (droughts, bushfires).

This project aims to ameliorate some of the detrimental effects of this degradation and plan for future resilience through ongoing and active management of river systems, including creeks and wetlands. It also aims to strengthen public knowledge and engagement to promote best practice catchment management across private and agricultural land. MDWWG’s focus for this project is on private property wetlands as over 80% of wetlands in the MDB exist on private property.

Aside from expanding their capacity by recruiting an Environmental Water Manager to be based in Mildura, the group will engage communication specialists to prepare and broadcast case studies and success stories throughout the local and broader community. This will ultimately assist in developing the story of change methodology, and to demonstrate the importance of further investment in private wetland rehabilitation for the health of the greater river system.

The image above shows Carr Creek on the Tar Ru Lands in far western NSW, near Wentworth, part of the Murray River floodplain system.

Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group delivered Commonwealth water to this site in 2016 in partnership with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, The Environmental Water Trust, Tar-Ru Lands Board of Management, Western Local Land Services, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (former), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Department of Primary Industries Water, Moorna Station, SA Water and The Nature Conservancy.

University of Melbourne

Project: A critical pathway for Australia’s Conservation Future
$1,276,000 over 3 years

The University of Melbourne and Bush Heritage Australia are partnering to deliver an ambitious project that will fill a critical gap in Australia’s approach to environmental protection.

This project aims to create a consolidated ‘knowledge system’ for conservation in Australia which national, state, regional, corporate and E-NGO biodiversity conservation agencies can adopt and utilise. The University and Bush Heritage have convened a consortium of 16 collaborators from government, universities, First Nations, agriculture and industry bodies, private landowners and E-NGOs to tackle this challenge. This consortium will bring together data and knowledge from diverse sources and codesign a Conservation Knowledge System to enhance decision-making, share information and knowledge, and strengthen and unite the conservation effort.

The project will improve the quality, consistency and accessibility of information for policy setting, prioritisation of resources, and conservation action.

The Conservation Ecology Trust
Project: Managing for Biodiversity and Bushfire Risk in Increasingly Flammable Country
$204,000 over 2 years

In the wake of the bushfires of 2019–20 and the changing climate, Australia must find ways to reduce bushfire risk and mitigate the impact of future fires through informed and strategic land management. In doing so, we must also find a balance between reducing fuel hazards through prescribed burns and preserving healthy habitats for biodiversity.

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) has increased the schedule of prescribed fuel hazard reduction burning across this habitat of several threatened species, especially on the margins of the Otway Range where the threat of wildfire to human communities is high. The proposed increased frequency of these burns will likely result in loss of endangered wildlife, as more habitat is lost from too frequent and too high-intensity burns.

This Conservation Ecology Trust (CEC) project represents a rare opportunity for an on-ground conservation organisation to work with a government fire agency to research and jointly plan fire management. FFMV have invited CEC to participate in trials to determine a locally appropriate fire regime that manages fire in the Otways for both community safety and biodiversity conservation.

CEC plays an important role in developing joint First Nations and western science fire management plans in the Otway region. The results of this project stand to influence statewide planning for prescribed burns, ensuring biodiversity outcomes are considered hand in hand with fuel reduction for community safety.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
Project: Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design: from theory to practice
$600,000 over 4 years

Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design (BSUD) is a process-based protocol designed to assist urban planner, designers and developers to create urban environments that generate net benefits for native biodiversity, through careful urban designs that provide habitat and resources, mitigate threats, and enhance connectivity.

BSUD represents a new approach to urban biodiversity conservation by seeking to achieve biodiversity benefits on site, in contrast to the standard offsetting approach, which reduces opportunities for urban nature experiences. Biodiverse urban greening can deliver remarkable benefits for people including improved health, clean air, urban cooling and increased workplace productivity.

Whilst the protocol has already informed the design of various developments, this project will take the next step to test, refine and generate an evidence-based industry standard for mainstreaming the concept.

With this funding, researchers at RMIT’s Interdisciplinary Conservation Research Group (ICON), led by Professor Sarah Bekessy, will work collaboratively with industry partners Lend Lease, Yarra Valley Water and GHD Design Services to implement BSUD in demonstration sites and then rigorously evaluate the model to measure the real-world ecological, social and economic outcomes.

This demonstration project will be essential to building the evidence for biodiversity sensitive urban design and overcoming key perceived barriers with the aim of mainstreaming biodiversity sensitive urban design which will have a myriad of benefits for native species and urban communities.

Monash University
Project: Promoting thriving populations: A world-first toolkit to improve genetic management of threatened species
$277,919 over 3 years

The conservation of many threatened species depends on moving individuals between populations, both wild and captive, to establish new populations in safe-havens. Decision-makers, like governments, must decide which applications for translocations they should approve, yet have no way to estimate the likely benefits of different proposals. Threatened species managers acknowledge the importance of evolutionary concepts for conservation outcomes but they currently lack the tools to translate theory into practice.

This research will use new developments in population modelling to create a decision-support tool that uses advanced modelling techniques to investigate how moving animals between populations will influence genetic diversity. The tool will help threatened species managers and government agencies make evidence-based decisions.

Once the tool has been developed and validated, the project team led by Dr Carly Cook will engage with all state and territory governments to promote the value of this approach for managing threatened species translocations. This active engagement with conservation managers aims to significantly advance a more collaborative approach to species management including managing predator-free reserves and islands as a network rather than individual sanctuaries.

Fair – Community Wellbeing

Social Traders Ltd
Project: Scale social enterprise procurement across Australia
$1,500,000 over 5 years 

Social Traders has a bold 10-year vision (Vision 2030) to support social enterprises to create over 44,000 jobs for disadvantaged Australians by growing the market for their products and services to $1 billion by 2030. Building on Social Traders’ significant progress over the last 3 years, Vision 2030 seeks to scale and embed social enterprise procurement nationally; driving major reforms in public and private sector procurement policy over the next decade to include buying from social enterprises.

This $1.5 million five-year grant supports organisation-wide capacity building, allowing Social Traders to deliver a core project underpinning the Vision 2030 growth strategy.

Social Traders’ objective is to scale and embed social enterprise procurement within 180 private and public sector organisations primarily in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia growing their procurement spending to $450 million by FY2025 with over 530 certified social enterprises. This will result in $1.5 billion in revenue for the social enterprise sector (cumulative over five years) creating 12,000 jobs for vulnerable Australians.

Strengthening the capacity of social enterprises to respond to growth opportunities and influencing government procurement policies to have mandates around buying from social enterprises are also key priorities.

Social enterprises offer an efficient solution to moving the most at-risk people back into work because they create entry-level jobs that provide the career start that the most vulnerable need. They are effective because they offer a people-centred approach and focus on the complex needs of the individual and have the capacity to tailor their approach accordingly.

Supporting the growth of social procurement, incentivising corporates and government departments to buy services and goods from social enterprises, will ultimately strengthen the whole social enterprise sector.

WorkRestart Social Enterprises Ltd
Project: Second Chance Partners Project
$200,000 over 2 years

The Second Chance Partners Project aims to help some of Australia’s most marginalised people to secure meaningful employment upon release from prison thereby creating a future for themselves and their families. The project will work with ex-offenders, enabling them to successfully integrate into the workforce and break the cycle of reoffending.

The project has three key objectives: Connecting business owners directly with formerly incarcerated people, supporting both the employer and the individual as the individual transitions to employment, and changing the narrative to one of ‘second chances’ rather than ‘no good’.

The Second Chance project will focus on re-integration and employment pathways support using a wrap-around strategy to ensure better outcomes are achieved and recidivism is further reduced.

Jigsaw Group (Aust) Limited
Project: Creating 1,000 traineeships and 600 award-wage jobs to prepare people with disability for mainstream employment
$300,000 over 3 years

Jigsaw is a social enterprise that trains and transitions people with disability into mainstream employment. Central to the Jigsaw model is a fast-growing document management business, providing high-quality business-to-business services to over 100 corporate and government clients. Jigsaw gives people with disability the opportunity to develop work skills in a real business, join the workforce for the first time, and use those experiences as a springboard into mainstream roles.

This grant contributes to the cost of launching four new sites (Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth) and development of the Jigsaw Connect program to transition Jigsaw graduates into mainstream employment. With the implantation of this program, Jigsaw is set to become a ‘model’ for the employment of people with disabilities across Australia.

Philanthropy Australia Ltd
Project: Jobs and Skills Funder Network (Philanthropy Australia Chapter Group)
$75,000 over 3 years

Philanthropy Australia has facilitated the gathering of funders around specific topics or special needs as Chapter Groups for many years. The Jobs and Skills Funder Network is a new special interest space for organisations to collaborate, partner and share information around programs that support vulnerable Australians into employment.

Given the key interest around pathways onto employment of vulnerable individuals, the Jobs and Skills Funder Network will provide funders with up-to-day knowledge of innovative projects and practices, current government policy frameworks and invaluable opportunities for collaboration with other funders in a more informed and structured way that will lead to better grantmaking.

Griffith University (Yunus Centre)
Project: Social Enterprise National Strategy (SENS) initiative

The Social Enterprise National Strategy (SENS) initiative will equip the social enterprise sector with a unified and consistent voice to clearly articulate the sector’s role in achieving the government’s recovery plans. Without a common strategy, the sector remains somewhat fragmented and is at risk of remaining relegated to a secondary position and not achieving its full potential.

This grant supports The Yunus Centre to develop the SENS initiative which is critical to creating a long-term national vision for the sector and supporting a purpose-led economic recovery.

Fair – Early Childhood Development

Social Ventures Australia Limited
Project: The Connection – a Learning Education System
$300,000 over 2 years

The Connection was launched in 2014 by Social Ventures Australia (SVA) to support outstanding school leaders and teachers in disadvantaged school communities to develop collaborations with other like-minded school leaders, as well as industry, government and tertiary education providers. Through these collaborations, the participants build and share expertise, knowledge and evidence-informed resources and practices, and foster systems leadership for the system-wide improvement of student outcomes.

The aim of this project is to create an innovative online collaboration space to enable the Connection to reach significantly greater scale and support schools in isolated communities. Partnering with Education Services Australia (ESA) and two industry experts, SVA will design and build a highly innovative online collaboration space, translating their in-person delivery to an online hybrid model. The platform will increase participant inclusion across jurisdictions, establish modelling for early years (0-8), provide inclusion for regional, rural and remote communities, and assist those with stretched/limited resources.

The shift to online learning from home and the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 has impacted vulnerable communities more significantly than any other, making the role of The Connection in building educational equity more important now than ever. Current members of The Connection have had the benefit of being able to connect with each other through this crisis to learn from each other and share how they are managing and continuing to support students. Unfortunately, many leading Australian schools in low socioeconomic communities remain isolated.

The Connection program has been evaluated and is proven to improve student outcomes, practitioner capability and motivation, and system capacity and capability to support practice innovation and improvement. This highly collaborative and innovative project will develop an online collaborative space enabling the program to reach more schools and expand into the early years.

Major Grants

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI)
Project: Building capacity of primary schools to address children’s mental health – Year 2

In December 2019, the Foundation awarded a grant of $500,000 supporting a pilot project led by MCRI – in partnership with the Victorian Department of Education and Training and with other academic and institutional partners – to design, develop, implement and evaluate a primary school step-tiered, system-level approach to child mental health.

The Foundation has awarded a further $500,000 to enable a second year of the Mental Health in Primary Schools (MHiPS) Pilot and the evaluation of the implementation and impact of the expanded MHiPS program.

Director of National Parks – Australian National Botanic Garden
Project: The Ian Potter National Conservatory

A further $400,000 has been granted to The Ian Potter National Conservatory project to assist the Australian National Botanic Garden to cover increased materials and safe work environment costs that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.


Please note: Some multi-year grants awarded by the Foundation may be subject to certain conditions being met prior to a pending grant payment being released.