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My Community Project : Disappointment in popularity contest

The Beagle Editor, Your coverage and editorial last week of the NSW Government’s ‘My Community Project’ funding initiative are both commendable and unsupportable. You are quite correct heavily criticizing this community funding project. This is a NSW Government project that, absolutely, should never have been approved – let alone be considered. And, as it is electorate-based, Andrew Constance must therefore be roundly condemned for ever allowing it to have been implemented in the Bega Electorate. In no way does it recognize actual community need, or projects that necessarily have any merit (however that might be defined) or address the ability of the applicants to capably deliver the outcomes of the projects they have proposed. And it simply rewards the (probably larger) organisations who can quickly muster significant numbers of votes from the community and/or projects that (irrespective of their need or merit) pull at community heartstrings. But, community groups are totally reliant on whatever funding opportunities are offered to them. In this case, 35 community organisations (including South Coast History Society) submitted details of projects – perhaps each of them having some degree of merit - costed at a total of over $2¾ million for just $260,000 being offered. Many local organisations are, therefore, going to be extremely disappointed with the outcome of this unusual but major government funding opportunity. The way this particular project has, administratively, been handled is also absolutely appalling…and the NSW Government (and again Andrew Constance) must also be strongly condemned for this. You highlighted the fact that, at least on the first days when locals could indicate their preferences, the online voting system was simply unavailable. So, whatever efforts were made by local community organisations to garner support for their causes were, simply, thwarted by the government. So, it’s probably no surprise that South Coast History Society has received an enormous number of calls and emails from supporters indicating their frustrations at attempting to help us. We do not need this sort of unnecessary ‘distraction’ - when we (as volunteers) are simply striving to provide much-needed, tangible benefits to our community! I imagine 34 other local organisations have also been bombarded with similar (unexpected, unwelcomed, unnecessary) negative feedback about the demonstrably-incompetent State Government. Organisations, such as the South Coast History Society, who submitted funding applications (which took us considerable time and resources to compile) have also been treated appallingly. In our case, we received absolutely no feedback over several months that our submission would be included for consideration until late on the working day before voting (supposedly) commenced. And two emails to the department involved, seeking information, just a week prior to the voting commenced, resulted in totally unhelpful and evasive replies. Finally, it’s disappointing that you have taken an exceptionally parochial view of this funding project. Funding was offered to projects that would benefit the ENTIRE Bega Electorate, not just the Eurobodalla Shire section of it, and South Coast History Society deliberately advanced a project that will significantly benefit the WHOLE of the Bega Electorate. If for no other reason than this, our ‘BRINGING HISTORY ALIVE’ project is certainly Bega Electorate community support, and deserves at least the same amount of publicity from you as has been provided in ‘The Beagle’ to local Eurobodalla projects. Peter Lacey President, South Coast History Society Editors note: The Beagle was parochial in listing only the Eurobodalla projects within the Bega electorate. As a consequence we did not include the South Coast History Society project as it was attributed as being a Bega project however we appreciate the project will benefit the entire South East. We have now added this project to our list for your consideration.