Resources and Information for Coordinators and host organisations involved in the NSW Landcare Program

Questions from Q&A session

Questions posed regarding the new Program are answered below.

Questions from Q&A session

Questions posed regarding the new Program are answered below.

Program coordinators and host contacts with TOOLBOX access can view the webinar recording and view the presentation slides under New Landcare Program 2023-27 information

BUSINESS CASE OPTIONS AND PROCESS

Can a copy of the economic evaluation and business case documents be provided?

Evaluations are a requirement for Government funded programs/projects.
Local Land Services are required to evaluate the Program and provide these evaluations back to the NSW Government. They are not public documents.
The Program Team will prepare and present the findings of the evaluations and key recommendations for future programs at the State Gathering in May 2023.
This document addresses frequently asked questions relating to business case options and the process for a new program.

I have heard very little about the new program other than the size of the options that were offered. When are we going to receive detail for this so that we have some understanding of what might be coming? When are we going to be asked for feedback on their workability for our organisation?

You can watch the recording from the Q & A session on 16th November on Gateway – please visit New Landcare Program 2023-27 information — NSW Landcare Gateway
The presentation (also available at this location) covers the high level summary of the options as outlined in the Strategic Business Case. With regards to workability of the options, this has not been mapped out to individual regions, rather we have been pursuing a total funding level, once we know what is available then regions will need to submit a proposal outlining the coordinator and support roles needed to function and to deliver a new program (see “funding application process” section later in this document).
Several key focus areas have been identified that will require key people to assist in focus groups. For example, reporting and technology and innovation.
Focus groups will be created in the new year.

How are the proposed options being weighted? What are the priorities of the business case?

Options were developed based on stakeholder feedback including annual surveys and ad-hoc discussions throughout the life of the program, and the ‘problem’ we are trying to solve i.e. Landcare coordination is essential to support Landcare volunteers and the movement. No weighting has been given to the options but as per the existing program the continuation of the coordination roles is the vital component, and it has been stressed that without this, the program would not be able to deliver on its objectives.

What is the $ funding requested for what purposes and what are the outputs required?

Please refer to the recording and presentation on Gateway - New Landcare Program 2023-27 information — NSW Landcare Gateway The funding requests are:
• $23.1M “Existing Program” • $34.8M “Augmented Program” • $58.8M “Program Plus” Further details on the components of each option are provided on slide 8 of the Q & A presentation on 16th November - Please refer to the recording and presentation on Gateway - New Landcare Program 2023-27 information — NSW Landcare Gateway

When will the decision on the level of funding be made to maximise continuity of staff?

It is unclear when a decision will be made by the Minister for pre-election commitments. It is likely we may hear something in the beginning of 2023 and before the election in March.

We want to hang onto our current coordinators, what is the probability of there being a Phase 3 of the NSWLP?

The new program options are largely based on the current NSWLP i.e. all of the key components in the NSWLP are also in the new program options. For example, local and regional coordinator roles, Aboriginal engagement, professional development, program central support etc. The augmented and program plus programs include additional components around innovation, technology and legal/human resources support.

With the final submission date for the business case being March, how can it be approved when the government is in caretaker role?

This cannot be answered with any real certainty. We know the Election is in March 2023. We are hoping for an election commitment prior to this time. All efforts are being made to demonstrate the benefits of the program to Government and we encourage hosts to support this via the package of information recently provided by LNSW - NSW Landcare Program - funding beyond 2023 - Landcare NSW. We must stress that participants employed by the Program should not be contacting Ministers, local MP etc as this is a clear conflict of interest – if in doubt please contact your host or the Program team.

Will there be "dead time" between the end of the old program and the start of the new one for which I will need to retain funding for staff?

It is likely that there will be a delay between the current program ending and a new program beginning. We encourage regions to start scenario planning for any such “dead time”.

Is there any on ground works scope in there anywhere? It looks like we should still have access to similar money federally to apply for on ground works potentially and this is an important part of our ability to sustain organisations.

No, the business case does not include any on ground works. Including funding for on ground works was discussed but the decision was made that this wouldn’t be via the program, but through the evaluation works it was clear that recording the on ground works is key, and we need to ensure this continues in the new program to demonstrate the programs outcomes.

What is the message we give in our dealings with local political community ie I was under the impression the business case was for one option I think it is called "Landcare plus"$59M?

The main messaging is around the need for the NSW Landcare Program to continue post June 2023 in whatever form that will take. Ideally the Government will fund Program Plus so we are using the $59 M figure. Educating local MPs and candidates about how Landcare benefits their electorates and the need for Landcare is critical. It would be great if you could have your pitch of the program ready and where possible engage with your electoral aspirants. The members portal contains resources around the current program and communications materials have been made available already to Hosts - NSW Landcare Program - funding beyond 2023 - Landcare NSW.

What are the rules of engagement for employed staff? We are planning to gather a list of questions from members to put to candidates around their views on Landcare and sustainable farming. If we do this in the form of an interview, is that ok for paid staff?

From Landcare NSW
The members portal contains resources around the current program and communications materials have been made available already to Hosts NSW Landcare Program - funding beyond 2023 - Landcare NSW.
Paid staff for the NSW Landcare Program (i.e. Landcare Coordinators) should be encouraged to speak to stakeholders about their role and the Program.
However, where public statements are requested, and letters/emails are sent to Members of Parliament or political candidates, it is preferable these are made by the volunteers from the Host Organisations or other Landcarers, rather than the Local Coordinators. It’s advisable that public statements should acknowledge the support we have received from the NSW Government for the current NSW Landcare Program.

Given we now have extreme weather conditions more or less as ''normal'', can we, should we link our Landcare work with helping communities deal with, prepare for and stay positive during these climatic, environmental extremes?

Yes, it is really important that we explore how the Landcare network could contribute to improving resilience and to a safer landscape. Collectively we need to think about how we might weave landscape resilience and recovery into the design of your programs of work, and ways to work with SES and Rural Fire Service.

Do you have any tips on communicating and gaining support for the 2023-2027 Program when most are not aware that there is a current program?

The members portal contains resources around the current program and communications materials have been made available already to Hosts - NSW Landcare Program - funding beyond 2023 - Landcare NSW.
Minister Saunders is aware of the Program and demonstrated support and attendance at the recent Parliamentary of Friends of Landcare event.

Could the current flood disaster and other disaster related issues have a financial impact that will affect the business case?

This is a question we cannot answer. Government is likely to have finite funding for flood and other disaster recovery.
It is a good idea to think about how groups, networks or regions can align/assist with Government priorities.

I understand some networks are looking at engaging external HR experts now at a considerable cost, given the uncertainty of what the next program would include, is LNSW in a position to commit to providing access to HR expert advice into the future irrespective of the amount of the new program?

The Member's Portal on the Landcare NSW website has a suite of resources including HR and Governance checklists, templates and policies for paid member groups.
Note that the House Paddock training provided also allows for an allowance of 2 hrs per host to contact House Paddock for specialist advice – could this be useful in this instance?
Further to this, LNSW hope to provide a level of support regardless of funding, how much and what for is not clear at this stage.

RESOURCING, STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE

Q. Will the program going forward still be based on 1FTE being 35 hours?
Q. One of the outcomes from the sessions that were held was that positions should be full time. Is this intended to be made compulsory? If so it could detrimentally exclude people who want to work part-time.
Q. Will there be a requirement that each individual Coordinator work a minimum of 0.6FTE? And will this still be based on a 35hr week? Likewise if 1 FTE is achieved will this be able to be split between two individuals, 0.5FTE each?
Q. What is the proposed model - full time or part time - and geographical area for the local landcare coordinators that is being presented?
Q. Are there any new roles or increases in FTE likely in these new program options? We need to consider staff workloads and potential recruitment.
Ql If the RLC position is continued, can they have a better budget that allows them to do more across region - similar to what the RLF was able to do?

The future program is based upon a 35-hour week.
Under the current program, the minimum FTE is 0.25FTE, but the mean average across all coordinators is 0.4FTE.
The business case reflects current minimum in business-as-usual option moving toward 1FTE for the Program Plus option.
The new bid includes three options - one includes full FTE for the number of existing LLCs and RLCs. The Program evaluation and stakeholder engagement has shown that managing FTE below 0.5FTE can be challenging and unrealistic for groups to manage effectively especially being volunteers. The Program is aware of several occasions where managing staff 1-2 days / week has been a concern. Should a region include coordination roles at below 0.5 FTE (3 days per week) in their proposal, then this would need to be qualified and demonstrate how these part time roles would be adequately supported and managed.
There have been many instances in the current program where host organisations found it very challenging to support coordinators who are less than 0.5FTE.
If a new program is funded, regions will need to submit a proposal outlining the best efficient way funding could be used to support that region with demonstratable justification. Guidelines will be provided as part of the submission process providing detail about the objectives of the new program, deliverables and roles that may be supported.

What will be the function of the executive in relation to the local landcare coordinators? Will they provide administrative assistance for grant applications and other administrative activities? What will that support look like?

If a new program is funded, regions will need to submit a proposal outlining the best efficient way funding could be used to support that region with demonstratable justification. Guidelines will be provided as part of the submission process providing detail about the objectives of the new program, deliverables and roles that may be supported such as executive officers, regional and local roles.

How will the proposed model of regional allocation affect groups that work across regional boundaries?

This will be dependent on the region. Every region is different, and some are relatively new.
It is envisaged that guidelines will be provided on what roles would be funded under a new Program.
A regional role maybe a Regional Communications specific role, OR a region may choose not to have a regional role and only LLCs but consideration should be given as to how information will be effectively disseminated across the region without a regional role.
All of this will form part of the application process and we encourage you to start thinking about this and how you might want a mix of roles to best suit your region and achieve your desired outcomes.
Groups working across regional boundaries will need to raise this at regional discussions and will need to be considered as part of the application process.

What are the structural or objective benefits of involving Local Land Services? Why can't the governance be streamlined with regional facilitators employed by Landcare NSW and local landcare coordinators employed by their hosts?

The Landcare/LLS partnership is underpinned by a LLS/Landcare NSW MoU.
The current program has highlighted that governance continues to be an issue for some groups and organisations. The Government has expended $22.4m over four years and as such a large funding amount requires an independent organisation to oversee quality assurance, return on investment, conflicts of interest and transparency.
Government also needs to have confidence that grant recipients have good governance in place – this is even more important given the recently updated Grant Administration Guidelines.
LLS has facilitated and funded the evaluations in support of Landcare and the Program. Without the evaluation documents, the Government and treasury may not consider a new program.

Will the Local Landcare Coordinator and Regional Landcare Coordinator roles be the same as the current Program?

It will depend on the Region, its needs and what it is proposing via the application process.
Whilst we have identified the need for a role review, and this may result in some tweaks to the RLC and LLC role description, the roles are unlikely to change materially.
We will be establishing a focus group to work through roles and role descriptions with the Program Team in the new year.
If a new program is funded, regions will need to submit a proposal outlining the best efficient way funding could be used to support that region with demonstratable justification. Guidelines will be provided as part of the submission process providing detail about the objectives of the new program, deliverables and roles that may be supported.

Relating to top-down/bottom-up, how many and which roles will the Program team be made up of under the different scenarios?

Under the existing program option, there would be no change to the core LNSW / LLS Program staff numbers at 7.2 FTE, under augmented program this would rise to 8 FTE, and under program plus there would be 9 FTE.

Is there a process for the governance checklists to look at compliance across State and joint priorities? Or will this be the focus groups? Interested in Landcare NSW 'risk' review looking at compliance legally at a higher level. For example, we could look collectively at the legal requirement for Work Health Safety consultation, rather than at regional and group level?

Effective Work, Health and Safety policies and procedures are critical to all workers.
A focus group will be developed to look specifically at policies and procedures review and gaps at a state level including WHS.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Does the business case include funding for professional development for coordinators?

Yes, an allowance of $3,400 per coordinator is included in the “existing” and “augmented” program options with $5,000 in the “program plus” option.

PAY AND CONDITIONS

Can penalty rate provisions be costed into future grant applications? AND The bulk of Landcare activity takes place on weekends (as its volunteer based), clarity needs to be provided to ensure coordinators get their legal rate of pay for weekend work, and this is reflected in grant budgets.

Penalty rates are not currently included in the estimates. It is the responsibility of any organisation employing employees to ensure they are appropriately renumerated.
There is a potential, should a new program be funded, to revisit this in a focus group.

There are a lot of project management jobs coming up and available at the moment, paying $80Kpa plus. To be successful in a coordinators role requires an extensive skill set beyond just project management. Does this business case and the remuneration reflect the coordinator role and skills required? What will the recommended hourly rate be for a coordinator? If not adequate we will keep losing very talented and skilled people due to remuneration.

The Strategic Business Case includes updated salaries to better align with LLS award grades and annual CPI escalation has been included in the business case. This was not included in the current program.
Based upon the anticipated salaries from the business case, the recommended hourly rate for a local coordinator would be approximately around $40 per hr (excluding super and on costs).
As with all funding proposals, we need to balance what we are asking for with what we can prove and justifiably ask for through the economic evaluation of the Program.

FUNDING APPLICATION PROCESS

Q: How will regional allocations for LLC funding be split? I.e. equal allocations for all regions or proportionate to numbers of LLC's in the current program or by another measure?
Q: How will the capacity of new groups to host LLC's be defined/considered? Is this a regional or program responsibility to assess this?
Q: Assuming we get as least option B of the proposal - How will hosts for the next round of coordinators be decided? What will be different in the roll-out of phase 3 of the program?
Q: Will the regions get to decide the spread of coordinators & who will host? Will they be open to other groups to put their hand up to be a host?
Q: If our region has district networks with active Landcare groups, who have expressed interest in hosting a new coordinator - are their provisions in the new bid for additional coordinators? How will this be managed on a Regional scale?
Q: Is there a framework for determining the allocation of resources in each region? Who needs to be involved in determining this at a regional level?

It is envisaged that there will be an application process for each region to apply for the mix of roles available. Extensive stakeholder engagement and understanding the needs of each region will be critical to this process.
It is suggested that regions begin scenario planning e.g. • what can/should we do if a new program isn't funded? • What if we receive the same funding or double the funding?
If new hosts are being proposed for the next Program, you should be starting these conversations as early as possible and ensure that potential hosts meet the Governance requirements for the program and can confidently deliver what is required of them. Demonstrated good governance will be a requirement for a new program.

PROGRAM REPORTING AND ACQUITTAL

Q: What is needed with regards to reporting and financial acquittal at the end of the program? Do I need to make sure, for example, that all funds have been completely exhausted or can I manage their use as back-up for a delayed transition possibly to a new program?
Q: What is the plan for the completion of the current program? where will the state gathering be & when?

Yes, you will need to acquit all funding by the end of the current Program as well as provide final financial reports as per the funding deed (refer to reporting requirements in your funding deed).
The Joint Management Committee are looking into options for groups who are likely to have unspent program funds beyond 30th June 2023.
Tentative dates for the State Gathering are 16-18th May 2023 (location TBC). Please check the Program newsletter for further information on the State Gathering.

What was the reasoning behind the plan for a 3 year program rather than the current 4 years?

As per the current program we are proposing a 4 year program (from July 2023 to end of June 2027).