Raising the voice for women - Questions and Answers about the National Women’s Alliances Selection Process

Question 1: We are a state-based women’s non-government organisation (NGO). Can we become an Alliance in our own right?

Answer 1: No. Alliances should include at least one national women's organisation, and may include other organisations (such as state or territory based organisations), and individuals.

The eligibility criteria outlined in Section 1 of the Application Guidelines provides more information. Your organisation is encouraged to engage with other women’s groups and individuals to form an Alliance with the broadest possible representation (for more information see Question 11).

Question 2: Our organisation would like to apply as an Alliance working on a specific area of focus but we know that similar issues are being looked at by another organisation that is also considering applying. Can we both be Alliances?

Answer 2: No two groups or organisations working on the same or similar issues will be selected. Your organisation is encouraged to engage with the other organisation and consider options for working together to develop a single application, which will ensure the broadest possible representation. To assist you to identify and engage with other organisations, and for them to engage with you, the Department will publish the names and contact details of interested organisations on the FaHCSIA website. (for more information see Question 11).

It is hoped that the successful Alliances will continue to engage with other organisations after the selection process is complete, to ensure that their representation remains broad and dynamic.

Question 3: We are a group of women’s NGOs interested in setting up an Alliance, but none of our organisations satisfy the eligibility requirements in our own right. Are we able to ask a national women’s NGO to auspice us so that we can submit an application for funding?

Answer 3: Yes, provided that the national women’s NGO you choose meets the eligibility criteria outlined in Section 1 of the Application Guidelines.

Question 4: We would like to form an Alliance and then get incorporated if we are successful in our application. Can we do this?

Answer 4: No. In order to meet the eligibility requirements, the Applicant must already be incorporated at the time of submitting an Application. If one of your proposed member organisations is already incorporated and meets the other eligibility requirements, you may wish to nominate that organisation as the lead agency. Alternatively, you may wish to find another organisation that is already incorporated and meets the other eligibility requirements that would be willing to auspice your proposed Alliance.

Question 5: What is the difference between a lead agency and an auspicing body?

Answer 5: For the purpose of this selection process, a Lead Agency in a National Women’s Alliance is defined as a member organisation of the Alliance that is incorporated and which is legally responsible for the Alliance meeting all the terms and conditions of the funding agreement. An Auspicing Body for a National Women’s Alliance is defined as a non-member of the Alliance that is incorporated and which is legally responsible for the Alliance meeting all the terms and conditions of the funding agreement.

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Question 6: We are a group of organisations that would like to form a new Alliance and are not incorporated in our own right. If we nominate a lead agency or auspicing body, how can we be sure that we will have an equal say in how the Alliance operates?

Answer 6: The selection criteria are strongly focused on ensuring that successful Applicant Organisations have broad representation. The selection criteria also require that details about governance structures and how democratic operating principles will be applied are included. To meet the eligibility requirements, member organisations of a proposed Alliance with a lead agency or auspicing body are required to sign an undertaking to enter into some form of agreement with the lead agency or auspicing body to work together to provide the services described in the Application.

Question 7: If we form a brand new Alliance with a lead agency or auspicing body and are successful in our Application, can we change later to become an incorporated organisation in our own right?

Answer 7: If the Application is successful and a Funding Agreement entered into, there may be an opportunity after the new Alliance is well established to renegotiate the Funding Agreement as a new legal entity, if the Alliance wants to become incorporated in its own right.

Question 8: Our organisation meets the eligibility criteria for a national women’s NGO. We are interested in focussing on a specific area of interest rather than on general issues, can we apply to become an Alliance?

Answer 8: Yes you can. The Government wants to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women from rural, regional and remote areas are appropriately represented. In addition, the Government wants to ensure that the Alliances cover significant issues that affect all women across Australian society, including but not limited to its policy priorities for gender equality. Each Alliance should have a clearly distinguished focus and a clear policy agenda.

Question 9: What are the Government’s policy priorities for gender equality?

Answer 9: The Government’s policy priorities for gender equality are:

  • reducingviolence against women and their children
  • improvingwomen’s economic security
  • ensuringwomen’s equal place in society

Question 10: Our organisation represents the interests of a number of other organisations and individuals, and we meet the eligibility criteria for a national women’s NGO. Is there a minimum number of member organisations required to establish an Alliance?

Answer 10: No, there is not. Membership should be as diverse and broadly representative as possible. The successful Alliances will be expected to have a national focus and should have as a foundation, organisations with representatives from at least three states or territories. Alliances may also permit state and territory based organisations and individual women without organisational affiliation to become a member of the Alliance.

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Question 11: We are a small NGO and we would like to join with a larger NGO with similar interests, can we do this?

Answer 11: Yes. To assist you to identify and engage with other organisations, and for them to engage with you, and with permission, the Department will publish the names and contact details of interested organisations on the FaHCSIA website. Only organisations who have agreed to have their details published will be contactable through this list. A proforma asking for contact details is included on Page (ii) of the Application Form – those interested should be complete and email the form to the National Women's Alliances mailbox (alliances@dss.gov.au) at the earliest convenience.

Question 12: One of our member organisations has a women’s program but the organisation has other programs that are not solely focused on women’s issues. Are we still eligible as an Alliance?

Answer 12:Yes, Alliances may have as part of their membership, organisations that don’t exclusively represent women however all funding for the Alliance must be used for the purpose of exclusively representing women. That is, any funded Alliance must exclusively represent women but any member organisations may in their own separate operations represent a broader membership.

Question 13: The Application Form asks for details about the Applicant Organisation including ABN, bank account details and the provision of financial statements and corporate governance documents. We are proposing to form a brand new Alliance so how can we provide these details?

Answer 13: If you are forming a brand new Alliance, the Applicant Organisation must be a lead agency or an auspicing body that meet the eligibility requirements. All details required in the Application Form about the Applicant Organisation including ABN, bank account details and financial statements and corporate governance documents should be provided by the lead agency or auspicing body in relation to its own operations. If the Application is successful, the Department would enter into a Funding Agreement with the lead agency or the auspicing body and therefore it needs these details for the purpose of identifying the party with whom it would contract and for assessing the financial viability of that party.

Question 14: Can an Alliance be made up of individuals only who are leaders in their field and would like to work together on women's issues?

Answer 14: No, individuals would be expected to join with groups of women’s organisations including, in particular, national women’s organisations, to form an Alliance. The National Women’s Alliances page on the Office for Women website states under the Invitation to apply for funding: “women’s organisations are invited to collaborate with other women’s organisations across Australia to submit an Application for Funding as a National Women’s Alliance”.

Also refer to the answer at Question 11 to help you identify and engage with other organisations.

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Question 15: If an Alliance has an Auspicing or Lead body, which parts of the Application form does the newly created Alliance address?

Answer 15: The Lead Agency/ Auspicing Body must complete the application form. However, the selection criteria at Part 6A should reflect the collective skills, experiences, knowledge and capabilities of the proposed Alliance. Please note that responses to the selection criteria should exclude any information about the Auspicing Body, which by definition is a non-member and therefore does not participate in the work of the Alliance.

For definitions of Lead Agency and Auspicing Body see the Application Guidelines

Question 16: In the funding application, does a newly created Alliance have to provide information on specific projects and expenses that it would like to organise for the duration of the funding? If not, when is such information required?

Answer 16: No, this does not need to be provided during the application process.

Work plans will be developed in consultation with the Office for Women. At 2.3 Requirement of Services of the Application Guidelines, it states that “Each Alliance, in consultation with the Office for Women, is expected to be pro-active in establishing its own annual work agenda drawing on areas of expertise and the priorities of their member groups. Reports, research and consultations are expected to be methodologically sound and relevant to current issues”.

Question 17: Section 3.2 of the Application guidelines refers to funding principles. What are these funding principles?

Answer 17: For details, go to Funding Principles.

Question 18: In the Terms and Conditions for Standard Funding Agreements, what will be in the schedules? For example Clause 21.1 refers to Insurance requirements documented in Schedule G; however there is no Schedule G attached.

Answer 18: We no longer specify what insurance or value of insurance the provider must have. The provider should seek advice from their insurance agent/broker to ensure that they have suitable coverage for the activity being funded in accordance with the Clause 24.

Item G allows for specific insurance for unusual activity to be listed if known and where it is felt that such insurance needs to be highlighted. Generally most agreements state 'none specified' in this Item.

Question 19: Can the Terms and Conditions for Standard Funding Agreements be modified or changed by the contents/wording of Schedule G?

Answer 19: The standard terms and conditions are only affected by Supplementary Conditions in Annexure A of the schedule.

Question 20: In the Terms and Conditions for Standard Funding Agreements, can you please explain what unconditional financial security you may require and for what purpose at Clause 6)? Would this financial security be limited to the amount of funding provided through this agreement and be asked for if the alliance was showing signs of financial distress?

Answer 20: Financial Security is only required where there is strong evidence that the provider may not be financially viable and therefore presents a very high risk to the department. Such securities are rarely used and basically are used to obtain assurance from a 'guarantor' that they will reimburse the department for any unspent funds if the funding recipient is unable to do so. The security would be commensurate with the funding provided.

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Question 21: At Clause 28.1 (Subcontractors), of the Terms and Conditions for Standard Funding Agreements, is it correct to presume that the intent of this clause is to restrict alliances from sub-contracting their administrative alliance work to a third party? Will an Alliance be required to get written consent to engage a Professor/expert/consultant (potentially seen as a sub-contractor) to develop a policy position or conduct a particular activity?

Answer 21: Clause 28 is not designed to restrict the use of sub-contractors but to allow the department to have a say in which sub-contractors are used. This is to circumvent any possible conflict of interest or possible negative media or political impact if inappropriate sub-contractors were used to deliver the services.

This Clause and Item are activated where the organisation engages someone else to deliver the service or conduct the activity on their behalf. Where an organisation seeks to use a particular expert to conduct research etc, then this expert would be listed (by name or if an unknown person then by qualification e.g. Professor of Early Childhood etc) under Item J - Specified Personnel. Again, this would require our agreement/approval.

Question 22: What progress has been made on the establishment of a National Rural Women’s Network?

Answer 22: It is intended that the National Women’s Alliances will include the representation of rural and regional women in an Alliance and that this Alliance will meet the Government's commitment to establish a Rural Women’s Network.

Relevant Government portfolios with an interest and responsibility for rural women’s issues will work collaboratively with the Alliance to enhance the Network.

Question 23: Who can become a Lead Agency and what are the roles and responsibilities?

Answer 23: Only a legal entity can be a Lead Agency for an Alliance. FaHCSIA will negotiate and agree a funding agreement with the Lead Agency of any Alliance and that Lead Agency is then responsible for ensuring the Alliance meets all the terms and conditions of the funding agreement (see Section 2.6 of the Application Guidelines).

The Lead Agency will be one of a number of Member Organisations to make up an Alliance. Alliances are intended to be collaborative where all Member Organisations participate democratically in achieving the objectives of the Alliance. (See selection criteria 2).

Question 24: There are currently four very experienced Alliances. What are the chances that new Alliances will be selected?

Answer 24: The Alliances are the key mechanism for engagement between women and the Government. The Government is committed to funding Alliances that represent a broad range of women and women’s organisations, including those groups who have not been previously involved in women’s policy, advocacy and decision making. The Government wants to ensure the inclusion of both mainstream women’s issues as well as groups representing specific target groups and issues.

Alliances will be selected on the basis of whether they are eligible and how well they meet the selection criteria and the funding objectives at 2.2 of the Application Guidelines, regardless of whether they have or have not received funding previously as an Alliance.

Funding for up to six Alliances will begin in April 2010. Funding agreements with the four current Alliances expire on 31 March 2010.

For more details, see the media release on the Alliances from the Minister for the Status of Women, the Honourable Tanya Plibersek MP.

Question 25: Without funding, it will be difficult for some organisations to compete equally in the tender process. Can financial assistance be given to organisations with little or no funding to come together to plan and write their application?

Answer 25: Financial assistance cannot be given to organisations in the planning and writing of applications. As we are now under the probity requirements of an open selection process, we are prevented from offering extra support or attention to any applicant. Probity requires that all applicants are treated in the same manner.

Alliances will not necessarily be successful based on whether they have the greatest financial capacity of all applicants. As stated in Answer 24, the aim of the Alliances is to reflect a diverse representation of women – the Government is committed to funding Alliances that represent a broad range of women and women’s organisations, and that bring diverse women into the policy debate on women’s issues.

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Question 26: Can an individual or Member Organisation join more than one Alliance?

Answer 26: Yes.

Question 27: Can Member Organisations auspice more than one Alliance?

Answer 27: Yes.

Question 28: Is there an expectation that over time Alliances become incorporated entities?

Answer 28: There is no expectation for Alliances to become incorporated entities. However, Alliances can choose to become an incorporated entity if they wish.

Question 29: Can University groups, academics or research bodies be part of an Alliance?

Answer 29: No. Alliances are intended for non-profit women’s organisations and individuals. As University groups, academics and research bodies are typically funded by Government, they are not considered to be part of the not-for-profit sector.

Question 30: What is the budget range for the establishment costs for Alliances?

Answer 30: A specific budget range has not been set. A small amount of funding has been set aside for establishment costs. Allocation of this funding will be based on what is considered reasonable when compared with other establishment budget submissions and considered against the role of the Alliances. An example of cost categories is available at part 7 of the Application Form.

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Question 31: We are from a small organisation that is planning to apply together with a few other small organisations with similar objectives and ideas. Given the small size of this potential Alliance, are we likely to succeed in receiving funding?

Answer 31: Organisations with similar objectives are encouraged to get in touch with one another and apply together as one Alliance.

As stated in the Application Guidelines at 2.2, it is not FaHCSIA’s intention to select more than one Alliance working on the same or similar issues, or with the same specific area of focus or target group.

To improve your chances of becoming one of the Alliances, we encourage organisations to get in touch with each other during the application phase by putting their organisation details online. See Question 11.

Question 32: Can I speak directly to a person at FaHCSIA regarding the Alliances funding process?

Answer 32: No. Good practice in relation to probity requires that during the selection process period, any communication related to this process should be conducted through a single point of contact, be provided in writing, and be made available to all potential applicants.

Questions regarding the funding round are directed to a toll free number and email address to ensure that all applicants are treated in a fair, honest and equitable manner and that there is equality of opportunity for all potential applicants. In particular, there must be consistency in the information that is provided to the applicants to ensure that no applicant receives more information than another, therefore receiving an unfair advantage.

Persons involved in selection processes must also ensure that their conduct does not give rise to a perception that the process has been unfair. There is a risk that if we talk directly to applicants, other applicants or members of the public may have the perception that particular applicants were more favourably treated.

Question 33: How is it possible for organisations, especially small NGOs, to meet the application requirements such as connecting with other organisations, forming an Alliance, developing relevant procedures and completing the application, by the required deadline?

Answer 33: We encourage the development of the strongest possible Alliances in the time available while also recognising that further work may be necessary.

As stated in Answer 24, the Government is committed to funding Alliances that represent a broad range of women and women’s organisations, including those groups who have not been previously involved in women’s policy, advocacy and decision making.

The Government acknowledges that Alliances may be at different stages of development and will endeavour to balance the need for well-connected, strong Alliances with Alliances that may be new and in the process of developing and establishing themselvesas a mechanism for new voices to be heard and new groups to engage with the Government.

For newly established Alliances, we have taken into account that the first year may involve working together on strategies to build stronger relationships with key women’s organisations. As a first step, however, we strongly encourage you to refer to the Collaborating with Other Potential Applicant Organisations page.

Question 34: What time frame will the selection process have? When are we likely to hear whether we have made it through the first round and when will the final decisions be made?

Answer 34: All applicants will be advised of the outcome after the selection process which we hope will be complete by March 2010.  The timeframe is partially dependent on the number of applications received.

Section 1.2 of the Application Guidelines state that:

Funding will be for the period from 1 April 2010 until 30 June 2013 and will be subject to the execution of a Funding Agreement. (See Section 2.4)

The Base funding available for each National Women’s Alliance is:

  1. $48,000 (exclusive of GST) for the period 1 April to 30 June 2010
  2. $200,000 (exclusive of GST) from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, and
  3. the amount set out in paragraph (b) for the period 1 July 2011 until 30 June 2013 but subject to adjustment in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

Question 35: As a national peak body, our organisation appears to fulfil the eligibility criteria and we intend applying as single incorporated body (comprising member organisations). Are we permitted to apply?

Answer 35: Yes, single incorporated bodies are permitted to apply. Under the Eligibility Criteria of 1.5 of the Application Guidelines, Applicant Organisations are required to be a separate legal entity – this may include an incorporated association or cooperative association.

It is important, however, to consider the eligibility criteria as a whole and in particular to refer to part 1.5 of the Application Guidelines. You will note these state that each Alliance must have at least one National women’s organisation. The Statement of Requirement, at Part 2 of the Application Guidelines, provides a good overview of the role and funding objectives of the National Women’s Alliances.

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Question 36: The application requests referees for nominated Executive members. What exactly do you mean by Executive members?

Answer 36: In part 2 of the Application Form, it asks that you provide details of your existing or proposed governance structure including details of current/proposed executive membership structure, governance policy and procedures. Two Executive members will need to provide referees in order to demonstrate their capability as members of the Executive membership structure.

Question 37: What are your expectations of governance structure?

Answer 37: The expectations of the governance structure are also outlined at Part 2. Further information on governance structures cannot be offered to applicants as they will need to address the expectations outlined in Part 2. Applicants’ proposed governance structures will then be assessed as part of the selection process.

Question 38: The application asks for audited financial statements. Our organisation is newly incorporated so we don't have any yet - what should we send instead?

Answer 38: The purpose of providing audited financial statements is for FaHCSIA to be able to conduct a risk assessment to ensure that the service will continue to be delivered over the life of the Funding Agreement.

If you are unable to provide this information under your proposed structure you could consider joining with a Lead Agency or Auspicing Body to submit an Application to support the proposed new Alliance (definitions can be found at 2.6 of the Application Guidelines). This Lead Agency or Auspicing Body would need to be able to provide audited financial statements.

Question 39: Can we get an extension on the due date of the application?

Answer 39: No, we cannot offer extensions on submissions. We will be accepting applications that have been post-marked before 2pm at the post office on Friday 18 December. At 1.4 of the Application Guidelines, it states: If Applications are mailed or couriered rather than delivered in person they must be postmarked or have a date/time stamp for receipt by the courier that is prior to 2pm on the Closing Date.


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