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and Delegates

Members and Delegates Update - October 2017

Since the last Update in August, we have had the Annual General Meeting in September, a Board meeting in October and many many smaller executive and fundraising meetings.  This Update provides a report on all these meeting and on the progress of the Alliance over the past few months.  We hope this will also give you a clearer picture of where we are heading over the next year and beyond.

Fundraising has been a big part of our work in 2017.  Helen McPherson Smith Trust provided a grant to kick start our fundraising program.  We have a policy to avoid competing with our member groups for their traditional sources of funding particularly through government grants.  Hence the big effort to establish a donor-based funding system.

At the same time, we have been developing a set of projects.  As you will quickly realise from the Financial Report, our current financial resources limit our ability to develop projects.  But with the prospect of future funding, we are now packaging up several projects based on particular landscapes, ecosystems or species to be ready as funding comes in.

2018 Symposium – feedback wanted

Planning for the Biolinks Alliance 2018 Symposium is about to begin. A critical first step is to decide on the theme.  We welcome your feedback on one of the two suggested themes:

  • Water in the landscape
  • Biodiversity on farms

Which of these themes would you find most interesting?  Are there specific aspects that you think should be covered?

And do you have any suggestions on how to build or follow up on the symposium e.g. with workshops or a field trip on the following day, or establishing working group to develop the theme of the symposium.

Please send your comments to secretary@centralvicbiolinks.org.au  by 10th November.

Chair’s Report for the Annual General Meeting on 14th September 2017

Part 1:  Fundraising Program

BA’s Fundraising Program is central to our operations.  But to attract funding, we need to clearly define what the problem is that needs fixing, and how we can represent the solution in central Victoria. Leading up to some major fundraising events, the Board has attended a workshop led by Roewen Wishart, a fundraising and philanthropy specialist from Xponential. And we are well into clearly defining the why and how of BA in our “Case for Support”.  In the attached report to the AGM, Paul draws on his experience with Bush Heritage to help us explain our position to potential supporters.

Part 2:  Overview of the year

This Report covers the various achievements, progress and issues over what has been a very busy and progressive year for BA. Funding from Helen McPherson Smith Trust has allowed us to move rapidly forward with our fundraising plans.  At the same time, we have been lobbying government to raise awareness of our role in central Victoria, making submissions to various inquiries our profile, run a very successful symposium in Bendigo, and more. 

Copies of the AGM Minutes are available here

Chair’s Report for BA Board Meeting on 18th October 2017

Following the AGM in September, much of the former Board has been maintained, but with Anthony Dufty stepping into the Vice-Chair role and Greg Romanes accepted as a new ordinary member. The retiring Board members Judy Crocker, Leigh Blackmore and Simon Cook were also thanked for their many contributions to the Biolinks Alliance.

I will continue as Chair, and Peter Mitchell and Simon Cammell will continue their great work as Secretary and Treasurer respectively, and Karen Alexander, Sophie Bickford, Anthony Gallacher, Amanda Gauci, Ann McGregor and James Nelsson continue as ordinary members of the Board.  I’m greatly looking forward to working with the Board over the following year to further progress our promising Fundraising Program (with Linda Parlane and the Fundraising Committee) and further developing our project plans.

Coming to the pointy end of our first year’s Fundrasing under the HMST grant, Linda has been busy organising for two significant events in November: (1) a tour of select sites in the Maldon region on Saturday 18 November; and (2) special lunch Sunday 26 November, at the home of Penny and Hilary Roberts, Newham. As previously reported, there has been considerable planning and preparation in the lead up to these events culminating with invitations being sent out over the last couple of weeks. We have been greatly encouraged with a number of very positive early responses and I’m optimistic these events will be a success.

Meanwhile there has been further progress with “The Case” document and, on the back of a workshop just prior to the AGM in Kyneton, there has also been some important work updating, fleshing out and prioritising our key program plans, many of which were first outlined in our five year plan that is now a couple of year’s old. It is vitally important we continue to work to build a clearer shared understanding of what we are about as an organisation, and more importantly, what exactly we plan to do.

Sophie’s report outlines some important administrative and financial issues that we must continue to ensure are closely managed. Again I’d like to thank Sophie for her on-going commitment to the Biolinks Alliance; especially her preparedness to be flexible as we evolve as an organisation.

Paul Foreman
Chair / Biolinks Alliance

Executive Director’s report to the Board Meeting on 18th October 2017. 

The past few months have been dedicated to getting on with establishing the major donor program funded by the HMST grant, while at the same time working through how to progress other aspects of the Fundraising Strategy and Strategic Plan.

A key issue faced by the organisation at this time is the limited paid resource to progress aspect of the plan outside of the Fundraising Strategy. We set a Core Budget for 2017 at $86,000 but have been operating on about 1/3 of this.

It is fantastic to see the Board rising to the challenge that this funding shortfall is posing with a significant uptake of operational responsibilities being undertaken by Simon on the finance side, Peter on the Governance side and Karen, Ann, Amanda, Greg, Anthony and Paul with Fundraising and Project Development. 

The HMST grant is progressing well – but not likely to deliver core-funding this calendar year. I have been preparing the reporting for HMST for the first year of the grant, despite starting the project later than anticipated and only being 8 months into the project.

Linda’s role is almost singularly focused on that aspect of the Fundraising Strategy and she has been actively planning our first two major donor cultivation events planned for this November.

I am undertaking other aspects of the Fundraising Program – the marketing, communications and digital side.  In this I am being supported by a very good small team:  InHaus Design and Chris Joyner (Deepend Digital).

We have continued to work building a relationship with the Victorian Government, being invited to participate in their upcoming co-design of the Biodiversity Response Planning workshops. We submitted two applications in their recent Community Skills Development Grant Round for workshops designed to plan BA landscape/capacity projects. 

Sophie Bickford
Executive Director / Biolinks Alliance

Financial Reports

The Financial Report for the financial year to 30 June 2017 presented by Treasurer Simon Cammell AGM showed:

  • Income:  $135,000 including $98,000 from Helen McPherson Smith Trust and $30.000 in donations. 
  • Expenditure:  $52,000 including $47,000 for employment and contractors. 

At the end of June, CVBA had net assets of $97,000, all but $500 in bank accounts.

In October, cash-in-hand was $74,000.  Simon used the monthly breakdown of profit and loss from 1st January (shortly after we received HMST funding) to 30th September to develop a budget with two streams:

  •  The remaining money from the HMST grant - $61,000 – is committed to the fundraising program (including development of website and other communications).
  • Money from donations and other sources - $14,000 with another $30,000 coming in over the next six months - will be spent on core organisational costs plus development of projects.  This stream currently provides one day of employment per week for the Executive Director.  We are expecting more funds as our fundraising program develops, and these will be used to really get moving on our priority projects.

Projects and Priorities

At the Board meeting on 18th October, a lot of time was spent reviewing the programs and projects from the CVBA Framework for Action.  Many of the programs in the Framework are largely components of each project with some core work needed, for example, to build up tools and information bases for decision making. 

In anticipation of future funding, we are now packaging up several projects mostly based on particular landscapes, ecosystems or species.  We will be defining each project in the next couple of months and continuing development of a couple of these projects where we think we can make good progress within our resource capacities.  These projects will help us set up the processes and tools that can be readily used for other projects as further funding comes in.

Key messages about BA

We need to be able to explain succinctly to others what BA is and does. The AGM was a good time to ask delegates what is important to them about the Biolinks Alliance and how they would explain that to others in a few words. Linda Parlane gathered these statements and Peter Mitchell bundled them into themes.   

In Summary: we need biodiversity for our health.  Biodiversity needs our help.  There is a band of knowledgeable volunteers who want to fix the problem.  They need donations to accelerate their works.

Read here for all the statements provide by delegates

DELWP at the AGM

David Parkes from DELWP spoke at the AGM on biodiversity and climate change.  Sophie summarised some of the points from his talk.

DELWP is considering a range of climate change strategies, including:

  • Strengthen efforts on current threats
  • Increase Traditional Owner involvement
  • Take into account landscape factors to succeed  eg refugia and prior conservation history
  • Take into account new landscape factors that will limit success  eg areas of greatest climate variability and areas that have been allocated for intensive fire risk management
  • Expand and evaluate novel intervention approaches including genetic strengthening; establishing new populations for risk spreading; establishment of new populations (eg Leadbeaters in the Otways?); recolonization of areas that have lost their populations (eg Greater Gliders).

The Department is also undertaking other works related to climate change:

  • Cost benefit framework to enable comparison of in situ and ex situ conservation of critically endangered species
  • Project to review and trial pro-active responses to climate change, including translocation beyond natural range and gene mixing
  • Developing policy for translocation and gene mixing proposals
  • Embedding climate change into the next version of the Strategic Management Prospects Decision Support Tool
  • Developing a collaborative approach to Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting.

David also spoke about DELWP’s Biodiversity Response Planning, a new consultative process that will plan integrated on-ground projects as strong candidates for State Government investment. It will be a potential vehicle for collaboration between the Government and BA.  (Note:  BA will have delegates at a series of workshops to develop the planning process over the next four weeks.)