Throughout 2011–12, AGS supported Commonwealth agencies across a range of significant matters associated with funding.

Williams decision

AGS was deeply involved in the whole-of-government preparations for the Williams decision, in advising on the effect of the decision, and in the steps taken immediately after the decision was handed down to preserve the capacity of the Commonwealth to engage in funding activities. AGS continues to advise on the implications of the decision.

Standard-form funding agreements

AGS lawyers including Kenneth Eagle and Kathryn Graham assisted the Department of Finance and Deregulation in the development of a low-risk grant template. This whole-of-government template is being developed to streamline and simplify dealings between agencies and grant recipients, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, and is one of a number of initiatives being pursued by the Government in this area.

AGS lawyers including Kathryn Grimes, Garrick Larkin and Rebecca McGloughlin assisted the Department of Health and Ageing in design and development of a new agency-wide standard funding agreement template, which will be used by many of the Department's grant programs. The new agreement consists of 4 documents: a cover letter, a booklet of terms and conditions, a schedule outlining the details of the funded activity and a set of optional supplementary conditions. The development of this new agreement forms part of the Department's new grants management system, which will enable the Department to undertake more efficient grants administration.

AGS lawyers including Kathryn Grimes and Phil Sedgely-Perryman assisted the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) in developing a standard funding agreement template. ANPHA administers the Australian Preventive Health Research Grant Program to fund preventive health (health promotion) research projects and the dissemination of research results in order to facilitate and support evidence-based policy decisions.

Health Workforce Australia funding programs

Health Workforce Australia (HWA) is an organisation seeking to foster change, collaboration and innovation in the health sector with the objective of delivering a sustainable health workforce that meets the healthcare needs of all Australians.

AGS provided legal support to HWA in relation to its 2011–12 funding programs. AGS lawyers including Vesna Vuksan, Nicola Walsh, Kenneth Eagle and Garth Cooke worked closely with HWA to develop, negotiate and execute a very large number of funding agreements across a range of programs.

Clean energy initiatives

AGS assisted a number of agencies in implementing funding programs associated with clean energy initiatives.

AGS lawyers Kenneth Eagle, Jenny Burnett and Anna Lukeman provided advice to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in relation to the Energy Security Fund Cash Payments program – part of the energy security package within the Government's Clean Energy Future plan. This program involved the provision of transitional assistance in the form of $1 billion in cash payments to highly emissions-intensive coal-fired generators. AGS assisted the Department in the development and implementation of the program, including the drafting of the guidelines and associated program documentation, the development of the assessment methodology, the assessment of applications, dealings with applicants and the arrangements for the making of the cash payments. The program needed to be undertaken within a strict timeframe and in the context of a range of other related Government initiatives being conducted at the same time. The program was completed on time, with payments made prior to the end of the 2011–12 financial year.

AGS lawyers including Helen Curtis, Kathryn Graham, Ranjeet Jordan and Piccolo Willoughby assisted the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism on the Coal Sector Jobs Package Program. AGS provided a range of advice including constitutional advice, advice on eligibility requirements and calculation of funds payable over the period of the program. AGS also developed a funding agreement to support the program.

Indigenous legal aid program

AGS lawyers including Helen Curtis and Kurt Richards worked with the Attorney-General's Department on the implementation of the new Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform program for 2011–14.

This involved working cooperatively on the development of clear program guidelines and assisting with the refinement of eligibility criteria and new guidelines for some programs. AGS prepared the funding agreement and guidance to the Department on risks and potential issues for the Department in moving providers from a service provider model to a funding recipient model.

Local Solutions Fund

AGS lawyers including Helen Curtis, Kate Cabot, Phil Sedgley-Perryman, Lillian Riches, Kathryn Grimes and Piccolo Willoughby worked with the Department of Human Services on the Local Solutions Fund. The Local Solutions Fund provides funding for innovative and creative solutions to increase social and economic participation in 10 Local Government Areas.

The Department took an innovative approach to the implementation of this funding program. This included the appointment of place-based Local Advisory Groups to advise the Department on service gaps and needs in their community as well as undertake the evaluation of applicant projects at a local level. The approach also involved the engagement of Community Action Leaders who worked with stakeholders in the community.

AGS provided strategic advice about the structure of, and guidelines for, the program and how to take account of the local input in decision-making. We prepared documents including FAQ sheets for Community Action Leaders and Local Advisory Group members, the Department's agreements with host organisations and the Local Solution Fund funding agreements.

AGS lawyers including Kathryn Grimes, Fiona Mackrell and Olivia Abbott advised on the Suburban Jobs program administered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. The objective of the Suburban Jobs Program is to support State and local governments to plan and provide for increased local employment opportunities in the suburbs of Australia's major capital cities that are subject to growth pressures in order to reduce travel times between work and services. AGS provided advice to the Department in relation to the program's guidelines and grant selection process, and prepared and assisted with the negotiation of funding agreements for the program.

This is an extract from the 2011–12 AGS annual report