- Context of the Regional Infrastructure Fund
- Description and objectives of the program
- Application and assessment process
- Conditions of funding
- Contact details
1.1 Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund
The Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF) is the Victorian Government’s overarching regional development package. It focuses on major projects, employment and communities.
The RJIF has five strategic objectives:
- create jobs of the future and diversify the regional employment base
- improve productivity and enhance long-term competitiveness of regional Victoria through innovation and a transition to new growth opportunities
- create the conditions for business growth by enhancing work force skills, providing enabling economic infrastructure and facilitating expansion into new markets
- improve the liveability of our cities, centres and towns to attract and retain families and young people to live and work
- enhance community capacity through collaboration, leadership development and regional planning.
The RJIF was established by the Regional Development Victoria Act 2002 as a trust fund in the public account.
The Act describes the activities for which the trust is to be applied:
- providing better infrastructure, facilities and services in rural and regional Victoria
- strengthening the economic, social and environmental base of communities in rural and regional Victoria
- creating jobs and improving career opportunities in rural and regional Victoria
- supporting the development and planning of local projects in rural and regional Victoria.
Regional Development Victoria (RDV) will administer the RJIF’s three programs:
- Regional Infrastructure Fund
- Regional Jobs Fund
- Stronger Regional Communities plan.
The Victorian Government will invest in six high potential, high value sectors to drive Victoria’s economic growth including:
- food and fibre
- professional services
- new energy technology
- medical technology, life sciences and healthcare
- transport, defence and construction technology
- international education.
1.2 Purpose of these guidelines
This sets out the application guidelines for the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) component of the RJIF.
2.1 Regional Infrastructure Fund
The RIF is the primary infrastructure program of the RJIF. It will provide funding for major infrastructure projects through the following four program streams:
- Visitor Economy
- Productive and Liveable Cities and Centres
- Enabling Infrastructure
- Rural Development.
The RIF aims to harness key regional strengths to improve the productivity and liveability of regional Victoria. It will invest in major infrastructure projects to create or enhance the conditions for economic growth, and to build diversified and sustainable regional economies that are resilient to change.
2.2 Program streams
The objectives of each program stream are described below.
2.2.1 Visitor economy
This program stream aims to harness the economic strength of regional Victoria’s visitor economy. It will create new or redevelop existing tourism and cultural assets that improve the attractiveness of regional Victoria and stimulate increased visitation and private sector investment. These projects will diversify regional Victoria’s economic and social base.
2.2.2 Productive and liveable cities and centres
This program stream aims to stimulate new investment opportunities and jobs growth. It aims to increase the use and dollar-spend within regional Victorian cities, centres, towns and precincts as well as improve access and connectivity to transport, retail and service hubs. Projects supported under this program stream will coordinate a number of economic and social services and activities and create or enhance economic growth conditions.
2.2.3 Enabling infrastructure
This program stream supports regional industries to innovate, build resilience and improve adaptability to changing economic and environmental conditions. This program stream recognises that investments in strategic and enabling infrastructure are critical to providing a competitive environment for existing and emerging regional industries to operate in.
At the same time, they help unlock the region’s growth potential.
2.2.4 Rural development
This program stream will assist rural Victorian businesses and communities to create opportunities for economic growth. It will also assist in enhancing the appeal and liveability of rural towns and surrounding areas by improving local infrastructure.
This program stream is only available to the 38 rural local government areas (refer section 2.5). Separate guidelines are in place for this program and are available here
2.3 Activities that will generally not be funded
The following activities will generally not be considered for funding:
- requests for retrospective funding where projects have commenced (i.e. equipment purchased, contracts entered into or construction has begun), or those projects which are completed prior to receiving funding approval
- feasibility studies, business plans, cost benefit analyses and economic impact studies
- projects requiring ongoing funding from the Victorian Government
- ongoing operating costs or salary subsidies
- private sector projects undertaken as a result of a government contract
- projects where funding is normally provided by other state, commonwealth or local government sources
- projects that are considered streetscaping and beautification activities (refer to the Rural Development program stream for these types of activities within the 38 rural local government areas)
- projects primarily to meet regulatory requirements
- the purchase of land.
2.4 Who can apply
Applications will be considered from:
- private sector businesses and agencies
- business and industry groups including:
- chambers of commerce and business associations
- industry peak bodies
- business and industry clusters
- local government authorities
- government departments and agencies
- not for profit organisations and community groups that:
- are an incorporated body, cooperative, or
- have an Australian Business Number (ABN) or can provide written advice from the Australian Tax Office that no withholding tax is required from the grant payment
- higher and other education institutions Individuals are not eligible to apply.
2.5 Definition of regional and rural Victoria
Rural and regional Victoria is defined as the 48 local government areas including six alpine resort areas set out in Schedule 2 of the Regional Development Victoria Act 2002.
The 10 regional city local government areas are Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The remaining 38 local government areas including six alpine resort areas are referred to as the rural local government areas.
2.6 Funding support
Applicants are expected to make a financial contribution or source third-party funding. Projects should maximise their funding support from a range of sources including commonwealth and local government, community, private sector and regional organisations. ‘In kind’ contributions are not accepted as part of the funding contribution except in the Rural Development program stream.
To ensure the suitability of projects, all applicants will need to go through the following four-step process.
Step 1: Prior to application
Prior to submitting an application, applicants are advised to:
- read these guidelines and the information sheet of the relevant RIF program stream carefully to establish eligibility
- discuss the proposed application with your local RDV office
- read the terms and conditions for the funding offered.
Applicants should note that projects may not proceed to the formal application and assessment process where the project:
- can be implemented through another government funding program, and if appropriate, applicants may be referred to this funding program
- does not relate to the program streams of the RIF
- does not strongly demonstrate economic, social and environmental benefits
- is not implementation ready
- is not strongly aligned to state or regional priorities
- does not strongly demonstrate a need
- does not maximise funding support from other sources.
An RDV officer will help you determine your project’s potential suitability, before an application form is completed.
Step 2: Prepare an application
Applicants should use the application form to clearly and succinctly describe the project by detailing: the challenge or opportunity it is looking to address; the objectives; the desired outcomes; the outputs to be delivered; and any infrastructure requirements. Documentation to support the project such as a feasibility study, business plan or letter of support should be attached to the application.
GSTApplicants should note that all project costs included in the application must be exclusive of GST. The grant to be paid by RDV will be ‘grossed up’ by the amount of GST, provided the applicant provides details of registration for the GST, or proof of exemption from being required to register.
Who signs the application?
Applications from local government authorities must be signed by the Chief Executive Officer. Applications from other parties must be signed by the Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent).
Core RIF criteria
Applicants will be asked to demonstrate the project’s ability to address each of the following criteria:
a. Economic benefits
Applications should clearly demonstrate how the proposed project will:
- result in new investment and complement other investments in the designated region
- create jobs or retain jobs and stimulate regional economic growth
- facilitate the integration of your region into global markets (e.g. generate, promote or expand exports /export markets and / or replace imports)
- result in strategic industry development or build resilience in the supply chain
- remove barriers to create a direct incentive for business investment in a regional location.
b. Social and environment benefits
Applications should clearly demonstrate how the proposed project:
- provides adequate social return to the community
- is consistent with environmentally sustainable development and results in demonstrated environmental benefits e.g. addresses the impacts of climate change on the economy, environment and community
- builds on identified regional strengths and/or
- has relevant community and industry support.
c. Alignment with state and regional priorities and demonstrated project need
Applications will need to demonstrate how the project aligns with the relevant regional strategic plan priorities and any relevant state government policies (e.g. tourism policy). Applicants can contact the relevant RDV regional office to determine the alignment of the project with the relevant regional strategic plan priorities.
Applications will need to clearly demonstrate the project need including the problem that the project is seeking to resolve and the compelling reason for state government assistance.
d. Demonstrated project feasibility and delivery
Applications should clearly demonstrate:
- that all legal, land tenure, planning and environmental issues have been identified and resolved or satisfactory resolution strategies are in place
- access to suitable project management in both the developmental and operational phases of the project
- that project risks have been identified and strategies are in place to manage them.
e. Financial viability
Applicants will be asked to provide copies of annual reports and audited financial statements covering the last three years with their application. This will enable RDV to assess the financial viability of the applicant and their ability to manage and complete the project.
Note: Victorian Government departments and statutory agencies, local government authorities and publicly funded universities and educational institutions are exempt from this step.
f. Maximising value to the state
Applications should demonstrate and provide evidence of how the project maximises value to the state through leveraging funding from a range of sources, including commonwealth and local government, community, private sector and regional organisations.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate that the viability of the project is not dependent on ongoing funding or continuing government support.
Where future operating costs are an issue, the applicant needs to clearly demonstrate how these costs will be underwritten without recurrent subsidy from Victorian Government sources.
Applicants should consider contacting the Industry Capability Network, which can work collaboratively with applicants to help identify competitive local suppliers.
g. Program stream criteria
Applicants may need to demonstrate how the project responds to the relevant program stream criteria (see section 2.1 of this guide for details of the program stream operating under the RIF).
Step 3: Assessment processApplications will undergo a two-stage assessment process. The first stage involves determining the proposed project’s eligibility. This will be done by assessing the project’s ability to meet the core RIF criteria and the relevant program stream criteria. The first stage will also consider key risks and issues associated with the project.
In the second stage, the application will proceed to the Regional Infrastructure Development Committee (RIDC) for assessment prior to consideration by the Minister for Regional Development.
The RIDC will make a recommendation to the Minister after considering a range of matters including the project’s fit with the eligibility criteria, alignment with government policy, availability of funding, and the outcomes realised from previous funding, if any, provided to the applicant.
The RIDC is chaired by RDV and includes representatives from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Treasury and Finance and the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. Where relevant, comments and advice will be sought from a range of state government agencies.
Step 4: Approval process
The Minister for Regional Development will consider the advice received from the RIDC and where appropriate, advice from other Ministers, and determine whether or not to approve the application for funding.
In the case of applications seeking funding of $5 million or more, the Victorian Treasurer’s authorisation is also required.
Applicants are advised of the decision relating to their application in writing. Successful applicants will receive a letter of offer from the Minister for Regional Development. The letter of offer will outline the funding obligations attached to the offer of funding.
4.1 Funding agreements
Successful applicants will be required to enter into a funding agreement with RDV detailing all funding obligations and conditions. The standard terms and conditions on which the funding is offered are available from RDV.
The funding agreement is a legally enforceable document that clearly defines the obligations of both parties. The funding agreement aims to protect the Victorian Government’s interests and to ensure the efficient and effective use of public money. It also ensures there is appropriate recognition of Victorian Government support on project-related publications, media releases and promotional material.
Funding agreements must be signed by the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent) and will:
- describe the purpose for which the funding must be used
- set out any requirements or conditions that must be met prior to the payment of a grant instalment
- outline agreed milestones and project outcomes that must be achieved before payment of a grant instalment.
Once the funding agreement has been signed, the applicant will be required to actively manage and deliver the project, and provide progress reports to RDV. During the course of the project, RDV may conduct site visits as necessary.
In some instances, based on project size, complexity and the amount of funding being provided, a project control group (or equivalent) may need to be established with regular meetings and reports. RDV may be either a participant or observer in these meetings.
Successful applicants must enter into a funding agreement and commence the project within one year from the date of offer of the funding. If a project does not commence within this timeframe, the grant will be reviewed by RDV.
4.2 Evaluation and reporting
Successful applicants will be required to cooperate fully with an evaluation which is undertaken either during or after completion of the project. Successful applicants will also generally be required to submit progress and completion reporting, assess progress of the project against milestones, outputs and outcomes, and provide evidence of project completion.
After completion of the project, applicants must submit annual evaluation reports assessing the project’s success in meeting its stated objectives, outputs and outcomes. These evaluation reports may be required for up to three years following completion of the funded project.
Successful applicants may be required to contribute information on project outcomes, including longer-term impacts beyond project completion, for use in program evaluation reviews and RDV marketing materials. It is the responsibility of successful applicants to put in place adequate data collection arrangements to capture the appropriate data in relation to output and outcomes. These arrangements will assist RDV to undertake a robust evaluation of the RJIF.
4.3 Competitive neutrality
All successful applications to the RJIF from a government body, including local governments and government agencies will be required to comply with the Competitive Neutrality Policy Victoria, in respect of any commercial goods or services offered by the body as a result of the grant.
Any personal information about you or a third party in your correspondence will be collected, held, managed, used, disclosed or transferred in accordance with the provisions of the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic) and other applicable laws. DJPR is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information. Enquiries about access to information about you held by DJPR are available from djpr.vic.gov.au/privacy
Successful applicants need to acknowledge the Victorian Government’s support through the provision of a grant from the RJIF. Promotional guidelines form part of the funding agreement and include the requirement that all activities acknowledge Victorian Government support through logo presentation on any activity-related publications, media releases and promotional material. A Victorian Government- endorsed sign must also be placed at the site of infrastructure activities.
Successful applicants must liaise with RDV to coordinate any events or announcements related to the activity. Successful applicants may be required to contribute information on activity outcomes for use in communications materials.