Regional Development Victoria

Rural Development Application Guidelines

1 Context

The Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) is the primary infrastructure program of the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (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 Description and objectives of program

2.1 Rural Development

Growing the regional economy is an important part of the overall Victorian economic development strategy. A strong regional economy is critical for Victoria’s longer-term economic success and prosperity. Regional Victoria has a wide range of economic and social assets and resources. It plays a critical export role with commodities from regional Victoria accounting for around one third of Victoria’s exports.

The Rural Development program stream seeks to capitalise on this by assisting rural Victoria’s businesses and communities. This program stream will do this by investing in local infrastructure, creating opportunities for economic growth and enhancing the appeal and liveability of rural towns and surrounding areas. It aims to assist the growth of rural Victoria by providing grants for infrastructure projects that have the potential to stimulate economic activity in rural towns and their surrounding areas.

Projects seeking funding will need to demonstrate how they will:

  • improve economic performance
  • harness key regional strengths
  • improve the liveability and attractiveness of rural towns
  • enhance the resilience and competitiveness of the location.

They should also be identified in a Council-endorsed plan or supported by a local government authority.

In order to support quality, shovel-ready projects, funding for early-stage project planning can be considered under the Rural Development program stream.

2.2 Activities that will be considered

Projects that will generally be funded include:

  • multi-purpose infrastructure, suitable and accessible for a wide range of business and community groups such as business hubs, co-working spaces, community and event facilities
  • infrastructure that connects communities, links recreation to retail precincts, attracts visitors and promotes recreation activity such as rail trails and walking tracks
  • heritage and cultural initiatives of economic significance to the local community such as renewal of historic buildings and sites, arts and cultural centres or resource facilities
  • civic renewal to enhance liveability and improve business opportunities such as township entrance points, streetscaping, signage and upgrading of open space areas.

Funding may be provided in certain circumstances for activities to support the project or strategic planning. Activities that would generally be funded include:

  • project planning for infrastructure projects such as a feasibility study, a demand study, or a business case to enable prospective applicants to investigate the technical and or economic viability of an infrastructure project
  • local strategic planning including economic development strategies and plans for future growth and infrastructure needs.

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 been completed or have started construction prior to receiving funding approval
  • 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 requiring ongoing funding from the Victorian Government when completed
  • activities that are considered local government authority core business
  • projects that are only purchasing plant and equipment
  • purchase of land.

2.4 Who can apply

Applications will only be considered for projects in the 38 rural local government areas from:

  • private sector businesses and agencies
  • business and industry groups including:
    • chambers of commerce and business associations
    • industry peak bodies
    • business and industry clusters and networks
  • local government authorities
  • not-for-profit organisations and community groups that:
    • are an incorporated body, cooperative or association
    • 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

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 ten 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.

3 Funding details

The Rural Development program stream is a competitive fund with applications received throughout the year on an ongoing basis. Maximum funding ratios are:

Rural development program stream Funding available Maximum funding ratios for co-contributions
Infrastructure Up to $300,000 Up to RDV $3: $1 other
Over $300,000 to a maximum of $500,000 Up to RDV $2: $1 other
(excluding land)
Project and strategic planning Up to $50,000 Up to RDV $2: $1 other

While joint investment with other Victorian Government program funding is encouraged, co contributions from ‘other’ sources to meet the required funding ratio must be derived from non Victorian Government sources. In determining the RDV funding level, the total Victorian Government contribution will be taken into consideration.

In-kind contributions can be included as part of the total project costs.

In-kind contributions will be considered subject to the following requirements:

  • no more than 50% of applicant (and partners) contribution can be in-kind
  • skilled labour costed at $45 per hour
  • unskilled labour costed at $20 per hour
  • equipment costed at standard commercial hire rate
  • local government authorities are ineligible from providing in-kind support as part of their funding contribution.

In-kind support would not be accepted as a contribution for project or strategic planning activities.

Application and assessment process

To ensure the suitability of projects all applicants will need to go through the following process.

Step 1: Project proposal

Prior to submitting a project proposal, applicants are advised to:

  • read these guidelines to see if your organisation and project are eligible
  • discuss your project idea with your local RDV office. Your local RDV office is the first point of contact for this program. They can:
    • provide advice on a range of RDV and Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) programs and grants
    • support the development of proposals that have merit, and are aligned with local priorities
    • assist with the coordination of funding and assistance from a range of sources.

Following your discussion with the RDV regional team representative, complete a proposal summary (available through RDV regional team representatives) to determine the eligibility of your idea and gain early advice to identify a project’s merits and risks.

Applicants should use the online application form to clearly and succinctly describe the project by detailing: the challenge or opportunity it is looking to address; the desired outcomes; the outputs to be delivered; and any resource requirements.

Step 2: Application

If you decide to apply following feedback received from RDV, you will be provided with an online application form from your RDV regional team representative. Applications must be submitted with all the supporting documents once complete, and must address the assessment criteria. Applicants should address all relevant criteria and also provide the supporting documents required in Section 8 of this guide.

Assessment criteria

Eligible applications will be assessed against their response to the questions and criteria listed below, as well as supporting documents.

Weightings in percentage are provided as a guide to the relative importance of different criterion in the assessment process.

What will the project achieve? 30%

Applications will need to demonstrate how the project will:

  • deliver significant beneficial economic impact
  • support the creation of new or sustain existing jobs
  • improve the liveability, resilience and competitiveness of the location
  • improve the attractiveness of rural cities and towns to businesses and and families seeking to move to rural Victoria.

Why is the project needed? 30%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:

  • is strongly supported by the local government authority, by the community and is consistent with local plans, shared priorities and the directions of regional strategic plans
  • addresses an existing identified gap or issue
  • has an identified need for the project or strategic planning supported by evidence of previous investigations undertaken
  • is supported by local knowledge and information demonstrating the challenges being confronted by the community such as drought, rapid economic change, population growth and decline.

How will the project be delivered? 20%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:

  • is investment ready, supported by a clear approach and realistic timeframes
  • is financially viable, based on sound cost estimates and represents value for money
  • incorporates principles of environmental sustainability and addresses Universal Design while complying with relevant anti-discrimination legislation (for infrastructure projects)
  • uses materials and resources to deliver the project which strengthen the regional community and economy
  • provides supporting documentation that is required by RDV (please see application form as the level of detail required is aligned to the amount of funding sought).

Who is involved? 20%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:

  • employs a collaborative approach with a range of partners and indicates how they will contribute to the project
  • is capable of being implemented or can source expertise to manage the project
  • is proposed by a financially viable applicant who is capable of managing and completing the project.

Step 3: Assessment process

Grants are subject to two different assessment processes depending on whether infrastructure or project and strategic planning funding is being sought.

Infrastructure projects

Applications 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 assessment criteria outlined in Step 2. 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 Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. Where relevant, comments and advice will be sought from a range of state government departments and agencies.

Project and strategic planning

The assessment process for applications received by RDV for project or strategic planning works will also undergo a two-stage assessment process. The first stage involves determining if the activities proposed in the application meet the eligibility criteria.

In the second stage, the RDV Executive Committee will consider the application received and make a recommendation to the Minister for Regional Development. In making its recommendation, the RDV Executive Committee will consider a range of matters. They include the project’s fit with the eligibility criteria, alignment with Victorian Government policy, availability of funding, and the outcomes from previous funding, if any, provided to the applicant. Where relevant, comments and advice will be sought from a range of Victorian Government agencies.

Step 4: Approval process

The Minister for Regional Development will consider the advice received from the RIDC or RDV Executive Committee and where appropriate, advice from other relevant Ministers. They will determine whether or not to approve the project, and if approved, they will determine what conditions, if any, to apply to the funding offer.

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.

5 Conditions of funding

5.1 Funding agreements

Successful applicants will be required to enter into a funding agreement with RDV detailing all funding obligations and conditions.

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, while also ensuring 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 executed, 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. 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.

5.2 Payments

Advance payments will be made in stages as long as:

  • the funding agreement has been signed by both parties
  • grant recipients provide reports as required, or otherwise demonstrate that the activity is progressing as expected
  • other funding terms and conditions continue to be met.

5.3 Evaluation and reporting

Successful applicants will be required to cooperate fully with an evaluation which is undertaken either during or after the 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, its 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.

5.4 Acknowledgement

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 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.

5.5 Privacy

Any personal information about you or a third party in your application will be collected by RDV, a statutory body within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) for the purpose of grant administration. This information may be provided to other Victorian Government agencies for the purposes of assessing your application. If you intend to include personal information about third parties in your application, please ensure they are aware of the contents of this privacy statement. The Department’s privacy policy is available from economicdevelopment.vic.gov.au/privacy

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. DEDJTR is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information. Enquiries about access to information about you held by DEDJTR are available from economicdevelopment.vic.gov.au/privacy

6 Additional information and resources

Below are a range of resources and publications that may be useful in planning for and delivering activities.

Regional Strategic Plans
Contact your regional RDV representative.

Environmentally sustainable design
Infrastructure proposals are encouraged to incorporate Environmentally Sustainable Design initiatives into project designs.

Universal design
Universal design is a philosophy that encourages building development beyond what is required by the Disability Standards for Access to premises. The intent of universal design is to create environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible.

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