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 transition to new growth opportunities.
- Create the conditions for business growth by enhancing workforce skills, providing enabling economic infrastructure and facilitation expansion into new markets.
- Improve the livability 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 (Act) as a trust fund in the public account. The Act describes the activities for which the trust is to be applied:
- to provide better infrastructure, facilities and services in rural and regional Victoria.
- to strengthen the economic, social and environmental bases of communities in rural and regional Victoria.
- to create jobs and improve career opportunities in rural and regional Victoria.
- to support the development and planning of local projects in rural and regional Victoria.
Regional Development Victoria (RDV) administers the programs within the RJIF. Programs currently open include:
- Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF)
- Regional Jobs Fund (RJF)
- Strengthening Regional Communities Program (SRCP).
These Frequently Asked Questions provide general information on the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. Applicants should contact their local Regional Development Victoria (RDV) office for more information.
What changes have been made to the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF)?
RJIF is one component of the Delivering for Rural and Regional Victoria Program and is designed to support regional and rural communities build critical infrastructure, create jobs, invest in community and support new and emerging industries.
RJIF consists of three funding programs:
- the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF), which is open to rural councils and regional cities;
- the Regional Jobs Fund (RJF) which supports investment attraction and jobs in rural and regional Victoria; and
- the Stronger Regional Communities Program (SRCP), which supports a range of organisations, including not-for-profit and community groups to build capacity and support population attraction.
This year we have simplified the guidelines for all three RJIF programs to better support jobs and investment in rural and regional communities.
We have also revised funding ratios for RIF to better support small rural councils in securing project funding and removed funding for events and planning from the SRCP.
These changes follow extensive feedback and consultation with key stakeholders across rural and regional Victoria.
There will be one round of competitive RIF funding this year, with applications opening on 6 November 2019 and closing on 18 December 2019.
Applications for the RJF and SRCP will be open and considered throughout the year.
In the past I could apply for more funding under RIF, so why is it capped at $500,000 per project?
Previously the RIF had a number of different funding streams where applications could be made for higher amounts. The 2019-20 RIF recognises that small rural councils have found it difficult in the past to compete against larger regional cities for larger projects.
Under the Rural Development stream of the previous RIF, funding was capped at $500,000. This year’s program is consistent with this approach and will create greater equity for all 48 rural and regional councils.
How does RIF relate to the Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme?
Like RIF, the Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme supports the delivery of community infrastructure. RIF provides grants while the Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme provides low-interest, government-guaranteed loans through Treasury Corporation Victoria.
The Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme is open to all Victorian councils, while RIF is targeted to support projects in rural and regional Victoria.
RIF grants are capped at $500,000, while the Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme provides loans of between $500,000 and $10 million per project.
How will rural councils be able to compete fairly against larger regional cities in the RIF?
The RIF design recognises some of the challenges that smaller councils encounter with smaller population sizes, declining population growth, high infrastructure maintenance costs and economies that are more susceptible to climatic and economic shocks.
The guidelines reflect different funding ratios dependent upon a council’s classification as small or large as identified in the KPMG Rural and Regional Councils Sustainability Reform Program (Local Government Victoria, 2017). The Alpine Resorts will be treated as Small Rural Councils.
Funding Ratio RDV 1 : 1
Large Rural Councils
Funding Ratio RDV 2 : 1
Small Rural Councils
Funding Ratio RDV 3 : 1
Small Rural Councils and Alpine Resorts will also be able to claim in-kind contributions of up to 25 per cent of their contribution.
How is the Victorian Government going to assist Regional Cities?
The Victorian Government is committed to the sustainable growth of our regional cities. The Victorian Government’s $2.6 billion Delivering for Regional and Rural Victoria Program includes a range of investments in health care, public transport, road and sporting infrastructure. A list of recent investments into regional cities is shown at Attachment A.
Regional Development Victoria (RDV) will continue to work with the ten regional city councils to understand their strategic priorities and will work across government departments to advocate support for their initiatives.
A cross-portfolio approach to delivering for rural and regional Victoria will ensure positive outcomes for regional cities. By having departments and agencies working together with local communities, policies and opportunities can be tailored to suit local needs.
Why is the funding for RJIF only for one year?
Funding to extend RJIF for year has been provided while the Government considers a refreshed approach to regional development. This will ensure that the department’s new Rural and Regional Victoria Group is set up in a way that really delivers for regional Victorians.
The Government’s future approach will build on its strong track record of delivery in rural and regional Victoria. Rather than focusing on a single fund, the Government is looking to deliver improved Whole of Victorian Government regional coordination and integration, together with more contemporary approach to regional development.
What if I have a project that doesn’t fit the RJIF guidelines that needs government support?
We recognise that locals know best when it comes to developing solutions to place-based issues. Rather than proponents trying to work out which government department to contact or which funding programs are available, they should work with RDV as their first point of contact. RDV will be able to assist in facilitating connections with key stakeholders and provide advice regarding a range of funding programs.
I read in the VAGO report that there are problems with how RJIF is administered and how outcomes are reported. If my organisation receives funding from RJIF, will I have to do more reporting?
As in previous years, successful RJIF recipients will be required to enter into a legally binding funding agreement which will clearly outline outputs and outcomes required to be delivered and reported against. Reporting requirements will vary depending on the objectives and nature of the project. Reporting requirements will be similar to previous years.