The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has impacted all industries, regions and communities. It has created significant new challenges for Victoria’s rural and regional communities and exacerbated some existing ones.
The $156 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF) is one of the Victorian Government’s key regional development packages and will be crucial in driving recovery in rural and regional Victoria. It will create and retain jobs, leverage private sector investment, grow and diversify our significant regional economy, enable regional population growth, improve the liveability of our cities, centres and towns, and improve economic and social outcomes for over 1.5 million regional Victorians to make regional Victoria an even better place to live, work and invest.
The fund will focus on priority projects to meaningfully support regional communities in their immediate response and recovery efforts, address complex local challenges and lay the groundwork for future growth.
The RJIF has five strategic objectives:
- drive long-term regional growth through support of key economic development projects and the delivery of community-led responses to social and economic challenges.
- support regions and industries to recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19), pandemic, economic transition and natural disasters by leveraging opportunities to create jobs of the future and diversify the regional employment base.
- catalyse and increase private sector project investment in regional Victoria and respond to market failures that prevent high quality and transformative economic projects in the regions from reaching the shovel-ready investment stage.
- improve productivity and enhance long-term competitiveness of regional Victoria through innovation and transition to new growth opportunities.
- Improve the livability of our cities, centres and towns to attract and retain families and young people to live and work.
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. Current programs include: