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Let's Stay Connected Fund

The Let’s Stay Connected Fund has been developed to help communities to stay connected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond.

Overview

Illustration of a person connecting to their WiFi device

The Victorian Government’s Let’s Stay Connected Fund is helping communities stay connected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond.

Community organisations were invited to apply for grants of between $5,000 and $200,000 to support innovative, community-led initiatives that build connection, reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Successful projects will be implemented quickly and help a wide range of community groups continue to support their communities

The Let’s Stay Connected Fund is now closed and the fund is not accepting applications.

Objectives of Program

The objectives of the program are to combat social isolation and loneliness issues in the community and:

  • better connect program participants with others in the community
  • provide opportunities for the community to contribute or volunteer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • increase the capability of participants to connect with both their community and support organisations
  • assist service providers in increasing their reach
  • increase the capability for the community to support the socially isolated
  • ensure an equitable spread of support across both metropolitan and regional areas
  • increase collaboration between Government and support services to assist people experiencing social isolation as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Funding Details

Activities and projects that may be considered include but are not limited to:

  • engagement approaches using new and innovative technologies that are accessible and inclusive to diverse communities
  • supporting organisations to develop digital content or purchase specialist equipment to enable initiatives to be provided online
  • supporting locally led partnerships to address social isolation and loneliness in the community
  • targeted engagement approaches for vulnerable cohorts, particularly for members of the community who do not have internet access and or / the skills to utilise technology
  • establishing or growing innovative community and small enterprise projects and recreation initiatives that address loneliness and social isolation
  • increasing access to communications channels and providing training and upskilling opportunities to build people’s capability to access online resources
  • collaboration that builds community cohesion
  • increasing local community participation in activities designed to assist communities to connect and reduce loneliness and social isolation
  • help to reduce social isolation and loneliness for people whose health has been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The program will be delivered in two streams:

  • Stream 1 – Targeted - existing projects that can be “scaled up” to a broader audience (local, regional or state level).
  • Stream 2 – Open - allowing applications from community groups, recognised charities, chambers of commerce, peak bodies, industry and LGAs to fund the establishment of new and “scale up” existing innovative projects that will help to address social isolation and loneliness in the community as a result of the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Successful projects

Successful projects will help a wide range of community groups continue to service their communities by adapting the way they deliver programs or events through online forums, activities and services.

Details of the successful applications across regional Victoria are provided below.

Organisation and projectRegionLocation Project details
Ararat Rural City Council – J Ward, Ararat's Old Gaol and Lunatic Asylum Virtual Tours Grampians Rossbridge Develop an interactive and safe virtual experience utilising 3D digital modelling. Participants will remain connected to familiar places, stories, services and information. The project will alleviate isolation, support digital competency and re-build networks.
Ballarat Community Health - Community Arts & Wellbeing Classes Grampians Ballarat Provide online art webinars, alongside the delivery of individual art kits. The project will enable participants to engage socially and creatively, supporting communities who are unable to attend in-person.
Horsham City Bowling Club - Establishment of a community grow cart Grampians St Helens Plains Construct and introduce a 'grow cart' to the community. The project will enable members of the Horsham City Bowling Club and Kalimna Park Croquet Club to share the rewards of their gardens or collect an item for cooking. The project offers opportunities for collective community building, support networks and sustained social interactions.
Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council - Connecting Regional Multicultural Communities Grampians Sovereign Hill Build digital literacy and community volunteer capacity across North Western Regional Victoria, to engage migrant and refugee communities. Web-based training, digital investment and weekly online social engagement will mitigate isolation that has been compounded by linguistic diversity, loss of employment, training and other face-to-face opportunities.
The Field Trip - Healthy Minds Online Loddon Mallee Lancefield The project offers a 10-week, peer and community support program as outreach to young people aged between 8  to25 years old. Participants will be provided opportunities and resources to connect, feel inspired and contribute to their mental, physical and social wellbeing.
Inglewood & District Health Services - IDHS maintaining familial connections for Residents during COVID-19 Loddon Mallee Serpentine Introduce new communication channels for residential aged care clients to access regular video conferencing with their families and wider community. Develop virtual online health resources, increase digital literacy for residents and staff and continue to combat elder depression and social isolation.
Golden Square Pool Inc -  Golden Square Collaborative Art Mural Project Loddon Mallee Specimen Hill Create a mural at Golden Square Pool that is vibrant, poses resilience and provides opportunities for participation. The project is a collaborative community art project that will foster sharing, inclusion and create new and lasting friendships and partnerships in the community.
Loddon Shire Council - Artly – Let’s Stay Connected! Loddon Mallee Woosang Create weekly, online therapeutic art sessions and deliver accompanying materials to participants of all ages and abilities. Sessions will build joyful connections, support positive mental health and provide digital network and sharing opportunities for communities.
Mulberry Tree Playgroup - Mulberry Tree Family Play Box and Story Time Program Loddon Mallee Mildura Provide weekly live, online story and rhyme sessions for families. The project will offer resources to enable entertaining and low-stress experiences, allowing families to enjoy play and positively connect with each other. Play Box is another facet that will enable continued engagement beyond weekly events.
Sunraysia Community Health Services - Generations Music Together Online Loddon Mallee Mildura Generations Online is a  COVIDSafe adaptation of a local, inter-generational music learning program. Families will be paired with an Aged Care resident for weekly music making sessions. The program is mutually beneficial, where the strengths of one generation supports the needs and well-being of the other. The project will create lasting community connection.
Kyneton Community and Learning Centre - Kyneton Community House 'At Our Table' Project Loddon Mallee Tylden Develop and implement a delivery service of community lunches, with a virtual meal-sharing component for socially isolated members to eat together while apart. The project concurrently offers a safe space for social and health outreach.
Njernada Aboriginal Corporation - Njernda - Connecting with our mob during COVID19 Loddon Mallee Roslynmead Establish a recording studio for live streaming content that connects the Aboriginal community of Echuca. The project offers new and dynamic opportunities of creating connection and reducing isolation.
Adventure Works Australia - NatureConnect: Online & Outdoor Connection for Women Experiencing Social Isolation Hume Whitfield Create and deliver an online, nature-based, individual and group counselling service. The project offers benefits of virtual and physical contact with nature and will facilitate active enjoyment of outdoor spaces for women and children who are experiencing severe social isolation.
Moira Shire Council - Artly – Let’s Stay Connected! Hume Cobram Create weekly, online therapeutic art sessions and deliver accompanying materials to participants of all ages and abilities. Sessions will build joyful connections, support positive mental health and provide digital network and sharing opportunities for communities.
Goulburn Options - GO LIVE Hume Trawool Create online pathways out of isolation for people with intellectual disabilities. The project provides technical support and education to ensure clients and families have adequate internet access. The program will develop online activities and content that can foster social engagement, offer skill development and establish new, independent connections for clients.
Glenelg Shire Council Artly Project - Artly – Let’s Stay Connected! Barwon South West Gorae West Create weekly, online therapeutic art sessions and deliver accompanying materials to participants of all ages and abilities. Sessions will build joyful connections, support positive mental health and provide digital network and sharing opportunities for communities.
Warrnambool Community Garden Inc - Virtual Participation at Warrnambool Community Garden Barwon South West Warrnambool The project will enable people to participate online, by sharing social connections and learning around aspects of food gardening. The launch of a mobile app platform will provide a resource enabling access to information, stories and guest speakers to increase backyard food gardening success.
Geelong Gallery - Art + Connect @ Home Barwon South West Geelong Create online art workshops and distribute home art-making kits for all ages and abilities. The project will provide remote hosting and self-guided activity with digital support for individuals, special need schools, healthcare providers and aged care facilities.
Western District Health Service - Stories 2 Connect Barwon South West Kanawalla Capture the stories of local residents and share through diverse platforms, including community radio, online articles and printed newspapers. The project will build digital literacy, provide training in storytelling techniques and will create inter-generational relationships and support.
Baw Baw Shire Council – Baw Baw Shire Council Volunteer Online Induction and Training Portal Gippsland Rokeby Design and implement an interactive online, induction and training program for new and existing Baw Baw Shire volunteers. The project will ensure all volunteers can confidently, safely and effectively learn best practice in a range of fields, including meals on wheels delivery, social support and client medical transport. Volunteers will be able to continue to contribute to their communities.
Save the Children Australia – Volunteer Family Connect East Gippsland Gippsland Carlton South for Gippsland Develop an evidence-based, community-driven model of volunteer home visiting, phone and virtual outreach for families of young children who are experiencing challenges and increased vulnerability and isolation as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).  The scope includes the delivery of a specialist online training program to increase the capacity of community volunteers supporting families.
Neighbourhood Houses Gippsland – Neighbourhood Houses increasing social connectedness Gippsland Warragul Develop an online space to advertise volunteer and social connection opportunities, the project will concurrently provide training to 41 Neighbourhood Houses with a local social media and marketing specialist, to improve communication and support, address loneliness and improve social connections.
The KernArt Prize - the KernArt Prize Virtual Exhibition 2020 Gippsland The Gurdies Develop a new website to enable a virtual exhibition for the KernArt Prize 2020. The project will enable KernArt to invite artists to exhibit, award prizes and connect creatives with their peers, fostering value in creative practice and community connections.

Details of the successful metropolitan Melbourne applications.

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