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:
Note: the Accelerating Readiness Fund will open in 2021.
2. Definition of rural and regional Victoria
Rural and regional Victoria is defined under the Act as comprising the 48 Local Government Authorities outside of metropolitan Melbourne plus the six alpine resorts set out in Schedule 2 of the Act.
The Local Government Authorities include 10 regional cities and 38 rural municipalities.
3. Information only
These Guidelines and any discussions you may have with a RDV office representative are for information only, and do not constitute advice.
Applicants should seek independent advice before making an application or entering into a Grant Agreement.
Applications are at the cost of the applicant.
RDV makes no representation that a grant of funds will be made to any applicant and reserves the right to make no funds available under the RJIF.
All grant applicants, as applicable, must operate under an appropriate COVIDSafe Plan to govern operations.
4. Assessment of non-financial risks
Applications to the RJIF must include information to enable RDV to assess financial and other non-financial risks associated with the proposal as part of its due diligence. This includes consideration of elements that may pose a reputational risk to the State, such as:
- Whether the applicant has already received grants from the Victorian Government.
- Whether the applicant has failed to meet key contractual obligations for previous grant agreements with the State. Note: as appropriate, delays due to COVID-19 restrictions and responses will be taken into consideration at the Department’s discretion.
- Where the proposal has already been fully funded by the applicant through other means (e.g. capital raising on the Australian Stock Exchange).
- Where due diligence (probity checks) uncovers adverse findings.
5. Eligible locations
Projects delivered within the following locations can apply for RJIF funding, in accordance with relevant program eligibility criteria.
Table 1 – Eligible Locations:
Large Rural Councils
Small Rural Councils and Alpine Resorts
6. Additional information and resources
Regional Partnerships Outcomes Roadmaps:
Barwon Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 648.86 KB)
Central Highlands Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 893.6 KB)
Gippsland Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 1155.06 KB)
Goulburn Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 1509.65 KB)
Great South Coast Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 551.03 KB)
Loddon Campaspe Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 619.4 KB)
Mallee Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 752.27 KB)
Ovens Murray Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 720.96 KB)
Wimmera Southern Mallee Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 580.85 KB)
Regional Infrastructure Fund Application Guideline details
Description and objectives of the fund
The Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) seeks to assist the growth of rural Victoria by providing grants for infrastructure projects that have the potential to stimulate economic activity in Regional Victoria.
The objectives of the RIF are:
- to increase economic and social benefits through improved community access and usability of precincts
- to increase economic and social benefits through investment in strategic infrastructure.
Projects seeking funding will need to demonstrate how they will:
- improve economic performance and growth
- create and capture value by harnessing key regional strengths such as social, environmental or economic assets, capital or specialisations
- enhance the social and/or economic resilience and competitiveness of the location
- align with state and regional priorities (i.e. Regional Partnership priority, or Regional, State or National or Council-endorsed plan or strategy)
- maximise the value for money to the state including leveraging investment or funding from other sources
- demonstrate long term feasibility and viability that will sustain positive impacts
- will be delivered within two years of receiving funding approval.
Funding will be provided for projects that:
- improve the economic performance of a precinct
- improve business, transport, retail, education, social, cultural, industry or community linkages
- provide 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
- support cultural initiatives of economic significance to the region such as renewal of buildings and sites, arts and cultural centres or resource facilities.
Applicants are expected to attempt to maximise funding from a range of sources, including:
- loans from financial institutions
- equity from business investors
- grants from the Commonwealth Government
- contributions from Local Government Authorities
- contributions from utility / service providers
- other sources.
Priority will be given to projects that are considered investment ready, have a well demonstrated need for government assistance and which deliver a place-based economic impact.
Note: as all projects are expected to be delivered in a two-year timeframe from signing of the grant agreement, evidence should be provided that demonstrates all relevant approvals and permits required to commence the project can be obtained within this delivery envelope.
Activities that will not be funded
The following activities will not be considered:
- early-stage project planning
- 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
- 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.
Who can apply?
Applications will be considered for projects from Councils from regional and rural Victoria. Councils can also sponsor projects on behalf of the business and industry groups including:
- chambers of commerce and business associations
- industry peak bodies
- business and industry clusters and networks
- incorporated not-for-profit organisations and community groups that 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.
The RIF will comprise a single competitive round in the 2019/20 financial year.
The round will open on 6 November 2019 and close on 18 December 2019. Successful applications are expected to be announced in late-January 2020.
Funding available will be capped at $500,000 per project.
Maximum funding ratios are:
Maximum funding ratios for co-contributions
Up to RDV $1 : $1 other
Large Rural Council
Up to RDV $2 : $1 other
Small Rural Council or Alpine Resort
Up to RDV $3 : $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.
Small rural councils and alpine resorts are the only Local Government Authority entity that are eligible to claim in-kind contributions to the projects.
The in-kind contribution will be capped at 25% of the applicant’s contribution.
Application and assessment process
To ensure the suitability of projects all applicants will need to go through the following process.
Step 1: Prior to application
Prior to submitting a formal application, applicants are advised to:
- read these Application Guidelines to establish eligibility
- discuss the proposed project with your local RDV representative
- read the terms and conditions for the funding offered
- express interest in applying for financial assistance by preparing a short description of the project, including the magnitude of the investment and jobs to be retained and created through the project.
Step 2: Prepare an application
If the initial assessment is successful, the applicant will be invited to apply for program funding and an online link to an application form will be sent to the applicant.
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 objectives of the project;
- the desired outcomes;
- the outputs to be delivered; and
- any resource requirements.
Applicants should address the assessment criteria of the RIF program and provide the supporting documents required by the application form.
Applicants should submit the following documents where required with the application.
All applications must provide:
- a response to the assessment criteria
- completed project plan, including consideration of key risks
- cost estimates/quotes
- letters of support, as appropriate
- evidence confirming funding sources
- evidence of land ownership/tenure
As required, applications should also include:
- a joint use agreement or a completed notification of intent to enter into a joint use agreement form, including a letter of endorsement from the relevant agency
- copy of completed Cultural Heritage Management Plan, Vegetation Assessments, Environmental Management Plans, etc. as appropriate or evidence that these types of plans are not required
- evidence that relevant approvals to commence the project have been obtained, such as Planning Permit, Heritage Victoria Permit, etc.
- schematic plans for the project.
For grants over $300,000, also provide:
- quantity surveyor’s estimate
- construction plans for the project (desirable).
Where the applicant proposes to enter the funding agreement on behalf of a supported organisation the application must include written confirmation from the supported organisation that they have reviewed the application and agree to its content and that the project will be delivered by the applicant on their behalf.
Step 3: Assessment process
Applications will undergo a two-stage assessment process.
- 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. This stage will also consider key risks and issues associated with the project.
- Eligible applications will be considered by the Assessment Panel against the assessment criteria.
The Assessment Panel will make a recommendation to the Minister for Regional Development.
The Assessment Panel is chaired by RDV and includes representatives from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, the Department of Treasury and Finance and the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Where relevant, comments and advice will be sought from other Victorian government departments and agencies.
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.
Project aims – 20%
The application demonstrates the extent to which the project addresses each of the following criteria:
- economic benefits (eg. increased business, employment opportunities and increased skills)
- act as a catalyst for regional and community growth
- social and environmental benefits (eg. social inclusion and improved community connections)
- demonstrates uniqueness in terms, opportunities, challenges or constraints relevant to the region or place.
Project need – 30%
The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:
- addresses an existing identified gap or issue
- has an identified need for the project supported by evidence of previously undertaken investigations
- requires Victorian Government support such as funding, facilitation, other interventions or approvals to proceed
- details the risk to the project without Victorian Government support from this source
- is supported by local, regional, state or Commonwealth strategy or plan, knowledge and information demonstrating the challenges being confronted by the community such as drought, rapid economic change, population growth and decline
- is strongly supported by the regional partnership, local government authority, the community and is consistent with regional plans, shared priorities and the direction of regional strategic plans.
Project delivery – 30%
The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:
- demonstrates project feasibility (ie. how the project benefits will be sustained once funding ceases)
- is investment ready, supported by a clear project management approach, relevant approvals and realistic timeframes
- is financially viable, based on sound cost estimates and represents value for money
- 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
- detailed preliminary project implementation plan demonstrating how the project can be successfully delivered within anticipated timeframes (no more than two years from approval) and budget
- incorporates principles of environmentally sustainable design and addresses Universal Design while complying with relevant anti-discrimination legislation
- is consistent with good heritage practice, ie The Burra Charter (if heritage listed)
- sources materials and resources to deliver the project which strengthen the regional community and economy.
Capability, capacity and track record – 20%
The application demonstrates the extent to which the applicant:
- has undertaken thorough project consultation in developing the project including project partners, other funding bodies, sponsors, other Government Departments and Agencies, community etc.
- is financially viable and has the capacity to manage and complete the project
- demonstrates experience in infrastructure project delivery, including on time on budget track record
- if relevant, demonstrates successful application of previous funding received from the Victorian Government.
Step 4: Approval process
The Minister for Regional Development, in consultation with relevant Ministers, will consider the advice received from the Assessment Panel and determine whether to approve the application.
Applicants will be 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.
Environmentally sustainable design
Infrastructure proposals are encouraged to incorporate Environmentally Sustainable Design initiatives into project designs.
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.
The Burra Charter
The Burra Charter is a set of principles that have been adopted to create a nationally accepted standard for heritage conservation practice in Australia. It is not a legal requirement to adopt the Burra Charter guidelines, however they are well entrenched in policy.
Compliance and Governance
1. Project costing treatment of GST
Applicants should note that all project costs included in the application must be exclusive of GST. Applicants must have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and be registered for GST or provide written advice from the Australian Taxation Office that no withholding tax is required to be withheld from the grant payment.
2. Who signs the application?
Applications from Local Government Authorities must be signed by the Chief Executive Officer.
Applications from other proponents must be signed by the Chief Executive Officer (or person authorised to bind the organisation).
3. Conditions of funding
Successful applicants will be required to enter into a Grant Agreement with RDV, detailing all funding obligations and conditions.
The standard terms and conditions on which the funding is offered for each program are available from:
- the RDV website or
- by contacting their local RDV representative.
Grant Agreements are legally enforceable documents that clearly set out the obligations of both parties. The Grant Agreement aims to protect the Victorian Government’s interests and the efficient and effective use of public money.
It also ensures there is appropriate recognition of Victorian Government support in project-related publications, media releases and promotional material.
Grant Agreements must be signed by the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent person with authority to bind the organisation) 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 Grant Agreement has been signed, the applicant will be required to actively manage and deliver the project and provide accurate progress reports to RDV. During a 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. At its discretion, RDV may be either a participant or observer in these meetings.
Successful applicants must enter into a Grant Agreement and commence the project within three months from the date of the funding offer.
If a project does not commence within this timeframe, the grant will be reviewed by RDV.
Projects with a total project value of, or greater than $1 million are required to meet the Local Jobs First Policy requirements.
4. Monitoring, evaluation and reporting
Successful applicants will be required to cooperate with an evaluation which is undertaken during and/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. Depending on the significance of the project, 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 collection arrangements to capture the appropriate data in relation to outputs and outcomes.
These arrangements will assist RDV to undertake a robust evaluation of the RJIF.
RDV reports on grants and programs it administers. The reporting includes the identity of successful applicants and projects and, where applicable, deviations from or exceptions to the assessment and approvals processes set out in these guidelines..
5. Competitive neutrality
All successful applications to the RJIF from a Government body, including Local Government Authorities and Government agencies will be required to comply with the Competitive Neutrality Policy Victoria (if applicable) in respect of any commercial goods or services offered by the body as a result of the grant.
Successful applicants need to acknowledge the Victorian Government’s support through the provision of a grant from the RJIF. The Grant Agreement includes a requirement that all activities acknowledge Victorian Government support through logo presentation on any activity-related publications, media releases and promotional material in accordance with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) guidelines.
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 the state to use in communications materials.
Any personal information about the applicant or a third party in correspondence will be collected, held, managed, used, disclosed or transferred in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) and other applicable laws. DJPR is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information.
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
GPO Box 2392
Melbourne, Victoria, 3001, Australia
Enquiries about access to information about you held by DJPR should be directed to:
Freedom of Information Manager
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions GPO Box 2392
Melbourne, Victoria, 3001, Australia