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Regional Infrastructure Fund application guidelines

Regional Infrastructure Fund guidelines are currently under review and will be re-released in the coming months.

Context

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:

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.

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.

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.

Eligible locations

Projects delivered within the following locations can apply for RJIF funding, in accordance with relevant program eligibility criteria.

Table 1 – Eligible Locations:

Regional Cities

Large Rural Councils

Small Rural Councils and Alpine Resorts

Ballarat
Greater Bendigo
Greater Geelong
Greater Shepparton
Horsham
Latrobe
Mildura
Wangaratta
Warrnambool
Wodonga

Bass Coast
Baw Baw
Campaspe
Colac-Otway
Corangamite
East Gippsland
Glenelg
Golden Plains
Macedon Ranges
Mitchell
Moira
Moorabool
Mount Alexander
Moyne
South Gippsland
Southern Grampians
Surf Coast
Swan Hill
Wellington

Alpine
Ararat
Benalla
Buloke
Central Goldfields
Gannawarra
Hepburn
Hindmarsh
Indigo
Loddon
Mansfield
Murrindindi
Northern Grampians
Pyrenees
Queenscliffe
Strathbogie
Towong
West Wimmera
Yarriambiack
Mt Baw Baw
Falls Creek
Mt Hotham
Mt Buller
Mt Stirling
Lake Mountain

Additional information and resources

Regional Partnerships Outcomes Roadmaps:

Barwon Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 648.86 KB)PDF icon
Central Highlands Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 893.6 KB)PDF icon
Gippsland Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 1155.06 KB)PDF icon
Goulburn Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 1509.65 KB)PDF icon
Great South Coast Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 551.03 KB)PDF icon
Loddon Campaspe Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 619.4 KB)PDF icon
Mallee Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 752.27 KB)PDF icon
Ovens Murray Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 720.96 KB)PDF icon
Wimmera Southern Mallee Outcomes Roadmap (PDF 580.85 KB)PDF icon

Regional Infrastructure Fund Application Guideline details

Description and objectives of the fund

The Regional Infrastructure Fund Round Two (RIF) seeks to assist the growth of rural Victoria by providing grants for infrastructure projects that have the potential to stimulate economic and community activity, including those that seek to support recovery from COVID-19 and other major economic challenges, in regional Victoria.

RIF forms part of the RJIF and seeks to assist the growth of rural Victoria by providing grants for infrastructure projects that have the potential to stimulate economic and community activity, including those that seek to support recovery from COVID-19 and other major economic challenges, in regional Victoria.

The objectives of the fund are:

  • to create and retain jobs and support regional economies and communities, including transition, diversification and recovery efforts.
  • To increase economic and social benefits through improved community access and usability of precincts, town or region.
  • To increase economic and social benefits through investment in strategic and public enabling infrastructure.

Round Two of the fund will be delivered as a single competitive round accepting applications from eligible organisations to support infrastructure projects that have a focus on strengthening regional jobs, economic and community outcomes.

Infrastructure projects seeking funding will need to demonstrate how they will achieve one or more of the following:

  • improve economic performance and growth (e.g. this may include supporting social procurement outcomes and/or for relevant projects supporting the objectives of the Growing Regional Opportunities for Work initiative)
  • 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
  • support economic transition, diversification and recovery
  • 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 (e.g. via feasibility studies and/or business cases) that will sustain positive impacts.

Funding will be provided for infrastructure projects that achieve one or more of the following:

  • improve the economic performance, potential and outcomes of a precinct, town or region
  • 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 and visitor facilities
  • support cultural initiatives of economic significance to the region such as renewal of buildings and sites, arts and cultural centres or resource facilities.

Note: evidence should be provided that demonstrates all relevant approvals and permits required to commence the project can be obtained within the proposed delivery time frame.

Projects should be consistent, where possible, with the following:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Projects 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 (design and construct projects may be considered)
  • 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 the following incorporated entities, individuals are not eligible to apply:

  • Local Government Authorities
  • Alpine Resorts Management Boards
  • 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, including community groups that are a
    • cooperatives or associations
    • social enterprise organisations;
    Councils can also sponsor (auspice) 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.

Funding assistance

Under Round Two, to qualify for funding, a co‑funding contribution from applicants is required (see section Funding Ratios). Applicants are expected to maximise funding wherever possible 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.

To quality for funding, project must be considered by the Department to be sufficiently investment ready, have a well demonstrated need for government assistance and deliver a place-based economic impact.

Fund details

Round 2 of will comprise a single competitive round. It is anticipated the Round Two will open 16 June 2021 and close 10 August 2021. Successful applications are expected to be announced in October 2021.

Available Funding

Grants will be capped at $3 million per project with the minimum amount of funding for a project being $20,000.

Note: consideration may be given for projects deemed to be outstanding by the Victorian Government to access a grant of up to $5 million. These projects would need to clearly demonstrate significant leveraging of funding co‑contributions above the nominated funding ratios set out in Table 2 below, and/or deliver significant regional or cross regional benefits/transformative outcomes.

Funding Ratios and Co-Contribution

The following funding ratios apply:
Table 2 – Funding Ratios

Applicant

Maximum funding ratios for co-contributions

Regional City

Up to RDV $2 : $1 other

Large Rural Council

Up to RDV $3 : $1 other

Small Rural Councils, Alpine Resorts, not for profits, and business, industry and community organisations

Up to RDV $4 : $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 may be taken into consideration.

Small rural councils (see Table 1 Section 1.5) and alpine resorts are the only Local Government Authority entity that are eligible to claim in-kind contributions to the projects.

Community groups and social enterprises are also eligible to claim in-kind contributions.

The in-kind contribution will be capped at 25% of the applicant’s contribution and at the following rates:

  • professionals costed at $80 - $150 per hour
  • skilled labour costed at $45 per hour
  • unskilled labour costed at $20 per hour
  • equipment costed at standard commercial hire rates.

Application and assessment process for RIF

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
  • read the terms and conditions for the funding offered
  • contact your local RDV office to discuss the proposed project and express interest in applying.

Step 2: Prepare an application

After initial discussions with the local RDV office, applicants will be able to apply for program funding and an online link to an application form will be sent to the applicant by the relevant RDV regional office. 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
  • any resource requirements.

Applicants should address the assessment criteria under Section 3.4 of the RIF program and provide the supporting documents required by the application form.

All applications must provide:

  • a response to the assessment criteria
  • a project plan, including consideration of key risks
  • cost estimates/quotes
  • letters of support, as appropriate
  • evidence confirming funding sources that demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the Department, that the Applicant has sufficient funds available for the required co-contribution amount for the project
  • evidence of land ownership/tenure
  • evidence of engagement with Traditional Owners Corporations where applicable

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 an auspice arrangement will be used and 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.

For a grant request of more than $50,000 where applicants are not Local Government Authorities or Alpine Resorts Management Boards, the Department will undertake a financial risk assessment of the Applicant to assess the ability of the Applicant to deliver the proposed project. In this case Applicants are also required to provide evidence of financial stability to undertake the project.  This requires at a minimum, the provision of the following:

  • Audited Financial Reports from the last three years (including Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet, Cash Flows, and notes to the accounts). If accounts are not audited, unaudited accounts from an Accountant will be accepted.
  • Up to date management or interim accounts for the current year, if the most recent Financial Report is more than six months old. Also, in the case of public listed corporations, a half yearly financial report.
  • Current Business Plan incorporating financial projections (Profit & Loss and Cash Flow)

Outcomes from the financial risk assessment will be taken into consideration in any decision to recommend and award the grant.

Step 3: Application Assessment process

Applications will undergo a multi-stage assessment process.

  • RDV will determine the project’s eligibility against the applicant and project eligibility criteria above and undertake probity checks and financial risk assessments of the applicant organisations where necessary. Ineligible applicants will not proceed to assessment.
  • RDV will determine the proposed project’s eligibility. This will be done by assessing the project’s ability to meet the assessment criteria. This stage will also consider key risks and issues associated with the project.
  • Eligible applications will be considered by an Assessment Panel against the assessment criteria outlined in Step 4: Approval process (below).

The Assessment Panel will make a recommendation for funding to the Minister for Regional Development.

The Assessment Panel is chaired by RDV and includes representatives from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and other Victorian Government departments and agencies. Where relevant, comments and advice will be sought from other Victorian Government departments and agencies.

Step 4: Approval process

The Minister for Regional Development, in consultation with other relevant Ministers, will consider the advice received from the Assessment Panel and determine whether to approve the application. The Minister for Regional Development has the discretion to make any number of, or no, grants available.

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.

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.

Project aims – 20%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the project addresses each of the following criteria:

  • economic benefits (e.g. increased business, employment opportunities and increased skills)
  • act as a catalyst for regional and community growth
  • social and environmental benefits (e.g. social inclusion and improved community connections)
  • demonstrates uniqueness in terms, opportunities, challenges or constraints relevant to the region or place
  • support economic transition, diversification and recovery.

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 (i.e. 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 (the preferred project end date being 30 June 2022) 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, i.e. 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.

Compliance and Governance

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.

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).

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 grant amount of $1 million or more are required to meet the Local Jobs First Policy requirements.

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..

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.

Acknowledgement

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.

Privacy

Any personal information about the applicant or a third party in the application will be collected by RDV, a statutory body within DJPR for the purpose of grant administration. This information may be provided to other Victorian Government agencies for the purposes of assessing applications. If personal information about third parties is included in the application, ensure third parties are aware of the contents of this privacy statement and the contents of the DJPR Privacy Policy available from the Privacy Officer (details below).

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.

The department’s privacy policy is available from:

Privacy Officer
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
GPO Box 2392
Melbourne, Victoria, 3001, Australia
Email: privacy@ecodev.vic.gov.au

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
Email: foi@ecodev.vic.gov.au

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