- Context of the Regional Jobs Fund
- Description and objectives of the fund
- Application and assessment process
- Conditions of funding
- Contact details
- Lodgement of Applications
1.1 Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund
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 a transition to new growth opportunities
- create the conditions for business growth by enhancing work force skills, providing enabling economic infrastructure and facilitating expansion into new markets
- improve the liveability 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 as a trust fund in the public account. The Act describes the activities for which the trust is to be applied:
- providing better infrastructure, facilities and services in rural and regional Victoria
- strengthening the economic, social and environmental bases of communities in rural and regional Victoria
- creating jobs and improving career opportunities in rural and regional Victoria
- supporting the development and planning of local projects in rural and regional Victoria.
Regional Development Victoria (RDV) will administer the RJIF’s three programs:
- Regional Infrastructure Fund
- Regional Jobs Fund
- Stronger Regional Communities plan.
The Victorian Government will invest in six high potential, high value sectors to drive Victoria’s economic growth including:
- food and fibre
- professional services
- new energy technology
- medical technology, life sciences and healthcare
- transport, defence and construction technology
- international education
1.2 Purpose of these guidelines
This sets out the application guidelines for the Regional Jobs Fund (RJF) component of the RJIF.
2.1 Regional Jobs Fund
The primary aim of the Regional Jobs Fund (RJF) is to facilitate job creation and retain existing jobs. It is targeted at assisting regional businesses to grow their workforce, expand markets and create jobs of the future. It will attract and facilitate investment with a focus on regional competitive advantage or high-growth potential businesses and will help diversify the regional employment base. The fund aims to improve regional capacity and to innovate and capitalise on the potential of emerging industry sectors and new export markets.
The RJF will provide support for strategic projects and infrastructure through the following program streams:
- Investment Attraction
- Innovation and Productivity
- Market Access
- Employment Precincts
- Skills Development
2.2 Program streams
The objectives of each program stream are described below.
2.2.1 Investment Attraction
This program stream aims to attract and facilitate investment in new and existing businesses in regional Victoria. It also focuses on regional competitive advantage and high-growth potential businesses and opportunities that create new jobs or retain existing jobs in regional Victoria.
The program will be flexible to industry needs, but also targeted towards supporting activities that deliver an identified business growth opportunity. This includes footloose investment attraction, investment in facilities expansion and strategic industry investment planning.
2.2.2 Innovation and Productivity
This program stream aims to improve the productivity of regional industries and businesses to ensure the long-term sustainability of employment and business growth in regional locations.
It will provide funding for the adoption of new technology and innovative processes, as well as equipment that drives more efficient use of assets and greater supply chain integration.
This program stream will support activities linked to business innovation or commercialisation of technology. It will also provide support for collaboration between industry clusters and research centres that strengthen supply chains and competitiveness.
2.2.3 Market Access
This program stream aims to grow regional export potential and access to new markets for business and industry groups. It will support investments, projects and activities that provide more comprehensive engagement with new markets, domestically and abroad. It will also provide funding to support industry development, capability building, strategic export development planning and targeted industry cluster development projects for new markets.
This program stream includes the Food Source Victoria initiative.
2.2.4 Employment Precincts
This program stream aims to boost the capacity of new and existing regionally significant employment precincts (e.g. CBDs, health, education, innovation, industrial and special purpose precincts). It will provide funding to support the development or enhancement of land and facilities that generate greater job density and more productive industry clustering. This includes enabling infrastructure that facilitates long-term investment and jobs creation in a precinct by a foundation business or an anchor tenant.
2.2.5 Skills Development
The Regional Skills Fund is a targeted, place-based grant program driven by industry in partnership with the tertiary sector. This program stream aims to support regional business skills development and capability to ensure long-term sustainability of employment and industry growth. Priority will be given to strategic, whole-of-sector, new and innovative approaches to skills and workforce development that make a significant impact. The fund will support regional projects that improve business productivity; increase workforce and training participation and support disadvantaged groups as part of a long-term, strategic approach for meaningful career-based employment.
2.3 Activities that will generally not be funded
The following activities will generally not be considered for funding:
- projects primarily to meet regulatory requirements
- requests for retrospective funding where projects have been completed or have commenced prior to receiving funding approval
- ongoing operating costs or salary subsidies except where a salary subsidy provides administrative and project management support for business and industry clusters networks
- purchase of land
- projects undertaken by the private sector as a result of a government contract
- projects requiring full funding where funding is normally provided from state, commonwealth or local government sources
- projects requiring ongoing funding from the Victorian Government once completed
- projects without the potential for a sustained net increase in regional employment and economic activity.
Refer to specific program stream guidelines for further information on funding eligibility.
2.4 Who can apply
Applications will be considered from:
- private sector businesses and agencies
- business and industry groups including:
- chambers of commerce and business associations
- industry peak bodies
- business and industry clusters and networks
- local government authorities
- government agencies
- not-for-profit organisations and community groups that:
- are an incorporated body, cooperative or association
- 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
- higher education and private training institutions
- regional organisations e.g. regional strategic planning alliances.
Individuals are not eligible to apply.
2.5 Definition of rural and regional Victoria
Rural and regional Victoria is defined as the 48 local government areas including six alpine resort areas set out in Schedule 2 of the Regional Development Victoria Act 2002.
The 10 regional city local government areas are Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga. The remaining 38 local government areas including six alpine resort areas are referred to as the rural local government areas.
2.6 Funding support
Applicants are expected to make a financial contribution or source third-party funding. Projects should maximise their funding support from a range of sources including commonwealth/ local government, community, private sector and regional organisations.
Priority may be given to projects that are considered investment ready.
To ensure the suitability of projects, all applicants will need to go through the following four-step process.
Step 1: Prior to application
Prior to submitting a formal application, applicants are advised to:
- read these application guidelines and the information sheet of the relevant RJF program stream carefully to establish eligibility
- discuss the proposed project with your local RDV office
- read the terms and conditions for the funding offered.
Applicants should note that projects may not proceed to the formal application and assessment process where the project:
- can potentially be implemented through another government funding program, and if appropriate, applicants may be referred to this funding program
- does not relate to the program stream of the RJF
- does not strongly demonstrate economic benefits
- is not implementation ready
- is not strongly aligned to state or regional priorities
- does not strongly demonstrate a need
- does not present good value to the state or maximise funding support from other sources.
An RDV officer will help you determine your project’s potential suitability, before an application form is completed.
Step 2: Prepare an application
Applicants should use the application to clearly and succinctly describe the project by detailing: the challenge or opportunity it is looking to address; the objectives; the desired outcomes; the outputs to be delivered; and any resource requirements. Documentation to support the project such as a feasibility study, business plan, letter of support should be attached to the application.
Applicants should note that all project costs included in the application must be exclusive of GST. The grant to be paid by RDV will be ‘grossed up’ by the amount of GST, provided the applicant provides details of registration for the GST, or proof of exemption from being required to register.
Who signs the application?
Applications from local government authorities must be signed by the Chief Executive Officer. Applications from other parties must be signed by the Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent).
Core RJF criteria
The primary aim of the RJF is to facilitate job creation and therefore assessment criteria are weighted towards quantifiable economic development benefits. In preparing the application, applicants will be asked to provide relevant supporting documents to demonstrate the project’s ability to address each of the following criteria:
Applicants will also be asked to demonstrate the project’s ability to address program stream specific criteria, which will be provided prior to the application.
a) Direct economic development benefits
Applications should demonstrate clearly how the proposed project will:
- result in investment and an increase in gross value add (turnover/sales minus cost of sales) or potential future industry growth
- create or retain sustainable employment or create an increased potential for future employment
- produce additional regional exports or replace imports
- generate long-term benefits that remain after funding has ceased.
Applications that can demonstrate how projects will contribute to long-term benefits will be looked at more favourably than those that have short term impacts.
b) Additional economic development benefits
Applications should demonstrate clearly how the proposed project:
- creates indirect employment (e.g. construction, supply chain jobs)
- builds on identified regional competitive advantage
- complements and creates incentive for other investments to occur in the region (e.g. through industry spill-overs or creation of critical mass)
- supports the integration of the region into global markets
- delivers innovation and productivity benefits (e.g. through the introduction of a new technology; the enhancement of the local skills base; the introduction of new management techniques; a reduction in the relative cost of inputs; or raising the value of outputs).
c) Social and environmental benefits
Applications should demonstrate clearly how the proposed project:
- has relevant community and industry support
- is consistent with environmentally sustainable development
- supports inclusive growth
- provides additional social and environmental benefits (e.g. addresses the impacts of climate change on the economy, environment and community).
d) Alignment with state and regional priorities and demonstrated project need
Applications will need to identify how the project aligns with the relevant regional strategic plan and any relevant state government policies (e.g. high growth sectors as identified in the Victorian Government’s Back to Work plan).
e) Demonstrated project feasibility and delivery
Applications should clearly demonstrate:
- that all regulatory requirements including land tenure, planning and environmental issues have been identified and resolution strategies are in place to the satisfaction of RDV
- 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.
Financial modelling/budgeting for proposed projects is required to be submitted.
f) Financial viability of proponent
Applicants will be asked to provide copies of annual reports and audited financial statements covering the last three years with their application. This will enable RDV to assess the financial viability of the applicant and their ability to manage and complete the project.
Note: Victorian Government agencies, statutory authorities and publicly funded education institutions are exempt from a financial risk assessment
g) Maximising value to the state
Applications should demonstrate how the project provides a good value proposition to the state and also provide evidence of how the project maximises funding support from a range of sources, including commonwealth and local governments, community, private sector and regional organisations.
Step 3: Assessment process
Applications will undergo a two-stage assessment process. The first stage involves determining the eligibility of the proposed project by assessing the project’s ability to meet the core RJF and relevant program stream criteria. The first stage will also consider key risks and issues associated with the project.
All applications within the RJF will be forwarded to the Back to Work Investment Committee of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) for assessment prior to consideration by relevant Ministers including the Minister for Regional Development.
Step 4: Approval process
The Minister for Regional Development, in consultation with relevant Ministers, will consider the advice received from the Work Investment Committee and determine whether or not to approve the application.
In the case of applications seeking funding of $5 million or more, the Victorian Treasurer’s authorisation is also required.
4.1 Funding agreements
Successful applicants will be required to enter into a funding agreement with RDV, detailing all funding obligations and conditions.
The funding agreement is a legally enforceable document that clearly defines the obligations of both parties. The funding 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.
Funding agreements must be signed by the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent) 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 funding agreement has been signed, the applicant will be required to actively manage and deliver the project, and provide progress reports to RDV. During the course of the 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. RDV may be either a participant or observer in these meetings.
Successful applicants must enter into a funding agreement and commence the project within one year from the date of the funding offer. If a project does not commence within this timeframe, the grant will be reviewed by RDV.
4.2 Evaluation and reporting
Successful applicants will be required to cooperate fully with an evaluation which is undertaken either during 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. 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.
4.3 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, in respect of any commercial goods or services offered by the body as a result of the grant.
Any personal information about you or a third party in your correspondence will be collected, held, managed, used, disclosed or transferred in accordance with the provisions of the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic) and other applicable laws. DJPR is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information. Enquiries about access to information about you held by DJPR are available from djpr.vic.gov.au/privacy
Successful applicants need to acknowledge the Victorian Government’s support through the provision of a grant from the RJIF. Promotional guidelines form part of the funding agreement and include the requirement that all activities acknowledge Victorian Government support through logo presentation on any activity-related publications, media releases and promotional material.
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 use in communications materials.
Completed applications should be submitted to:
Regional Jobs Fund
Regional Development Victoria
GPO Box 4509 Melbourne VIC 3001
Phone: (03) 9027 5505