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Stronger Regional Communities Plan Application Guidelines

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 transition to new growth opportunities.
  • Create the conditions for business growth by enhancing workforce skills, providing enabling economic infrastructure and facilitation expansion into new markets.
  • Improve the livability 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 (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. Programs currently open include:

  • Regional Infrastructure Fund
  • Regional Jobs Fund
  • Strengthening Regional Communities Program.

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.

Maximum funding ratios under the programs consider the differing capability and capacity between regional cities, large and small rural councils and alpine resorts as described in the following table.

Information only

These Guidelines and any discussions you may have with an 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.

Assessment of non-financial risks

Applications to the RJIF must include information to enable RDV to assess 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.
  • 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 other adverse findings.

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

Additional information and resources

Regional Partnerships Outcomes Roadmaps:

Barwon Regional Partnership
Central Highlands Regional Partnership
Gippsland Regional Partnership
Goulburn Regional Partnership
Great South Coast Regional Partnership
Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership
Mallee Regional Partnership
Ovens Murray Regional Partnership
Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership

Stronger Regional Communities Program Application Guideline details

Description and objectives of the program

The Stronger Regional Communities Program (SRCP) aims to support rural and regional towns in attracting families and young people to live and work in regional Victoria. It will do so by investing in community-led initiatives and partnerships that create or enhance the conditions for economic growth and build resilient, diversified and sustainable economies.

Strong communities are characterised by high levels of social and economic participation.

They demonstrate effective decision-making and strong networks and are attractive to people considering moving to live and work.

The objectives of the SRCP program are to:

  • improve the livability of regional and rural towns in order to attract and retain families and young people;
  • increase community capability and provide increased opportunities to collaborate, innovate and drive change, and
  • increase community resilience to social, economic and environmental shocks.

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

  • supporting locally-led partnerships to address economic development challenges and grow opportunities
  • establishing or growing community and small enterprise projects
  • community strengthening projects which incorporate an infrastructure component
  • increased local civic and economic development skills
  • collaboration that results in local economic development or community resilience initiatives flourishing
  • increasing local community participation, diversity and collaboration in planning, decision making and regional priority projects
  • population retention and attraction activities that attract unskilled and skilled labour, professionals and businesses into the regions
  • initiatives that build skills, increase participation and grow local economic programs
  • engaging community groups to welcome new and potential families to the area
  • using existing networks to identify and promote employment opportunities.

Funding assistance

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.

Activities that will generally not be funded

The following activities would generally not be considered:

  • strategic or project planning activities
  • event sponsorship
  • requests for retrospective funding, where projects have commenced (i.e. equipment purchased, contracts entered into or construction has begun) or have been completed prior to receiving funding approval
  • projects requiring ongoing funding from the Victorian Government
  • ongoing operating costs or salary subsidies except where a salary subsidy provides administrative and project management support for groups of Local Government Authorities and project partners
  • private sector projects undertaken as a result of a Victorian Government contract
  • projects where funding is normally provided by other state, commonwealth and/or local government sources
  • any costs to meet regulatory requirements
  • the purchase of vehicles
  • the purchase of land.

Who can apply?

Applications will be considered from 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
  • incorporated not-for-profit organisations, including community groups that are for example:
    • cooperatives or associations
    • social enterprise organisations. Individuals are not eligible to apply.

Program details

The SRCP is a competitive program with applications received throughout the year on an ongoing basis.

Funding will be capped at $50,000 per project. Maximum funding ratios are:

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 Council or other

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 will be taken into consideration.

In-kind contributions can be included as part of the total project costs in calculating the level of grant assistance.

In-kind contributions will be considered subject to the following requirements:

  • no more than 50% of total recipient contribution can be in-kind
  • 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 rate.

Local Government Authorities are ineligible from providing in-kind support as part of their funding contribution.

Application and assessment process

The process for applying for funding under the program is outlined below:

  • complete an Expression of Interest (available through RDV regional team representatives) to determine the eligibility of your idea and gain early advice to identify a project’s merits and risks
  • RDV will undertake an initial assessment against program eligibility and assessment criteria and provide feedback
  • if initial assessment is successful, the applicant will be invited to apply for program funding (an on-line link to an application form will be provided)
  • Applicant organisations will undergo a probity check to ensure that business registrations are up to date. In addition, some organisations may be selected for an independent financial risk assessment
  • RDV will assess applications against the assessment criteria
  • RDV will make a recommendation to the Minister for Regional Development
  • the Minister will consider the advice and determine whether to approve the application for funding.

Applicants will receive a letter confirming the outcome of the application.

Assessment criteria

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 desired outcomes; the outputs to be delivered; and any resource requirements.

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 (ie: increased business, employment opportunities and increased skills)
  • new and improved infrastructure or facilities (ie; regional and community growth)
  • social and environmental benefits (ie: social inclusion and improved community connections)
  • demonstrates project feasibility (ie: how the project benefits will be sustained once funding ceases).

Project need – 30%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:

  • addresses an existing identified gap or issue
  • is supported by local knowledge and information demonstrating the challenges being confronted by the community such as drought, rapid economic change, population growth and/or decline
  • aligns with state, regional and community priorities.

Project delivery – 30%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:

  • is investment ready, supported by a clear approach and realistic time-frames
  • is financially viable, based on sound cost estimates and represents value for money
  • sources materials and resources to deliver the project which strengthens the regional community and economy.

Capability, capacity and track record – 20%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the applicant:

  • proposes a collaborative approach with a range of partners and indicates how they will contribute to the project
  • proposes an effective project management approach and delivery including proposed Project Control Group
  • has consulted; including with project partners, other funding bodies, other government departments and agencies etc.
  • demonstrates capacity to implement and/or source expertise to manage the project
  • 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 total project value of, or greater than $1 million are required to meet the Local Jobs First Policy requirements: https://localjobsfirst.vic.gov.au/

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, VIC, 3001, AUS
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, VIC, 3001, AUS
Email: foi@ecodev.vic.gov.au

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