Let's Stay Connected Fund graphic

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

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

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

Details of the successful applications are provided below.

For all Victorian Government grants go to www.vic.gov.au/grants.

Successful projects

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

Details of the successful metropolitan Melbourne applications are provided below.

Organisation

Project

Area

Description

Gather My Crew

Find My Crew

Metro- Melbourne

An online platform to connect volunteers with members of the community who need practical help and support and build local support crews that can be mobilised to provide community assistance.

North and West Melbourne Neighbourhood Centre

The Centre 'My Local Life' International Student/Community Online Program

Metro- Melbourne

Online programming to connect International students with volunteers, migrants, young people and community groups. Project invites sharing through workshops, interviews and discussions, concurrently building extensive volunteer opportunities.

National Heart Foundation of Australia

Heart Foundation: Keeping Young Hearts Connected project

Metro- Melbourne

Develop a series of podcasts and virtual meetups for young people living with heart disease. Evidence-based content will be aimed at improving emotional well-being with online meetups providing a safe environment for participants to share and connect.

Weenthunga Health Network Inc.

Nyarrn-gakgo Mangkie [hear within] – Networked Community

Metro- Melbourne

Nyarrn-gakgo mangkie (NGM) provides opportunities, connections and support to First Nations young women in school, university and work who are journeying towards health careers by providing long-term, holistic, relationship-based connections. The project creates an online NGM community and resource-space that is accessible, engaging and informative for participants, families and networks.

Central Ringwood Community Centre

Central Ringwood Community Centre - Keeping Maroondah Connected

Metro – Eastern

Develop three interconnected programs, including support resources modified for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and First People, a digital device loan scheme for isolated and vulnerable community members and a wellness program adapted to suit the needs and preferences of the community. All programs are designed to improve access to programs and services, while supporting mental health.

Bestchance Child Family Care

Post coronavirus (COVID-19) Work Readiness Program

Metro – Eastern

Enhance the digital and employability skills of jobseekers as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions ease, specifically assisting migrant women in the community. Delivering two five-day short courses, the program aims to build knowledge, improve skills, enable social connections and maximise relationships to lessen feelings of isolation.

Bakhtar Cultural Association

Stay Connected Project

Metro - Southern

Deliver creative, online workshops (writing, poetry, live music) in languages spoken within the Bakhtar community. The project will encourage sharing and will provide support to participants who are not fluent in English.

Big hART

‘Connecting Lines’ Community Connection and Resilience Project, Frankston North

Metro - Southern

Increase community connection and resilience for vulnerable youth and senior community members in Frankston North. The scope of this bridging and bonding initiative includes project design, online arts workshops and events to build and support meaningful online social exchange, digital skills and confidence.

Papua New Guinea Women's Association of Victoria Inc

PNGWAV Sisters connection

Metro - Western

The project invites participation in exercise and crafts from  Papua New Guinea women. This soft-entry approach to discussing mental health, is a way of equipping the community with resources to be mindful and aware of locating any early signs of depression.

Maribyrnong City Council

MasterChef Maribyrnong

Metro - Western

MasterChef Maribyrnong is a seven-week, live stream cooking demonstration each Saturday night, hosted by seven diverse restaurants in the western suburbs. Chefs will share with their culinary creation, as well as their story of how they came to settle in the West.

United Housing Co-operative

Let's Stay Connected Co-op Social Club

Metro - Western

Develop an online social club program. The scope includes the design of content and engagement approaches to build capability for isolated members to utilise technology, to access online resources and to socially connect with other members of their community.

Multicultural Resources Hub

Bollywood Dance Fitness Class for all ages

Metro - Northern

Establish a community-based program aimed at encouraging participants to keep active through cultural dance. The program will be free and provide an avenue for social interaction and connectedness based on common interest.

Olympic Adult Education Inc

Data is the Key that Unlocks Community Connections to Prevent Isolation

Metro - Northern

Upgrade portable Wi-Fi data capabilities to enable the West Heidelberg community to participate in online programs including English language classes, family violence recovery programs, family story club and the 3181 song writing project.

Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria

Connecting Junior gardeners

Metro – Inner South-east

Inspire children to discover the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening, including physical exercise, connecting with nature and being mindful. The program will deliver an educational gardening program, creating videos, digital fact sheets and activities to support primary aged children to engage in gardening at home.

Inclusion Melbourne

Connect Me! Technology for Seniors and People with Intellectual Disability

Metro – Inner South-east

The project is designed to support the continuity of services and important connections for vulnerable seniors and people with intellectual disability, specifically those isolated due to living in supported accommodation, who do not have access to technology.

Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus

MGLC virtual performance(s)

Metro – Inner South-east

The project will produce three virtual performances, supporting production and online hosting.

Background and application guidelines

The Victorian Government is helping communities to stay connected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond with the Let’s Stay Connected Fund. The fund provides grants between $5,000 and $200,000 to support community-led initiatives.

The program will support innovative, community-led and community-based initiatives that build connection, reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation and can be implemented quickly – providing much-needed support across the state. It will also support existing initiatives that can be rapidly scaled up to a local, regional or state level – delivering innovative and practical solutions that will benefit communities as soon as possible.

Victoria Together, our state’s online platform to help build cohesion and connection, will also be made available to host digital content as appropriate.

Initiatives could include helping community groups continue to operate by adapting the way they deliver programs or events, including through online forums. Other possibilities include support for communities to improve digital skills and access online communication channels, or new ways for people to continue volunteering within their communities while maintaining physical distancing requirements.

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

The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the necessary measures taken to slow the spread and protect our communities represent significant challenges for all Victorians.

The implementation of physical distancing to reduce the risk of transmission and save lives is leading to reduced social contact that is particularly hard on Victorians experiencing vulnerability.

Innovative solutions to support community connectedness are needed to respond to this unique challenge.

The Victorian Government has established the Let’s Stay Connected Fund (the Fund) to support organisations to develop accessible, digital content or scale up innovative approaches to community activation and engagement to combat isolation and loneliness. To ensure a rapid response, existing initiatives will be targeted as part of this program.

The Fund will consist of two streams.

One stream will target existing projects that can be “scaled up” to a broader audience (local, regional or state level) at a rapid pace.

The second stream will be open for applications from community groups, recognised charities, incorporated not-for profits, chambers of commerce, peak bodies, industry and local government authorities (LGAs) to support innovative projects that will help to address social isolation and loneliness in the community as a result of the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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

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

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

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

Note that it is expected that all activities will be delivered within six months from the signing of the grant agreement and before the end of 2020.

Activities and projects that generally will not be funded:

The following activities would generally not be considered:

  • 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
  • large-scale digital infrastructure projects
  • 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 or local government authorities and project partners
  • private sector projects undertaken as a result of a Victorian Government contract
  • projects where ongoing funding is currently provided by other state, commonwealth and local government sources
  • any costs to meet regulatory requirements
  • the purchase of land.

Applications will be considered from Victorian-based incorporated community organisations, LGA’s, incorporated not-for-profits and industry groups including:

  • chambers of commerce and business associations
  • industry peak bodies
  • business and industry clusters and networks
  • groups of LGA’s
  • government agencies.

incorporated not-for-profit organisations, including community groups, for example:

  • cooperatives or associations
  • social enterprise organisations.

Individuals or unincorporated associations are not eligible to apply. All applications must provide a current ABN number.

The program will be delivered in two streams:

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

Funding will be capped at $200,000 per project with the minimum amount of funding for a project at least $5,000.

There are no co-funding requirements for applicants to qualify for funding.

Application and assessment process

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

  • all applicants to complete on-line application form for funding. Applicants are encouraged to email metropolitanpartnerships@ecodev.vic.gov.au if they are based in metropolitan Melbourne, or rdv@rdv.vic.gov.au if they are based in regional Victoria to discuss their idea and seek advice
  • all applications are to be submitted no later than 31 August 2020. Note that early applications are encouraged and will be assessed as soon as possible, with funding allocated accordingly
  • all applicant organisations will undergo a probity check to ensure that business registrations are up to date. In addition, applicants requesting funding over $50,001 will be required to undergo an independent financial risk assessment which requires the submission of Financial Statements
  • all applications will be reviewed against the eligibility criteria
  • applications that meet the eligibility criteria will be reviewed by an assessment panel who will consider the application and make a recommendation to the appropriate Minister or Ministerial delegate for funding
  • the Minister or Minister’s delegate will consider the advice and determine whether to approve the application for funding. Decisions on funding approval will be made on a competitive basis based on funding availability
  • applicants will receive a letter confirming the outcome of their application.

Assessment criteria

Applicants should use the online application form to clearly and succinctly describe the project by detailing:

  • how the project addresses social isolation and / or loneliness;
  • 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:

  • social and community benefits (ie: reduce social isolation and/or loneliness and/or improves community connections)
  • skills development, community capacity building and resilience
  • 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
  • aligns with public health advice related to coronavirus (COVID-19) provided by the Victorian Government, and flexibility to adapt as advice changes.

Project delivery – 30%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the project:

  • can be delivered within six months and is investment ready, supported by a clear approach and realistic timeframe
  • is financially viable, based on sound cost estimates, demonstrated success and represents value for money
  • sources materials and resources to deliver the project which strengthens community wellbeing and connectiveness.

Capability, capacity and track record – 20%

The application demonstrates the extent to which the applicant:

  • if relevant to the project outcomes, 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 the provision of a project management plan
  • has consulted with groups such as: project partners, other funding bodies, other government departments and agencies, where appropriate
  • 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.
  • actively seeks to involve community in codesign/decision making.

Successful applicants will be required to enter into a Grant Agreement with Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), detailing all funding obligations and conditions.

The Grant Agreement should also be complemented by a Project Plan, a detailed budget with breakdown of expenditure and timelines as well as detail of any planned activities.

The standard terms and conditions on which the funding is offered is contained in the Grant Agreement.

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 in accordance with the regulatory framework under which the application operates, e.g. Victorian Incorporations Associations Act 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 may be asked to provide progress reports to DJPR.

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, DJPR may be either a participant or observer in these meetings.

Successful applicants must enter into a Grant Agreement and commence the project within one month from the date of the funding offer. If the project does not commence within this timeframe, the grant will be reviewed by DJPR.

Monitoring, evaluation and reporting

Successful applicants will be required to contribute to an evaluation which is undertaken during and/or after completion of the project. Successful applicants will also generally be required to submit a completion report and provide evidence of project completion.

After completion of the project, applicants must submit an evaluation report which assesses the project’s success in meeting its stated objectives, outputs, outcomes and impacts. 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 DJPR 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, outcomes and impacts.

These arrangements will assist DJPR to undertake a robust evaluation of the Fund.

DJPR reports publicly 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 are set out in these guidelines.

Competitive neutrality

All successful applications 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 Fund. 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.

Communication of Initiative

Successful applicants must liaise with DJPR to coordinate any media communications 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 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

Email: foi@ecodev.vic.gov.au