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 Let’s Stay Connected Fund has been a very popular initiative and the applications are currently progressing through several stages of assessment.
What are the timelines?
Given the volume of applications, we are expecting assessment to continue into October with funding decisions expected in November.
Can I make changes or add attachments to my application?
Unfortunately, now the applications are under assessment no changes can be made to your application.
We appreciate that applicants are eagerly awaiting a response and we are progressing the assessment of all applications as a matter of priority.
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 email@example.com if they are based in metropolitan Melbourne, or firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
Any personal information about the applicant or a third party in correspondence will be collected, held, managed, used, disclosed or transferred in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) and other applicable laws.
DJPR is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information.
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions GPO Box 2392
Melbourne, VIC, 3001, AUS
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