Check out the video about the Building Better Regions Fund.
[Graphic appears on screen: Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science | Business]
My name is Deborah Mead and I am an AusIndustry Regional Manager. I will be talking with you today about the Building Better Regions Fund.
This is a Regional Development portfolio program. Launched by the Minister for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash on Wednesday 23 November 2016 it will be delivered jointly between the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and AusIndustry.
AusIndustry provides an expanded network encompassing state, territory and regional managers, customer service managers and experienced business advisors and facilitators. For more information on the Building Better Regions Fund (or BBRF as I will refer to it throughout this presentation) you can call our contact centre on 13 28 46 or visit www.business.gov.au.
We also encourage you to seek support from your Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committee for your project. Your RDA committee can:
- Assist you to identify and develop a strong project proposal that will contribute to long term economic growth and is priority within your region, and
- Work with you to prepare a competitive application, supporting documents and evidence.
You can find your local RDA or Regional Development Australia Committee by looking at www.rda.gov.au.
The role of AusIndustry in the Building Better Regions Fund:
- AusIndustry will be providing these information sessions at 30 locations around Australia.
- Providing program information on business.gov.au, the Customer hotline on 13 28 46 and the online application form.
- reviewing the applications for eligibility and merit.
- Contract manage those successful applicants.
The decisions on applications will be made by a Ministerial panel which I will talk about more in the presentation.
- The Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) aims to:
- create jobs,
- drive economic growth and
- build stronger regional communities into the future.
- The $297.7m program will run over four years from 2016-17 to 2019-20 and will fund projects in regional Australia outside the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.
- Darwin and Hobart are not excluded from this program.
- The program is competitive and applications will be assessed against like applications within the same round. This means, projects will be assessed against projects of similar size, so small community projects are not competing against large projects worth millions of dollars.
- I will be referring to the program guidelines throughout today’s presentation, these can be found at www.business.gov.au search BBRF or Building Better Regions Fund.
The objectives of the BBRF program is to:
- Create jobs.
- Have a positive impact on economic activity, including opportunities for indigenous economic participation and supplier-use outcomes.
- Enhance community facilities.
- Enhance leadership capacity.
- Enhance community cohesion and sense of identity.
These outcomes are the basis of the BBRF program and your project will need to address some or all of these outcomes for regional and remote Australia.
The merit criteria and assessment process will identify projects which meet these outcomes. Not every funded project will deliver on each of the outcomes, but across the projects funded the program will achieve these outcomes.
Supplier use outcomes means the impact on suppliers as a result of the project, for example, the number of suppliers used, an increase in employment for suppliers during the project and ongoing contracts as a result of the capital project.
The Building Better Regions Fund consists of two streams.
The first is the Infrastructure Projects Stream.
It will support projects which involve the construction of new infrastructure, or the upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure which provide economic and social benefits to regional and remote areas.
The Funding amount available for the Infrastructure Project Stream is $20,000 to $10 million.
The second stream is the Community Investments Stream.
It will support community building activities which include new or expanded local events, strategic regional plans, and leadership and capability building activities.
These projects will deliver economic and social benefits to regional and remote communities.
The funding available under this stream is $5,000 to $10 million. However given the types of projects that can be funded under this stream they will probably be under $100,000.
The program is geared towards investment-ready projects. Investment-ready projects are those that have confirmed all co-funding, identified all regulatory and/or development approvals and can demonstrate robust planning, in order to commence following execution of a grant agreement.
If your project is still in the planning or concept stage your application may be eligible for funding, but may not be as competitive as other projects that are further progressed in their planning. In this case it is recommended that you further develop your project and consider submitting an application for consideration in future funding rounds. The ‘Are you ready to apply?’ document on the website can help you to determine if you are ready to submit an eligible, competitive investment-ready application.
Information on the grant amounts available can be found in section 3 of the program guidelines.
- An eligible applicant must have an ABN.
- BBRF is only available to local governing bodies and not for profit groups.
- And to be eligible for the Building Better Regions Fund you must be :
- a local governing body or
- a not for profit organisation
- For applicants applying for the Infrastructure projects stream and being a not for profit you must have been established for at least 2 years.
There are 3 ways to show not for profit status:
- Current Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s (ACNC) Registration or
- State or Territory Incorporated Association status or
- Constitutional documents and/or Articles of Association that demonstrate the not-for-profit character of the organisation.
Joint applications are available through BBRF. Only the lead applicant will enter into, and be responsible for the grant agreement with the Commonwealth and must be the main driver of the project and be making a cash contribution. The lead applicant must complete the application form and identify all other project partners in their application. Only the lead applicant is required to meet the eligibility requirements for a BBRF grant.
More information on the eligibility for the BBRF can be found in section 5.2 of the guidelines.
To be eligible, projects must:
- be located in Australia and outside the Significant Urban Areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.
- Provide evidence confirming all co-funding (unless you have applied for an exemption) which I will talk about later.
- Have a project that can be completed by December 2019.
- For the Community Investment stream have a project that can be completed within 12 months.
A mapping tool is available on www.business.gov.au/bbrf to help you determine whether your project is in an eligible area or an excluded area.
The co funding requirements will be discussed later as it relates to the location of the project.
I will talk a lot more about your project location as this is a very important part of the program.
Regarding the evidence of co-funding, EVERY dollar must be confirmed in writing, not just the mandatory cash co-contribution. This applies to cash and in-kind contributions. The guidelines state that all applicants must provide letters evidencing the cash or in-kind contribution from each contributing organisation or individual. They must be:
- On the organisation’s letterhead;
- Signed and dated by an authorised person; and
- Set out the value and timing of contributions and any conditions attached.
In-kind contributions (ie all contributions that aren’t cash) need to be valued by the contributor and confirmed in the same way as financial contributions.
More information about eligibility can be found in section 5.2 of the guidelines.
The project location is defined as where the project is undertaken.
As I stated earlier the project location is important as it informs:
- eligibility in terms of excluded areas
- remoteness which affects:
- level of co-funding you will need to provide
- the loading that will be applied to assessment scores.
The mapping tool for finding out the remoteness category of your project is available at www.business.gov.au.
Projects must be outside the excluded areas (being the Significant Urban Areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra). The mapping tool works this out for you. Just type in the address. This will be covered later in the presentation.
You will need to identify your project’s remoteness classification and the longitude and latitude of the project in your application. Again, the mapping tool does this for you.
There are five different remoteness classifications: remote, very remote, inner regional, outer regional and major cities. Note that this is a separate classification system used to the classifications used to determine the excluded areas. Therefore there are some areas classified as major cities that are outside the excluded areas (eg Gold Coast and parts of Geelong, Newcastle etc).
Very remote projects will receive the highest loading and inner regional projects will receive the lowest loading to the assessment score. Projects classified as major cities receive no loading.
If your project has multiple site locations, and there is a mix of regional and remote locations, you should chose the most remote site as your project site. In this case the whole project will be considered as remote which gives the project the most beneficial co-funding levels.
Remoteness Classification determines the level of co-funding you must provide for your project, and the assessment score loading that is applied to your project.
More information can be found in section 5.6.1 of the guidelines and the mapping tool can also help with this.
This is what the mapping tool looks like and this is where you will enter your project location details to get your remoteness classification, and latitude and longitude of your project.
I will take you live to show you how it works. If someone from the audience could give me a project location address.
Audience member speaking - 7 Takalden Street Bundaberg
So you will see that we are typing in the top right-hand corner to search for the street address. So you just type it in and press the search button or press enter.
So you can see that it is giving you an option and if you select that the mapping tool will then generate the remoteness classification in the top left-hand corner of the screen. So 7 Takalden Street Bundaberg is inner regional. Your project Latitude and Longitude which you will need to copy and paste into your application form. It will give you your local government area, your postcode and it will also tell you what you will need to contribute by way of co-funding. So you would be required to contribute co-funding of at least $1 for every $1 of grant funding requested for 7 Takalden Street Bundaberg.
So we might try just one more address. 100 Galah Street Longreach. Again just typing the address in the top right-hand corner and just pressing the search function. It will give you an option for the address and you should choose which one is appropriate. Again it will give you your remoteness classification, so very remote, your Longitude and Latitude, your local government area, post code and your co-funding contribution. So you will be required to contribute co-funding of at least $1 for every $3 of grant funding requested.
The Mapping Tool is available on business.gov.au, search BBRF and look for the mapping tool.
If your internet access is limited you may call the Contact Centre on 13 28 46 and ask for assistance with determining remoteness classification. The Contact Centre will need the physical address of your project location to enable them to determine your remoteness classification.
Co-funding is the cash contribution (excluding in-kind contributions) from you or sources other than the Commonwealth. Co-funding demonstrates commitment to the project and shows evidence of community support. We consider the co-funding contributions when assessing applications at the eligibility and merit assessment stage.
The remoteness classification of the project location determines the mandatory minimum co-funding requirement.
What this means is:
If you are in a remote or very remote area you are eligible for 3:1 co-funding for every $3 of grant funding requested you must contribute at least $1
If you are in any other area you are eligible for 1:1 co-funding for every $1 of grant funding requested you must contribute at least $1.
For example a $1m project in a remote area, the applicant could seek up to $750,000 from the BBRF and must provide at least $250,000 as their co-contribution.
For the same $1m project in a non-remote area, the applicant could seek up to $500,000 and would need to provide at least $500,000 co-funding.
The mapping tool will tell you the co-funding requirement for your project based on the address or project location you specify.
It is very important that you select the correct remoteness classification for your project. If you select ‘remote’ and are actually ‘inner regional’, the application form will allow you to submit the application with the 3:1 co-funding ratio, but when we do our validation and check the location, if we determine that your project location is not remote, then you wouldn’t qualify for the 3:1 ratio and may be ineligible.
You may qualify for co-funding exemption if you can demonstrate that you have exceptional circumstances that prevent you from meeting the co-funding requirement.
Exceptional circumstances may include:
- drought and/or disaster declaration
- limited financial capacity of the local government
- impact of industry decline
- significant recent change in population or community demographics
- other exceptional circumstances.
The Ministerial Panel will consider requests for exemption, if the request is not granted then the application will be ineligible.
The Ministerial Panel will make decisions on requests for exemption.
Before you consider seeking an exemption please note:
- we expect that only a very small number of exemptions will be approved
- you can apply for a full or partial exemption for the co-funding requirement
- if an exemption is not approved your application will be ineligible
- if you are granted an exemption you will still be assessed against eligibility and merit criteria.
You are encouraged to leverage cash contributions, community partnerships and in-kind contributions, even if you seek an exemption, to strengthen your application and increase your score against the ‘value for money’ merit criterion.
More information on co-funding and co-funding exemptions can be found in section 5.6 of the guidelines.
Now we will discuss the different streams under the Building Better Regions Fund.
First the Infrastructure Projects stream.
The Infrastructure Projects Stream supports projects which involve the construction of new infrastructure, or the upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure that provide economic and social benefits to regional and remote areas.
Your project will need to meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the previous slides as well as:
- being ready to start within 12 weeks of signing the grant agreement and be able to complete by 31 December 2019
- complying with specific regulatory requirements (Building Code and WHS Scheme)
- have not already started or have contracts already in place at the time of the application
Details regarding Building Code and WHS Scheme requirements can be found in section 9.2 of the guidelines.
More information on project eligibility can be found in section 5.7 of the guidelines.
For your project to be eligible it must be:
- construction of new infrastructure
- the upgrade or an extension of existing infrastructure
- the replacement of existing infrastructure will only be eligible where you can demonstrate significant increase in benefit.
If your application is successful, these activities will be defined in your grant agreement.
Eligible activities may include:
- purchase of materials
- external labour hire
- plant and equipment hire
- external consulting costs directly related to the delivery of the project.
You can only spend funds on eligible activities directly related to the project.
An example of an eligible project is the construction of a building that is going to be used as a technology hub for the community.
More information on eligible activities can be found in section 5.8 of the guidelines.
Ineligible activities may include:
- purchase of land or existing infrastructure
- repair or replacement of existing infrastructure
- purchase and installation of manufacturing equipment and furniture
- ongoing operating costs including utilities and staffing
- soft infrastructure
- payment of salaries for the applicant’s employees
- project overhead items including office equipment, vehicles or mobile capital equipment
- business case development and feasibility studies.
An example of ineligible activity is outfitting that technology hub with computers and desks, and paying someone to run it.
Regarding replacement or repair of existing infrastructure, it is eligible only if you can show a significant improvement or benefit. For example the resurfacing the basketball court would not be eligible. If you turned the basketball court into a multi sport facility including resurfacing and could demonstrate that it was now useable to a larger number of people and groups then it may be eligible.
We cannot fund activities carried out prior to executing a grant agreement.
All project activity must occur from the date of execution to the project end date for them to be eligible.
More information on ineligible activities can be found in section 5.9 of the guidelines.
Now we will look at the second stream the Community Investments stream.
The Community Investments stream will fund community-building activities including, but not limited to, new or expanded local events, strategic regional plans, and leadership and capability building activities. These projects will deliver economic and social benefits to regional and remote communities.
Eligibility is the same as the Infrastructure Projects stream with the following exceptions:
- projects must be completed within 12 months of executing a grant agreement
- not-for-profit organisations do not have to be established for 2 years
- applicants with a total project value of less than $20,000 do not have to provide any co-funding
- projects with no physical location must nominate a project location based on where the majority of the benefits will flow.
Based on the nature of your project, you may have a project that has no physical location. In these instances you must nominate a project location based on where the majority of the benefit from your project will flow and substantiate your nominated location with evidence. For example an app or website promoting a region. In this circumstance the project location will be based on the area that is receiving the majority of the benefit from that website or app.
More information on the Community Investments Stream can be found in the Community Investment Stream guidelines on www.business.gov.au.
Eligible activities must be new to the community or a significant extension to an existing activity. They must deliver new benefits.
Local events and activities will only be eligible for funding under the program once. Funding under the program is intended as seed-funding to support an inaugural event or funding for a one-off expansion of an existing activity. Applicants will need to clearly outline in their applications their strategy to fund future and expanded events without Australian Government funding.
Local events and activities - Investment in local activities and events provides economic social and cultural opportunities for people living in regional areas. Events and activities drive economic growth, promote community participation and inclusion, encourage volunteerism and build on a region’s identity.
Strategic planning - Activities that facilitate the development of quality regional or sectoral plans will help to drive the development of strong regions. Plans should focus on pursuing economic opportunities and/or addressing identified challenges across a region or industry sector, and should be developed in close consultation with key regional stakeholders.
Regional leadership and capability - These activities will build the capability of regional leaders, equipping them with the skills to effectively drive change and champion positive futures for their communities. All leadership and capability activities will need to demonstrate clear and definitive outcomes including broad benefits for the community. Regional leaders may include representatives from:
- community organisations
- local government
- local industry members
- local youth leaders
- indigenous leaders
- industry bodies
For more information on eligible activities see section 5.8 in the Community Investments Stream guidelines.
Ineligible activities include:
Local events and activities
- activities where the main benefit is intended to go to only one sector or group within the wider community
- fundraising events
- events for political/lobby groups
- private events
- land use planning
- service delivery planning
- capital funding for research centres
- feasibility studies or benefit-cost analysis for specific projects, including infrastructure development.
Regional leadership and capability ineligible activities include
- vocational education and training (vet)
- higher education qualifications
- funding education and training providers
- funding for staff wages or leadership positions within an organisation.
More information can be found in section 5.9 of the Community Investments Stream guidelines.
We are now going to look at the merit criteria for the Building Better Regions Fund. There are 4 merit criteria
- Economic benefit your project will deliver to the region during and beyond the
- construction phase for the Infrastructure Projects stream or
- project period for the Community Investments stream
This merit criteria is weighted at 15 points.
- Social benefit your project will deliver to the region during and beyond the
- construction phase for the Infrastructure Projects stream or
- project period for the Community Investments stream
This merit criteria is weighted at 10 points.
- Value for money offered by your project weighted at 5 points.
- Your capacity, capability and resources to carry out the project and this is weighted at 5 points.
Funding decisions are made by the Ministerial panel and applicants will be advised of the outcome in writing.
Applicants will need to respond to each merit criterion. We will cover the individual merit criteria in detail in the following slides.
The level of detail will need to be commensurate with the size of the proposed project. An application seeking $10m would need much more detailed and evidence than an application seeking $10,000.
Projects will be ranked based on the total scores across all merit criteria. The merit criteria are weighted to account for the policy intent for projects to deliver an economic and social benefit to regional and remote areas.
Projects will need to score highly against all merit criterion. The Department will also take into consideration the project size, complexity and grant amount requested, and the risks associated with the project to be recommended for funding.
A loading will be applied to your score based on the remoteness classification for your project. The highest loading will be assigned to the very remote regions with inner regional receiving the lowest loading. Projects with a Major Cities remoteness classification will not receive a loading, for example Gold Coast, parts of Geelong, Newcastle etc.
Merit criteria can be found in section 6.1 of the guidelines.
Merit Criteria 1. The economic benefit your project will deliver to the region during and beyond the construction phase/project period – 15 points.
Economic benefits for a region may cover increases in economic activity, improvements in productivity, wider access to markets or fairer and more equitable economic outcomes such as:
- increasing the number or value of jobs, new businesses or the production of goods and services in the region (this includes direct and indirect opportunities created through the project)
- providing opportunities for growth in existing sectors the use of local suppliers and goods
- increasing efficiency of the transport system or service delivery
- increasing Indigenous economic participation – including Indigenous employment and supplier-use outcomes
- the degree to which the project delivers benefits beyond the construction phase/project period.
It is important in the merit criteria to provide evidence to support the claims you make in the application.
Evidence to support the economic benefit of your project could include:
- Details of similar projects and the number of jobs created
- Evidence of any experts you consulted or any modelling that was done.
The guidelines make it very clear that applicants need to define, quantify and support their claims with evidence. Officials who will conduct the assessment cannot consider material outside of the application, so you should not assume any prior knowledge on behalf of the assessor.
Merit Criteria can be found in section 6.1 in the guidelines.
The social benefit your project will deliver to the region during and beyond the completion of your project (10 points).
Social benefits for a region may cover increases in regional amenity, improving community connections and inclusion and providing opportunities for learning and knowledge creation such as:
- making a region a more attractive place to live
- improving community connections and social inclusion
- supporting or protecting local heritage and culture
- strengthening community institutions, governance and leadership capacity
- increasing community volunteering
- the degree to which the project delivers benefits beyond the construction phase/project period
- addresses disadvantage within the community
- Increasing community participation in local decision making (Community Investments Stream only).
The level of community support for the project would be good to demonstrate in this criteria, evidence could include:
- Letters of support from the community
- Surveys showing community support etc.
You will need to demonstrate the value for money offered by your project you could do this by identifying:
- the extent to which the project leverages additional funding (this includes cash contributions above the co-funding requirement and in-kind contributions)
- the extent to which the project leverages additional partnerships
- the likelihood of the project going ahead without the grant funding. Explain how the grant will impact the project in terms of size, timing and reach.
In the value for money criteria the level of additional funds leveraged will demonstrate the amount of value-add that the Commonwealth will get for its contribution.
The level of additional funding will demonstrate to the Ministerial panel that they will get good value for money from the investment.
Even if you are seeking an exemption from the co-funding requirements offering even a small amount of cash or in kind contribution demonstrates the community commitment to the project. This contribution will also demonstrate value for money for the Commonwealth. Value for money is weighted at 5 points.
Your capacity, capability and resources to carry out the project weighted at 5 points. You can demonstrate this by:
- your readiness to commence the project with appropriate approvals planned for or in place
- your track record with similar projects including managing similar grant funding
- your access to people with the right skills and experience
- your access to infrastructure, capital equipment, technology, intellectual property
- how you will operate and maintain the infrastructure and benefits of the project
- a detailed Project Management Plan which addresses project:
- implementation methodology and how you will manage project dependencies
To support the costs you have listed and to demonstrate your capacity, capability and resources to carry out the project in your application you could provide:
- Quotes or evidence from similar projects
- Demonstration of experience and success in similar projects Reports from previous projects showing budgeted cost against actual cost and estimated time against actual time will demonstrate potential value for money
- Other documents that show the progression of a similar project.
More information this criteria can be found in section 6 of the guidelines.
Applicants will need to supply mandatory attachments with their application.
To attach documents you will need to create a secure file on Microsoft 365. The form will take you to Microsoft 365 to upload your attachments.
If you don’t have a Microsoft 365 account you can create one for free.
It is important to make sure all the attachments for your application are uploaded as your application could be ineligible without them.
If you need any help you can call the Contact Centre on 13 28 46 or contact your local RDA or Regional Development Australia Committee.
For the Community Investments Stream applicants need to supply mandatory attachments with their application. The Community Investments Stream will have all of the attachments uploaded with the smart form, which means you do not have to set up a Microsoft 365 account when you are applying for the Community Investments Stream.
Applications will only be accepted during a funding round and cannot be accepted after the closing date and time.
Applicants can submit two applications per round per stream.
Joint applications are permitted.
To apply, you must:
- complete the online application form at business.gov.au
- provide all information (including mandatory attachments) required to assess the application.
If you are experiencing difficulties submitting an application you can call the Contact Centre on 13 28 46 for assistance.
We recommend trying to get your application in as early as possible because if you have any technical difficulties you have time before the round closes to seek assistance. When you submit your application you will receive an email to confirm what you have submitted. If you see any problems with this you will have time to contact us. This must all be done before the close of the round.
BBRF can only be applied for by online submission and there is no means for submitting applications in any other way.
If you are experiencing any difficulties applying due to poor internet service you could consider:
- Contacting your local RDA for assistance
- Your local library or
- Council building
Infrastructure Projects stream opened on 18 January 2017 and closes 5.00pm local time on 28 February 2017.
Community Investments stream opened on 18 January 2017 and closes 5.00pm local time on 31 March 2017.
Late applications cannot be accepted and will be deemed ineligible.
Local time is the advertised time in your local area. This relates to the location from where you are submitting the application, not the project location.
For more information on the program or to apply for the program please visit business.gov.au searching BBRF or call 13 28 46.
You are encouraged to seek the support of your local Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committee for your project.
Your RDA Committee can:
- assist you to identify and develop a strong project proposal that will contribute to long term economic growth and is a priority within your region, and
- work with you to prepare a competitive application, supporting documents and evidence.
You can find your local RDA on rda.gov.au.
Thank you for your time does anyone have any questions?
Will there be other rounds?
The BBRF program is appropriated over four years but a decision on the number of rounds is a matter for the Government. You can register on business.gov.au for updates regarding any future rounds of the program.
Who is on the Ministerial Panel?
Senator the Hon Fiona Nash Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Local Government and Territories will be on the panel, the other members of the panel have not been announced yet.
Why are the boundaries set where they are?
The boundaries were decided by Government and represent the regional focus of this program.
Is there an amount set aside for each stream and region?
There is no amount set aside for either stream or region. The amounts that go to each stream or region will depend on the level of applications received, the merit of those applications and the decisions on which applications to fund made by the Ministerial panel. The Ministerial Panel will take into account a number of factors in their final decision making including: spread of funding and projects across regions; whether similar projects exist to ensure that projects build on and support other projects and services, while not duplicating them; and previous funding under other programs. See section 7.3 of the guidelines.