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Frequently Asked Questions

Published 21st June, 2019
Boy on scooter at SCCF skate park

The Stronger Country Communities Fund was established by the NSW Government to help deliver local projects to regional communities. The fund aims to provide the kind of projects that improve the lives of people who live in regional areas.

Round Three will provide an additional $100 million for community projects in regional NSW, this includes at least $50 million for youth-related projects. This brings the total funding for SCCF to $400 million and the total value of the Regional Growth Fund to $1.7 billion.


What are the main changes to Round Three? 

Round Three has an increased focus on young people aged 12-24, a broader scope of eligible projects including programs as well as local infrastructure, longer application and delivery timeframes, and will accept applications from eligible community organisations as well as regional councils.

How much funding is available in Round Three?

There is a total of $100 million available including at least $50 million for projects aimed at young people (12-24 years). The remaining funding can be provided for other local community and sporting infrastructure, street beautification, and community programs and events.

How much funding is available for each Local Government Area? 

A minimum of $750,000 is available in each regional Local Government Area. Funds will be split across regional NSW according to a funding formula based on population and the cost of construction in each Local Government Area.

How do you find out the allocation for your LGA? 

Each Council has been advised of their funding allocation. Please speak to your local Council about their allocation.

Who can apply?

The 93 regional councils, the Lord Howe Island Board and the Unincorporated Far West groups (councils), regional Joint Organisations of Councils and eligible community organisations can apply.

When do projects need to start and be completed?

Projects must commence within 12 months of the funding deed being signed, and be completed within three years of the announcement of the project.

What kinds of projects are eligible to be funded?

The SCCF supports projects (infrastructure and programs) that deliver for local young people and the community. Projects for young people must

  • develop new, or upgrade existing infrastructure for young people, including local sport infrastructure where used by young people
  • deliver programs for young people.

Projects for young people should be aligned to the areas of community, wellbeing, connectivity and work ready.

General community amenity projects must

  • construct new, or upgrade existing local community infrastructure
  • be capital works related to street beautification and other public 'place making'
  • deliver programs that benefit the local community
  • be infrastructure to assist the delivery of non-youth community programs.

The purchase of land or buildings is an ineligible cost under the SCCF. If this is an element of your project, you will need to find another source of funding for that component.

Is it essential that 50% of funding in each LGA is allocated to youth-related projects?

At least $50 million will be provided to youth projects and it is expected that this will be evenly spread across Regional NSW.  Funding available for a Local Government Area may not be fully committed for Round Three when there are no eligible projects or insufficient eligible projects for young people. 

Can government entities apply for funding for projects under the Stronger Country Communities Fund?

Eligible applicants include the 93 regional NSW councils, incorporated, not-for-profit organisations and other organisations that have a public purpose and carry out activities in NSW. All applicants must hold an Australian Business Number or and Australian Company Number (ACN).  If a government entity is incorporated and has a public purpose, then the entity is eligible to apply.

Projects for the delivery of essential or core government services that are or should be funded by another government department will be ineligible. Projects must demonstrate a clear alignment with the funds objective to improve the liveability of communities or enhance opportunities for young people in regional NSW.

If your organisation is a government entity and you are unsure if you are eligible for SCCF funding, we encourage you to contact [email protected]

Where must projects be located?

Projects must be located in one of the 93 regional NSW Local Government Areas, Lord Howe Island or the Unincorporated Far West. Projects in metropolitan Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong are not eligible. For a full list of eligible Local Government Areas, please visit the Regional Growth Fund eligibility page

What geographic areas are eligible?

Eligible applicants include the 93 regional NSW councils, incorporated, not-for-profit organisations and other organisations that have a public purpose and carry out activities in NSW. All applicants must hold an Australian Business Number or an Australian Company Number (ACN).  If a government entity is incorporated and has a public purpose, then the entity is eligible to apply.

Can I apply for SCCF funding if my organisation’s offices are based outside of the 93 regional Local Government Areas, Lord Howe Island and the Unincorporated Far West?

Yes, if the proposed project will be delivered in one of the 93 regional Local Government Areas, Lord Howe Island or the Unincorporated Far West.

What is the eligibility criteria for community organisations?

Community organisations must be incorporated, not-for-profit organisations or other organisations that have a public purpose and carry out activities in NSW, including Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

Applicants must hold an Australian Business Number (ABN), Australian Company Number (ACN) or be registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009. Applicants must have or be able and willing to purchase at least $20 million public liability insurance. The cost of public liability insurance can be included in the project budget as part of the administration costs.

Ineligible applicants are:

  • an individual or group of individuals
  • an unincorporated organisation
  • a for-profit commercial organisation.

What is the difference between the eligibility and viability assessments?

The eligibility assessment confirms that both the organisation and the project are eligible for funding. This includes checking all required information has been supplied, such as evidence of community support, budgets and plans.

The viability assessment will involve checking whether projects are conceptually sound, can be delivered on time and within the funding available.

Can an eligible applicant apply for funding for equipment and other non-fixed infrastructure?

Yes, equipment and non-fixed infrastructure is eligible for funding but will only be considered if it is critical for the delivery of the project or program detailed in the application.  

Will the funding support upgrades to local infrastructure or must it be a new build?

SCCF funding can go towards the construction of new, or upgrades to existing, local community infrastructure. Upgrades are a major renewal or restoration of existing infrastructure that causes significant change to how the asset looks or is used.

What is meant by upgrade?

For the purpose of SCCF

  • upgrade is a major renewal or restoration of existing infrastructure. ‘Major’ means a number of activities are carried out that cause significant changes to the asset. How it looks or how it is used; for example, replacement of multiple components such as roofs, walls, floor coverings, and external landscapes; or a once simple toilet block is now an amenity block with accessible facilities including change rooms.
  • upgrades of infrastructure are eligible activities under SCCF.

What is meant by maintenance?

For the purpose of SCCF

  • maintenance refers to routine operational activities undertaken to sustain an existing asset in a functional state; for example, changing light fixtures, cleaning carpets, or testing and tagging of equipment.
  • maintenance activities are not eligible on their own but can be incorporated in to a major upgrade or renewal of an existing asset.

Do infrastructure projects require development approval?

Applicants are encouraged to submit projects that are well defined, planned and take into consideration any approvals required. As deliverability is a key consideration for assessing projects, if a DA has been submitted or approved for your project, you should include the DA in your submission. However, a DA is not required for the project to be assessed.

What kind of non-infrastructure asset costs are acceptable to be funded under SCCF?

The cost of the purchase of assets associated with the delivery of an eligible project may be incorporated in to the project costs. Examples include vehicles for night-time outreach services or lawn mowers to maintain a sports field. However ongoing operational costs for infrastructure projects (e.g. funds to run and repair a lawn mower for a new or upgraded field) or any cost beyond the three year funding period for a program are ineligible.

Do you need detailed plans? Or are concept plans acceptable?

Applicants must have plans developed to demonstrate viability of the project. The more developed that plans and budgets are, the better you will be able to demonstrate the viability of the project.

What is meant by "projects for young people should be aligned to the areas of community, wellbeing, connectivity and work ready"?

For the purpose of SCCF

  • community programs should help enhance young people’s artistic, civic, cultural, leadership, recreational and sporting development
  • wellbeing programs should support young people to understand, improve and maintain their physical and mental health
  • connectivity programs should provide young people access to affordable and reliable transport and digital options
  • work ready programs should support young people to pursue further education and training to develop key employability skills.

Can I apply for funds to cover staffing costs associated with a SCCF youth related program?

Yes, costs that are directly related to the project management and delivery of SCCF funded projects may be included in the project budget. The maximum program delivery time is three years from project announcement, and no costs will be paid after three years. If a program or project is intended to continue beyond three years, the applicant should provide evidence to demonstrate how the program will be resourced at the end of the funding period.

What are examples of youth-related and general community amenity projects?

Please see the Stronger Country Communities Guidelines for examples. 

Can a youth project align with more than one focus area (community, wellbeing, connectivity and work readiness)?

The application form will only allow you to choose one focus area, so please choose the most appropriate area for your project.

If a project or program will benefit youth and the general community, is there a need to apportion the project budget between the two?

You must submit your project as either youth or general community as they have different requirements. Youth projects must demonstrate how young people have been involved in the development of the proposal and align with an area of focus, whereas community amenity projects must demonstrate how the project will help boost the liveability of the local community.

Do not-for-profits who wish to apply need to apply via Council or independently?

Not-for-profits that are incorporated can apply for funding. If you are not an eligible applicant, you can partner with an eligible applicant, such as a Council to submit your project.

Are community service projects eligible? 

Infrastructure projects relating to the provision of community services may be funded if the project has demonstrated high community support, it is shown to be a considerable priority for the community, and it is not to deliver a core government service.  

Would a Council-led program that partnered with TAFE be eligible? 

Yes, as long as the project is not a core TAFE service.

What should an applicant do if they are unsure if a project is eligible?

Refer to the examples of eligible projects in the SCCF guidelines. If you are still unsure, speak to your allocated Business Development Manager from the department or forward your question to [email protected]

To find your local Business Development Manager, please email [email protected] for a referral.

What information will applicants need to provide?

Applicants need to describe all the project elements and complete questions in the application form, including

  • demonstrating that the project meets the requirements of the SCCF guidelines and contributes to the objectives of the SCCF
  • a detailed project scope
  • a project plan in the template to be provided on the SCCF webpage
  • a clear and detailed project budget in the template to be provided on the SCCF webpage
  • information on how infrastructure will be operated and/or maintained when it is complete (if applicable)
  • landowner consent (if applicable)
  • a letter of support from the relevant NSW state sporting organisation if a sports-related project is seeking over $1 million in grant funding (if applicable)
  • evidence of community consultation and strong community support
  • For all community amenity and infrastructure applications: information on how the project will help boost the liveability of the local community and evidence of how the project will meet a community need, including who and how many people in the community will benefit and how those benefits will be measured.
  • For all youth infrastructure and program applications: information on how the project will benefit young people and how young people have been involved and consulted in the development of the proposal and how the benefits will be measured.

How are applications submitted?

Only eligible applicants are able to submit applications via an online grants portal. Applications can only be submitted through this online portal.

Do applicants have to use the provided project plan and budget templates?

It is strongly recommended that applicants use the provided SCCF templates to give their projects the best chance of being deemed eligible.

Is there support available for completing an application?

To help you prepare your applications, project plan and budget templates and an application checklist are on the website.

A webinar recording is available on our webpage to help you develop your application.

Your local Business Development Manager will also be able to provide information on the program to assist applicants to develop applications.

To find your local Business Development Manager, please email [email protected] and ask for a referral.

Is there an overview template available of the application to work from offline?

The application form can be downloaded from the SmartyGrants website once you are registered. Applications will need to be submitted in SmartyGrants.

How many projects can an applicant apply for?

There is no limit to how many project applications applicants can submit.

Can an applicant submit a single application for a project that has works across multiple sites in the one Local Government Area?

Yes. When two or more projects are related (have a similar scope of works at one or more sites) they may be bundled together. For example, lights on two or more sports fields may be packaged together in one application. Applicants should select one primary location site in the application and specify the other proposed locations and the scope of works to be completed at each site. The minimum combined grant amount needs to be $50,000.

Can an applicant submit a single application for a project that has works across multiple sites across more than one Local Government Area?

No. Project applications must be specific to a Local Government Area and will be prioritised against other projects in that Local Government Area in the assessment process. Applicants can submit multiple applications across more than one Local Government Area for elements of a larger project, but each project application must be deliverable independently of any other application

Is there any way to complete one application for a program that we intend to deliver in multiple LGAs or do we need to complete a separate application for each LGA?

A separate application must be submitted for each LGA where projects are located. The funding allocations are LGA based and therefore the projects must be too.

Can a large project be broken into multiple parts and submitted as separate applications?

Yes, this is possible, but each application should have a very clear and defined project description and scope of activities and be in one Local Government Area. Each application should be able to be differentiated easily and be able to be delivered independently of other components. Applicants should be aware that it is possible that only some components/stages of their projects will be awarded funding and the components/stages cannot be swapped or changed after the assessment process.

Are applicants able to submit more than one application?

Applicants can submit multiple applications either in multiple LGAs or in the same LGA.

Can applicants include multiple programs or activities in one application?

Applicants can submit a single application that has works or activities across multiple sites in one Local Government Area if the elements are related.

Can a project be split into stages across multiple applications?

Yes, however each stage must be able to be delivered independent of the other stages. E.g. Stage 2 can be delivered if Stage 1 does not receive funding.

Will applicants know what other applications are being prepared and submitted within the same LGA?

No. We cannot share applications, as the information is confidential. Speak to your local Council and community groups to identify opportunities for partnerships.

Are applicants required to collaborate and will they be assessed favourably?

No. Applicants are not required to collaborate and collaboration will not be assessed favourably by itself. However if collaboration strengthens the viability of the project, then this will be considered in the assessment.

Does each applicant need to submit both youth and community amenity projects?

There is no requirement that individual applicants need to submit projects in the different categories (e.g. youth or community amenity).

Are programs that are already in progress eligible? 

You cannot seek funding for delivering an existing funded service. If the project is not funded after January 2020 it may be eligible if it meets the other requirements of the guidelines.

Are universities eligible to apply? 

Yes, but the project must be in addition to core services provided by the university.

Are projects in an applicant’s forward capital works program eligible?

Yes. However SCCF funding must not be used for any works that have already been approved and funded in an applicant’s budget or forward capital works program. If funding for a project has already been approved from the applicant or another source, the SCCF funding needs to be used for works that are in addition to the scope of works that already have funds committed.

Are quotes required to verify costs in the budget? 

Budgets should be based on substantiated quotes or assumptions with evidence of either provided in the application.

Can a project be located on private land?

Projects can be located on private land but must not be solely for private benefit. The applicant will need to show how the facility will be open to the community.

Do infrastructure projects need to be on public, community or council owned land? 

Projects do not need to be on public land, as long as the application demonstrates the project is for a public purpose.

Is the purchase of land eligible? 

No. The purchase of land is ineligible for SCCF grant funding.

If I am applying for a project on private land managed by a not-for-profit, who can provide consent?

You will need the landowner to provide consent and demonstrate that the project does not provide exclusive private benefits.

My project requires roads or drainage works as part of the scope. Are these works eligible?

SCCF funding cannot be used for ordinary road maintenance. Minor road works can be considered where they are a small element of a larger project, such as works related to street beautification. Projects solely for road works are not eligible.

Should my grant request include GST?

GST is not payable on grant payments to local councils under SCCF because the payments are between government related entities. For eligible community organisations registered for GST and where it is payable, we will pay the approved grant amount plus 10 per cent. If eligible community organisations are not registered for GST, they will need to incorporate any GST paid by them to third parties into the project budgets and the grant amount.

What are eligible project costs?

Project costs that are associated with

  • building local infrastructure
  • building a website
  • delivering programs
  • exhibition displays
  • hosting an event.

Can project budgets include a contingency allocation? 

Yes. Budgets can include up to a total of 20 per cent of the grant amount requested for all administration costs. Contingency costs will need to be part of this 20 per cent. Should your project be successful and the contingency costs included in your budget not used, this amount will be deducted from the final grant payment.

How does SCCF define contingency?

For the purpose of SCCF, contingency is defined as something that may or may not occur but must be dealt with if it does. They are often known unknowns. Should your project be successful and the contingency costs included in your budget not used, this amount will be deducted from the final grant payment.

Is the 20% administration cost that can be claimed 20% of the project cost or 20% of the grant amount? 

Only 20% of the grant can be used for administration costs. Administrations costs greater than 20% of the project cost will not be counted as co-contribution for projects over $1 million.

Do I need $20 million public liability insurance to be eligible?

Applicants must have or be able and willing to purchase at least $20 million public liability insurance. If your organisation does not have public liability insurance, the purchase of the insurance can be included in the project budget, but will be counted as part of the 20 per cent administration cost.

What makes a project viable?

A project will be considered viable if it

  • has a realistic budget based on substantiated quotes or assumptions
  • is cost-effective and represents value for money
  • can be delivered within the program deadline
  • demonstrates access to the necessary expertise and support to deliver the project
  • does not require ongoing funding from the NSW Government
  • demonstrates how it will be operated and/or maintained when the project is completed (where applicable).

The project I submitted has received funding elsewhere. Can I substitute another project?

Not during the assessment period. Once the application period has closed, applicants cannot swap in another project. All projects that you would like to be considered must be submitted by the close of Round Three at 5pm on Friday 27 September 2019. Applicants must notify the Department in writing as soon as possible if a project is funded elsewhere. The project can then be withdrawn from assessment to avoid it being considered against other projects submitted in the same Local Government Area.

What community consultation is needed?

Applicants are responsible for consulting with their communities to ensure the submitted projects have a high level of community support. Evidence of the consultation may be

  • information in the council’s Community Strategic Plan or other plans or processes that show how community support for projects has been captured
  • recent consultation carried out as part of a planning process
  • council meetings or council events
  • community consultation committees or surveys
  • social media interactions
  • feedback via mail-outs, web forms, and or an applicant’s complaints process
  • workshops or local activities
  • letters of support from local MPs or community members.

For assistance on how best to engage with young people, applicants can use the Advocate for Children and Young People’s Resource: Engaging children and young people in your organisation.

How current does evidence of community consultation need to be? 

Where possible, consultation should be recent (within 12-24 months). Organisations such as councils can have longer planning cycles. The most recent version of councils’ Community Strategic Plans or other plans in the integrated planning and reporting framework will be accepted. If consultation was done outside of the last 12 months, you may wish to add more recent consultation to demonstrate that the findings are still current.

If an organisation applies to provide a youth project in an LGA and there are already local organisations providing similar programs will the local organisation be consulted?

Applicants’ information is confidential and cannot be shared except for the purposes outlined in the guidelines. Applicants must demonstrate local community consultation and support in their applications.

Do applicants need to demonstrate the need for a project in the community?

Applicants must provide evidence of community consultation and support for a project as part of the application.

Are golf clubs eligible?

A golf club is eligible to apply if they are an incorporated and not-for-profit organisation.

Will choice modelling be used again as part of the assessment process in Round Three?

No. Applicants will be required to provide evidence of consultation and support for the projects they submit as part of the application (see above).

Do applicants need to work with their local Members of Parliament?

Applicants should work with their Local Member of Parliament and their local communities to identify the priority needs for their area and ensure projects put forward for funding have demonstrated community support. Applications should provide evidence of community support for each proposed project, not just evidence of community consultation.

Do applicants need to co-contribute?

Applications requesting between $50,000 and $1 million can seek funds for the entire project cost as a grant. Projects requiring grant funding of more than $1 million will only be considered where the applicant co-contributes a minimum of 25 per cent of the total grant amount. The financial co-contribution may be from the applicant or other funding sources, but must be confirmed. 

Where can project co-contributions come from?

Co-contributions can come from applicants or other external funding sources. Co-contribution amounts must be confirmed before an application is submitted. If elements of a project have received funding from another grant, the applicant will need to define the scope of the different elements and clearly show how the SCCF funding will be used.

Do we have to co-contribute for projects under the $1 million and will they be considered more favourably if they do? 

No. Applications requesting between $50,000 and $1 million can seek funds for the entire project cost. Projects providing co-contribution for requests under $1 million will not be considered more favourably.

Do we need to include in-kind contributions in the application?

In-kind contributions are not a requirement and do not have to be valued in the application. It can be noted in the application but cannot be claimed against the requested grant amount if successful.

Do applications for tourist signage require approval from Destination NSW?

Tourist signs in NSW are managed by the Tourist Attraction Signposting Assessment Committee (TASAC) through Destination NSW. Projects seeking funding for tourist attraction signposting need to follow the requirements set out by TASAC before funding can be issued under SCCF. Applicants do not need to have an approval for signage in place before submitting their application, but will need to demonstrate permission has been granted before final milestone payments are processed. Further information about tourist signage is available at Destination NSW.

What is the assessment process?

The SCCF assessment process involves

  • checking that the applicant is eligible to apply for funding and can deliver the project
  • assessing that projects are eligible, viable, demonstrate evidence of community support and will contribute to the objectives of the fund
  • seeking advice from relevant NSW Government agencies (if applicable)
  • seeking advice from local Members of Parliament
  • prioritisation by a Final Assessment Review Panel
  • submitting a prioritised list of eligible projects to the Deputy Premier for approval.

The Deputy Premier will consider the prioritised list of eligible and viable projects and make final approvals in consultation with Minister for Regional Youth.

What makes a project ineligible?

Projects are ineligible if they are

  • located outside an eligible Local Government Area
  • exclusively for planning activities (e.g. master planning or heritage studies)
  • for the maintenance or construction of local roads or other ongoing core service infrastructure works that are the ordinary responsibility of council or other levels of government
  • for the delivery of essential or core government services that should be funded from another source, such as local government, the NSW Government or the Australian Government
  • seeking retrospective funding to cover any project component that is already complete before funding is awarded
  • seeking grant funding for ongoing staff or operational costs beyond three years from project announcement for programs; or any ongoing staff or operational projects for infrastructure
  • seeking grant funding under $50,000
  • for a general works package without specific scope, costs and location (e.g. ‘upgrade lighting at sports ovals’ without identifying the work required, number of sites or the locations)
  • exclusively for marketing, branding, advertising or product promotion
  • provide direct commercial and/or exclusive private benefit to an individual or business
  • not clearly providing benefits that will significantly contribute to the objectives of the fund and demonstration of how benefits will be measured.

Can ineligible projects be referred to a more appropriate funding program?

Yes. Projects that are more suitable for other NSW Government programs may be referred to those programs by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Applications that are referred will be subject to the full assessment criteria of the other NSW Government program to which they are referred. Applicants may need to update their application to meet the criteria of the referred program. The referred application will not be given preferential treatment over any other application but will be considered on merit in accordance with the guidelines for that particular program.

Does a three year project have to be able to prove it has ongoing viability beyond this period?

Funding is only available for three years. If you intend a program to continue to be delivered beyond the funding period, you must demonstrate that you can do so independently of SCCF grant funding.

Do Councils have a veto over applications?

No. If a project is being submitted on council land by a non-council organisation, the applicant must provide land owner consent from the council.

Can I use an existing SmartyGrants account?

You can use an existing SmartyGrants account to submit an application under SCCF. If you are submitting an application for a different organisation, you may want to create a second account to ensure that the projects are considered and managed separately.

Is the purchase of a vehicle (e.g. bus or a van) eligible for funding?

The purchase of vehicles is eligible for project funding if it is a necessary part of the delivery of an eligible program (e.g. a bus transporting students to access a youth program).

Are schools eligible to apply for SCCF?

Yes. Schools are eligible to apply for funding as long as the project is outside of their core business.

Published 21st June, 2019
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