The Stronger Country Communities Fund was established in 2017 by the NSW Government to deliver local projects that enhance the lives and wellbeing of regional communities.
Since 2017, the fund has supported more than 1,500 local projects that make regional communities even better places to call home.
The Stronger Country Communities Fund is administered by the Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW).
Round Four has an increased focus on female participation in sport. Eligible Local Government Areas are strongly encouraged to allocate up to 50 percent of their total funding allocation to projects relating to female sport via infrastructure projects or relevant programs. This applies to sporting activities for both adults and youth.
Round Four opens on Saturday, 1 May 2021 and closes at 12pm on Friday, 25 June 2021 (AEST).
Applications will be assessed from July - August 2021.
Announcements are anticipated to be made from September 2021.
Projects must commence within six months of the funding being announced and be completed within two years of the funding deed being signed.
Eligible applicants must be located within in one of the 93 regional Local Government Areas, Lord Howe Island or the Unincorporated Far West. Applicants must be one of the following:
- regional councils and Joint Organisations
- non-government organisations
- community organisations registered as incorporated associations
- Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
Non-government and community organisations must hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN) or be registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009. Applicants must have, or be able to purchase, at least $20 million Public Liability Insurance.
Ineligible applicants include:
- individuals or groups of individuals
- unincorporated organisations
- for-profit commercial organisations
- applicants located in Greater Sydney, Wollongong or Newcastle.
Projects must be located in one of the 93 regional NSW Local Government Areas, Lord Howe Island or the Unincorporated Far West
No. If you wish to apply for a project across more than one Local Government Area, the project will need to be split into individual projects for each Local Government Area and submitted as separate applications. These applications will be assessed independent of applications in other Local Government Areas.
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. You 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.
Yes, but each application must have a very clear and defined project description and scope of activities. Each application should be able to be easily differentiated by the community and be delivered independently of other components.
It is possible that only some components/stages of projects will be awarded funding and the approved components/stages cannot be swapped or changed after the assessment process is finalised.
There is a total of $100 million available in Round Four, including up to $50 million for projects aimed at increasing female participation in sport. The remaining funding can be provided for other local community and sporting infrastructure, street beautification and community programs and events.
All eligible councils will be advised of the funding allocation amount for their Local Government Area.
If a council submits applications seeking funding above the nominated funding allocation for their Local Government Area, the council is asked to rank projects, including joint projects (if applicable), in order of local priority.
Decisions on how to proceed with uncommitted funding will be made by the Department of Regional NSW on a case by case basis.
For both infrastructure projects and programs, the minimum grant funding amount is $50,000 and the maximum amount is the Local Government Area total funding allocation.
For requests over $1 million, a financial co-contribution of 25 percent is required.
For any grant request of over $1 million, a financial co-contribution of 25 percent is required. The financial co-contribution may be from you or other funding sources but must be confirmed at the time of application.
If you are seeking funding for a sports related project over $1 million, you must provide a letter of support from the relevant NSW sporting organisation.
Projects targeted at increasing female participation in sport must be for either:
- development of new or upgrade of existing infrastructure to encourage female participation in sport, such as change rooms and amenities
- delivery of programs to support female participation in sport, such as female training and mentoring programs and sporting club “come and try” days to encourage new female membership.
Female sporting related projects must demonstrate how the project will increase female participation in sport through one of the following focus areas:
- Encouraging engagement: removing barriers to female participation in sport through the delivery of new or enhanced sporting infrastructure and programs
- Fostering a sense of safety: improving safety at sporting facilities by ensuring female change rooms, amenities and recreational programs are appropriately designed
- Improving accessibility: upgrading sporting facilities to ensure accessibility and inclusion as well as equitable access for female participants
- Boosting capability: development of programs and facilities which encourage regular female participation in sport and recreation and foster inclusive environments.
Community amenity projects must be local projects that enhance the lives and wellbeing of regional communities. General community amenity projects must be for either:
- construction of new or upgrades to existing local community or sporting infrastructure
- capital works related to street beautification and other public places that promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the community
- delivering programs that benefit the local community and provide public benefit
- infrastructure to assist the delivery of general community programs
- infrastructure or community projects or programs which improve and promote accessibility and inclusion.
Examples of eligible projects are available in the Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four Program Guidelines.
Infrastructure projects relating to the provision of community services may be funded if the project has demonstrated high community support, is shown to be a considerable priority for the community and is not delivering a core government service.
Projects are ineligible if they are:
- located outside an eligible Local Government Area
- not submitted by an eligible applicant
- exclusively for planning activities (for example, master planning or heritage studies)
- located across multiple Local Government Areas boundaries
- 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 Commonwealth Government
- seeking retrospective funding to cover any project component that is completed before funding is contracted
- seeking grant funding for ongoing staff or operational costs beyond two years from the date of successful project announcement, or any ongoing staff or operational costs for infrastructure projects
- for a general works package without specific scope, costs and location (e.g. ‘upgrading lighting at sports ovals’ without identifying the work required, number of sites or the locations)
- exclusively for marketing, branding, advertising or product promotion - including tourism marketing
- providing 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 Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four.
Yes. Projects that are more suitable for other NSW Government programs may be referred to those programs by the Department of Regional NSW. Applications that are referred will be subject to the full assessment criteria of the other NSW Government program to which they are referred. In this case, you may need to update your 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 program.
You can complete and submit an application online at https://regionaldevelopment.smartygrants.com.au/SCCF4
To apply, you will need to describe all the project elements and be able to complete the questions in the application form including:
- a clear project scope
- a project plan using the SCCF Project Plan template (XLSX, 23.83 KB)
- a project budget using the SCCF Project Budget template (XLSX, 30.09 KB) based on quotes or detailed estimates, reasonable assumptions, or previous experience with similar projects
- Landowner consent via the SCCF Landowner Consent Form (DOCX, 58.65 KB) (if applicable)
- evidence of $20 million Public Liability Insurance
- evidence of project co-contribution for projects requesting $1 million or more in funding (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 consultation and strong community support for the project
- for all community amenity and infrastructure applications: information on how the project will help boost the livability 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 female sporting related projects: information on how the project directly improves and supports participation and performance opportunities in female sports via one of the areas of the four focus areas, and how this will be measured.
Yes, it is a requirement that you use the provided project plan and budget templates for a project to be deemed eligible. Templates are available at nsw.gov.au/SCCF.
Yes. Budgets can include up to 20 percent of the total project cost for combined contingency, project management and administration costs. 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.
You must consult local communities to ensure submitted projects have a high level of community support. Evidence of consultation may be:
- detailed in the council’s Community Strategic Plan or other plans or processes that demonstrate 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.
Applicants are encouraged to work with their local Members of Parliament to identify priority projects in your area. Your application should provide evidence of community support for each proposed project, not just evidence of community consultation.
No. However, applicants are asked to rank projects, including joint projects (if applicable), in their order of local priority.
Yes. Projects can be located on private land but must not be solely for private use. The applicant will need to clearly demonstrate how the facility will be open to the community and how the project will benefit the public, or a sufficient section of the public.
An “upgrade” is a major renewal or restoration of existing infrastructure. “Major” means several activities are carried out that result in significant changes to the asset. For example, replacement of multiple components such as roofs, walls, floor coverings and external landscapes, or a simple toilet block transformed to an amenity block with accessible facilities, including change rooms. Infrastructure upgrades are eligible.
“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, however minor maintenance activities can be incorporated into a major upgrade or renewal of an existing asset.
“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 be used, this amount will be deducted from the final grant payment.
Each Local Government Area is strongly encouraged to allocate up to 50 percent of its funding allocation to projects relating to female sport either through enhanced infrastructure or relevant programs. The focus on female sports applies to both adult and youth sporting activities.
The Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four assessment process involves:
- checking that the applicant is eligible to apply for funding
- checking that projects meet the assessment criteria:
- viability, community support and alignment with the objectives of the fund
- seeking advice from relevant NSW Government agencies (if applicable)
- seeking advice from local Members of Parliament
- an Assessment Panel, who will meet to consider suitability of projects
- consideration of suitable projects by the Deputy Premier in consultation with the Minister for Women. Project recommendations will then be submitted to the NSW Cabinet Committee on Expenditure Review for final funding decision.
GST is not payable on grant payments to local councils as the payments are between government related entities. For eligible community organisations registered for GST and where it is payable, the Department of Regional NSW will pay the approved grant amount plus 10 percent of the approved funding.
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 budget and grant amount.
Eligible project costs are costs associated with building new or upgrading existing local infrastructure and delivering programs. Ineligible project costs are listed in the Program Guidelines.
A project will be considered viable if it:
- has a realistic budget based on substantiated quotes or detailed estimates, reasonable assumptions or previous experience with similar projects
- is cost-effective and represents value for money
- can be delivered within two years from the project funding announcement
- has a combined contingency, project management, administration cost that does not exceed a maximum of 20 percent of the total project cost
- 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 Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW) may seek information from relevant NSW Government departments to verify the viability of a project. DRNSW retains the discretion to disclose information to these agencies where relevant.
No. If your project receives funding elsewhere once the application period has closed, you cannot swap in another project. All projects must be submitted by the close of Round Four at 12pm on Friday 25 June 2021.
You must notify the Department of Regional NSW in writing as soon as possible if a project has secured funding elsewhere. The project will be withdrawn to avoid it being considered against other projects submitted in the same Local Government Area.
Following the assessment period, if the Local Government Area’s funding allocation has not been fully exhausted, options to utilise these funds in future rounds or for other projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If you are seeking between $50,000 and $1 million for a project, a co-contribution is not required, and you 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 percent of the total grant amount. The financial co-contribution may be from you or other funding sources, but must be confirmed at the time of submitting your application.
Co-contributions can come from you 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, you will need to define the scope of the different elements and clearly show how the Stronger Country Communities Round Four funding will be used.
Yes, where a council has yet to confirm a funding source in forward year’s capital works budgets. Works that are listed in a council’s current year capital works budget are not eligible.
Yes, if the project is unfunded through any other sources of funding, including Section 94 Contributions and Restricted Assets.
Yes, but only for stages that are unfunded.
Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four funding cannot be used for ordinary road maintenance. Minor road works may 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.
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 the Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four. You do not need to have an approval for signage in place before submitting your application but will need to demonstrate permission has been granted before final milestone payments are processed. Further information about tourist signage is available at destinationnsw.com.au.
As part of the application process, you are required to identify how you will measure the expected outcomes and benefits of the project once delivered. This information will form part of the assessment process and be incorporated into your Funding Deed. For further information about reporting outcomes see the Outcomes Reporting Guidance Note at nsw.gov.au/SCCF
Yes. Information and resources, including relevant application templates, are available at nsw.gov.au/SCCF.
A webinar will be held at 1pm on Thursday, 13 May and the recording placed on the webpage to help with applications. Click here to register.
Local Business Development Managers will also be able to assist applicants to develop applications.
For further assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 679 673.