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Guide Banner 4 2015

The Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, has announced details of a $1.4 billion Regional Development Australia Fund.

Mr Crean released the application guidelines for the Fund and said applications could now be lodged with the first funding allocation to commence on July 1.

"The $1.4 billion Regional Development Australia Fund is a concrete demonstration of the Federal Government's commitment to furthering economic development in the regions," Mr Crean said.

The allocation of funding would be competitive, merit-based and only applications that have the backing of local Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees would be considered. Projects would be considered in two tranches - those seeking funding of $500,000 to $5 million and those for $5 million to $25 million (with the bigger projects requiring a commitment to matching funding). Applications would be accepted from local governments and community groups and the proposed projects must align with RDA Regional Plans. The Regional Plans themselves must be endorsed by relevant local councils.

Resources from the Fund would be allocated over five years. The Fund has been established as part of the agreement struck with the Independents.

Key criteria for the application funding guidelines include:

  • Delivery of concrete economic and social benefits;
  • Commitment to innovation and building capacity in local communities;
  • Linking regional communities across traditional boundaries; and
  • Ability to leverage additional funding across government and the private sector

The $1.4 billion allocated to the Fund includes $350 million that has been set aside for disaster relief in regional communities. This disaster funding allocation will be assessed on the same criteria as the rest of the Fund.

Mr Crean made the funding announcement at yesterday's opening address to the Regional Development Australia (RDA) National Forum held in Canberra. Representatives from all 55 RDA committees were represented at the Forum. The Forum was attended by ALGA Board member Alderman Kerry Moir who took the opportunity in discussions with Forum participants to reinforce the critical need for RDA Committees to engage fully with local governments. "It is essential that RDAs contact their local councils and engage them fully in the development of their Plans. There are significant gaps in the relationship between a number of councils and RDAs and this must be addressed. At the same time I urge any councils who have not had contact with RDAs to make contact with them as soon as possible" said Ald Moir.

Mr Crean also announced that each of the 55 RDA committees would receive grants of $25,000 to strengthen their capability to represent their local areas.

The full details of the guidelines and how to apply for the funding announced by Minister Crean will be posted shortly on the website.