Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean visited the Northern Rivers yesterday.
Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean visited the Northern Rivers yesterday. Marc Stapelberg

Regional development funding available

NORTHERN Rivers communities will be able to apply for infrastructure grants worth anywhere between $50,000 and $15 million under new funding rounds for Regional Development Australia.

The funding rounds announced by Regional Development Minister Simon Crean, include a total $50 million for projects in towns with a population of 30,000 or less and a bigger round of $175 million for "priority regional infrastructure projects".

The $50 million round, Regional Development Australia's third, provides grants of between $50,000 and $500,000, while the $175 million round, the fourth, provides grants of between $500,000 and $15 million for projects "that also leverage funding from state and local governments and the private sector".

Northern Rivers grants will go through Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers, which will have the job of selecting applications for five priority projects from round three and applications for three projects from round four to be considered by the national body.

RDA-Northern Rivers chairman Ian Tiley said RDA committees were comprised of community leaders uniquely placed to determine viable projects that align with local priorities and regional plans.

"RDA committees are jointly appointed by the Australian and State and Territory Governments and we are closely in touch with our local communities," Dr Tiley said.

"We welcome the opportunity to have a strong voice and contribute directly to localism. The regions and local communities are going to be the real winners with the announcement of these new rounds."

In prioritising projects, Minister Crean asked RDA committees to take into account regional priorities, the level of community support for the project, the impact of the project on the region and neighbouring regions, and its readiness to proceed.

Mr Crean said the Federal Government had improved guidelines to make it easier to apply and broaden the sorts of projects which could be funded. He also encouraged people or organisations putting forward proposals to work with their local RDA committee.

"Keep working with your RDA - it's the committee that decides which Expressions of Interest (EOI) are selected as priority projects to proceed full applications," he said.

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