communities across Australia in partnership with state, territory and local governments.
For Australians living in regional, rural and remote locations, improving service delivery through the use of innovative digital enablement technology will:
- leverage the short and long-term potential of the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network rollout
- further stimulate Australia’s digital economy
- create employment opportunities in local communities
- develop skills and help to retain professionals in local communities.
The Digital Regions Initiative will support projects which will deliver innovative and sustainable services, such as those that will:
- boost innovation in healthcare by enabling services, such as remote consultation, diagnosis and treatment in areas where there are specialist skills shortages
- extend digital education services to enable more regional, rural and remote communities to access improved educational opportunities
- increase the use of digital technologies to improve emergency and disaster response both within and across state and territory borders.
The aim of the Digital Regions Initiative is to co-fund innovative digital enablement projects supporting improved health, education, and emergency services in regional, rural and remote communities.
The Digital Regions Initiative will co-fund digital applications projects that meet the aim by:
- being positioned to leverage the opportunities that are being created by the National Broadband Network
- targeting gaps in essential services delivered to regional, rural and remote communities
- expanding successful digital enablement initiatives of state, territory or local government, including those funded by Australian Government initiatives into other regions, cross-jurisdictionally or nationally
- using proven and tested concepts and models of improved and innovative service delivery, including those developed by Australian Government initiatives in new regions, cross-jurisdictionally or nationally
- supporting innovative approaches to service delivery using digital technologies that are based on best practice developments from nationally-recognised information and communications technology (ICT) research and development activities
- aligning with national policy approaches in the delivery of health, education and/or emergency services, with a particular emphasis on benefiting regional, rural and remote communities.
The Digital Regions Initiative involves collaborative arrangements and is covered by the provisions of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Financial Relations. As such, it requires implementation through a National Partnership agreement and an associated Implementation Plan. Lead applicants for funding under the Digital Regions Initiative Round two must be ‘eligible state, territory or local government entities’ as follows:
- state and territory government departments and agencies
- state and territory-owned business enterprises
- local government
- local government business enterprises
- business enterprises or other entities jointly owned by state and territory governments and local governments—e.g. new entities or entities owned by and representing a group of state, territory or local government entities, or
- local government and municipal associations.
Where more than one government entity is seeking funding for a project proposal, a lead entity must be nominated as the applicant seeking funding on behalf of all other entities (or project partners) that will contribute to the proposed project.
Only proposals that are from the above entities lodged on time or considered by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy under the relevant factors outlined in Section 8, selection criteria, of these guidelines will be deemed as eligible.
Note: Project partners may also include not-for-profit and private sector organisations. However, the lead entity submitting a project proposal under the Digital Regions Initiative for funding must be one of the entities listed above. If successful, the lead entity will receive Digital Regions Initiative funding and will have the responsibility of implementing the project and meeting the obligations. Please note that payments to eligible state, territory and local government entities will be made through the Australian Government Treasury and relevant state/territory Treasury.
The Digital Regions Initiative is making available up to $53.4 million over two funding rounds. Round one of the Digital Regions Initiative closed on 14 October 2009 and funding outcomes were announced in December 2009 and January 2010.
This second competitive funding round will include a call for expressions of interest to be lodged by 10 June 2010. The intent of the expression of interest process is to provide potential applicants with the opportunity to collaborate with other projects, either within their jurisdiction or to strengthen their application through cross-jurisdictional linkages. These will be published on the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy website (www.dbcde.gov.au/digitalregions). Full project proposals are to be lodged by 14 July 2010.
The Digital Regions Initiative seeks to co-fund comprehensive proposals which facilitate service delivery in the key sectors of health, education and/or emergency services through innovative digital enablement technologies. Collaborative projects between local, state entities and cross-jurisdictional entities are encouraged to maximise the effective use of those technologies. Proposals must also be positioned to work with, and take advantage of the superfast broadband that is being delivered through the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network. Further information on the National Broadband Network can be found on the Department’s website (www.dbcde.gov.au/nationalbroadbandnetwork) and the National Broadband Network Company website (www.nbnco.com.au).
The indicative range of Australian Government funding that may be provided for a particular project under the Digital Regions Initiative Round two is $2–7 million (GST exclusive). Applicants proposing projects that are cross-jurisdictional or have a national focus may seek a higher level of funding. Projects of a smaller scale may seek a level of funding below the indicative range, however, such projects will need to clearly demonstrate a significant positive impact for Australians living in regional, rural or remote areas through the delivery of services in one or more key sectors of health, education and emergency services.
Funding will only be provided to innovative, high-quality projects that are closely aligned to the aim and principles outlined in these guidelines. Applicants are expected to provide a clear strategy to ensure ongoing financial viability of their project. Funding will not be provided to support the continuation of activities of existing projects.
Digital enablement project funding will be provided to enable service delivery. It is not intended that funding be used for establishing large-scale broadband links but essential supporting infrastructure that is required for service delivery will be considered for funding.
Projects may include the following types of activities:
- digital technology applications
- costs associated with the introduction of digital applications, including change management
- enhancement to capabilities of existing network infrastructure
- network engineering and improvements that ensure an efficient and effective network
- associated capital equipment (servers, network hubs and connectivity elements).
Applicants should note that funding for all successful proposals will be provided through a National Partnership agreement on the Digital Regions Initiative and associated Implementation Plans. Projects approved for funding will be the subject of an Implementation Plan established under the National Partnership agreement. Such plans will be agreed by relevant parties.
The Digital Regions Initiative will run until 30 June 2013. Projects funded under the Initiative must be completed before 31 December 2012 to allow time for final project reporting and a final evaluation of the Initiative.