How the Regional Grants Scheme improved South West communities

Since 2008, the Regional Grants Scheme (RGS) provided over $90 million to improve infrastructure and community services in regional communities.

To determine the effects of the RGS, the then Department of Regional Development commissioned an independent evaluation of RGS-funded projects.

The evaluation focused on the South West region. Between 2008-09 and 2010-11, South West communities received $11 million of RGS funding for 131 projects. The evaluation looked at 56 of these projects which had received RGS funding of $5 million.

It found the RGS had been very effective in directly making a positive social and economic difference to South West

Since 2008, the Regional Grants Scheme (RGS) provided over $90 million to improve infrastructure and community services in regional communities.

To determine the effects of the RGS, the then Department of Regional Development commissioned an independent evaluation of RGS-funded projects.

The evaluation focused on the South West region. Between 2008-09 and 2010-11, South West communities received $11 million of RGS funding for 131 projects. The evaluation looked at 56 of these projects which had received RGS funding of $5 million.

It found the RGS had been very effective in directly making a positive social and economic difference to South West communities.

Economic impacts

The evaluation concluded that the RGS-funded projects provided significant economic benefits to South West communities and increased infrastructure throughout the region.

It found the majority of the RGS-funded projects created jobs. For instance, 132 new jobs had been created during implementation of the projects, and a further 105 new, long-term jobs were also created. Projects were funded across a range of categories including community, recreational, culture and tourism.

In addition, most projects involved volunteers. Through that involvement, volunteers were reported to have gained job relevant training and skills (which in some cases led to paid employment or ongoing educational involvement), a sense of community contribution, and reduced social isolation.

The majority of projects evaluated had also increased service provision and commercial activity in the South West region.

Visitor spending

The evaluation estimated that the RGS-funded projects in the South West resulted in an estimated increase in visitor spending of $49 million after three years.

Types of projects

The majority of the RGS-funded projects the evaluation looked at aimed to increase tourism, festivals and events, and social services (such as health/medical, business and employment, community safety and emergency, youth, justice and policing, child care and education, accommodation and social support).

Other projects focused on local sports and recreation opportunities, as well as a mix of tourism, heritage preservation, arts and crafts, business and cultural development

Social benefits

The RGS-funded projects had facilitated a number of social benefits including:

  • Cultural development
  • Improved children’s learning outcomes, and
  • Increased social interaction, recreation and involvement in activities targeting health and well-being.

The projects also created opportunities for community members to engage and try something new, gain confidence, feel included, create new social connections, and challenged perceptions on topical issues.

Most project representatives reported that their RGS projects had contributed to a local sense of pride and belonging to the community. With some projects, extra benefits arose that were not originally planned.

For example, in one case the creation of a community garden provided a space for community members to visit and connect with others. In turn, a number of aged care services, medical and mental health support groups began running programs from the garden. By doing so, they were able to engage individuals who might not otherwise access their services.

You can read the summary report here.

  • Repairing Elgin’s community hall, Capel

    almost 3 years ago
    Elgin

    The Elgin Community Hall was built in the 1930s and when someone put their foot through the old floor boards, the Shire of Capel knew the floor had to be replaced.

    With RGS funding of $15,000, matched by a Lotterywest grant, a new jarrah floor was installed. The renovation not only kept the hall from shutting permanently, it helped generate new revenue streams to help fund further improvements.

    About 30 families live around Elgin and locals say the hall has now become a sought-after venue for weddings, social and political gatherings and other events.

    The Elgin Community Hall was built in the 1930s and when someone put their foot through the old floor boards, the Shire of Capel knew the floor had to be replaced.

    With RGS funding of $15,000, matched by a Lotterywest grant, a new jarrah floor was installed. The renovation not only kept the hall from shutting permanently, it helped generate new revenue streams to help fund further improvements.

    About 30 families live around Elgin and locals say the hall has now become a sought-after venue for weddings, social and political gatherings and other events.

  • Early learning centre, Nannup

    almost 3 years ago
    Frogs

    An RGS project that has benefited a community, helped to retain local families and reinvigorate local businesses is F.R.O.G.S Early Learning Centre at Nannup.

    F.R.O.G.S stands for ‘free range on Grange’ (the centre is on Grange Road) and it was developed after several years’ lobbying by local parents.

    The project received $70,000 in RGS funding, creating up to four jobs during implementation. The evaluation reported that it is directly responsible for freeing up local parents to either start their own businesses or find other work.

    It has also helped stem the number of young...

    An RGS project that has benefited a community, helped to retain local families and reinvigorate local businesses is F.R.O.G.S Early Learning Centre at Nannup.

    F.R.O.G.S stands for ‘free range on Grange’ (the centre is on Grange Road) and it was developed after several years’ lobbying by local parents.

    The project received $70,000 in RGS funding, creating up to four jobs during implementation. The evaluation reported that it is directly responsible for freeing up local parents to either start their own businesses or find other work.

    It has also helped stem the number of young families moving out of the region.

  • CowParade public art event, Margaret River

    almost 3 years ago
    Cow

    The Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association held CowParade in 2010, where 80 life-size cow replicas were painted by artists, mostly from the South West, and put on public display.

    RGS contributed $50,000 towards CowParade and the tourism association raised another $1.1 million. CowParade resulted in an immediate increase in visits to the region (11.4% higher than the previous year).

    The RGS evaluation found CowParade had a positive economic impact on local businesses and helped build community confidence, pride and sense of place.

    On top of that, the cows were eventually auctioned and raised more than $302,000 to fund local tourism projects.

    The Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association held CowParade in 2010, where 80 life-size cow replicas were painted by artists, mostly from the South West, and put on public display.

    RGS contributed $50,000 towards CowParade and the tourism association raised another $1.1 million. CowParade resulted in an immediate increase in visits to the region (11.4% higher than the previous year).

    The RGS evaluation found CowParade had a positive economic impact on local businesses and helped build community confidence, pride and sense of place.

    On top of that, the cows were eventually auctioned and raised more than $302,000 to fund local tourism projects.

  • Wardandi Memorial Park, Bunbury

    almost 3 years ago
    Wardandi memorial park

    Wardandi Memorial Park is an example of an RGS-funded project that has increased community connections and helped foster cultural respect and awareness.

    The memorial park provides a final resting place for ancestors of local Aboriginal families. Many of the remains buried in the park were repatriated to Bunbury after being stored at the WA Museum for up to 70 years.

    The project employed a local Aboriginal supervisor and eight Aboriginal young people during construction as well as contractors.

    The park also appears to provide significant tourism potential with a cultural tourism business now conducting...

    Wardandi Memorial Park is an example of an RGS-funded project that has increased community connections and helped foster cultural respect and awareness.

    The memorial park provides a final resting place for ancestors of local Aboriginal families. Many of the remains buried in the park were repatriated to Bunbury after being stored at the WA Museum for up to 70 years.

    The project employed a local Aboriginal supervisor and eight Aboriginal young people during construction as well as contractors.

    The park also appears to provide significant tourism potential with a cultural tourism business now conducting walking tours of the site.