How the Regional Grants Scheme improved South West communities

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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.

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