Victoria’s 48 rural and regional councils cover more than 95 per cent of Victoria’s land mass, represent 1.5 million residents and are essential to their communities.

But with the responsibility of governing large geographic areas with disperse populations, rural and regional councils can face unique challenges when compared with metropolitan councils.

On 14 August 2018, the Minister for Local Government Marlene Kairouz launched the Victorian Government’s $20 million Rural Councils Transformation Program (RCTP) – with the expression of interest period now open until 15 November.

This first-of-its kind initiative in Victoria, encourages the sharing knowledge, costs and resources at a regional scale so that local governments can deliver more efficient, effective and sustainable services for their communities. It will also improve their financial sustainability.

Groups of three or more councils can apply for seed funding of between $2 million - $5 million to support the implementation of large-scale, transformative projects on a regional level – such as joined up service delivery or corporate services,. 

The program aims to:

  • Improve the financial sustainability of rural and regional councils by achieving economies of scale, including through regional service delivery or collaborative procurement;
  • Promote more efficient and improved service delivery through collaboration and innovation;
  • Facilitate benefits for rural and regional communities, with priority given to those for rural communities; and
  • Demonstrate potential efficiencies to be gained through regional service delivery.

While councils won’t need to match funding, they must fund and implement the successful proposals.

The RCTP was born out of the $1 million 2017-18 Victorian Budget Rural and Regional Councils Sustainability Reform Program.