Empowering Communities grants will deliver a supported approach to developing initiatives in priority communities to improve community safety and address crime.
Funding of up to $700,000 (plus GST) per initiative is available to support innovative, evidence-based approaches to address crime and improve community safety in selected community areas.
A suitable organisation will be invited to lead a community partnership to design and deliver a crime prevention initiative, which will involve a range of activities designed to achieve the objectives of the grant funding (outlined below).
A key part of the initiative will involve establishing and leading an Action Group, which will include a diverse group of community stakeholders and Department of Justice and Community Safety (the department) representation. The Action Group will form the decision-making body for approving the allocation of funds to activities to be delivered within the broader initiative.
The development of the initiative will include the following steps:
- Initial Community Forum
- Confirming who will coordinate the initiative
- Establishing the Action Group
- Undertaking further consultation to ensure broad community input
- Agreeing on a common goal and options for achieving it
- Developing and delivering community initiatives to achieve goals
- Measuring impact, identifying lessons and reporting on activity.
Initiatives must be able to commence as soon as possible after funding is confirmed and be completed by 30 June 2024.
Empowering Communities funding aims to support community designed and delivered initiatives that take an evidence-informed, innovative approach to address local issues impacting on crime and perceptions of safety. This initiative also aims to:
- build the capability of the community to understand crime related issues and design and implement effective crime prevention approaches
- strengthen relationships between community stakeholders to work in partnership to deliver crime prevention activity, and leverage community capacity to deliver sustainable outcomes beyond the funding period
- engage and mobilise the community to address issues of local concern
- build the evidence base for successful community development initiatives that address crime and safety issues.
Supporting community innovation to address crime and its impacts
One of the greatest strengths in any community is the diversity of its members. Empowering Communities seeks to capture and build on the unique experiences of crime and its impact across the community to explore and support new ways of building community safety.
Addressing the causes of crime requires a coordinated approach with different sections of the community working together to achieve a common goal. A community-led approach encourages individuals and organisations to find areas of mutual interest and opportunities to partner and collaborate.
Government recognises that more can be achieved when communities work together rather than compete for funding and resources. Empowering Communities supports innovation by establishing a community-led partnership that is able to allocate funds to projects or activities that meet the funding criteria outlined below and aim to deliver the overall objectives of the program. This flexible approach to funding empowers the community to consider and support initiatives that will best progress a common goal.
Building community capability
When provided with the right resources and support, the community is well placed to achieve effective, innovative and sustainable crime prevention approaches.
Empowering Communities is an investment into building the community’s ability to understand crime related issues and address and evaluate activity to improve community safety. In addition to the financial investment, government will support the initiative by:
- providing access to data and other information to assist the community to understand crime and perceptions of safety
- providing expert advice on effective crime prevention practice and program evaluation to measure impact
- coordinating effort with other related government initiatives
- sitting on the Action Group to provide a link between the initiative and government.
An empowered community has the skills it needs to act to address areas of concern. Building capability within grass-roots community organisations is an important focus of this initiative and will help to sustain benefit beyond the period of funding. This could focus on building capability in the following areas:
- project design and management
- identifying funding opportunities and preparing quality grant applications
- effectively managing grant funds to deliver community benefit
- effective governance
- evaluation and impact measurement
- consulting and communicating.
Why is the Victorian Government funding these initiatives?
At the heart of the Victorian Government’s approach to crime prevention is a focus on empowering and investing in Victorian communities to deliver tailored and effective interventions addressing the causes of offending.
It recognises that crime prevention approaches are most effective when government partners with communities to understand and address issues that make some communities more vulnerable to crime and victimisation.
Empowering Communities is an important government priority as it supports Victoria’s recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Stages of development
The Empowering Communities initiative will be developed and implemented over a number of stages as outlined below.
Step 1: Initial community forum
The department will hold a forum in each of the selected communities to bring a range of stakeholders together to:
- consider data and other evidence of issues that impact on crime and perceptions of safety in the community
- identify a number of possible themes that could be addressed through a collaborative Empowering Communities initiative
- identify strengths the community can build on, as well as organisations that may be suitable to partner together to coordinate or deliver an initiative.
Step 2: Confirming who will coordinate the initiative
Following the initial forum, the department will liaise with key organisations in the community to identify who is best placed to support and coordinate activity over the period of the initiative.
Through a negotiated process, the department will select an organisation that meets the following requirements:
- be part of the community, with strong networks and local relationships, and experience consulting with and representing a diverse range of community members
- have experience in managing complex projects to deliver social benefit
- have a strong community development focus and commitment to building capability within the community
- be able to inspire and motivate different sections of the community to work together to achieve a common goal.
The coordinating organisation will be responsible for:
- entering into and managing a funding agreement with government
- meeting all milestone requirements and submitting reports to the department
- establishing and coordinating an Action Group (see below) across the life of the initiative and providing both leadership and practical administrative support to ensure its success
- negotiating and managing funding agreements with organisations approved by the Action Group to deliver activities as part of the initiative.
Reasonable costs associated with this coordination role are able to be covered by the grant and will be negotiated as part of the funding agreement.
Step 3: Establish Action Group
The department will support the coordinating organisation to establish a community Action Group.
This Action Group will be responsible for supporting the implementation of the initiative within the community and will be the main decision-making body. The group should be made up of key community representatives.
The Action Group will be responsible for:
- ensuring the diverse voices and opinions of the community are heard and considered, including the issues raised at the initial community forum and further consultation undertaken
- agreeing on a common goal consistent with the Empowering Communities objectives and possible strategies to achieve that goal
- considering proposals for funding and approving the allocation of funds to activities or projects that meet the funding criteria and program objectives outlined in these guidelines; and supporting the initiative to achieve the common goal
- meeting regularly to ensure the initiative progresses and remains focused on achieving the program objectives
- monitoring progress and overseeing evaluation of activity to ensure objectives are achieved
- supporting sustainability by maximising opportunities for additional investment and encouraging others to support the initiative by undertaking activity that will help achieve its objectives and goal
- supporting the coordinating organisation to meet the requirements of its funding agreement with government.
Step 4: Undertake further consultation to ensure broad community input
The Action Group should review the issues raised at the initial forum and determine whether any further targeted consultation is required to ensure the diverse views of the community are heard and considered. This further consultation should aim to reach community members who may have a unique experience of crime or whose voices are not often heard in public forums.
Reasonable consultation costs can be covered by the grant.
Step 5: Agree on a common goal and options for achieving it
Once consultation has been completed, the Action Group will be well placed to consider the issues raised and agree on a common goal and objectives that the initiative can focus on over the period of funding.
With a clear goal in mind the Action Group will be able to identify projects or activities that it can support to achieve goals and the broader program objectives.
Step 6: Develop and deliver community initiatives to achieve the goal
The Action Group may assist the coordinating organisation to identify partner organisation/s to co-deliver the initiative (noting partners may be funded or provide in-kind support).
In some instances, it may be appropriate for the Action Group to invite community organisations to develop a short proposal outlining their suitability to deliver activities that aim to achieve the agreed goal and the broader objectives of the program.
Funding agreement/s will then be negotiated between the coordinating organisation and the organisation/s responsible for delivering approved activity.
The coordinating organisation and partner organisations, in consultation with the Action Group, should consider conducting a perceptions of safety survey as part of the initiative to measure community views about crime and safety. A perceptions of safety survey tool, and principles and tips on using the tool, are available on the crime prevention website: crimeprevention.vic.gov.au/perceptions-of-safety-survey
A reasonable portion of grant funding can be used to cover further engagement costs, including delivering the perceptions of safety survey.
Step 7: Measure impact, identify lessons learnt and report on activity
Funded activity must be evaluated to determine whether it met its aims and to identify lessons learnt that can be shared with the broader community. Grant funding may be used to resource a research organisation to support evaluation activities and capability building as part of the project. Evaluation findings will be published on the department’s website.
At the end of the initiative the Action Group and the coordinating organisation will be responsible for preparing and submitting to the department a final report that provides a detailed report of income and expenditure, describes funded activity and provides an analysis of how the initiative achieved the program objectives and the common goal agreed at the beginning of the funding period. The report should also outline how the benefits from the initiative will be leveraged and sustained beyond the funding period.
Criteria for funded activity
Initiative funds should be used for activities that:
- directly support the program objectives and the goal of the Action Group
- are informed by evidence and demonstrate a strong problem-solving logic
- test new, more effective approaches
- can be completed within the agreed timeframe and funding available.
The following costs should not be approved for funding by the Action Group:
- overseas or interstate travel
- payments to state government departments or agencies including Victoria Police or schools for example
- costs that duplicate the funding responsibility of other state or local government agencies (such as family violence, mental health or drug and alcohol support for example) or that could be funded through other government grant programs
- the development of software applications (apps)
- activities that have already commenced for which retrospective funding is sought.