7 June 2023

North East Community Fund Round 2: 2023-2024

About North East Link Program

North East Link is more than just Victoria's biggest road project. It is the biggest ever investment in Melbourne's north east, with twin road tunnels, an overhaul of the Eastern Freeway, Melbourne’s first dedicated busway, completion of the Ring Road in Greensborough and a new North East Trail with more than 34km of walking and cycling paths.

Construction of North East Link is now well underway and will continue until 2028. A project of this size comes with construction impacts and disruptions that will take place across the project alignment. The North East Link Program (NELP) team is working closely with the local community to minimise and manage these impacts, but importantly, there are also opportunities to support, connect and improve our local communities during this time.

NELP is committed to leaving a positive legacy for Melbourne's northern and eastern suburbs and we are ensuring that benefits to local communities start well before the road is opened, through the North East Community Fund (NECF).

About the North East Community Fund

The North East Community Fund is a $10 million grants and partnership program established to support local initiatives and projects during construction of North East Link.

Funding is available to local not-for-profit organisations and community groups to support, grow and enhance communities in Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs.

The fund will support a range of community initiatives that align with the identified community priorities ranging from programs to increase participation, community art exhibitions, sports club open days, and community centre upgrades.

Funding will be available throughout the construction of North East Link until project completion and the program will prioritise its support to those most impacted by construction. Funding will be awarded so that there is a spread of funding across a range of projects and categories.

In addition to the annual funding round, North East Link may run targeted funding rounds which are separate from the annual funding rounds, and which have a particular community focus to balance out construction impacts. This may for example, include a tree planting funding round, or funding for community events and fetes in high impacted areas.

NECF objectives

The objectives of the NECF are to:

  • improve community connectedness and cohesiveness during construction and operation of North East Link
  • support projects and initiatives in areas that are most impacted by project construction
  • assist in establishing and supporting connections between various community groups
  • maximise investment in Melbourne's northern and eastern suburbs by encouraging joint funding of community initiatives where possible
  • enhance community participation and access to local programs and services
  • create a positive project legacy.

The fund is managed by NELP and delivered in consultation with local councils on behalf of the Victorian Government.


Below are the key dates for Round 2 of the North East Community Fund.

Program stageDates

Grant writing workshops

These free workshops will assist participants to develop and write their grant application. The workshops will focus on specific questions in the application form, including the project description, budget, project plan and evaluation.

There are limited spaces, so booking is essential.

Thursday 15 June 2023, 10am to 12pm

Wednesday 5 July 2023, 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Tuesday 11 July 2023, 1pm to 3pm

Thursday 13 July 2023, 10am to 12pm

To make a booking, visit Eventbrite

Applications close 11.59pm, Wednesday 19 July 2023
Applications assessed July to September 2023
Applicants notified October 2023


Who can apply?

Applicants must:

  • be a legally registered incorporated not-for profit organisation or community group
  • be sponsored (auspiced) by an incorporated not-for-profit organisation (if you are an unincorporated group). Refer to the Application process below for further detail on auspicing
  • demonstrate how they are impacted by North East Link construction
  • be located in the City of Banyule, City of Manningham, City of Boroondara, City of Nillumbik, City of Whittlesea, City of Whitehorse, City of Yarra or conduct activities that benefit members of the communities closest to the project construction area
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and provide an incorporation number
  • have a current public liability insurance (minimum of $10 million)
  • have written approval to carry out the works on the property or nominated site from landowner or council or relevant agencies
  • meet all legislative requirements related to the funded activity. For example, if the funded activity involves contact with children, a Working with Children Check for organisers would be required.

In Round 2, priority will be given to applications from not-for-profit organisations and community groups in the areas closest to or most impacted by North East Link construction zones and/or projects that benefit highly impacted residents or community groups.

Incorporated not-for-profit community organisations may include but are not limited to:

  • Australian Public Companies, such as companies limited by guarantee and/or limited by shares (non-distribution of profits or dividends)
  • Co-operatives
  • Trusts that are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)
  • Not-for-profit associations
  • Charities
  • Registered Australian Bodies
  • Indigenous corporations
  • Organisations established under an Act of Parliament such as Parent-Teachers Associations.

Who cannot apply?

  • An individual or a group of individuals
  • For-profit businesses
  • Unincorporated organisations
  • For-profit commercial companies
  • School or State Government agencies/departments (e.g. Council, tertiary institution, Local Health Districts, public hospitals. Schools can receive funding but must apply through their Parent Teachers Associations)
  • Organisations that have not submitted acquittal reports for previously funded projects.

Not eligible for funding

Initiatives are not eligible to receive a NECF community grant and partnership if they:

  • are for ongoing operating or core business costs including staff wages, rent, insurance, license fees, utility bills, consumables, and administration costs. Project specific wages, rent and administration costs can be included if the expense ends when the project is complete. These project specific costs should not be more than 30% of the total project cost
  • have the single purpose of promoting religion or political parties
  • are currently fully funded by local, state, or federal governments
  • are projects where more than 10% the budget is for refreshments/catering or advertising/promotion
  • are for awards, trophies, fundraising, donations, or projects seeking prize money or gifts for attendees
  • derive income from gambling or are proposing to conduct activities that promote gambling
  • are projects that are currently funded entirely by the relevant local council to undertake the same initiative
  • have not submitted acquittal reports for previously funded projects
  • have already commenced or are scheduled to commence before the grants are paid
  • are for the purpose of funding public liability insurance
  • are for the purchase of a vehicle or maintenance equipment
  • are projects that duplicate existing services/programs
  • are projects that require ongoing financial support from NELP
  • are projects that are for private or commercial venture/purposes
  • include capital works programs at community facilities which have already been funded through the North East Link early works program
  • are for payment of debts or a loan
  • are for research projects.

Applicants may apply for a grant in more than one grant category; however, the application must be for a different activity.

Applicants can only receive funding once per round i.e., if you have applied in more than one category the assessment panel will use its discretion to determine which project has the most merit.

We would strongly encourage community groups and organisations to put forward applications for projects that will generate the most community benefit.

Community priorities

To be eligible for a North East Community Fund grant or partnership, applicants must be able to demonstrate how they will support or benefit a community impacted by the project as well as aligning with one of the community priorities below:

  • Community connectedness: creating opportunities, activities and environments which bring communities together.
  • Health and wellbeing: supporting programs and opportunities which promote healthy living and wellbeing.
  • Innovation: supporting projects and events which help the community to solve future challenges.
  • Environment and sustainability: enhancing and conserving green spaces and the environment.
  • Accessibility: focus on mobility to make it easier for people to travel and explore their local area.
  • Leadership: supporting and training future leaders to advocate for their community.
  • Education and skills: providing information, skills, and new opportunities to members of the community.
  • Diversity: supporting social inclusion for diverse populations.
  • Beautification: supporting opportunities to improve the aesthetics and facilities of the community.
  • Arts and culture: celebrating culture and building positive community perceptions.
  • Heritage: celebrating history and creating links between the past and present within the community.
  • Social procurement: commitment to generating social value through procurement within the Victorian Social Procurement Framework.

Community grants

Funding is available under 3 categories to support small scale initiatives for local organisations and community groups.

Connecting communities and neighbourhood grants

Up to $10,000 for a one-off initiative that aims to improve community and/or neighbourhood connectedness and participation. Examples could include:

  • environmental education programs, events, or initiatives such as tree planting, community gardens and sustainability workshops
  • social and recreational programs such as respite or wellbeing programs, social living skills workshops or programs to increase girls and women participation in sport
  • arts and culture programs
  • social outing programs for seniors
  • projects that provide opportunities to increase program participation of diverse groups
  • projects that promote cross-cultural understanding, community harmony and peace building
  • projects that bring different community groups together and encourage shared use of space.

Celebrating communities and neighbourhood grants

Up to $20,000 for festivals, events, and installations that bring local people together. Examples could include:

  • community art exhibitions
  • cultural events/festivals e.g. a local street festival
  • community concerts showcasing local cultural groups
  • community open days for a local sport club
  • events commemorating the history of an organisation, place, or event.

Transforming communities and neighbourhood grants

Up to $75,000 for improvements to local community, sporting and recreation facilities and local environments. Examples could include:

  • upgrading a multipurpose art centre or community hall
  • upgrades or resurfacing of shared outdoor spaces or playgrounds
  • purchase of equipment to increase participation in community programs
  • accessibility upgrades to a community centre or facility
  • tree planting at a reserve or park.


The majority of NECF funding will be allocated towards the grants program to support small community projects, however we may consider large scale partnerships where wide reaching community benefits or a significant lasting outcome can be demonstrated.

Funding for large projects or initiatives will only be considered where there is already external funding confirmed. Funding could be up to $100,000 but must not be more than 50% of the total project cost. A maximum of four partnerships and up to 20% of the total available funding will be considered in the 2023/24 funding round.

Applicants must have co-funding for the project and demonstrate that other source/s of funding are confirmed. Co-funding could be in the form of financial and/or in-kind contributions.

What can be funded?

Proposed projects should improve community connectedness, improve community cohesion, and meet a community need.

The NECF may support projects that involve:

  • new community infrastructure
  • programs to upskill community members
  • refurbishment, repair, and maintenance of existing community infrastructure
  • a facility or community centre upgrade to improve accessibility
  • purchase of new play equipment.


Partnership applications must include acknowledgement and in-principle support from relevant stakeholders and authorities that may be impacted by the proposed partnership. Acknowledgement and in-principle support from relevant parties include but are not limited to:

  • the owner of any land to be used or impacted upon
  • the owner of any existing infrastructure to be used or impacted upon
  • the leadership of any club/organisation involved or impacted upon
  • a representative of any businesses, services or utility providers involved or impacted upon
  • development approval from local council.*

* If your project is on Council owned or managed land, please ensure you speak to Council and obtain approval to undertake the works on the nominated site. Applications will not be considered without the required permission or support.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed using the following criteria:

Project concept (30% of overall score)

  • Project has clear aims, objectives, and outcomes.
  • Project has clearly identified activities.
  • Project aligns with at least 1 of the priorities listed in Community priorities and clearly identifies how it will be addressed.
  • Project is achievable within the proposed timeframe.
  • Evidence of consultation and or engagement undertaken during the project development with potential participants and partners.
  • Project completed within 1 year of receiving funding.

Community benefit and impact (40% of overall score)

  • Demonstrate local impact – details are provided on how the community group is impacted by North East Link.
  • Evidence of community need and benefits of the project.
  • Project supports residents or community groups impacted by North East Link construction.

Budget (20% of overall score)

  • Evidence of a well-researched and realistic budget.
  • Clear costing for all aspects of the project.
  • The budget represents value for money.
  • Quotes are provided for all expenditure over $1000 (GST exclusive) that are essential for the delivery of the activity.
  • Evidence that any ongoing or recurrent cost can be met by the organisation once grant funding has been expensed.

Organisation’s capacity (10% of overall score)

  • Demonstrated ability to manage funds or will be assisted by a reputable organisation.
  • Evidence of an organisation’s ability to manage a project is demonstrated. This includes a listing of the applicant’s prior project experience.
  • Evidence of the organisation’s capacity to deliver the initiative on time and within budget.
  • Evidence of support for the project is included e.g. partnership, volunteer engagement, in-kind and other funding contributing to project.
  • Demonstrated ability to engage community members targeted in the application.

Grant management process

Application process

NELP uses SmartyGrants software to manage its funding program. Applications must be submitted online via NELP SmartyGrants webpage. You can access the application forms at North East Community Fund once the funding round opens. Applications will only be accepted during the advertised funding round date and times. NELP can use its discretion to accept or deny late applications.

Please note:

  • Applications must be submitted by an individual with authority to do so on behalf of their group/organisation.
  • Applicants must only submit 1 application per category.
  • Incomplete or ineligible applications will not be considered.


Unincorporated groups may require the support of an incorporated association to auspice their grant. The auspice organisation would receive the grant funding and have responsibility for ensuring that the project is completed on time. Evidence of the agreement between the two parties to undertake this auspice arrangement must be submitted with the grant application.

An organisation is eligible to submit an application plus act as an auspice in the same round.

An organisation can auspice up to 1 application per category in the same round.

Tips for completing your application online:

  • Register for SmartyGrants and open a new application as soon as possible. This way you will receive messages and reminders from us that are sent out to all active applicants. You can save and return to your grant application at any time prior to submission.
  • You will need access to the internet and an email address to register on SmartyGrants and submit your application.
  • Access to the application form will not be available until the opening date.
  • The online system does not accept incomplete applications. All fields marked with an asterisk (*) must be completed.
  • Review your application carefully before submitting, as once it is submitted you cannot go back and make changes.
  • Ensure all required documentation is attached prior to submitting your application.
  • When you submit your application, you will receive an application number and a copy. Make a note of it or print and keep a copy of your application for future reference.
  • You will receive an email from SmartyGrants when the application has been successfully submitted.
  • Visit Help Guide for Applicants for more information about submitting an application through SmartyGrants.

Application support

The North East Community Fund Guidelines are provided to assist with writing your application.

Some examples of types of projects that might be funded have been included, however you can also speak to a member of the NELP Community Partnerships team to discuss your idea on 1800 105 105 or communityfund@northeastlink.vic.gov.au

You are also invited to attend a free grant writing workshop that will help participants develop and write their applications. The workshop will focus on the required information in the application form including project description, budget, project plan and evaluation. Book a session online at Eventbrite.

Assessment process

Applications will be assessed by a senior panel convened by NELP in consultation with relevant councils and any relevant state government departments as required. An independent probity advisor will oversee the assessment process.

The grants and partnerships program is a competitive process and applications are assessed against the assessment criteria.

All proposed projects and initiatives will be assessed using consistent criteria that measures community impact from the project during construction until the opening and operation of the North East Link and the benefits the projects and initiatives intend to deliver to the community.

To assist with decision making, the applicant may be asked to provide additional information during the assessment process. NELP may contact relevant stakeholders to understand background risks, associated issues, and other opportunities for joint funding.

When determining the shortlisting of applications for both the grants program and partnerships, NELP will take into account:

  • the applications who perform best against the assessment criteria
  • compliance of the applications and the applicants with the requirements in these Guidelines
  • previously allocated funding and/or upgrades and financial support already provided
  • (in its discretion) feedback from relevant Councils and information from other relevant stakeholders
  • (in its discretion) enabling a balance in funding across the funding categories.

Assessment panel members will be responsible for:

  • assessing applications in accordance with the approved guidelines and assessment framework
  • ensuring that probity and integrity requirements such as confidentiality and conflict of interest declarations are adhered to
  • acting independently and consistently across all applications.

Notification process

NELP will notify all applicants of the outcome of their application as soon as possible after all applications have been assessed.

You are welcome to seek feedback on your application once you have been notified of the decision.

A list of successful applicants will be published on the NELP website after all applicants have been notified of the outcome of their application. This information can be found at North East Community Fund.

Funding agreements and payment

Before funding can be provided, successful applicants must enter into a funding agreement accepting the conditions of the funding. Monies can only be used for the specific purpose outlined in the funding agreement unless prior approval is sought from NELP.

The funding agreement must be completed, signed off and returned by the specified date for the funding to be released. Funding agreements will include the following information:

  • project title and description
  • amount of financial and/or in-kind support to be provided by NELP
  • payment schedule
  • due dates for progress and acquittal reports
  • details of special conditions placed on the project.

Any variation to the project must be requested in writing to NELP.

GST status

Organisations must indicate their GST status in their grant application. Successful organisations with an ABN that are not registered for GST will receive their grant without GST. Successful organisations with an ABN and are registered for GST, will receive the grant amount plus 10% GST.

Once funding agreements are finalised, payments are processed within the standard 30 days.

Acquittal reporting

Each funding recipient is required to submit an acquittal report within two months of project completion for auditing purposes. The acquittal includes questions on how many people participated, or benefitted from the initiative, what adjustments were made to the initiative as it unfolded and whether the aims and objectives outlined in the application were met.

The acquittal audit also includes a financial report clearly demonstrating that the funds were spent in accordance with the budget submitted in the original application.

NELP reserves the right to undertake an audit of funded projects, including, but not limited to, the inspection of all income and expenditure records, correspondence, meeting notes, promotional material, site visits and any other relevant documentation relating to the funded initiative.

Funding conditions

The following general terms and conditions apply to the NECF:

  • Monies should be spent only on the initiatives outlined in the funding application.
  • Successful applicants must comply with all relevant State and Federal government legislation that apply to the funded initiative. If the funded activity involves contact with children, your group or organisation may be required to obtain Working with Children (WWC) Check. Visit Working With Children to find out if you need a WWC Check.
  • Canvassing or lobbying NELP employees or independent assessors, in relation to a grant application, is prohibited. Lobbying or canvassing relevant officers may result in your application being deemed ineligible.
  • NECF is a competitive funding program, and the funding allocation is awarded on the merit of the application and balance across the funding categories.
  • All relevant permits, approvals and insurance requirements must be obtained as part of the initiative. This includes matters such as road closures, outdoor advertising and temporary food premises, development application etc.
  • Funded recipients must hold current public liability insurance throughout the delivery of the project.
  • NELP reserves the right to request further information in considering applications. If deemed necessary, applicants may be required to discuss or clarify their application with NELP officers and/or provide further written information within a specified timeframe.
  • NELP reserves the right to request return of funds should the recipient not use the money for the
    specified purpose.
  • Funded activities must be completed within 12 months of receipt of funding.
  • Successful recipients are required to acknowledge receipt of financial assistance from NELP in any promotion, publication, or advertising of the activities.

Further information


If you have questions about the NECF or require assistance in applying, please contact 1800 105 105 or email communityfund@northeastlink.vic.gov.au. If you require an interpreter, please call (03) 9209 0147.

Privacy collection notice

North East Link collects your personal information, for the purposes of administering the NECF. We may disclose your personal information to Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA), other state government organisations and third parties, (including but not limited to):

  • SmartyGrants
  • relevant local council
  • MTIA third party contractors.

For the purposes of:

  • processing and assessing your application
  • allocating grants
  • communicating with you
  • confirming required permissions
  • enquiring about past/current/future funding as required
  • completing any background checks as required (Working with Children Check, Police Check).

We will only send you communication about any applications you make and updates to keep you informed on the North East Community Fund. You may choose not to provide us with all personal information we request from you, which may impact whether we accept an application from you, respond to your queries or take your feedback into account.

You have the right to access and correct personal information about you held by us. To request access or request changes to the personal information we hold about you, or for more information about how we manage your personal information, please refer to our Privacy Policy or contact us for a copy.


ABN: Australian business number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit identifier that makes it easier to identify your business to the government and community.

Acquittal: a report that is prepared at the completion of your project as outlined in your funding agreement. This should include financial details plus evidence of funds spent and evaluation of your project.

Auspice: an agreement where incorporated organisation applies for funding on behalf of an unincorporated group. The auspiced organisation is legally responsible for the funding and grant agreement. Further information can be found at Not-for-profit Law.

Funding Agreement: an agreement which successful applicants must sign outlining the conditions of the funding. This is a legal document and once signed there is a legal obligation to comply with the conditions.

Community connectedness: refers to the number of connections that an individual has with others in their community.

Community cohesiveness: the sense of togetherness and bonding that exists between members of a community.

Community impact: defined as the net effect of activity associated with the construction of North East Link on a community and the well-being of individuals and families. For example: amenity and character (noise, vibration, air quality) and access and connectivity (social implications of people's ability to get from one place to another) function and viability of community infrastructure (social impacts of changes to community infrastructure facilities which includes places and facilities.

Grant: a grant is a sum of money given to organisations for a specified purpose directed at achieving objectives and outcomes consistent with specific policies.

Incorporated association: implies that an organisation has a legal identity of its own, recognised by State and Federal governments and is separate and distinct from the individuals who formed or make up the group. For more information visit Incorporated associations - Consumer Affairs Victoria.

In-kind contribution: a service, labour (volunteer time), venue, materials or goods provided instead of cash. Organisations or groups contribute their own resources to a project that may reduce the amount of actual dollars needed. This doesn’t dismiss that these contributions would had to have been paid for should these donations have not existed.

Insurance: protects a community organisation against its legal liability to pay for damages.

SmartyGrants: NELP’s online grants management system. Applicants must apply online and attach relevant documents to their application.

Find out more about the North East Community Fund