Frequently Asked Questions
2014 Grant Rounds
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What is the current status of the large DSS grants process undertaken in 2014?Show/Hide Answer
The 26 selection processes undertaken in 2014 are complete, with funding for new services commencing from 1 March 2015.
This grant funding supports a broad range of vital services that assist families, seniors, cultural and linguistically diverse Australians, Indigenous and mainstream communities, and vulnerable people across Australia.
Funding has been allocated to support the most vulnerable Australians, in areas where there is greatest need.
How were providers selected?Show/Hide Answer
The Department received an overwhelming response to the 2014 selection processes, with over 5,500 applications received, seeking more than $3.9 billion in funding, with approximately $800 million in grants available at the time of advertising.
Successful providers were selected through a rigorous, consistent and audited selection process. Funding decisions were based on ensuring high quality services to the community and value for money.
How long will providers receive funding for?Show/Hide Answer
The length of an organisation’s grant agreement is included as part of their specific grant agreement.
Some funding is for short term project-based activities and providers received grant agreements varying between one to two years.
Funding for some services was for up to five years, however the majority of funding offers were for two years, as a result of recent developments in background law and the High Court’s Pape and Williams decisions, which require some programmes to be redesigned to ensure conformity with the law.
Two year agreements will allow the Department to consider any redesign needs and will help ensure providers have the scope and flexibility to be responsive, innovative and creative in meeting the needs of the community.
How do I know which organisations received funding?Show/Hide Answer
What were the arrangements to transition services and clients to new providers?Show/Hide Answer
DSS worked closely with organisations to ensure a smooth transition to the new grant arrangements.
The priority was ensuring that access to critical services is was not interrupted while new services were established. As part of this, the Government provided bridging funding to some existing providers to ensure continuity of front line community services.
These existing providers were offered funding extensions while new services were properly established and clients could be appropriately referred, ensuring service continuity for vital services in local communities.
At the request of the Minister, the Department also undertook an analysis of any potential service gaps in areas of high need and vulnerability to ensure that critical frontline services remained available for people most in need. View the Minister’s announcement for more information.
DSS Grant programmes
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What are the DSS grant programmes?Show/Hide Answer
In 2014 the Department of Social Services implemented new grant arrangements to bring together 18 grants programmes from five former Departments into broadbanded programmes aligned to the priorities of Government.
The programmes have been combined and streamlined to capitalise on common client needs and service delivery outcomes. The current DSS programmes are:
These programmes aim to provide organisations with greater flexibility to address service needs of individuals, families and communities.
The simplified programme arrangements establish the framework for the Department to move towards a single grant agreement per provider, implement new and improved financial reporting systems, reduce reporting and regulation, consolidate funding rounds and support greater service delivery innovation to meet the needs of clients.
Where can I find information about DSS grant funding opportunities?Show/Hide Answer
Does everyone get a longer term agreement following a selection process?Show/Hide Answer
The length of an organisation’s grant agreement is included as part of their funding offer, and can be discussed with the Department during the negotiation process. The term offered will take into account risk ratings and the type of agreement.
What is the definition of a high risk grant?Show/Hide Answer
The DSS Risk Management Framework is based on the Australian / New Zealand International Standard on Risk Management (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009) and reflects better practices in risk management. The DSS risk matrix defines the departmental risk tolerance through the use of consequence and likelihood descriptors. The interaction of the likelihood and consequence descriptors is matched to the matrix to determine the assessed level of risk. Risk is determined as low, medium, high or extreme. For grant based programmes and service providers, risks are assessed across the following factors: governance; financial management; service delivery performance; issues management; and sustainability.
Who can I contact for more information about DSS grants?Show/Hide Answer
Questions about DSS grants should be directed to email@example.com. Alternatively, queries can be made to the DSS Grants Hotline on 1800 625 136 (TTY 1800 555 677).
Questions specific to existing grant agreements can either be directed to Grant Agreement Managers (if known) or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will the Volunteer Grants programme be continued this year?Show/Hide Answer
Since 1 July 2014, funding to provide support and recognition for volunteers is through the Families and Communities programme, Strengthening Communities Activity, Volunteering sub-activity. At this stage, a decision has not been made on when the next Volunteer Grants funding round is to be held. As all funding opportunities are advertised on the Funding Open for Application page, you are encouraged to check this site regularly, or subscribe to receive updates when information is updated.
Applications and Selections Processes
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How do I apply for a grant?Show/Hide Answer
For all funding rounds, online application forms and information to assist in completing these forms are accessible from each funding round page which can be accessed from the Funding Open for Application page.
When can I apply for funding?Show/Hide Answer
Refer to the Funding Open for Application page for information on open funding rounds.
Can the department advise if I am eligible to apply for any of the funding rounds currently open?
It is up to individual applicants to determine whether they meet the eligibility requirements of the funding rounds. Eligibility requirements are outlined in the Funding Round Summary documents for each funding round.
Can someone from the Department help me with my application?Show/Hide Answer
No. To maintain fairness and the integrity of the application process, the Department cannot provide applicants with individual assistance to develop their applications for funding.
Please refer to the support for developing and submitting an application page. for more information on applying for funding. There are also question and answer pages which form part of the application packs available via links from the Funding Open for Application page.
I have received an email from a business that has offered to assist in the development and submission of my grant application. Is this from the Department, or from an external firm associated with the Department?Show/Hide Answer
Due to probity requirements, the Department of Social Services is not in a position to provide individualised support for the development of applications, except in relation to technical issues in relation to submitting applications. Please refer to the support for developing and submitting an application page for resources and factsheets to guide the development of applications.
The Department has not solicited the services of any external firms to assist individuals with their applications. Applicants must be aware that if they pursue the services of external firms to develop their application, they do so at their own risk.
Please note that grant correspondence will only come from the Department of Social Services.
Why is the template for submitting applications limited to plain text formatting?Show/Hide Answer
Data provided to the department in applications will be captured in a database and used for assessments and reporting. Rich formatting such as stylised fonts, formatting etc is not able to be stored in the database.
To make the application process as easy as possible for applicants, the application forms have been designed for the preparation of applications. The forms enable online submission to avoid the added complexity, cost and time associated with a paper-based application process. The forms include guidance where particular formatting is possible or where content can be saved locally and shared across multiple users before being submitted to DSS. This functionality was included to assist organisations where they may need multiple people to contribute to a funding application submission.
How do I add attachments to my application?Show/Hide Answer
Any attachments to your application form which are not specifically requested in the Funding Round Application Pack will not be considered as part of the assessment process.
If attachments are requested in the Funding Round Application Pack they can be uploaded in the legal entity section of the Application Form.
If you answer ‘yes’ to Question 1 on the Application Form, you can attach the requested documents as part of Question 3 on providing proof of your legal entity status.
Click the Add button to browse and attach (Open) a document.
If you answer ‘no’ to Question 1 on the Application Form, you can attach the requested documents as part of Question 10 on providing proof of your legal entity status.
Click the Add button to browse and attach (Open) a document.
If you encounter difficulties with attaching documents to your Application Form, please call 1800 020 283 or TTY 1800 555 677.
What type of attachments can I add to my application?Show/Hide Answer
Acceptable formats are PDF and word documents. Individual application packs provide further advice on content requirements. Attachments cannot be used to expand the word limits in addressing selection criteria. Applicants must only attach documents which are specifically requested in the Funding Round Summary and the Application Form.
How many attachments am I allowed to add to my application?Show/Hide Answer
Applicants must only attach documents which are specifically requested in the Funding Round Summary and the Application Form.
Due to the size restriction on attachments, I’m having trouble attaching the documents I need to. Can you provide some tips on how I might reduce the size of my attachments?Show/Hide Answer
The current restrictions on attachments mean that there is a 2MB size limit for each file attached, a 20MB size limit for the submission and a maximum of 15 attachments per submission.
Some tips for reducing the size of your attachments are to:
After this, if you are still having trouble with the attachments please call 1800 020 283 or TTY 1800 555 677.
Who do I contact if I’m having trouble using or submitting the Application Form?Show/Hide Answer
If you require assistance or support in using and/or submitting the Application Form, please call 1800 020 283 or TTY 1800 555 677.
Who should I use as a reference?Show/Hide Answer
Any person who can support your claims made against the selection criteria as outlined in your application can be listed as a referee. Please do not use the applicant's Board members or the applicant's staff and please exclude employees of DSS as referees.
Why has the Department asked about the legal entity situations that may apply?Show/Hide Answer
The application form assists the Department in assessing the governance arrangements of applicant organisations.
Financial viability can be defined as a business’ ability to generate sufficient income or have sufficient financial resources in place to meet its financial obligations over a relevant period of time. In terms of an organisation applying for funding, financial viability evaluates the risk over the funding period that an organisation may not have the financial capacity to remain in operation and deliver on its funding objectives.
The nature of the requested information is aimed at allowing the Department to understand the historical, current, and likely future positions of each organisation.
Sound governance practices also support appropriate financial management over the life of a funding agreement. As a result, the Department has asked for an indication of whether common governance documentation is in place, such as duty statements, financial delegations, financial policies and procedures, business plan, etc. Copies of these documents may be requested by the Department, but are not required to be provided in the first instance.
What documentation do I need to provide with an application to support the legal entity type of my organisation?Show/Hide Answer
As part of entering into a grant agreement with the Commonwealth of Australia an organisation may be asked to verify their legal entity status in order to determine their legal capacity to enter into a legally binding agreement. This may involve a request for documentation, including proof of any name changes.
A fact sheet with information about the types of documentation the department may request is available on the website.
How should SACS supplementation be treated in the Application Form? Should it be included in the budget at all? Will the Department add SACS funding on top of the base activity funding in the offer of funding? Should it be calculated by the applicant and included as a separate line item? Should it be calculated by the applicant as part of labour costs and included as a labour cost line item?Show/Hide Answer
If the Application Form refers to a SACS component, applicants should include the costs of the SACS award increases in their labour costs. It is expected that organisations provide the accurate labour costs (which would include the annual SACS Equal Remuneration Order) of delivering the service when applying for funding.
Where do I find information on Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) and what they mean?Show/Hide Answer
Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) are defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. SLAs are roughly equivalent of a local government area. Due to the size of some areas, the ABS may allocate two SLAs (Part A and Part B). You can find more information on SLAs on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.
Are there geographical limits to applying for funding? For example, when an organisation applies for funding, do they have to deliver that service for a region, town or suburb?Show/Hide Answer
Where specific locations are a requirement of the activity this will be specified in the respective Application Pack for each funding round.
Can I apply for funding as a consortia or subcontractor?Show/Hide Answer
DSS will enter into grant arrangements with single organisations only. Where two or more organisations seek funding as a consortium, a member organisation must be appointed as the lead. The lead member must submit the application, and is the legal entity that, if successful, enters into the Grant Agreement with the Commonwealth, and which is authorised to negotiate and act on behalf of, and to bind each member of the consortium. Service delivery consortium or subcontracted members must be listed in Grant Agreement and be identified within the application documentation.
Can an organisation who operates under the auspices of another organisation apply for a grant under an open selection process?Show/Hide Answer
In order to apply you must be an eligible entity as set out in the Application Pack.
Where you have operated under the auspices of another organisation the auspicing organisation must apply for the grant and indicate a subcontracting arrangement with your organisation.
The organisation entering into an agreement is wholly responsible for ensuring that sub-contractors meet the requirements of the agreement.
How do service providers identify appropriate collaboration for competitive tendering? Will DSS help identify potential collaborators for service providers?Show/Hide Answer
The streamlined grant programmes provide greater freedom for service providers who will no longer be restricted by overly prescriptive programme Guidelines that can hinder solutions to community needs.
The new arrangements provide a greater opportunity for innovation and collaboration in the delivery of services. DSS is committed to supporting organisations and acknowledges that many have networks and collaboration processes in place to support a client centred service offer. As such the Department is not prescribing the requirements or parameters for collaboration. Service providers should determine the value of collaboration to themselves and their clients when identifying opportunities.
Will you be looking for evidence of collaboration in applications for funding rounds?Show/Hide Answer
The Department has always encouraged collaboration and partnerships as a key component of effective service delivery models. There is now strong support across Government that in delivering services, organisations must develop and maintain links with other relevant organisations to assist making appropriate referrals and coordinating services with a view to improving outcomes for individuals. The goal is to encourage organisations to develop a strong referral pathway across the suite of services and other programmes for the target group as appropriate. Collaboration and inter-agency networking is an integral part of delivering an integrated, consumer centred service offer and should be built into the service delivery model as part of an organisations day to day operations.
The Department accepts that most DSS funded organisations have these structures and processes in place and strongly recommends that partnerships, linkages and collaboration to support a consumer centred service offers are developed and/or maintained.
Does each member in a consortium need to meet the eligibility requirements or is it sufficient that the lead agency meets the eligibility requirements?Show/Hide Answer
As stated in the application form, an applicant may determine if service delivery is best achieved through the use of a consortium arrangement. Under this arrangement, the lead organisation would need to meet the stated eligibility criteria. If applicants decide to progress with this approach, they are required to provide details of each consortium member in the Application Form. If an application is successful the applicant will be offered a Grant Agreement with DSS as the lead agency and held liable for all obligations contained in the Grant Agreement's terms and conditions.
Can the Department clarify how it will ensure that all organisations are aware of all the updates to ensure a fair process is followed?Show/Hide Answer
The DSS website is the main source of information to assist organisations to understand DSS grants and apply for funding.
Information is updated on the website regularly. The email subscription service offers alerts when significant new information is published.
While DSS endeavours to provide information and assistance to organisations, it is the responsibility of organisations applying for DSS grant funding to keep informed of additional information released throughout the application period. All organisations are encouraged to check the website regularly.
When you are assessing the application for funding, if there is a refusal of the application, would you refuse the entire application or is there room for partial refusal and partial acceptance?Show/Hide Answer
Each application will be assessed on its merits against the relevant selection criteria to ensure organisations are capable of achieving all the objectives of a particular Activity, where relevant, this includes consideration of the needs of individual locations. It is possible that should the application be assessed as capable of achieving the Activity objectives, the funding amount, years funded and service locations would be negotiated with the successful applicant during the grant agreement negotiation process to ensure an overall value for money outcome.
Will you contact me if there are problems/questions about our application?Show/Hide Answer
To maintain fairness and the integrity of the application process, the Department cannot contact applicants to resolve issues with their application after the funding round has closed. However, if an applicant supplies documents which may be incomplete, the applicant may be contacted by the Department to address the situation. The Department will inform the applicant of what will be accepted in accordance with the Incomplete applications policy.
Can I make changes to or update my application?Show/Hide Answer
Once an application has been submitted it cannot be changed.
You can however, submit another application form during the application open period. Please note that in most cases, only one application per organisation/region will be assessed. If more than one application is submitted, only the latest application will be considered. If the funding round is project based, more than one application may be allowed. This will be specified in the funding round Application Pack.
Should you wish to update your organisation’s contact details, you should contact your Grant Agreement Manager if you are a current DSS grant recipient.
If you are not a current DSS grant recipient, an office holder of the organisation or a contact person listed in the original application can advise of updated contact details by emailing email@example.com. In the email please provide your application number and the name of the funding round for which you have applied.
Can I check the status of my application after it has been submitted?Show/Hide Answer
DSS is unable to provide information on the status of individual applications during the assessment process. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application in writing once the assessment process is complete.
Can I submit a late application?Show/Hide Answer
Any applications received after the closing date and time will be considered a late application.
The department will consider late applications in accordance with the Late Application Policy.
All requests for the lodgement of late applications must be made in writing to the department. Please see the Late Applications Policy for information on evidence that may be required and the timeframes that apply.
Can I withdraw my application?Show/Hide Answer
Yes. Your application can be withdrawn by sending an email requesting the withdrawal to firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email please provide your registration number and the name of the funding round you want to withdraw from.
Can I appeal the decision in relation to the outcome of a selection process?Show/Hide Answer
A decision made about funding in a DSS selection process is final.
Feedback summaries may be available for open funding rounds, and some may offer individual feedback. Advice on each particular funding round is available on the relevant funding round page from the Closed Funding Rounds table. The DSS Feedback Policy is also available on the website.
If you want to raise a concern about DSS, a DSS process, or a DSS funded service provider, please do this through the Departments Complaints Management Process.
I haven’t been invited to apply for funding under a direct or restricted selection process, can I apply?Show/Hide Answer
Direct and restricted selection processes are closed processes, where an approach is made directly to organisations.
A direct process is an approach to an existing provider to expand their current service delivery activities or deliver new services. It involves assessment of a provider’s capacity to deliver an expanded service, or capability to deliver a new service through use of selection criteria and/or an assessment of a provider’s current performance.
A restricted process is used where there are few providers available in the market, as a result of the highly specialised services or expertise required, geographical considerations, or time constraints. Potential grant recipients are invited to apply and will be assessed against selection criteria.
Only providers who have been approached by the department can apply for funding for direct or restricted selection processes.
When will new funding rounds be open in the future?Show/Hide Answer
The Funding Open for Application page lists grants which are currently open for application. Information on the services and initiatives funded by these grants is outlined in the respective Application Packs and on the Grant programmes page of the DSS website.
Future funding rounds will be advertised on the DSS website.
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What were the Financial Counselling, Capability and Resilience Hubs information sessions held in August 2015?Show/Hide Answer
To support the Financial Counselling, Capability and Resilience Hubs funding round, DSS conducted information sessions in selected locations in WA, QLD, NSW and Vic.
The presentation, a copy of the presenter script and questions and answers from each session are available for those who could not attend a session.
What was the purpose of the Information Sessions held in November 2014?Show/Hide Answer
DSS conducted information sessions in capital cities across Australia during November 2014.
The purpose of the information sessions was to support the sector in understanding how the ‘new way of working’ for grants is being introduced in new grant agreements.
The sessions focused on the changes that have been introduced as part of new grant agreements, including the new streamlined reporting requirements introduced as part of the DSS Data Exchange. The session content was designed to promote a practical understanding of the new content in grant agreements and assist organisations to prepare for grant agreement discussions.
Refer to the Presentation: Information Sessions on new grant agreements and DSS Data Exchange page for further information.
What were the Information Sessions held in May and June 2014?Show/Hide Answer
To help organisations understand changes to DSS programmes and prepare for the 2014 application processes, DSS held information sessions between 26 May and 6 June 2014 across Australia about the new grant arrangements.
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What is the Data Exchange?Show/Hide Answer
The Department has implemented improved programme performance reporting processes in new grant agreements. The Data Exchange applies to most client-based programmes in DSS, and will progressively introduce standardised, prioritised, and collaborative reporting processes.
Under the Data Exchange, data requirements are divided into two parts: a small set of mandatory priority requirements that all funded services must report, and a voluntary extended data set that providers can choose to share with the Department in return for relevant and meaningful reports, known as the partnership approach. Participation in the partnership approach is entirely voluntary and there will be no negative consequences if a provider chooses not to provide the extended data set.
In relation to programme reporting, who is the ‘client’? For example, my organisation receives funding, but we use this to then fund state and territory associations to support local community groups to delivery support to the target group.Show/Hide Answer
In most instances, the ‘client’ is the target group, or recipient of the support. A basic client record will be required for each client receiving support within the reporting period. The state/territory association or local community group delivering the support would not be considered clients. There is more information about ‘client’ and other data definitions in the Data Exchange Protocols document which is available on the Data Exchange website.
The ‘Using SCORE to report outcomes’ Fact Sheet is referred to several times within ‘the Partnership Approach’ documentation section of the website. Where is this Fact Sheet located?Show/Hide Answer
As part of the new way of working, the Australian Government is implementing improved programme performance reporting processes in grant agreements. The Fact Sheet on ‘Using SCORE to report outcomes' is available on the Data Exchange website.
In regards to the mandatory data items needed, what level of information will be required for CALD status and Disability status? Will it be a yes or no/basic level or a more specific level?Show/Hide Answer
Disability Status will include the following categories that are ‘ticked’ if applicable (noting more than one can be chosen):
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse status (CALD) will be determined through two questions:
More detailed information is available in the Data Exchange Protocols document located on the Data Exchange website. The Data Exchange Protocols provides users with detailed operational guidance across the full range of in-scope programme activities.