Frequently Asked Questions
DSS grant programs
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What are the Department of Social Services (DSS) grant programs?Show/Hide Answer
The DSS grant arrangements include three streamlined programs based on common social policy functions.The three current DSS programmes are:
For more information, refer to Grants programs
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 DSS 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, queries can be made to the Community Grants Hub on 1800 080 283 (Option 1) (TTY 1800 555 677).
Questions specific to existing grant agreements can either be directed to Funding Arrangement Managers (if known) or emailed to email@example.com.
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 is accessible from the Grants page of the Community Grants Hub website.
When can I apply for funding?Show/Hide Answer
Refer to the Grants page for information on open funding rounds.
Can DSS 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 Grant Opportunity Guidelines for each funding round.
Can someone from DSS help me with my application?Show/Hide Answer
No. To maintain fairness and the integrity of the application process, DSS 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 Grants page of the Community grants Hub website.
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 DSS, or from an external firm associated with DSS?Show/Hide Answer
Due to probity requirements, DSS 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. Refer to the support for developing and submitting an application page for resources and factsheets to guide the development of applications.
DSS 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 DSS.
Why is the template for submitting applications limited to plain text formatting?Show/Hide Answer
Data provided in applications will be captured in a database and used for assessments and reporting. Rich text formatting, such as stylised fonts, 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 not specifically requested in the Grant Opportunity Guidelines will not be considered as part of the assessment process.
The application form will allow you to add attachments at the point in time you are responding to the question in the application.
What type of attachments can I add to my application?Show/Hide Answer
Applicants must provide attachments specifically requested in the Grant Opportunity Guidelines and the Application form. Documents should be attached to an application in the same format as those provided with the Grant Opportunity documents on the Community Grants Hub website for the specific Grant Opportunity. The Guidelines may provide further advice on content requirements. Attachments cannot be used to expand the word limits in addressing selection criteria.
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 Grant Opportunity Guidelines and the Application Form.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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 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 program 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.