Strong and Resilient Communities
The Strong and Resilient Communities (SARC) Activity aims to support vulnerable and disadvantaged people to participate socially and economically through local community-driven solutions that build self-reliance and empowerment.
The SARC Activity replaced the previous Strengthening Communities activity. The then Minister for Social Services, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, announced the first round of successful recipients of SARC grants on 13 March 2018.
The SARC Activity provides grants funding to build strong and resilient communities by supporting local community organisations in their efforts to overcome disadvantage and solve complex social problems. Projects funded under the Strong and Resilient Activity have a focus on strengthening the capacity of communities experiencing disadvantage to become more resilient and inclusive through greater community engagement, participation and belonging in the local community.
This funding helps to foster community cohesion by increasing people’s sense of belonging and engagement. Grants help to strengthen the capacity of communities to become more self-reliant and empowered to address local issues.
The grants place an emphasis on collaboration amongst organisations to develop whole-of-community approaches to emerging community challenges. They enable community organisations to innovate service delivery and work together to better respond to changing community need.
In January 2020, the department contracted the Social Research Centre to undertake an evaluation of the SARC grant activity. The evaluation sought to assess the effectiveness, appropriateness and performance of the SARC activity.
The evaluation found that SARC has positively contributed to whole of community and early intervention responses to address cohesion, improvements in economic participation, engagement with services and positive attitudes towards the community. SARC was effectively promoted to the community sector and funded projects that targeted a diverse range of groups. Findings from the evaluation have been used to improve the design and focus of the SARC Activity.
The current SARC Activity – Inclusive Communities Grants will run over 5 years from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2027. To ensure that the funding available is well targeted, maximises impact and can respond to emerging need the department will run an annual submission period, with grant applications being considered for 2 years of funding to deliver one-off, time limited projects.
To better address emerging community needs and to strengthen alignment with current government policies the focus of the SARC Activity is towards services that support vulnerable and disadvantaged people, to more equitably participate socially and economically in society. The re-designed program also establishes a new set of four priority cohorts:
- Young people aged 12 to 18 years who are, or are at risk of being, disengaged, marginalised and having limited engagement with education/training
- People with disabilities and/or mental health issues requiring support to participate in their community, and work towards becoming and/or remaining independent and engaged
- Vulnerable women who are, or are at risk of, social isolation and exclusion requiring support to participate in their community and increase their sense of self agency and empowerment
- Unemployed people who face individual barriers to employment to support their increased capacity to engage with existing employment/training services and/or work towards gaining employment.
Publication of forecast and current Australian Government grant opportunities and grants awarded can be found at www.grants.gov.au.