Objective To determine whether investment in regional Victoria, administered by Regional Development Victoria (RDV), has improved outcomes for regional economic development.
Issues RDV is the Victorian Government's lead agency in developing rural and regional Victoria. Over the past decade, RDV has administered more than $1 billion of funding through various funding programs including the Provincial Victoria Growth Fund (PVGF), Regional Growth Fund (RGF) and the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF).
Initiated in 2015, RJIF is the Victorian Government's most recent overarching regional development package. The fund aims to create jobs, improve productivity and attract more people and businesses to regional areas. RDV—a statutory agency within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)—administers the $500 million fund and distributes grants to regional and rural local councils, government agencies, not‑for-profits, community groups and businesses.
Prior to RJIF, the Victorian Government implemented other investment funds. Our 2015 audit report Regional Growth Fund: Outcomes and Learnings found that the government could not demonstrate that its previous regional development fund was achieving its objectives or value for money. We made recommendations about evaluation, application processes and governance to help guide the implementation of RJIF. We made similar recommendations in our 2012 audit report Management of the Provincial Victoria Growth Fund.
This audit will examine whether RDV has acted on these recommendations and whether there are adequate governance and accountability mechanisms in place to ensure appropriate use of RJIF. The audit will also assess the regional outcomes achieved by the three different funds over the last 10 years.
Proposed agencies City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire, Warrnambool City Council, Latrobe City Council, Loddon Shire Council and RDV within DEDJTR.