The Regional and Specialist Training Fund (RSTF) is a targeted funding stream that supports training for specific skills in regional areas of Victoria and specialist areas of industry need, as well as for priority cohorts whose needs are not being met by the current training market.
The objectives of RSTF are to support the Victorian Government’s economic priorities, through focused supports that:
- assist identified rural and regional communities to provide training that meets their local industry and Victorian Government economic needs
- address place-based and occupation-specific barriers to training that are significant to identified localities or industries/occupations that are needed to deliver Victorian Government economic priorities
- support improved training outcomes for regional and metropolitan Victoria, for key priority cohorts identified by the Victorian Government
- build greater alignment between workforce requirements and training needs identified in the Victorian Skills Plan.
The fund meets the needs of:
- local employers in regional Victoria (regional)
- specialised occupations of economic significance to Victoria, aligned to the Victorian Skills Plan (specialist)
- specialist workforce priorities for Victoria (specialist)
- priority cohorts experiencing barriers to accessing training (priority cohorts).
The fund is intended to provide industry with increased confidence in the training and TAFE system to respond to the needs of regional industries and confidence that specialised industries of economic significance to Victoria can be supported to grow through access to a skilled workforce.
The government recognises that there are courses for specialised occupations of economic importance to Victoria, that currently are not delivered at the levels demanded by industry. RSTF enables training for specialist occupations where training activity demanded by industry is small (but of high economic value) and the cost of delivering high-quality training is not viable at the mainstream subsidised rate.
All Victorian training providers that hold a current Skills First VET Funding Contract are eligible to apply. This includes Victorian TAFEs (including dual-sector universities), learn locals and private registered training providers (RTOs).
RSTF focuses on 3 priority areas.
Priority area 1: Localised employer need in regional Victoria (Regional)
All regional areas of Victoria are eligible for RSTF funding through this stream. Regional grants address local skill needs across regional areas of Victoria, in the locations where employer and students reside. This includes training that is critical for Victoria’s regional economies to equip students with the training needed to support the local workforce skills required.
Priority area 2: Specialised occupations of economic significance to Victoria (Specialist)
Supporting specialist occupations is critical to facilitating the government’s response to structural change occurring in the economy. Training in Victoria needs to be efficient, flexible and responsive to new and emerging industry specialisations.
The government recognises that there are courses for specialised occupations of economic importance to Victoria, which are not currently delivered to levels demanded by industry. RSTF enables training for specialist occupations where training activity demanded by industry is small (but of high economic value) and the cost of delivering high-quality training is not viable at the mainstream subsidised rate.
Applicants are advised to refer to the for guidance on the specialised occupations of economic importance to Victoria. Applications that address the identified occupations will be prioritised for funding.
Priority area 3: Supports diverse cohorts to participate in training (Priority cohorts)
The Victorian Government is committed to supporting priority cohorts to engage in education and training. RSTF supports training for priority cohorts to access courses, where there is an identified cost barrier to delivering training that meets the needs of the cohort. Current priority:
- students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- students experiencing barriers to employment (e.g. long-term unemployed)
- students from culturally and linguistically diverse groups
- students with disabilities
- women seeking to participate in training in male-dominated industries.
- students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds
Applicants are advised to refer to the for guidance on the Victorian Government’s current target priority cohorts for funding through RSTF. Applications that address the target cohorts will be prioritised for funding.
Download the current list of Victorian Government priorities.
The second round of RSTF is now open.
A recorded information session about RSTF and current Victorian Government economic priorities is available above.
Different funding streams are available to TAFE and non-TAFE applicants. All applicants will have access to guidance and resources to develop applications in line with government priorities.
There are two components to the application process: the preliminary application and the application.
Once you have received your user identification and password you will be able to submit a ‘preliminary application’ which can be accessed from 1 March 2023. If you do not receive your user identification and password, then go to the Open Forms site and request to set up. You will be contacted within 5 business days with your login details.
The preliminary application is open for 2 weeks from 1 March to 15 March. Once the preliminary application is lodged, you will be contacted by a representative from the Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery (if you are a TAFE) or the Victorian Skills Authority (if you are a private registered training organisation with a Skills First contract or industry). They will discuss the proposed project and provide guidance on next steps.
You will be notified by phone or email if the preliminary application is progressed to the next stage. You will have until 21 April to submit your application.
RSTF is available to meet Victorian Government, industry and community demand for training that is too costly to deliver through the Skills First program. Each application will need to address at least one of the three identified priority areas:
- Localised employer need in regional Victoria (Regional)
- Specialised occupations of economic significance to Victoria (Specialist)
- Supports diverse cohorts to participate in training (Priority cohorts)
What will be funded:
- training delivery costs
- development of training and assessment resources
- purchase of equipment to support delivery of training.
What will not be funded:
- major capital works (for example new builds)
- purchase of land
- maintenance works
- equipment and facilities primarily used by students not undertaking the proposed training
- equipment or minor capital works already funded through other government programs
- equipment purchases and minor capital works that have been completed.
The timeline for Round 2 is:
RSTF Round RSTF applications open RSTF applications close Round 2 1 March 2023 21 April 2023
Applications can be lodged outside of these rounds where a time-sensitive opportunity has been identified. Please contact to confirm when an out-of-session application will be assessed. Applicants will need to provide their rationale for the urgency of the issue being addressed.
Opportunities in between rounds may arise at times to meet workforce needs or priorities. You should work with the department in the first instance to discuss your proposal and the appropriate process for progressing your application.
Applications will be assessed against the eligibility and assessment criteria. Applications that address the priorities identified by the Victorian Government will be prioritised for funding. The key assessment criteria are:
- alignment to at least one of the Victorian Government identified priority areas: regional/specialist/priority cohorts (60%)
- initiatives that maximise attraction and retention of priority cohorts (20%)
- capability, capacity and approach to training delivery (20%).
All applications will also be required to provide:
- a budget that clearly outlines and provides justification of proposed expenditure.
- details on how the proposal will be sustained post-funding
- a plan outlining how best practice and learnings will be shared across the training sector. Please refer to the for more information.
If an application is non-compliant with the requirements, the applicant will be notified and provided an opportunity to reapply in the following round. Typically you will be advised within 12 weeks on the outcome of your application.
Funded projects are expected to be completed within 24 months of a grant being awarded.
Reviewed 24 August 2023