Communities and Justice

NSW Social Cohesion Grants for Local Government

The NSW Social Cohesion Grants for Local Government seeks to identify social cohesion opportunities and challenges in local communities and support local councils and their community partners to deliver innovative solutions. 

Local councils are well placed to design and implement initiatives that build stronger, more resilient, and cohesive communities. Councils can embed principles of social cohesion across various areas – from strategy and planning to civic engagement, tracking and monitoring.

The NSW COVID-19 pandemic has added to factors affecting social cohesion at the local level, highlighting the importance of locally led responses to disruptions caused by the pandemic. For this reason, the NSW Government is administering a local government social cohesion grants program and is encouraging applications from all local councils across NSW.

About the program

We are looking to understand what social cohesion opportunities and challenges exist in your communities and are inviting you to propose initiatives that respond to these problems. 

The NSW Social Cohesion Grants for Local Government program aims to:

  • Build resilience of local community leaders and groups
  • Track and measure social cohesion within the local area
  • Encourage civic engagement and participation
  • Enhance community cohesion and cultural inclusion
  • Enhance places and spaces that reflect diverse local character, stories and needs
  • Build partnerships and networks to strengthen social cohesion within the community  

Successful submissions will:

  • be local government led, in partnership with one or more community organisations or local councils and
  • provide innovative solutions to social cohesion opportunities and challenges.

For more detailed information please see the section Criteria – what we are looking for.  

Grant amounts

Councils are invited to apply for funds between $50,000 and $100,000 (excl. GST) each.

The available funding will be awarded to successful applicants through a competitive assessment process where applications for funding will be assessed against a set of criteria. 

Release of funds

Grant funds will be released after the establishment of a funding agreement with successful applicants in 2022. Successful applications may receive part or the entire amount of the funding requested.

Funds will be released via a one-off payment via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) at the beginning of the contract, and all funds must be expended on or before 31 December 2022, unless otherwise agreed to by DCJ.  

Use of funds

Staffing Costs

Applicants can allocate funds requested for staff related costs. These costs must be directly related to the proposed project.

Project Activities

All funded activities must contribute to the achievement of the program’s aims. 

What will not be funded

Applications seeking ongoing or recurrent funding for programs will not be supported.

Applications directly from individuals seeking individual personal payments will not be supported.

NSW Department of Communities and Justice may seek confirmation or clarification regarding a project’s activities and funds sought as part of this program before funds are released.

Funding is not available for:

  • supplementing, increasing, or continuing ongoing service delivery that is the core business of the organisation unless it is directly related to enhancing capacity to support localised social cohesion initiatives
  • projects and/or activities that are not related to social cohesion
  • reimbursement of expenses already incurred
  • covering existing debts or budget deficits of the organisation
  • party political activities
  • purchase of alcohol, tobacco products, gaming services, entertainment streaming
  • commercial or fundraising activities
  • cash prizes or gifts.

For more detailed information about the program please download a copy of the NSW Social Cohesion Grants for Local Government Guidelines.  (PDF , 515.0 KB)

How to apply

Please note: Applications are now closed. The successful recipients of the NSW Social Cohesion Grants for Local Government are listed above. 

Only one application per local NSW council can be submitted for consideration. 

Step 1 - Submit an Expression of Interest

Submissions to the Expression of Interest open at 9am (AEST) on 9 February 2022 and close at 5pm (AEST) on 18 March 2022.

These submissions will be shortlisted, and successful candidates will be invited to participate in the grants process by lodging their detailed application by 2 May 2022.

Step 2 - Submit a Grant Application

Short listed candidates will be invited to submit a grant application with their detailed application. Grant applications open at 9am (AEST) on 28 March. Applications will close at 5pm (AEST) on 2 May 2022.

The closing date and time is a strict deadline. No extensions to the deadline will be permitted. 

Successful grant recipients will be notified by 13 May 2022.  

Successful recipients must agree to attend a series of four separate capability building webinars. All successful applicants will enter into funding agreements which include a ‘grant deliverables’ reporting component and acquittal requirements.  

Smarty Grants online application form

Submit your grant submissions using the online Smarty Grants portal. 

The online application form includes an application checklist to help ensure all the required information is provided. All required fields marked with an * must be completed.

Through the portal, applicants are required to log in via Smarty Grants to access the online application form. If the applicant organisation has previously used Smarty Grants to apply for a grant, then they will already be registered and can use existing usernames and log in details, and do not need to set up a new registration/account.

All required attachments will be uploaded through the online application form in Smarty Grants. Please do not upload documents that have not been requested. Letters of support are NOT required.

Applications will not be accepted unless they are submitted online through the Smarty Grants portal. Incomplete and/or non-compliant applications will not be progressed for assessment.

All grant queries must be submitted in writing, via email to

Criteria - what are we looking for? 

Eligibity criteria

Local councils are eligible to apply for this grant program. Applications from ineligible organisations will not be considered.

Community organisations can be a project partner as part of the application. However, the application must be submitted by a NSW Local Council that will auspice the project, be responsible for the project, have an active role in the implementation of the project and enter into the funding agreement if successful.

The auspicing council will be responsible for:

  • submitting the application
  • if successful, signing the funding agreement
  • if successful, all legal and financial responsibilities on the patner organisation’s behalf
  • if successful, ensuring all project activities are completed
  • if successful, submitting progress and completion reports as well as all financial statements.

The assessment process is competitive. All eligible applications will be assessed based against assessment criteria as part of the competitive assessment process.

Submissions must meet the following criteria.

  1. Application form is complete and submitted on time through Smarty Grants portal.
  2. Application demonstrates how it will meet the following:

Expression of Interest

  • Applicant can demonstrate eligibility to participate in grant program.
  • Expression of interest demonstrates how the proposed project will address at least one of the program objectives.
  • Expression of interest outlines the social cohesion opportunity or challenge within their local area.
  • Expression of interest outlines proposed solution or initiative that will address this challenge, including:
  • An outline of the project approach and estimated resources to deliver this innovation. A detailed budget is not required at this stage. 
  • An outline of a proposed partnership with a community organisation or another NSW local council to increase connectedness across the community.

Shortlisted candidates – detailed grant application

  • Proposed project addresses one of more of the program objectives.
  • Application clearly describes the social cohesion problem in the community.
  • Application provides a project plan that outlines activities and tasks, milestones and associated risks with implementing the proposed initiative.
  • Application demonstrates value for money and provides detailed project budget.
  • Application demonstrates benefits to the community and how the project will achieve program objectives.
  • Application outlines proposed partnership arrangement and demonstrates how it will build connectedness and strengthen social cohesion.
  • Application demonstrates willingness to participate in an evaluation of the initiative.
  • Application demonstrates that the organisation has the appropriate skills and expertise to deliver the project, including prior experience delivering similar project activities and outcomes.

Please note: Our Department always receives more funding applications than the available amount of funding for our Grant Programs. The limited funding available and the competitive assessment process means that sometimes, even strong applications will be unsuccessful.

Assessment process

Grants are awarded on merit following a competitive assessment process.

All applications for grants are initially reviewed to ensure mandatory compliance with eligibility criteria and required documentation. Compliant applications are then assessed by an assessment panel convened by DCJ. Shortlisted applications are invited to submit a detailed application for consideration by the grant assessment panel.

Project Budget

Your proposed project budget will be assessed. All applications must submit a clear and complete project budget outlining project expenditure.

The final approved budget will be in line with eligible expenditure and subject to funding availability. In some cases, partial funding may be awarded or not all expenditure items supported for funding.

The project budget will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Reasonability and accuracy of the proposed cost.
  • Amount and proportion of expenditure going towards staff related costs (noting that ongoing or recurrent operational and/or administration costs will not be funded).
  • Scope and reach of activities proposed.
  • Capacity of organisation to acquit the funds.

The Assessment Panel will make recommendations for grant funding to the Delegated Approver who will approve successful applications.

Both successful and unsuccessful grant applications will be notified in writing.

Please note: we do not provide feedback regarding unsuccessful/successful applications.

Funding Agreements

Representatives from each grant partnership will be required to:

  • attend four short social cohesion capability building webinars in June 2022
  • contribute to program evaluation
  • deliver their designed project by 31 December 2022 or a date by agreement with DCJ
  • acquit funds by 31 December 2022 or a date by agreement with DCJ
  • participate in forums and materials DCJ may produce to share social cohesion updates, insights, and learnings.

If funding is awarded, the DCJ Program Terms and Conditions will apply to the grant funding agreement.

Applicants will be required to:

  • review the Terms and Conditions and declare in their application that they have read and understood them
  • acknowledge that an agreement based on the Terms and Conditions will apply to the grant
  • if awarded a grant, agree to comply with the Terms and Conditions in acquitting the grant.

Successful applications for funding must be delivered on time and on budget. No extensions to the completion deadline will be provided.

Reporting expectations

The NSW Government requires consistent and accurate reporting of funding expenditure to ensure accountability. The provision of progress and completion reports are a condition of funding.

Throughout the process and at completion, grant recipients will be required to provide:

  • regular progress reports
  • data against a range of program measures
  • acquittal letter, signed by the CEO and Chair (or equivalent suitable position holders), detailing expenditure
  • a completion report providing data against a range of program measures. 

Terms and Conditions


Submission of an application does not guarantee funding.

Department of Communities and Justice accepts no responsibility for your project, irrespective of the funding provided by the agency to support the project, and irrespective of its listing on the DCJ website or other NSW Government Department of Communities and Justice publications.

Organisations are responsible for meeting their duty of care and all other obligations to project participants and other stakeholders.

Public Liability Insurance

All grant-funded events and activities must be covered by Insurance.

Your organisation is required to provide a valid Certificate of Currency for Public Liability Insurance with a minimum cover of $5 million in the name of the applicant before funding can be released.

Your organisation is responsible for ensuring that it has appropriate insurance coverage in place for the project, equipment or activities, and its day-to-day operations. Organisations that employ staff must comply with relevant industrial relations, and workplace health and safety requirements.

Last updated:

18 Dec 2023