2022-23 Application Support Guidelines

1. Application support overview

The Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program aims to increase the number of preschool places in areas of need and demand across the state. The Start Strong Capital Works Grant Program is one of many funded initiatives that the department is implementing to ensure that all children in NSW can participate in quality preschool education in the year before school, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are.

The department has listened to feedback from community preschool providers requesting greater support to scope and deliver capital works projects.

A range of supports are available to assist eligible organisations to prepare a grant application depending on their circumstances. A number of webinars will be provided on the website, with the first of these scheduled for 13 October. Registrations will soon be open for this webinar.

Eligible applicants from targeted groups will be able to access additional forms of application support to scope projects and prepare an application to the Major Capital Fund or Crisis Fund of the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program.

Expressions of Interest for this support are received and assessed all year round or until funds are exhausted and are considered within budget availability.

2. Support for targeted groups

Targeted groups have been selected based on their alignment to the Program’s objectives of increasing preschool places in areas of need and demand, improving universal access to Early Childhood Education and ensuring the provision of culturally sensitive learning environments.

2.1 Targeted groups

An applicant is considered to be within the targeted groups if they belong to any of the following categories:

  • applicants in crisis circumstances as outlined in the Crisis Fund Guidelines; OR

  • applicants intending to undertake capital works to extend, renovate or build a community preschool in an area with a shortfall of community preschool places as outlined in section 2.1.1. This includes existing community preschools in shortfall areas interested in undertaking capital works on their current site, community preschools relocating their service to a site in a shortfall area that requires capital works, or eligible organisations intending to build a new community preschool in a shortfall area; OR

  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation intending to apply to the Major Capital Fund or Crisis Fund to undertake a capital works project aligned with the objectives of their Fund of choice.

The department has conducted research on the need and demand of community preschool places across NSW, considering current availability, demographic projections and utilisation rates, among other variables.

Areas with a shortfall in community preschool places are identified in the table below:

SA3 code SA3 name
12701 Bringelly - Green Valley
11401 Shoalhaven
10106 Young - Yass
11602 Blacktown - North
10801 Great Lakes
10302 Lachlan Valley
12303 Wollondilly
11503 Hawkesbury
12703 Liverpool
10702 Illawarra Catchment Reserve
11504 Rouse Hill - McGraths Hill
12402 Blue Mountains - South
10602 Maitland
10304 Orange
10804 Port Macquarie
11301 Griffith - Murrumbidgee (West)
10105 Goulburn - Mulwaree
10701 Dapto - Port Kembla
12501 Auburn
10301 Bathurst
11102 Lake Macquarie - West
12301 Camden
12702 Fairfield
10104 South Coast

An SA3 is a Statistical Area determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

To check if your site address falls within an identified SA3 you can refer to the snapshot of shortfall areas on the map below.

You can determine the specific SA3 for your site address by following these instructions:

  • Navigate to https://maps.abs.gov.au/index.html.

  • Click on Choose a boundary type.

  • In the drop-down options, scroll down and find the section called ASGS 2016 ABS Structures, then select 2016 Statistical Area Level 3 (SA3)*. Your screen should look like this:
Image: Example of ABS Map of Australia 2016 Statistical Area Level 3
  • Type your exact site address into the Find address or place search bar and select your address.
  • Once the map has navigated to your site address, click the space on the map next to the black dot on your site address, and a blue dot will appear on the map.

  • Click on the blue dot and a box will appear with the Name and Code of the Statistical Area Level 3 (SA3) for this site address. See screenshot below.

*Please note: the 2016 Census data is still in use as the SEIFA data from the 2021 Census is not yet available.

Image: Example of ABS Map of an Identified Region

Please note this analysis excludes places related to preschool programs offered within a Long Day Care setting.

Image: Map of Supply vs Demand snapshot by Statistical Area 3 in NSW by 2027

Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) applying to the Major Capital Fund and Crisis Fund will be able to access tailored support that acknowledges the specific challenges experienced by these organisations.

An ACCO is an incorporated organisation initiated by the Aboriginal Community, governed by an Aboriginal Body and elected by the Aboriginal Community. An ACCO must be:

  • an independent, not for profit incorporated organisation and/or registered as a community service; and

  • accountable to, and consult with, the local community to allow for input on the design, delivery and performance of the organisation; and

  • endorsed by the local community to ensure holistic and culturally appropriate services that benefit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

These criteria are based on Clause 44 of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The National Agreement was endorsed by state and territory jurisdictions and the National Voice for our Children (SNIACC).

The verification and evidence required to establish that you are an independent, not-for-profit organisation, that’s incorporated as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisation and/or is a registered community service includes:

  • evidence of the organisation’s constitution that confirms not-for-profit status and majority Aboriginal membership and/or Aboriginal board of governance.

2.2 One-one-one application support for targeted groups

The department has engaged Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA) to provide a capped number of hours of one-on-one application support for eligible applicants within the targeted groups that intend to apply to the Major Capital Fund or Crisis Fund of the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program.

Under the one-on-one support, CCSA will provide hands-on support to applicants to scope and plan capital works projects with reasonable project estimates and broker the necessary documentation to put forward a strong submission that is aligned to the Fund Guidelines of the relevant fund.

In order to access the one-on-one support, applicants must:

  • meet all the eligibility requirements and fund objectives for the Major Capital Fund or Crisis Fund as per the Fund Guidelines; and

  • be in one or more of the targeted groups as outlined in section 2.1.

By submitting an expression of interest for one-on-one application support, applicants agree to the Terms of Use to access the one-on-one support service.

Applicants that do not meet the criteria outlined in section 2.2.1 will not be able to access the one-on-one application support, including:

  • all applicants to the Mobile Fund intending to purchase a vehicle for their mobile service

  • all applicants to the Minor Capital Fund

  • long day care providers applying for the Major Capital Fund, unless they are an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation

  • organisations intending to apply to the Major Capital Fund to build, extend or renovate a community preschool in an area without a shortfall of community preschool places as outlined in section 2.1.1, or intending to relocate a community preschool to an area without a shortfall, unless they are an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation

  • organisations not eligible for the Major Capital Fund or Crisis Fund as per each Fund’s Guidelines, or whose projects are not aligned with the objectives of these Funds, regardless of whether they are within the targeted groups (for example: for-profit providers)

  • organisations that do not accept and agree to the Terms of Use.

Applicants will be able to access a capped number of hours of support to work on any of the below key elements of the application process:

  • scope and plan a capital works project that achieves the objectives of their target fund of the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program;

  • obtain quotes and prepare a reasonable and comprehensive budget that considers all expenses, escalations and contingency;

  • identify a building design that is compliant with all relevant regulations that apply to Early Childhood Centres and has the required indoor and outdoor unencumbered space for the target number of preschool places per day to be delivered;

  • obtain reliable professional plans and calculations prepared by a licensed building practitioner that reflect the above design and clearly detail the unencumbered space;

  • determine realistic project timeframes and prepare a project plan;

  • identify project risks and mitigation strategies;

  • resolve any outstanding matters that may be related to the application or arising from the challenges experienced by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations or applicants in crisis situations.

Support will be tailored to each applicant’s needs and circumstances. Any elements from the above list that are relevant to the applicant’s circumstances may be addressed within the capped hours of support offered by the department. Providers will also be able to extend the engagement beyond the capped hours or to discuss matters beyond the scope of this engagement, at their own cost.

The offer of one-on-one application support is optional for eligible services within the targeted groups identified in section 2.1. Interested services are invited to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) on SmartyGrants for the department to consider their eligibility to access the service.

Applicants interested in accessing the one-on-one application support should follow these simple steps:

  1. Review the Terms of Use
    Applicants should read the Terms of Use in order to submit an Expression of Interest to access the one-on-one application support. By submitting an Expression of Interest, applicants agree to the Terms of Use.

  2. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the one-on-one support
    The EOI will be submitted via SmartyGrants and can be accessed here. EOIs will be received and assessed until the closing date of the Fund’s final round, or until funds allocated to application support are exhausted. Please note that to reap the benefits of the one-on-one support, you are encouraged to submit your EOI as soon as possible to allow for sufficient time to work with the supplier before your Fund’s closing date. Late applications to the Funds will not be accepted.

    Applicants must register to use the SmartyGrants application system. Registration is a free and straightforward process. For assistance with the online application system, please contact the SmartyGrants Support Desk by phone on (03) 9320 6888 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

    In the EOI, applicants must demonstrate their eligibility for the Major Capital Fund or Crisis Fund as per each Fund Guidelines, that they are within the targeted groups that can access this support (see section 2.1), and that their project is aligned with the objectives of their Fund of choice.

  3. Receive a notification on the outcome of your EOI
    The department will consider your eligibility for your fund of choice, whether you are within the targeted groups, and the availability of funds to determine the outcome of your EOI. All eligible applicants that meet the requirements to access the support will be offered the service within budget availability.

    We will notify you of the outcome of your Expression of Interest within 10 business days.

  4. If your EOI is successful, CCSA will contact you to access the service
    If your Expression of Interest is successful, you will be put in contact with CCSA to access the one-on-one application support. Any work undertaken with CCSA prior to notification of the EOI outcome, outside the capped hours of support offered by the department or outside the scope of the support outlined, will be at your own expense.

    Once the provision of services within the capped hours funded by the department has elapsed, CCSA will provide the applicant with a report outlining the work undertaken and copies of all the documents produced under the engagement. A copy of the report and supporting documentation must be attached to the formal application to the applicant’s Fund of choice.

In addition to the support described in 2.2.3, eligible applicants for the one-on-one application support may be able to access funding capped at the department’s discretion to assist with some of the costs incurred in the preparation of the application and as part of the one-on-one support process.

Eligible expenses will be related to components that are instrumental for the purposes of preparing a capital works application and will be tailored to each applicant’s needs.

Eligible costs can include:

  • Funding for professional plans and unencumbered space calculations prepared by a licensed building practitioner

  • Legal advice in so far as it is required or relevant for the purposes of the capital works application

  • Other relevant expenses required to prepare a comprehensive capital works application as determined by the supplier and the applicant.

CCSA will engage the professionals or services related to these expenses, ensuring they hold adequate accreditation or registration where relevant, and manage the acquittal with the department on behalf of the applicant. Invoices and receipts for these expenses will be presented to the department by CCSA as part of the acquittal process.

2.3 Acknowledgment

Applicants acknowledge that all applications for grants under the 2022-23 Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program will be assessed on their merits including applications by applicants who receive one-on-one support in preparing their applications.

Receiving one-on-one support in preparing your application does not mean that your application will be successful.

3. Contact details

For more information about Application Support or the Start Strong Capital Works Grants please contact the Capital Works team at:

Email capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au

Phone 1800 619 113

Please note the phone number above is the Early Childhood Information and Enquiries phone number, you should ask to speak to a member of the Capital Programs team.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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