What is the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program?

The Study Melbourne Inclusion Program forms part of Victoria's International Education Recovery Plan 2025 and supports international students in Victoria. The program provides funding for activities and partnerships that promote the wellbeing of international students and enhance their experience of living in this state.

Who does the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program support?

The Study Melbourne Inclusion Program supports post-secondary international students studying at Victorian based universities, TAFEs, private higher education and vocational colleges, English language colleges and other registered training organisations.

It does not fund activities that target students studying at higher learning institutions outside of Victoria.

Activities which support greater inclusion of women, LGBTQIA+ communities, people of colour and all faiths, people with disability and those from a broad spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds are also encouraged.

What level of funding is available?

The Study Melbourne Inclusion Program provides funding of up to $75,000 for organisations working in partnership to deliver activities that support the wellbeing of international students living in Victoria. You can read the funding guidelines here

When can we apply for funding?

There is one round of funding each calendar year.

Up-to-date information about the timing of funding rounds, including opening and closing dates will be promoted ahead of each funding round and listed on the program page.

Can we submit an application after the closing date?

No. Late applications will not be accepted once each funding round has closed.If you missed the closing date, you may wish to contact the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program team to discuss the timing of future funding rounds or other funding options. You can contact the program team by email at smip@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au.

What is the program aiming to achieve?

The Study Melbourne Inclusion Program’s goal is for international students to have positive, rewarding and enriching experiences during their time in Victoria.

The program aims to:

  • ensure all international students enjoy studying and living in Victoria and feel a strong sense of belonging and connectedness to the local community
  • enable capable organisations to deliver high quality activities that improve the wellbeing of post-secondary international students living in Victoria
  • fund activities that respond to emerging needs of international student cohorts
  • encourage activities that place international students at the centre; genuinely involving them in the design, delivery and review of projects
  • build the capacity and capability of Victoria’s education ecosystem to offer inclusive and culturally appropriate services
  • increase international students’ access to mental and physical health support and information services
  • increase international students’ social connections and create positive opportunities for them to get involved in the local community
  • support greater engagement with students studying with regional providers and remotely, with equal access to wellbeing services and empowerment programs.

What kinds of activities may be considered for funding?

Activities can focus on a range of topics, including, but not limited to:

  • mental health
  • physical health
  • counselling and mentoring
  • volunteering and leadership programs
  • community engagement
  • arts and culture
  • health and safety

What do you mean by ‘an activity’?

We mean the specific activity that the funding will be used for. For example, an activity could be a one-off or series workshops, a training course, a leadership program, an awareness campaign, an information resource, or a sports game.

Can our activity be part of a bigger event or project?

We may fund activities that are part of a larger event or project.

When you are seeking funding for an activity that is part of a larger project, you need to tell us. Your application has to clearly show the relationship between your proposed activity and the larger one. You should be able to provide information about the larger project, including what it is for, who is leading it, how it’s funded, and how it fits with the SMIP guidelines.

Remember: When your activity is part of a larger event or project, your Activity Plan and the Budget and Expenditure Forecast that form part of your funding application must focus on providing details about your proposed activity, not the larger event or project.

What activities have been funded in the past?

Here are five examples of activities funded by the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program in recent years.

International Student Peer Work Training

Orygen developed and delivered introductory peer work training designed specifically for international students. Peer work in the youth mental health sector refers to young people who have had a lived experience of mental ill health engaging in roles that support other mental health service users. These are young people who can relate to other young people about their mental ill health because of their own unique experience.

Melbourne Victory Student FC

Melbourne Victory partnered with the Melbourne Chinese Soccer Association and the City of Melbourne to deliver a community program that recruited 100 international students to train and play football and another 150+ students as volunteers, fans, and event/match day attendees. The benefits for students included improving their physical health, building personal connections through the club and the competition and harnessing opportunities to practice their language skills.

Native Nature 101

Laneway Learning partnered with local businesses to deliver a series of free, curated workshops aimed at international students to discover, play and connect with native plants, food, bees and more in Victoria.
Aside from facilitating a connection with nature, all the workshops were geared to improve mental wellbeing, promote lifelong learning and encourage connections among participants.

The Salvos on Malop International Student Lounge

The Salvation Army partnered with the City of Greater Geelong, Deakin University and the Gordon Institute to create a dedicated international student space in Geelong within walking distance of the Deakin Waterfront Campus, the Gordon and public transport hubs. It is a drop-in space for international students living and studying in Geelong to feel supported and have an enhanced sense of belonging and connectedness to the local community.

NGV Language Exchange

The National Gallery of Victoria partnered with VicTESOL to deliver a series of art-inspired events and workshops that welcomed international students from a non-English speaking background to the NGV, encouraging social connection and building students’ confidence in conversational English. The sessions introduced students to the NGV’s Collection through activities led by NGV Educators, VicTESOL staff and guest artists.

What kinds of activities will not be funded by this program?

This program will not fund:

  • pre-existing staff and salaries
  • activities designed to offset the costs of existing operations, to meet regulatory requirements, or that duplicate existing services that would best be funded by other government programs
  • recurrent operating costs
  • budget deficits
  • capital expenditure
  • competitions, commercial or fundraising activities
  • expenses of overseas visitors
  • alcohol purchased for functions or events
  • religious or political activities
  • research and applied research activities
  • activities that already have been completed or are underway before the start of a funding agreement, other than in exceptional circumstances and with prior written approval from Study Melbourne

Who can apply?

To be eligible to apply for funding under the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program, the lead applicant must satisfy these four requirements:

  • be a legal entity and operate in Victoria
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • have been operating for at least three years
  • have appropriate insurance cover arranged for the activity being proposed.

Organisations that can apply include:

  • student organisations and associations
  • education providers
  • not-for-profit organisations
  • industry associations
  • local government organisations
  • businesses.

Who cannot apply?

  • Individuals
  • Sole traders
  • An organisation involved in legal proceedings relating to winding up its operations in insolvency (this includes any legal bankruptcy-related actions against the organisation’s directors or officers).

What does a ‘lead applicant’ mean?

Each application for Study Melbourne Inclusion Program funding must be submitted in the name of one lead applicant. The lead applicant is usually the organisation with the main coordinating role in the partnership.

If your application is approved, the funding agreement will be between the lead applicant and the State of Victoria through DJSIR.

What does a ‘partnership’ mean?

A partnership involves two or more organisations working together to achieve a mutually agreed outcome.

Being in a partnership is essential when applying for the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program funding.

Please note: Applicants and their partner/s must be entirely separate entities. They must not be owned by the same parent company, share governance, or have common directors.

What kind of evidence do applicants need to provide about their partnerships?

When applying for funding as a partnership, we must see letters of intent from each organisation, or a partnership agreement explaining the role of each partner and what they have agreed to contribute to the activity, including the contribution to funding for the activity.

For example:

  • if your activity relies on a student organisation to recruit international students to participate, then we must see a letter of intent from that student organisation confirming that they will help with recruitment, or
  • if an education provider is providing a venue and helping you fund the activity, we must see a letter of agreement between both your organisations that clearly outlines the agreed level of support.

Please note: Project partnerships that include at least one education provider and/or student group or association will be highly regarded.

Our head office is overseas. Can we still apply for funding under this program?

To apply for funding, your organisation must have an Australian Business Number (ABN), be a legal entity that operates in Victoria, and have been operating for at least two years.

If your organisation’s head office is overseas and still satisfies these and other eligibility criteria, you should be able to apply for funding under the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program.

What evidence do applicants need to provide about their insurance cover?

The lead applicant must show in their funding application that they have the necessary insurance cover to undertake the activity.

The types of insurance required will depend on the nature of the proposed activity.

If the application is successful, appropriate insurance cover must be in place from the start date of any funding agreement between the lead applicant and the State of Victoria.

Do applicants need to provide any cash or in-kind co-contributions?

Yes. Applicants for the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program funding must provide a minimum co-contribution of at least half of the value of the requested funding (e.g. applications for a $50,000 grant must include a co-contribution of at least $25,000). This is referred to as a ‘co-contribution’. The co-contribution can be made up of cash or in-kind contributions from the lead applicant or the lead applicant and its activity partner organisations.

What is an in-kind contribution?

An in-kind (non-cash) contribution means support, other than money, that the lead applicant or another organisation provides towards your activity.
These may include salaried time, staff members, administration/office costs, materials, and promotional support.

How do we calculate the value of in-kind contributions?

All in-kind contributions need to be itemised in the Budget and Expenditure Forecast submitted with your application.

You need to explain the basis for the rates you use to calculate the in-kind value of general or specialist labour, or the provision of goods and services. We recommend you base these on the standard award or commercial rates that you would normally have to pay for these goods or services.

For example, to calculate the in-kind value of time contributed by an existing staff member, use the hourly rate that person is already being paid. An expert contractor or consultant will be able to advise you of their usual hourly rate. To calculate the in-kind value of general staff hours, you may wish to use the pay guide for Victorian social and community services sector employees, on the Fair Work Commission’s website.

Is there a timeframe in which funded activities need to be delivered?

Yes. Successful applicants for the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program funding will generally have 12 months from the date of the funding agreement to deliver the activity. In exceptional circumstances, Study Melbourne may agree to a longer timeframe for completing the activity and may consider multi-year funding.

What information needs to be in the Activity Plan we submit with our application?

The Activity Plan is included in your online application. It gives the assessment panel a better idea of how you intend to plan and deliver each aspect of the proposed activity and its intended outcomes. The plan should contain detailed information, facts and figures about:

  • what the activity aims to achieve
  • what events, products or services will be delivered, where, and how many international students are expected to benefit
  • how the activity will be organised and who is responsible for delivering the main components. The roles and contributions of any partner organisations should be explained.
  • how international students will be involved in helping design, deliver and/or review the activity
  • exactly what any Study Melbourne Inclusion Program funding will be spent on and the timeframe for delivery, including milestone dates.

Please make sure that the content of your Activity Plan is consistent with the information provided in your Application Form and clearly explains what and who will be involved in delivering your activity, from start to finish.

Please note: if you are successful in securing funding from Study Melbourne Inclusion Program, you will be required to submit progress reports and a final Activity Report that explain the outcomes against what was originally set down in your original Activity Plan and budget.

What kind of involvement is required from international students?

All applicants must demonstrate how they intend to involve international student groups and/or students in the design, delivery and/or review of the activity.

This could be achieved in a number of ways, for example by:

  • consulting with international students or student groups to obtain their views
  • having them assist as volunteers or paid workers
  • seeking their help to recruit participants
  • involving them in monitoring and providing feedback on the activity
  • establishing partnerships with student organisations or associations.

This helps to ensure that each activity is designed to meet the needs of international students and is delivered in a way that successfully engages with and supports them.

Our lead applicant is a student group – do we still need to demonstrate how international students will be involved in our activity?

Yes. Even if the lead applicant in your partnership is a student organisation or association, you still need to describe how you will engage with and involve international students in planning, delivering and/or reviewing the activity.

For example, are you intending to consult with members of your organisation who are international students, involve international students on your organising committee, or survey participants for their feedback at the end of the activity?

What is meant by ‘promoting Study Melbourne’ as part of any funded activities?

All funded activities must be conducted under the Study Melbourne brand. You will need to display the Study Melbourne logo on promotional and information materials and at events relating to the activity.

Logos and brand guidelines will be supplied to each successful applicant once their funding agreement has been executed.

Will our application be considered if we don’t provide all of the supporting documentation?

You must provide all the necessary supporting information and documentation by the grant application’s closing date, or your application may not be eligible for funding.

This includes submitting a completed Budget and Expenditure Forecast and providing copies of letters of support and/or written partnership agreements with any partner organisations that will be helping you deliver the activity.

What does ‘conflict of interest’ mean?

A conflict of interest occurs when a person has a personal, professional or business interest that may influence, or be perceived to influence, their decisions or interfere with the proper performance of their official duties. Conflict of interest can be actual, perceived or potential.

For example, if a decision-maker in your organisation or one of their immediate family members owns a business that will gain financially if your funding application is successful, that would be a conflict of interest. If the person or their family member is an employee of that business, that may still be a perceived or potential conflict of interest.

How long will it take to find out the outcome of our application?

It may take up to 8 weeks from the closing date before applicants for Study Melbourne Inclusion Program funding are notified as to whether their application has been successful.

What if the assessment process takes longer than expected?

Study Melbourne will notify applicants if the assessment process is taking longer than expected.

Where can we get advice about preparing our application?

A member of the Study Melbourne Inclusion Program team can be contacted by emailing smip@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au.

Information will be available for potential applicants during the year, and will be advertised via the electronic International Education insider. You can subscribe to the newsletter on the Study Melbourne website.