Flexible Fund Guidelines: Health Surveillance Fund: January 2014

The Health Surveillance Fund consolidates the activities of eight programs to provide a flexible funding pool for surveillance and monitoring initiatives to support a quality health system through enhanced surveillance and public health data collection; social, clinical and translational research; and reporting on priority communicable and chronic diseases.

Page last updated: 08 April 2014

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1. Introduction
2. Eligibility
3. Probity
4. Fund Application Processes
5. Conditions of Funding
6. Enquiries and Complaints
7. Glossary of Terms
Attachment A1
Attachment A2
Attachment A3

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1 Introduction

Introduction

The Health Surveillance Fund consolidates the activities of eight programs to provide a flexible funding pool for surveillance and monitoring initiatives to support a quality health system through enhanced surveillance and public health data collection; social, clinical and translational research; and reporting on priority communicable and chronic diseases. This flexible funding pool will provide information to support evidence-based preventive health policy development in Australia.

Surveillance includes the systematic ongoing collection, collation and analysis of data for public health purposes and the timely dissemination of public health information for assessment and public health response as necessary.

Fund objectives and priorities

The fund enables the Australian Government to better support activities that improve the detection, prevention and awareness of communicable and chronic diseases, and provide information and analysis to assess the efficacy of population health programs. Key drivers for the fund include the National Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections Strategies 2010-2013, the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015, the National Chronic Disease Strategy 2005, the National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Plan: 2004-2014, International Health Regulations 2005, the National Health Security Act, 2007 and the National Health Security Agreement 2008. Future priorities will be informed by the National Communicable Diseases Control Framework to be completed in 2012.

The fund will target the following priority areas:
    • Public Health Research such as :
      - epidemiological analysis and social, clinical and translational research into blood borne viruses and sexually transmitted infection
      - surveys to inform policy and interventions in relation to such issues as drugs and alcohol
    • Public Health Data Collection, Reporting and Registries such as:
      - data collation, analysis and reporting to provide information for assessing the efficacy of population health programs including the social determinants of health and health inequalities
      - national injury surveillance
      - antimicrobial resistance
      - the national poisons register
      - the Australian Creutzfeldt-Jakob Diseases Registry
    • Disease Surveillance and Monitoring such as:
      - enhanced surveillance of priority communicable disease to inform public health response and support evidence-based preventive health policy development
      - monitoring, analysis and reporting of cases of priority chronic diseases such as asthma and linked respiratory diseases, and diabetes
      - observing and examining the quality and robustness of clinical service options, and patient education and awareness vehicles, that are utilised by patients in the treatment and management of their diabetic conditions

These Fund Priorities, and the types of activities envisaged to be supported under them, are further described at Attachment A and will take into account the need for information and analysis to assess the efficacy of programs in relation to indigenous peoples. Fund Priorities may be evaluated and adjusted from time to time to take into account evidence about the effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness of Fund activities, as well as emerging health surveillance challenges. Such evaluations will review the activities for appropriateness to any changes in the strategies driving the Fund.

Background

The Health Surveillance Fund was established in 2011 through the consolidation of a range of existing health surveillance programs.

The establishment of the Fund followed a strategic review of the administrative arrangements in the Health portfolio commissioned by the Government in 2010. The review identified an opportunity to improve the management of existing ageing and aged care programs through consolidating them into larger, flexible Funds, in order to cut red tape for grant holders, increase flexibility, and more efficiently provide evidence based funding for the delivery of health outcomes in the community. Further information about the strategic review and the establishment of the flexible Funds is available on the Department’s website at: www.health.gov.au

The Fund consolidates support for a wide range of activities including:
    • Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections
      - HIV, hepatitis B and C and sexually transmissible infections surveillance and research grants
    • National Drug Strategy – National Drug Strategy Household Survey
    • Investment in Preventive Health:
      - National Injury Surveillance
      - Public Health Information Development Unit
      - National Public Health Expenditure Report
      - Child and Youth reporting on Health Development and Well-Being
      - National Poisons Register
    • Asthma Management – National Monitoring of Asthma and linked Chronic Respiratory Conditions
    • Chronic Disease Monitoring and Surveillance
    • Australian National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Registry
    • National Immunisation Program Surveillance – Invasive Pneumococcal Disease
    • National Public Health :
      - Surveillance of Meningococcal and Gonococcal Infections
      - Australian Rotavirus Surveillance
      - Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit – Surveillance of Rare Diseases
      - Food Safety Information Council
      - Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance
      - Poliovirus Surveillance in Australia
      - National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance
      - Infection Management
    • Surveillance of Human Papillomavirus in Men
The Fund is intended to be flexible enough to continue to support the types of activities that have previously been supported under the various consolidated programs (subject to demonstrated evidence of their effectiveness and available funding), but in a more streamlined manner, as well as new health surveillance priorities that may arise over time.

Fund scope and operating parameters

The Fund is intended to be broad in scope, and flexible enough to support a wide range of activities for the purposes of strengthening the capacity of the health surveillance sector to deliver high quality data collection, research, analysis and reporting.

As funding becomes available under the Fund, it will be allocated by a departmental delegate or by the Minister for Health for Fund Priorities and activities, including but not limited to those listed at Attachment A, and then administered as set out in these guidelines at Section 4.

The funding committed to particular Fund Priorities and supported activities may be varied over time, to take into account:
    • Availability of funding;
    • Evidence, including from post project evaluations of activities, of the effectiveness, efficiency, ethical and economic use of public moneys in accordance with the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines and the Commonwealth Procurement Rules;
    • Appropriateness of Fund activities to support strategies driving the Fund;
    • Emerging national public health disease surveillance challenges; and
    • Changing public health priorities.

1.1 Roles and responsibilities

Minister

The Minister for Health will be responsible for reviewing/setting priorities for the Fund and the allocation of funding against these priorities. These priorities will at all times reflect the objectives of the Fund but may change over time to address emerging issues that will more effectively support health protection activities.

Department of Health

The Department of Health (the Department) will be responsible for the development and dissemination of all application documentation under the Fund and for ensuring that such documentation is in accordance with the Fund aims and objectives. The Department will be responsible for notifying applicants of the outcomes of any funding process and will be responsible for responding to queries in relation to the application process, and for resolving any uncertainties that may arise in relation to application requirements.
The Department will also manage the funding arrangements under the Fund and undertake all assessment processes.

The Department will also be responsible for all management and monitoring requirements of successful applicants in any process under the Fund such as:
    • Developing funding agreements or any alternative contractual arrangement
    • Monitoring the performance of projects to ensure the conditions of the contractual arrangement are met
    • Assessing performance and financial reports and undertaking follow up activity as necessary
    • Making payments on acceptance of milestone reports as specified in the contractual arrangement
    • Providing feedback to funded organisations on the overall project following the conclusion of activities.

Potential Funding Recipients

Entities applying for grants under the Fund are responsible for the development of their application. As part of any application process organisations submitting applications must ensure all information they provide is accurate.

The Department will enter into contractual arrangements for funding under the Fund with single agencies only. Where two or more organisations seek funding as a consortium, a member organisation must be appointed as the lead member and the organisation who will enter into any subsequent contractual relationship with the Department. The lead member must be identified in any application for funding and that application should identify all members of the proposed consortium.

Organisations applying must be prepared to meet the costs associated with the development and lodgement of their application.

Funded Entity

The funded entity is responsible for the efficient and effective delivery of the service in accordance with the obligations contained in any funding agreement or contractual arrangement entered into under the Fund. Organisations funded under the Fund are also responsible for:
    • Ensuring they meet the specifications of the funding agreement or other contractual arrangement
    • Ensuring the project is managed in a cost effective and efficient manner
    • Maintaining contact with the Department and advising of any emerging issues that may impact on the success of the project
    • Identify and document risks and the appropriate control strategies
    • Reporting on project performance and expenditure in accordance with the contractual obligations
    • Assisting with evaluation activities as necessary

1.2 Fund Timeframe

The Fund is an ongoing initiative available from 1 July 2011.

Timeframes for specific activities under the priorities may vary depending upon the grant process and the expected outcomes of the individual activities. Timeframes for activities associated with the funding processes will be clearly specified in the application package for that process.

1.3 Fund Value

The total value of funds available under the Flexible Fund is $78.169 million (GST Exclusive) over the four years from 2012-13 to 2015-16.

The Department will review priorities under the Fund on an annual basis and provide advice to the Minister on emerging needs, to allow for the adjustment of the funding allocation against priorities and to ensure that emerging health challenges are being addressed.

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2 Eligibility

2.1 Who can access the Fund?

A wide range of for-profit and not-for-profit organisations will be eligible for funding. Potential Funding Recipients are not required to have had a prior funding relationship established with the Department, but must be a legal entity to be eligible for funding for example:
    a) Incorporated Associations (incorporated under State/Territory legislation, commonly have 'Association' or 'Incorporated' or 'Inc' in their legal name);
    b) Incorporated Cooperatives (also incorporated under State/Territory legislation, commonly have "Cooperative' in their legal name);
    c) Companies (incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 – may be not-for-profit or for-profit proprietary company (limited by shares or by guarantee) or public companies);
    d) Aboriginal Corporations (incorporated under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2006 and administered by the Office of the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations);
    e) Organisations established through a specific piece of Commonwealth or State/Territory legislation (many public benevolent institutions, churches, universities, unions etc);
    f) Partnerships;
    g) Trustees on behalf of a Trust;
    h) State/Territory or Local Governments; and
    i) where there is no suitable alternative, an individual or - jointly and separately - individuals
    Should a grant process have restricted eligibility requirements this will be clearly specified in the application package for that process.

Any enquiries relating to the Fund should be directed to the Fund mailbox ohpflexiblefunds@health.gov.au

2.2 What is eligible for funding?

To be considered for funding, applications must propose to undertake activities that meet the aims, objectives and priorities for the Fund, and comply with the terms of the application documentation.

Any Invitation to Apply or Approach to Market documentation, as required, will include matters such as:
    • project activities/items that will be considered eligible
    • any funding caps (minimum and/or maximum limits)
    • any restrictions on Start/End dates for activity. For example all projects must be completed within the stated Financial Year/s
    • any restrictions around whether funding will be provided only for new or additional work
    • any restrictions on when funding must be expended by. For example, all funding will be available from [insert date] and must be expended by [insert date].

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3 Probity

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that the process for providing funding under the Health Surveillance Fund is transparent and in accordance with published Fund Guidelines. Individual grant processes will contain detailed guidance on the specific requirements for that process and these will not be inconsistent with the Fund Guidelines.

Note: Fund Guidelines may be varied from time-to-time by the Australian Government as the needs of the Fund dictate. Amended Fund Guidelines will be published on the Department’s websites.

3.1 Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest may exist, for example, if the applicant or any of its personnel:
    • Has a relationship (whether professional, commercial or personal) with a party who is able to influence the application assessment process, such as a Department staff member;
    • Has a relationship with, or interest in, an organisation, which is likely to interfere with or restrict the applicant in carrying out the proposed activities fairly and independently; or
    • Has a relationship with, or interest in, an organisation from which they will receive personal gain as a result of the granting of funding under the Health Surveillance Fund.

Each applicant will be required to declare as part of any application process, existing conflicts of interest or that to the best of their knowledge there is no conflict of interest, including in relation to the examples above, that would impact on or prevent the applicant from proceeding with the project or any contractual arrangement it may enter into with the Australian Government.

Where an applicant subsequently identifies that an actual, apparent, or potential conflict of interest exists or might arise in relation to an application for funding, the applicant must inform the Department in writing immediately.

The Department will ensure that all members of Fund Assessment Panels will be required to provide a statement detailing any relationship they may have with a potential funding recipient(s). All panel members will be required to sign a Deed of Confidentiality-Conflict of Interest form.

3.2 Confidentiality and Protection of Personal Information

Each applicant will be required to declare as part of their application, their ability to comply with the proposed contractual arrangement to be entered into with the Australian Government.

The Protection of Personal Information Clause requires the Funded organisation to:
    • comply with the Privacy Act (1988) (‘the Privacy Act’), including the 11 Information Privacy Principles (IPPs), as if it were an agency under the Privacy Act, and the National Privacy Principles (NPPs);
    • refrain from engaging in direct marketing (s 16F of the Privacy Act), to the extent that the NPP and/or s 16F apply to the Funded organisation; and
    • impose the same privacy obligations on any subcontractors it engages to assist with the Project.
The Confidentiality Clause in any subsequent contractual arrangement imposes obligations on the funded organisation with respect to special categories of information collected, created or held under the Agreement. The funded organisation is required to seek the Commonwealth’s consent in writing before disclosing Confidential Information.

The specific clauses governing the confidentiality provisions of any grant process under this Fund will be contained in the funding agreement that will form part of any grant application documentation available to potential applicants.

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4 Fund Application Processes

Access to funding from the Health Surveillance Fund will be available via a variety of means and at varying times throughout the life of the fund. The Department proposes to undertake the following to achieve the aims, objectives and priorities for the Fund:

4.1 Open Grant rounds

Competitive funding rounds which open and close to applications on nominated dates, with eligible applications being assessed against the selection criteria set down for the initiative and then prioritised against competing, eligible applications for the available funding will be undertaken to achieve the Fund Aims Objectives and Priorities. Funding is committed to a number of long-term data collections with very limited scope for additional or supplementary funding for open grant rounds.

4.2 Targeted grant rounds

Funding will also be made available through targeted or restricted competitive funding rounds from time to time to meet the aims, objectives and priorities for the Fund. These grant rounds will be open to a small number of potential funding recipients based on the specialised requirements of the initiative or project under consideration.

4.3 Procurement

Activities that involve the contracting of services will be undertaken in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules 2012 and will be for purposes that are consistent with the aims, objectives and priorities of the fund.

4.4 One-off or unsolicited approaches

Entities wishing to seek funding may submit an unsolicited or one-off proposal to the Fund. These one-off or unsolicited proposals may be considered, at the Department’s discretion:
    • when funds remain available following a competitive funding round; and/or
    • where the proposed activities will meet an urgent or emerging priority.
In the event that any one-off or unsolicited proposals are considered, they will be assessed individually against the aims, objectives and priorities for the Fund.

4.5 Fund Under-expenditure:

Funding allocations will be monitored throughout the year with potential underspends identified and allocated to activities identified as being the most appropriate method of meeting the aims and objectives of the Fund. Applications identified as being able to meet the Fund aims and objectives, and not receiving funding through an open or targeted grants round may also be prioritised and short-listed for consideration should such underspends be identified.

Under-expenditure may also be used to fund unsolicited proposals or one-off grants where such proposals will meet the objectives and priorities of the Fund.

From time to time, the Australian Government may direct additional or supplementary funding to services under the Fund. For example providing targeted services to areas where evidence shows that there is a need.

These Fund Guidelines will form part of the Approach to Market documentation and must be met in all circumstances where grant or procurement arrangements are entered into under the Fund.

In urgent or unforeseen circumstances the Minister or Departmental Delegate has the right to waive eligibility criteria.

4.6 Application Processes:

A range of activities will be funded under the Fund. Each funding process will have comprehensive Invitation to Apply documentation developed that will detail at a minimum the following:
    • How the initiative meets the aims, objectives and priorities of the Fund as specified in Section 1 above
    • Eligibility criteria – as specified in Section 2 above
    • Assessment criteria – specifically relating to the activities being funded
    • Assessment process
    • Funding available
    • Timeline for funding
    • Proposed contractual arrangements – as specified at Section 5
    • Procedures for submitting an application
    • Contact officer for applicants
    • Fund Guidelines
A full suite of documentation will be provided with each funding process (excluding one-off or unsolicited proposals). Where possible a minimum of one month notice will be given to potential applicants of any proposed funding process. Such notice including the broad objectives of the funding round, the level of funding available and the timeframe for funding will be published on the Department’s internet site at www.health.gov.au

4.7 Decisions

Approval of funding

Funding approval is at the discretion of the Approver.

Following an appraisal of the application/s by the Fund Assessment Panel for that process, advice will be provided to the Approver on the merits of the application/s.

The Approver will consider whether the proposal will make an efficient, effective, ethical and economical use of Commonwealth resources, as required by Commonwealth legislation, and whether any specific requirements will need to be imposed as a condition of funding.
The final decision about the approval of a grant or procurement will be made by the Minister for Health or the agency's Chief Executive (including a Chief Executive's delegate).

Advice to applicants

Applicants will be advised in writing of the outcome of their application. Advice to successful applicants will contain details of any specific conditions attached to the funding. In accordance with the Commonwealth Grants Guidelines grant approvals will also be listed on the Department’s website. In the case of procurement activities, contracts over the value of $10,000 GST inclusive will be reported on Austender.

The Department will notify all unsuccessful applicants. The timeframe for this will be specified in the documentation for that process.

Complaint handling

The Department’s Funding Complaints Handling Policy applies to complaints that arise in relation to a procurement or funding process. It covers events that occur between the time the request documentation is released publicly and the date of contract execution, regardless of when the actual complaint is made. The Department requires that all complaints relating to a grant or procurement process must be lodged in writing. Further details of the policy are available 'About Us' page on the Department’s internet site.

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5 Conditions of Funding

5.1 Contracting arrangements

Successful applicants funded under the Fund will be required to enter into a funding agreement or alternative contractual arrangement with the Commonwealth (represented by the Department).

A copy of the proposed agreement or alternative contractual arrangement will form part of any material that forms the basis of a grant or procurement process under this Fund. Copies of the Department’s standard Funding Agreement and Contract for Services templates are available as reference material at www.health.gov.au

Should a successful applicant already receive funding from the Department, a streamlined contractual relationship may be considered.

5.1 Specific conditions

There may be specific conditions attached to the funding approval required as a result of the appraisal process or imposed by the Approver. These will be identified in the offer of funding or during contract negotiations.

5.2 Payment arrangements

Payments will usually be made on achievement of agreed milestones.

Where payments are linked to the achievement of specific milestones, payments will only be made after the Department is satisfied that those milestones and associated obligations of the contractual arrangement have been met.

5.3 Reporting requirements

Funding recipients will be required to provide progress reports on the agreed milestones. These progress reports may include funding acquittal requirements. The timing of progress reports will be negotiated and form part of the final contractual arrangement. The format and framework for providing progress reports will take into account the size, cost and relative risks of the initiative/ project being undertaken by the funding recipient.

5.4 Monitoring

The funded entity will be required to actively manage the delivery of the project. The Department will monitor progress against the funding agreement or contract through assessment of progress reports and by conducting site visits as necessary.

5.5 Penalties

The proposed agreement may include penalties should the successful applicant not comply with the conditions of the grant. Applicants should note the penalties described in the proposed agreement or alternative contractual arrangement.

5.6 Evaluation

The Department will periodically evaluate how funded activities have contributed to the objectives of the Fund. Funding recipients may be required to provide information to assist in this evaluation for a period of time, as stipulated in the funding agreement or contract, after funding has been provided.

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6 Glossary of Terms

Department – means the Australian Government Department of Health

Flexible Fund – means the Health Surveillance Fund as described in Section 1 of these Guidelines

Fund Assessment Panel – means a panel formed by the Department that may include expert scientific, legal, financial and probity advisors, to assess grant or procurement proposals

Funded Entity - means any entity that has been successful in a grant process under the Flexible Fund

Funding Approver - means the office or individual identified in any grant documentation as the decision maker in any process under the Fund

Potential Funding Recipient – means any entity that applies for funding under the Flexible Fund

Program - means a pre existing grants program that has been subject to consolidation into the Fund.

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7 Enquiries and Complaints

Any enquiries relating to decisions on funding under this Fund should be directed to the Fund mailbox:ohpflexiblefunds@health.gov.au. As the Office of Health Protection manages a number of funds, the name of the fund should be included in the subject of the email.

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Attachment A1

Priority

Public health research

Potential Activities

In order to support the promotion of public health research within Australia, the Department will fund a range of activities targeted at, but not limited to:
    • Clinical and social research, analysis and reporting of HIV, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmissible Infections and Blood Borne Diseases , including changes in incidence, demographics and behaviours; and
    • Surveys, analysis and reporting on public health issues such as use of tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs.

Broad assessment requirements

The first level of assessment for any Grant arrangement will be to determine the capacity of the applicant and the proposed project to meet the objectives, priorities and scope of the Health Surveillance Fund and the priority to support activities that promote public health research in disease surveillance and monitoring.
The second level of assessment will be against a range of specific criteria that directly relate to the activity that is the subject of the grants application process which may include, but is not limited to:
  • The relevance and effectiveness of the proposal to meet the priorities
  • Complete details of the Project Plan and Budget Projections
  • Demonstration that the benefits of the project are sustainable; an
  • Details of the applicant’s capacity to implement the project within the proposed timeframe.
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Attachment A2

Priority

Public health data collections, reporting and registries

Potential Activities

In order to support activities that promote public health data collection, reporting and registers within Australia, the Department will fund a range of activities targeted at, but not limited to:
Data collection, analysis and reporting of public health data;
    • The development and management of registers such as for poisons and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease;
    • Enhanced information on preventive health, chronic disease, and injury;
    • Data and information to inform the current Australian Governments’ policy priorities on chronic disease and injury prevention, including the social determinants of health and health inequalities; and
    • Antimicrobial resistance.

Broad assessment requirements

The first level of assessment for any Grant arrangement will be to determine the capacity of the applicant and the proposed project to meet the objectives, priorities and scope of the Health Surveillance Fund and the priority to support activities that promote public health data collections, reporting and registers.
The second level of assessment will be against a range of specific criteria that directly relate to the activity that is the subject of the grants application process which may include, but is not limited to:
    • Capacity to collect data and competency in data analysis and reporting;
    • Capacity to comply with definitions and standards;
    • Access to relevant data sources and ability to liaise with data providers and data collectors;
    • Flexibility and adaptability to changes in data collections and reporting;
    • Sensitivity to emerging priorities in data collection and reporting;
    • The relevance and effectiveness of the proposal to meet the priorities;
    • Complete details of the Project Plan and Budget Projections; and
    • Details of the applicant’s capacity to implement the project within the proposed timeframe.
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Attachment A3

Priority

Disease surveillance and monitoring

The disease surveillance and monitoring objective is to detect, prevent or minimize the impact of communicable disease on the Australia community through on-going systematic collection, collation, analysis and interpretation of data to produce information that informs public health policy and response.
Disease surveillance and monitoring includes the data collection, analysis and reporting on surveillance of human papillomavirus in men and non-communicable (or chronic) diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and asthma, to inform national policies and programs.

Potential Activities

The disease surveillance and monitoring objective will be achieved, but not limited to supporting activities that:
    • Identify communicable and chronic disease threats that may impact the Australian community;
    • Minimise the introduction, establishment or spread of communicable disease;
    • Minimise mortality, morbidity and burden on the health system;
    • Monitor, analyse and report on trends relating to rare and emerging communicable disease and their potential health impact;
    • Monitor, analyse and report on chronic disease levels, burden and trend across the health continuum; and
    • Contribute to the epidemiological understanding of communicable diseases through enhanced surveillance activities and dissemination of related information to inform public health policy.

Broad assessment requirements

The first level of assessment for any Grant arrangement will be to determine the capacity of the applicant and the proposed project to meet the objectives, priorities and scope of the Health Surveillance Fund and the priority to support activities that promote disease surveillance and monitoring.

The second level of assessment will be consideration of the proposal against the parameters of the above objective which may include, but is not limited to:
    • The relevance and effectiveness of the proposal to detect, prevent or minimise the health impacts on the Australian community;
    • Complete details of the Project Plan and Budget Projections;
    • The applicants demonstrated capacity to deliver outcomes related to the priorities;
    • Demonstration that the benefits of the project are sustainable (where relevant);
    • Demonstration of partnerships with other organisations/sectors/agencies to maximise the outcomes of the project; and
    • Details of the applicant’s capacity to implement the project within the proposed timeframe.

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