How to roll out a successful grant, permit, licence or care package and eligibility requirements program

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System design

  • Test your application system, allowing for peoplewith limited computer or language skills.

  • Develop your system to accommodateapplicants unfamiliar with government, grantsor licencing processes.

  • Be clear about what actions are needed and warn applicants of consequences of not taking specific actions, like not providing documentation within a timeframe.

Assessing applications

  • Make allowances for human error, particularlywhen people are experiencing stress.

  • Apply discretion and show flexibility wherea person is experiencing an underlyingdisadvantage.

  • Accept information in different formats as thefocus is getting the required information.

  • Ensure contact staff have an overview of the entire process and have appropriate access to enough information to deal meaningfully with applicants.

  • Be consistent in your assessment of applications and ensure all staff understand eligibility criteria sufficiently.


  • Establish and implement an effective complaints and review process.
  • Advertise your complaints and review procedure clearly where people will easily find it including website and email.

Communicating with applicants

  • Communicate clearly and avoid jargon.

  • Communicate via multiple channels, includingemail and SMS, in case one is wrong or thereare delivery problems and allow for bounceback emails.

  • Write outcome emails in plain English and provide reasons for the decision, identify the decision maker, provide contact details and information about review options.

In the real world

The Victorian Government announced a support package for eligible businesses affected byCOVID-19 lockdowns offering $10,000 grants in March last year. The Department of Jobs, Precincts andRegions set-up the Business Support Fund within nine days. Cracks soon started to appear, and the VictorianOmbudsman was inundated with complaints, prompting it to start an investigation into what went wrong.The Ombudsman received more than 1,100 complaints about the grant.

Business owners were refused because they made a simple mistake such as, typos on their application,providing information through the wrong link or were confused by the process. Many of these denials werebecause, unbeknown to the business owners, applications remained in draft awaiting further informationwhen the deadline expired. As a result of the Ombudsman’s investigation, up to 12,000 eligible businessesmay be able to reapply for the grant.

Final word

“A good internal review and complaints process should be a priority for any system of public administration,even more so when it is set up in haste. Complaints will quickly identify the pressure points, the things thatmust be fixed” – Deborah Glass, Victorian Ombudsman.

  • COVID-19
  • Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
  • Grants and funding