Last updated: 11 Nov, 2021

The ongoing challenges of coronavirus, and a rapidly changing world, mean our collective health and wellbeing has never been more important, and young people across Victoria have been hardest hit.

In response to those challenges and as part of Future Healthy, VicHealth is launching The Big Connect, an integrated health promotion package focused on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Victoria’s young people through the creation of 100,000+ new social connection opportunities. This is VicHealth's first major investment as part of Future Healthy - and we have up to $5 million in funding available.

In addition to funding, The Big Connect integrates sector capability building, educational support for families and a public-facing health promotion campaign.  

Through The Big Connect, VicHealth will invest in organisations across Victoria who know their local areas better than anyone and know how to make change happen. Organisations who are ready to make a big difference. This could be in a geographic area or for group of people with similar challenges around being connected.

Projects funded through The Big Connect must be for young people and must be informed by what they have asked for or expressed a need for. See our Funding Guidelines to hear what young people across Victoria and their parents have told us so far!

VicHealth is looking for major programs/ideas that increase access to opportunities for Victoria’s children and young people (aged 0-25 including families) to build meaningful social connections. Successful, proven projects and new innovations will receive capacity building and financial support to scale up sustainably, delivering great benefit for the mental wellbeing of young people – now and into the future.

Funding from $100,000 to $250,000 is available per project, with projects to be delivered from early 2022 to September 2023.

 You can read more about Future Healthy below, or check out our website here.

Applications are now open and close 2:00 pm Tuesday, 7 December 2021.

What you’ll find in this section: 

Funding guidelines 

The Big Connect Funding Guidelines contain: 

  • Organisational eligibility criteria 
  • Project eligibility criteria 
  • How to apply 
  • Expectations of successful applicants 

Download the funding guidelines

Apply today 

All applications must be completed through the VicHealth Stakeholder Portal

To help your organisation draft and collaborate, you can download The Big Connect Application Drafting Tool Template which covers the key select criteria. Please note we will not accept emailed versions of this template.  

If you need support with your application, we have a dedicated help page here or email [email protected].

Apply today

Watch our briefing session recording

The Future Healthy team ran an online briefing session on Thursday, 4 November to cover funding guidelines, how to use the VicHealth Stakeholder Portal and answer any of your questions. You can watch the video below and access the briefing's presentation slides here.

Watch the recording



 Key dates 

Applications open  Now open 
 Information webinar
Watch recording
Thursday 4 November
Applications close 
2:00 pm Tuesday, 7 December 2021 
Application outcomes  Applicants will be notified on the outcome of their application mid-late March 2022 

What’s Future Healthy?

We have a vision of a Victoria where no young person is denied a future that is healthy. Regardless of their postcode, bank balance or background.

We see a future with vibrant communities, where young people are connected, active, enjoy wholesome food and feel great. A future inspired by, shaped by and shared by the people of Victoria.

Future Healthy includes multiple streams of investments – major investments for new programs and a grants program supporting locally-led and state-wide organisations. There is also marketing and communications activity, including advertising.

Future Healthy is an investment of $45 million over 3 years. VicHealth is committed to investing in locally led solutions right across the state, and we’ll elevate the voices and experiences of Victoria’s young people to inspire these investments.

Future Healthy will:

  • Create neighbourhoods and spaces where people feel safe, welcome and confident to be active
  • Improve access to healthy, sustainable, affordable and culturally appropriate food
  • Build meaningful social connections and inclusive environments

Most importantly, Future Healthy will engage with young people and their parents and carers every step of the way, so they can share their lived experiences, and help to inform and shape solutions.

If you want to learn more and stay up to date with Future Healthy updates, register to be part of our mailing list here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Eligibility

Is my organisation eligible? View more

We anticipate that a wide range of organisations are in a position to develop and deliver solutions that will create ongoing and meaningful social connections for Victoria’s young people. This includes (but not limited to) art and cultural organisations, community sporting clubs, sport leagues, and associations, peak bodies, health promotion organisations, youth organisations and other recreation and creative organisations.  

Organisations must hold legal structure of either:

  1. Company Limited by Guarantee
  2. Incorporated Association

Local Government entities are INELIGIBLE. Councils are encouraged to consider opportunities available through VicHealth’s Local Government Partnership.

Individuals, Sole Traders, For-Profit and Commercial organisations, Charitable trusts, Victorian State Government Entities and Statutory Authorities are INELIGIBLE.

Ineligible applicants may apply for funding through an auspice arrangement. See the Funding Guidelines  for further information.

NOTE: VicHealth will not provide advice on organisational eligibility. The onus is on applicants to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria. 

My organisation has recently received VicHealth funding - does that affect eligibility? View more

Existing and previous VicHealth funding recipients that comply with eligibility requirements ARE eligible for Big Connect funding. 

However, funding through this opportunity is NOT available for the purpose of expanding or extending a successful Reimagining Health grant awarded in December 2020 or June 2021. 

My organisation was unsuccessful in a previous VicHealth grant round, can I apply for funding for the same project? View more
Previous funding applications will need to be amended before being submitted for The Big Connect funding. The application must have amendments that take into consideration the specific project eligibility requirements of this funding opportunity. For example, the project must meet all of the required project criteria and one of the focus areas.
How can I find out more information about funding eligibility? View more

We are hosting a webinar on Thursday 4 November 2021. This will explain The Big Connect funding opportunity in detail and you will have an opportunity to ask questions. It will be recorded for those unable to attend.

Register HERE

Before applying you must first review the funding guidelines here.

Definitions of items that we will NOT fund View more

Assets: Owned by the organisation, have value to the organisation's day-to-day operation

Capital works: Any building or construction works that would create a new structure or significantly alter an existing structure.

Equipment: Not directly related to the delivery of the project.

IT infrastructure: Any components (hardware, software, facilities and services) that support the delivery of business systems and IT-enabled processes. Note: Funding is available for IT to directly support the delivery of online components of projects.  

Purchase of land: The purchase of land (note, this does not include rent or lease of venue to deliver funded activities).


2. Definitions to help you understand our Big Connect Funding Opportunity

What is meaningful social connection? View more

We are asking for applications where the primary outcome is to increase access to opportunities for meaningful social connection. 

Meaningful social connection enables people to feel a sense of:

  1. belonging to; and
  2. being supported by, the community where they live, learn, work and play, whether that be in-person or virtually.   

Projects that have a primary outcome of meaningful social connection can also deliver secondary outcomes that contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of the community. 

Is Big Connect targeting particular groups? View more

Yes. Applications for The Big Connect funding must seek to benefit hardly reached children and young people (aged 0-25 years including families).

Important tip 

Applications for projects that have been co-designed with children and young people and/or their carers or families will be weighted higher than applications that have not incorporated co-design.

See How to co-design with young Victorians  to understand the why, when, what and how of co-design with young people.


What do you mean by hardly reached? View more

Hardly reached includes those from population groups facing the greatest barriers to reaching their full health potential because of structural discrimination such as: income, cultural background, gender, disability or where a person lives.

This includes (but not limited to):

  • people on a low income
  • single parents
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
  • people living in a 2019/2020 bushfire affected area
  • people speaking a language other than English at home
  • people living with a disability
  • people who are unemployed
  • women and girls
  • people living in rural or remote locations
What do you mean by 'community' or 'neighbourhood' in the first focus area? View more

The first focus area requires the project to ‘support young people to feel like they belong to a community or their local neighbourhood’. 

The definition of ‘community’ is broad. Community can be a face-to-face or virtual community where a young person either lives, works, learns and/or plays. For example, a university setting where the young person participates in tertiary education. 

The definition of ‘neighbourhood’ means geographic neighbourhood. That is the community directly accessible within the geographic area that a young person lives.   


3. Notification of funding outcomes

When can I expect to hear back? View more

All applicants will be notified of application outcome mid-late March 2022.

How will I hear about the outcome of your application? View more

VicHealth will notify you of the outcome of your application by email. You can expect to hear back from VicHealth mid-late March 2022. Successful applicants may also receive a phone call notifying them of their outcome.

Make sure you add [email protected] to your address book to ensure you receive your notification email.

Will I receive feedback on an application if unsuccessful? View more

VicHealth Big Connect Grants are extremely competitive, and we expect to receive far more eligible applications than can be funded. Due to such high volumes, many applicants will be unsuccessful. Generalised feedback will be provided on notification to unsuccessful applicants; however, we are unable to provide individualised feedback.

When is VicHealth holding the next funding opportunity? View more

VicHealth is still planning its next funding opportunity for early 2022 – details about the funding opportunity will be released soon.

You can register for our e-bulletin to hear about VicHealth grant rounds as soon as they are announced. Please go to ‘Stay Updated’ to register for our e-bulletin (top right hand section of this page). 

To hear the latest about Future Healthy register here.

Can I speak to someone at VicHealth about my application? View more

We are not in a position to provide individualised advice or feedback on applications. If you have other feedback or questions, we encourage you to send this to us in writing via [email protected]

When will payments be made to successful applicants? View more

Timing of payments to successful grant applicants will be advised in the notification email.

I have questions about the Stakeholder Portal and other funding-related questions View more

See our dedicated grants support webpage, which outlines technical advice for our portal and answers more funding-related questions.