Volunteering Innovation Fund

Through the Volunteering Innovation Fund, the Victorian Government is funding community-led projects that consider new ways of volunteering in and for the environment.

Parks and forests in Victoria are supported and enhanced by a host of passionate volunteers. The Volunteering Innovation Fund is building on this incredible work and inviting everyone to enjoy Victoria’s Great Outdoors through volunteering.

The Fund awarded $2million in funding over four rounds.

The Volunteering Innovation Fund is now closed.

The Youth Volunteering for Nature program is also closed. 


Parks Victoria has been thrilled to work with recipients of the Volunteering Innovation Fund on ideas that shake and change volunteering in our parks and have the freedom to thrive.

Read the success stories of our completed projects and the legacy they are leaving.

Round 1

Congratulations to the following successful applicants in round one. Read about the successful round one projects underway.

White bird with black beak and legs, standing over smaller brown birds in the water.

Birdlife Australia

Monitor wetland birds (including the endangered Australasian Bittern) through solar powered acoustic monitoring stations.
A woman in a rain jacket with plaited hair and a beanie looking down at a portable tablet device in front of trees and shrubs.

Threatened Species Conservancy

Monitor and survey the threatened Fryerstown Grevillea.
Pelicans and water birds gathered in the wetlands.

Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Network

Citizen science activities to collect data on the biodiversity of swamps within the Belfast Coastal Reserve.
Two people leaning over and looking at something in the rockpool.

Earthwatch Australia

New ClimateWatch app trails feature to record and view observations.
A split view above and below the water at sunset.

Victorian National Parks Association

Host community marine bio-blitz events to engage anglers as citizen science volunteers.
A group of people surveying the grassy landscape.

Nature Glenelg Trust

Build and support a volunteer-based passive environmental monitoring program.
Three adults and a child standing, surrounded by bush.

Friends of Ocean Grove Nature Reserve

Creation of a new web app to adapt and expand the capability of Surf Coast Nature Search.
People in hi-vis vests walking down stairs and looking out over the water, with boats and cityscape in the background.

headspace Early Psychosis

Design and implement a ten-week volunteer program for young people.
Overhead view of a yellow teapot and cups of tea on a colourful tablecloth.

Bush Connections

Design and implement a program that combines forest bathing and conservation volunteering.
People wearing hi-vis vests, safety hats and equipment on a forest path surrounded by plants and trees.

Bushwalking Victoria

Invite bushwalkers and readers to volunteer for nature.
Hooded plovers under shelter in the sand.

Friends of the Hooded Plover, Bass Coast

Trial new approaches to strengthen volunteer participation in Hooded Plover conservation.
Ferns, trees and plants.

Community Weed Alliance of the Dandenongs

End to end project that continues mapping cool temperate rainforest.
A koala in a tree.

Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation

Work with local community and students to improve koala habitat in Dromana.
An uphill forest path between trees and plants.

The Scout Association of Australia, Victoria Branch

Scout Rover Units (age 18-26) will manage a project to rejuvenate and maintain rail trails.
People walking in small groups down a grassy hill.

Connecting Country

Guided and signposted bird walk, including launch celebrations of a virtual experience.
People kneeling on the ground, planting trees.

Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater

A series of co-designed activities, informed by the Wurundjeri calendar to protect and restore Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve.
A group of five female friends hugging and posing on the beach.

Lord Somers Camp and Power House

Free four-part environmental volunteering series for 50 young people aged 18-25 from diverse cultural backgrounds.
A group of smiling adults and kids with a Parks Victoria ranger posing between planted trees.

Jane Goodalls’ Roots and Shoots Australia

Year-long leadership program for fifteen 18-30 year olds.
Two women paused in their tree planting work on a grassy hill.

Parklands Albury Wodonga

Increase the Parks Stewardship Program in North East Victoria through two new approaches.

Round 2

Congratulations to the following successful applicants in round two. Read about the successful round two projects underway.

A river flowing between bush and farm land.

Southern Otway Landcare Network

Reconnect the hills to the sea by restoring the Kennett River.
Close up of an owl in a tree in daylight.

Westgate Biodiversity: Bili Nursery and Landcare

Provide breeding habitat at Westgate Park for our most important urban wildlife.
A tree growing among rocks with a river in the background.

Merri Creek Management Committee

Protect 8 different threatened species, through a series of walks, workshops and working bees.
Collage of images of people working and gathered outdoors.

Horseshoe Bend Community Garden Group

Establish, restore and maintain food, native and sensory gardens and a fruit orchard.
A top-down view of a person holding a tray of seedlings.

Cairnlea Conservation Reserves Committee of Management

Run a wildflower propagation team – from home!
Community members and rangers gathered and working in a garden.

Werribee Park Farm Community Hub

Social enterprise to connect the local culturally and linguistically diverse community share skills through hands-on activities.
Members of The Friends of Terrick Terrick National Park.

The Friends of the Terrick Terrick National Park

Engage traditional elders, indigenous youth and volunteers to capture the environmental and cultural history of the Terrick Terrick National Park with murals.
Close up of a seated person wearing native animal fur and holding a carved wooden tool in their hands.

Connecting to Country

Bring together local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and youth to partake in a conservation and land management program.
Two children and a man planting trees using shovels.

Friends of Newlands Reserve

Partner with local schools to create quality interactive walking trails.
A person standing in front of an alpine hut with 3D modelling camera equipment.

Victorian High Country Huts Association

Create 3D computer models of the Victorian High Country huts.
Split image featuring a possum on a branch at night time on the left and a Swift Parrot clinging to a leafy branch in daylight on the right.

Biolinks Alliance

Purchase monitoring technology to demonstrate how to ‘re-set’ damaged forest to recover & withstand climate change.
Two women wearing dark glasses reaching out and touching leaves on a tree with their hands.

Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria

Engage people who are blind or vision impaired and sighted volunteers in a series of group forest immersion walks.

Round 3

Congratulations to the following successful applicants in round three. Read about the successful Round 3 projects underway.

Two women and a man in exercise clothing and gloves standing on grass, holding bags of collected rubbish.

For Wild Places

Sports activism is our tool for change as we encourage trail users and nature lovers to become advocates of wild places.
A group of people sitting and watching while a standing man gestures in front of a projected presentation.

Threatened Species Conservancy

Implement a monitoring program for threatened bird species in the Otway region.
Four people in hi-visibility vests standing and crouching in long grass looking down at the ground.

Whittlesea Community Connections

Establish a grassland seed production area and collaborate with Traditional Owners to protect indigenous environmental knowledge.
A person in a helmet and pink safety vest rides a TrioBike, with another person sitting on the padded seat of the TrioBike holding two thumbs up, while two smiling and helmeted women stand next to the TrioBike.

Rushworth Events Inc.

Pilot a program where Rushworth residents physically unable to cycle will be passengers in specially designed and constructed TrioBikes.
A group of people wearing backpacks walking along a path through vegetation towards water in the background.

Out Doors Inc.

Connect disadvantaged communities with the environment with free outdoor programs.
Five birds grouped together on a tree branch.

Loddon Plains Landcare Network

Stage a mini birding festival in spring, called the Bird Day Out.
Colourfully decorated upright logs of wood, with a bird mural on the wall of a structure in the background.

Philip Island Nature Parks

Diversify and expand our volunteer team by delivering tailored, age-appropriate activities for young people.
Two men smiling at the camera while shoveling a pile of gravel, with groups of people and tree saplings in the background.

Canopy Accelerator Co-operative Limited

Establish a pilot community-owned tree nursery to encourage the social and economic inclusion of residents to increase the tree canopy.
A group of people standing under a bridge, listening to a presenter, with a graffiti wall in the background.

Yarra Riverkeeper Association Inc.

A series of volunteer events at Burnley Harbour Bouldering wall, to join forces with the climbing community and regenerate the park.
A fenced area of grass and trees.

Collingwood Children’s Farm

Engage young people in regenerative agriculture and 21st century pasture management.
People in safety vests digging and transporting soil with a train station and train in the background.

Glenbervie Stationeers

A streetscape improvement and community activation initiative at Glenbervie Station.
A woman in sunglasses stands next to a track sign holding a cordless drill.

Growling Grass Frog Inc.

Citizen science project to provide long-term weed monitoring.

Span Community House

Establish a planned program of outdoor activities to expand the engagement of an at-risk community to connect with nature,

Friends of Kooyoora Inc.

Produce a flora field guide which considers how the young mind operates and is educational, engaging and entertaining.
A man in a straw hat standing in the long grass and looking down at the video equipment he is holding.

The Grassy Plains Network

Partner with 6 organisations to create multi-lingual communication tools to engage CALD communities.
Woman looking down at a phone against a background of trees and sunlight.

Earthwatch Institute Australia

Build volunteer’s confidence and sense of community through improvements to the ClimateWatch app.
Two people with cameras filming an older woman sitting on a park bench, with a group of people gathered in the background.

Friends of Mount Worth State Park

Produce 6 short films across the seasons to present a “year in the life of Mount Worth State Park”.
Two women and a man crouched on the sand surveying and collecting samples, with a trolley of supplies in the background, and a woman taking notes on a clipboard in the foreground.

Port Philip EcoCentre

Five volunteer groups will be linked and upskilled to map understudied dune and intertidal habitat zones.
A group of people standing in a forest, listening to a presenter.

MYCOmmunity Applied Mycology Inc

Upskill existing volunteer networks in fungal identification and monitoring.
Person in pink hi-vis safety vest and orange safety helmet standing under and surveying a tree.

Eco Warriors Inc

Utilise volunteers to monitor at least 500 nest boxes previously installed on Parks Victoria land across Victoria.
A group walking along a path between trees and vegetation.

Friends of Bunyip State Park

Partner with the Nature Watch program and install and use motion-detection cameras to conduct citizen science.
Cape Beach Daisy on sand dunes.

Belfast Coast Reserve Action Group

The first major community-driven project of its kind in Victoria to remove the Cape Beach Daisy.

Round 4

Congratulations to the following successful applicants in round four. Read about the successful Round 4 projects underway.

Southern Ocean Environmental Link

Work with Great Ocean Stays and Deakin University to lead a biodiversity assessment of fish and seabird species.

Michael Amor

Train volunteers to survey and French Island to determine the abundance of Australia’s rarest fungus, tea-tree fingers.

Wonyip Landcare Group

Conduct a community-led biodiversity survey in the cool temperate forest of Strzelecki Ranges.

Australasian Native Orchid Society - Victorian Group

Connect botany and environmental students with government and community groups to conduct citizen science on two endangered orchids.

Trustee for Nature Glenelg Trust

Establish the on-ground monitoring program that supports people to engage in science based volunteering at over 100 parks and reserves.

Friends of the Hooded Plover Victoria

Create a Community Coastal Champion monitoring program to expand to other bird species and coastal habitats including threatened migratory and coastal birds.

Buloke and Northern Grampians Landcare Network

Host a four-week festival in Spring 2023, coinciding with the Victorian Nature Festival.

Bendigo Family Nature Club

Deliver four pilot events that invite families to volunteer to protect the natural environment.

Landcare Western Port Catchment Network

Design and deliver an education program and competition for students to identify and propose solutions for environmental issues relevant to their local area and research.

BirdLife Australia

Integrate volunteers into the development, installation and monitoring of artificial nests/roosts on reserves in northern Victoria.

Deakin University

Launch an inclusive citizen science program to long-term monitoring of spider crabs in Port Phillip Bay.

Prom Coast Ecolink

Map the biodiversity values of the Hoddle Range Flora Reserve and increase community awareness.

The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network Inc.

Partner with botanists, Traditional Owners and Organisations to conduct a flora survey in Woolsthorpe Nature Conservation Reserve.

OzFish Unlimited

Utilise the OzFish Unlimited ‘River Repair Bus’ to carry out on-ground works along the Murray Darling Basin region.

Darebin Creek Management Committee

Establish a citizen science program to report on the ecological connectivity between Gresswell Nature Conservation Reserves and Darebin Creek.

Rejoice Community Centre

Engage Chinese migrants in an environmental volunteering program at Warrandyte State Park.

Accelerated Evolution - The Break Inc.

Map the Yarra River from Dight Falls to Port Phillip Bay and geo-tag significant plants with information.

Wedderburn Conservation Management Network

Four, full-day adventures that include training workshops, and practical walk-shops.

Remember The Wild LTD

Produce a short film and online resources to inform and upskill community groups to make their initiatives more accessible to those living with disabilities.

Friends of Bannockburn Bush

Train and equip Geelong Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Volunteers to enable them to conduct the new wildling removal project.

Strathbogie Ranges Conservation Management Network

Work with community to recruit volunteers to conduct citizen science in the Forgotten Reserves of the Strathbogie Ranges.


  • What is the Volunteering Innovation Fund?

    The Volunteering Innovation Fund is part of the Victoria’s Great Outdoors program, which seeks to get more Victorians, from all walks of life outdoors enjoying nature.

    The Volunteering Innovation Fund aligns with two important Strategies;

    Protecting Victoria’s Environment - Biodiversity 2037

    Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 is the Victorian State Government’s policy response to addressing the decline in biodiversity. The Biodiversity Plan presents a long-term vision for Victoria’s biodiversity supported by two goals:

    1. Victorians Value Nature, and

    2. Victoria’s natural environment is healthy.

    Specific targets have been developed to deliver on these goals, and 20 priorities have been identified to guide actions. Conservation actions delivered through the plan will be more strategic, deliver better value for money and will be underpinned by the best available science to ensure efforts deliver the most benefit for the most species.

    Victorians Volunteering for Nature - Environmental Volunteering Plan

    Supporting, improving and expanding the environmental volunteering sector in Victoria will contribute directly to the vision and goals of Biodiversity 2037. Of particular relevance is the target of five million Victorians acting to protect the natural environment by 2037.

    The Volunteering Innovation Fund aims to inspire ideas and fuel innovation by funding community-led projects that consider new ways of volunteering in and for the environment to help reach this target.

  • What will applications be assessed against?

    All applications will be assessed at the conclusion of each round by a panel of assessors on the following criteria:

    • • 40% Innovation: how innovative is the project?
    • • 30% Volunteerism: does it address the 'Victorians Volunteering for Nature Environmental Volunteering Plan'?
    • • 20% Merit: what are the overarching benefits of the project?
    • • 10% Legacy: will the project leave a legacy?

    As part of the Volunteerism criteria, projects must address one or more of the following ‘Victorians Volunteering for Nature, Environmental Volunteering Plan’ Key Focus Areas:


    • • Increase the number of volunteers participating for the first time
    • • Support existing volunteer groups to retain, support and grow volunteering
    • • Develop sustainable models of volunteering
    • • Improve volunteer management


    • • Increase the number and diversity of people volunteering in our parks and forests
    • • Develop new and innovative approaches to volunteering
    • • Expand volunteering opportunities into areas currently not offered
    • • Enhance inclusivity and accessibility to volunteers and visitors


    • • Celebrate volunteering
    • • Promote the benefits of volunteering


    • • Identify and encourage new volunteer partnerships
    • • Understand more about environmental volunteering
  • Where can projects be located?

    Projects must be conducted on and/or benefit Crown land within Victoria. Projects conducted on private and council land/reserves/estates are not eligible.

    Projects can be conducted on and/or benefit both Crown land and other parcels of land, for example: a volunteering event with bus transfers which includes volunteering activities on Crown land and driving the volunteers somewhere else, such as a lunch venue.

  • If I run an existing program, can it receive funding as part of the Volunteering Innovation Fund?

    Yes, we are encouraging existing volunteers and volunteer organisations to apply. All applications will be assessed against the same criteria.

    Applications need to demonstrate innovation and align with the Victorians Volunteering for Nature Environmental Volunteering Plan as well as show merit, and overarching benefits. Existing volunteer programs may demonstrate these things by expanding and diversifying their volunteer base in creative ways, offering more diverse volunteer experiences (such as one-day opportunities rather than ongoing memberships) etc.  

  • What projects won’t be funded?

    The following projects are ineligible:

    • Projects already underway

    • Projects conducted on private land/reserves/estates

    • Projects that will cause harm

    • Projects conducted on council land/reserves/estates

    • Capital Works projects

    • Projects that require a Cultural heritage Management Plan

  • Where can I learn more?

    We’re here to help and want to make sure applying for funding is easy. There is a wealth of information on ParkConnect to support people and organisations wishing to apply for funding through the Volunteering Innovation Fund. This includes fact sheets, funding guidelines, and video tutorials.

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