COMMUNITY groups, councils and other organisations across Western NSW are being urged to apply for funding with the latest round of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) opening.
The Australian Government has committed $200 million in funds for Round 5 of the program including $100 million for community infrastructure projects and $100 million specifically for tourism related infrastructure which is focused on providing targeted support for the industry following the upheaval from COVID-19.
Grants of between $5,000 to $1 million are available to cover 50 per cent or more of eligible project costs.
Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee, urged communities and local government to take advantage of the funding saying it would create jobs and drive economic growth in regional NSW.
"We have had fantastic outcomes in our region as a result of the investment from the Building Better Regions Fund, including almost $7 million to expand Mudgee's Glen Willow Regional Sporting Complex, over $1.118 million for a domestic violence crisis centre in Orange, $1.9 million for the CentrePoint Sport and Leisure Centre in Blayney, $492,410 for a new Multi-Purpose Community Centre at Eugowra Showground and $12.5 million for Bathurst's second racetrack," he said.
The Orange Field Days Co-op secured a $308,175 grant through Round 3 of BBRF to help build their Education and Information Centre at Borenore, and Mr Gee said it was a great example of the power of the BBRF program.
"The construction of this education centre will not only support agriculture but ensure more groups use the Australian National Field Days site, which in turn helps secure the long term sustainability of the much-loved and iconic Field Days," he said.
"The Building Better Regions Fund gives us the opportunity to deliver much needed local projects that drive economic growth and lasting benefits to our community."
Bathurst Regional Council Mayor, Bobby Bourke said councils across the region are also set to take advantage of funding available.
"We've received funding before and will be very hopeful of getting more for a number of projects," he said.
"We know the applications are open and will be discussing it next week, making a list and then sorting out what should receive priority."
Mayor of Dubbo Regional Council, Ben Shields, said that while they would be applying for funding, the Government needed to look at better economic solutions than simply handing out money.
"We are always happy to receive any funding that helps council, but giving away money like this is just a sugar hit, it's a reckless approach" he said.
"Community groups may certainly benefit, but handouts like these don't always provide positive long term effects.
"We have dozens of projects from fixing and upgrading roads to cleaning reserves and improving water security, that would benefit much more from proper federal funding compared to getting small funding for projects that aren't going to make a big difference.
Mayor Shields said that the Australian Government could better use the BBRF budget along with other stimulus packages such as JobSeeker, to build a better economy long term.
"JobSeeker has been a waste of money in our region given we have record low unemployment of 1.4 per cent," he said.
The Government has to realise local councils are crying out for infrastructure and these projects would better serve the community in terms of jobs, economies and long term benefits.
"We can no longer simply look at next year or the year after, we need to be looking at what will be needed in the next 50 to 100 years."
Applications for Round 5 opened on Tuesday, January 12 and close on Friday, March 5, with successful applicants expected to be announced in mid-2021.
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