My speech in Parliament on local community recipients of funding under the Stronger Communities Programme, Wednesday 2nd March, 2016

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (19:40): In 2015 the Australian government announced the Stronger Communities Program to fund small capital works projects in local communities, matched dollar for dollar or in kind. Funding was set at $300,000 per electorate over a two-year period, with round 1 having commenced in 2015. Grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 are available under the Stronger Communities Program. In partnership with the Hume City Council and Brimbank City Council, my office formed a committee and called for expressions of interest from our local community. My community responded enthusiastically to this program and I am very pleased tonight to announce six community groups—so far—in my electorate who have been successful in the first round. I would like to congratulate these community groups and the projects for which they have received funding.

I would like to begin with the Greenvale Football Club, which received $20,000 to fund the construction and fit-out of its canteen and a new set of public toilets. The Greenvale Football Club is an Australian Rules club operating out of Greenvale Recreation Reserve, and for years it has struggled with the need for a services building, including a storage shed, a canteen, and new public toilets. Congratulations to Greenvale Football Club, especially their president, Mr Bruce Kent, for a much-needed improvement for a very great local club.

The next group I would like to congratulate is the Keilor St Bernard's Athletic Club, which received $10,097 for a high jump facility for Keilor Park. The Keilor St Bernard's Athletic Club is a long-term licensed user of the Keilor Park Athletics Track, along with Keilor Little Athletics and the numerous schools who use the track for school athletics meetings. The club wishes to upgrade the current high jump facility at Keilor Park by introducing an international standard high jump bag and associated equipment. This bag will be available to all users and will provide a safe jumping environment to all athletes—especially the advanced teenagers and senior athletes. I also very much look forward to seeing the new high jump bag in use by the young athletes who use the athletics tracks. Congratulations to the athletics club president, Mr Ian Upton, for submitting a successful grant proposal on behalf of his club.

The next group I want to congratulate is the Keilor Electric Off-Road Car Association, who received $7,000 to build their permanent pit area. The Keilor Electric Off-Road Car Association is located at Keilor Park Recreation Reserve and is a club of about 130 members. Their project will comprise the construction of a sheltered area with a roof that will provide shelter from the weather for participants who enjoy using the track. I am pleased that the association has received funding to develop the track and improve its facilities for its members. Congratulations also to the president, Mark Polistena, and to the entire association on receiving the grant.


Next up is the Craigieburn Fire Brigade, under the auspices of the Country Fire Authority, which has received $10,000 for the purchase of a brigade emergency response vehicle. The Craigieburn Country Fire Authority has been working hard to fundraise for a new emergency vehicle for its fleet. They upgrade their vehicles every few years to ensure that they have the best resources available to help the community in their time of need. They have been fundraising for two years, and with this grant can now afford to buy a new vehicle. I am very pleased that the Craigieburn Fire Brigade has received funding to purchase a new emergency response vehicle. This is indeed a very worthwhile and much-needed addition for a group that works very hard to protect our community. Congratulations to secretary Mr Chris Grey and all members of the Craigieburn CFA.

Finally, the Brimbank Bicycle Education Centre has received $17,000 for the refurbishment and upgrade of the centre. This centre was developed as a joint project between the Rotary Club of Brimbank Central and the then Keilor Council in 1993. The committee of management have formed partnerships with numerous local organisations, including the Lions Club of Taylors Lakes, and four local secondary schools.

The centre not only runs bicycle and traffic safety programs—which had catered for over 1,500 preschool and primary school children by the end of 2015—but also offers programs for people of all abilities and hospitality training for unemployed youth. They are also hoping to start a Men's Shed and to purchase and refurbish a decommissioned tram to make it a community meeting place. The centre is a great resource for residents of Brimbank and is always looking for innovative and novel ways to engage the local community. I look forward to seeing how the upgrade of the centre will help them to continue to serve the community. Congratulations to all the recipients who have received funding for these very worthwhile projects. I await the outcomes for the remaining worthwhile projects awaiting a decision.