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A number of key projects from Mallacoota to Swift’s Creek have been funded in the latest round of the Federal and State funded Local Economic Recovery (LER) grants program announced today and while local MP’s are happy, they want more.

Local Federal and State representatives, Darren Chester and Tim Bull said this morning it was due reward for many community groups, adding there was now a need to get these projects started and completed.

They described the outcomes as huge wins for East Gippsland.

“Each of these projects are significant to the local communities and it’s a real reward for the hard work of volunteer groups that Tim and I have been able to work together to secure this much needed funding,” Mr Chester said.

“It’s taken longer than many would have liked, but we’re about to see some more recovery action cross the region. It’s critical that work starts as soon as possible.

“Each of these projects will help create local jobs in bushfire impacted communities and deliver long term benefits for locals and visitors to our region.”

Mr Bull said the fact this round of the program was heavily oversubscribed indicated more funds should be allocated from both levels of government and he and Darren would work with those groups to achieve funds from other sources.

“I have also spoken to Bushfire Recovery Victoria and suggested that some of the unsuccessful applicants should be directed to other government grant streams, which will occur,” he said.

“Our recovery is going to take a long time and we need to continue support to these communities, but this is a good start and a number of these projects like those at Mallacoota, Swift’s Creek, Bruthen and the Rail Trail are projects we advocated strongly for in our discussions.

“It is also pleasing to see that over $9m of the $14m on offer is coming to East Gippsland. We were the most severely impacted and I believe we were somewhat short changed in the first round. This is a point I have made strongly with Bushfire Recovery Victoria and the Minister,” he said.

Mr Chester added “we’re determined to keep getting stuff done across East Gippsland and if more funding is required for projects that make our region a better place to live, work, visit and raise a family, I want to assure the community we will help secure the money that’s needed.

“There is still unspent bushfire recovery funding available for us to apply for and Bully and I will be working with all levels of government to secure our share of that money.”

East Gippsland Projects funded under this round:

$1.92 million to upgrade the Swift’s Creek Recreation Reserve that is a critical asset for surrounding communities.

The funded project will replace the existing changerooms, tennis clubroom and social room with one accessible multipurpose building. It will also replace the existing netball court with a competition-compliant one.

$1.89 million to redevelop the Mallacoota Golf Course that suffered significant vegetation loss during the fires.

The Mallacoota Golf Course was severely impacted by the fires and this redevelopment will renew this important recreational asset by revegetating the course into a new links layout, creating an architecturally and environmentally significant golf course.

The layout will follow the natural contours of the coastal land, emulating a true links golf course, with little or no impact on the surrounding environment. The project will also include a public walking trail that will create a continuous circuit from Bastion Point Road to Davis Creek, Betka Beach and back, taking walkers through woodland forest, clay heathland and coastal dunes.

$1.5 million to upgrade the surface of the iconic East Gippsland Rail Trail.

This project will upgrade the surface of the trail, which is one of our most popular year- round tourism attractions, delivering a safe, high-quality trail for all-season cultural and nature-based experiences.

$1.07 million to upgrade facilities at the Bruthen Recreation Reserve to make them more accessible and support the growth of community sports.

The project will upgrade existing amenities and provide additional amenities for club members. It will also construct a second netball court to cater to the expanding club and ensure long-term viability of the playing surfaces for netball and tennis.

$818,000 to upgrade the Mallacoota Hall that was the town’s primary refuge facility during the bushfires and a relief centre in the weeks following.

The hall is Mallacoota’s largest community facility and is used for a wide variety of activities and functions, and was the town’s primary refuge, relief and recovery facility in the 2019-20 bushfires.

This project will improve the day-to-day functionality of the hall, including relocating the main entry to improve accessibility, the creation of additional spaces for storage and offices, and expansion of the existing kitchen.

$432,549 to a mobile Play2Learn program that will engage vulnerable families in informal play spaces and community events.

The Mobile Play2Learn program aims to develop community resilience by extending early childhood and family support services for East Gippsland’s most vulnerable families in bushfire-affected areas.

The program will visit several communities each week, engaging vulnerable children and their families in informal play spaces and at community events to facilitate social connection, build parenting capacity through facilitated play and improve early childhood development, educational and wellbeing outcomes.

$402,125 for an all abilities upgrade to improve the visitor experience at the Lakes Entrance Recreation Reserve.

The upgrade will replace the existing facilities that were built more than 60 years ago. The project includes the construction of an all abilities family room with new amenities that will reduce the facility’s carbon footprint through solar power, insulation and on-demand hot water services.

$362,000 for the development of a cultural walk in Orbost that will support the community to connect with land and culture.

This project includes the development of a cultural walk on a 40-acre property in Orbost, where community can visit to connect with land and culture.

The walk will comprise areas for reflection and healing from the fire events, and opportunities to engage with local Elders. It will include education areas where schools or community groups can come and engage with Aboriginal community.

Native plants will be cultivated and used to re-establish areas that were damaged by the fires. The property will also include a Nursery that will provide employment and training opportunities for young Aboriginal people.

$336,000 to upgrade the Marlo Community Hall that plays a critical role as a community gathering point during emergencies.

The hall was built in 1958 and needs vital upgrades. The project will include repairs to the roof and walls, painting, upgrade of the amenities and bringing the kitchen up to current commercial standards. It will also include the installation of insulation and air conditioning to ensure the hall is comfortable year-round.

$296,000 to rebuild the Mallacoota Pony Club facilities that were destroyed by the bushfires.

The fires destroyed key infrastructure and the rebuilding project will include re-fencing the games arena, replacing awnings on the club room, construction of new amenities, renewal of the cross-country course and replacement of all jumps. It will also renew the car and float parking area and spectator seating and replace general equipment that was lost.

$87,260 to support community participation to improve community facilities in Goongerah.

This project seeks to directly support the community of Goongerah through the construction of a multi-purpose concrete court at the local hall

$40,250 for the construction of an accessible canoe launch on the Snowy River in Buchan and signage to improve the visitor experience.

The Balley Hooley Campground at Buchan is the primary exit point for canoe and kayak paddling on the Snowy River.  This project will construct accessible canoe launch infrastructure and install signage at the campground and day visitor area to enhance the visitor experience.

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