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Drought-affected communities in Gippsland now have a chance to bid for a share of $200 million from the Federal Government to support infrastructure projects and community-building initiatives.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said round four of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF), which opened today, was aimed at communities enduring drought.

“One way we can help is by providing money to generate and support economic activity, including through building new infrastructure or planning for future growth,” Mr Chester said.

“This fourth round of the Building Better Regions Fund is dedicated to creating economic stimulus and delivering lasting benefits to our communities impacted by drought.”

The BBRF comprises two streams. The infrastructure stream provides between $20,000 and $10 million for construction, upgrade or extension of infrastructure in drought-affected areas. The community investment stream offers grants between $5000 and $1 million for new or expanded local events, strategic regional plans, or leadership and capability strengthening activities that will provide economic and social benefits.

Mr Chester said the Federal Government was committed to supporting farmers and farming communities.

“I want to encourage eligible organisations with a project ready to go to apply for funding under this round of the BBRF, so we can create lasting benefits for our local communities, and then pull through and recover from this terrible drought,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester has helped Gippsland secure a significant share of funding available through the BBRF in the previous three rounds. These projects include:

  • $2.32 million for Mirridong Services to build new accommodation units in Yarram
  • $1.5 million to build mountain bike trails near Omeo
  • $750,000 for a viewing platform at Jemmy’s Point, Kalimna
  • $725,000 for community clubrooms at Mallacoota, and
  • $500,000 to expand Gippsland Lakes Community Health’s Bairnsdale site.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the announcement was part of the Federal Government’s latest package of drought assistance.
  • “Communities across the country are suffering from the effects of this prolonged dry-spell and this extra funding will help get local projects and infrastructure work under way to strengthen regional economies, keep tradies in work and money generating through local stores,” Mr McCormack said.

“The BBRF is a central plank of our commitment to supporting stronger regions, supporting local jobs by investing in ‘shovel-ready’ projects across regional Australia that are doing it tough during this drought to ensure communities thrive and survive.

“Previous projects have ranged from building community-based aged care facilities, training programs to support young people in starting their own business and improving freight access to airports.

“The first three rounds of BBRF were highly competitive with more than 2,600 applications received and 832 projects funded, totalling just over $643 million.”

Applications are now open and close on December 19, 2019.

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