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Massive cash splash for Orange community projects - is your club or group eligible?

August 5, 2022

The funding helped The Orchard domestic violence facility become a reality. Digital art/Supplied.

By Peter Holmes

The NSW government - once fat on easy stamp duty cash - is now drowning in debt.

A global pandemic, devastating floods and a war in Ukraine will do that.

But community groups in the Orange Local Government Area (LGA) and surrounding areas should fear not, as the Perrottet conservative government is continuing to throw the folding stuff about, despite forecasting a budget deficit in NSW for 2022/23 of $11.3 billion.

What's that bacon smell in the air? Ah yes, a state election in March.

Still, the regions have long had to scramble for even a whiff of a fair share, and the projects being funded are worthwhile and, in some cases absolutely necessary, so your club or group might as well take the loot while it's on offer, as it won't last forever.

On Friday morning the state government was promoting the latest round of regional spending in the $660 million Stronger Country Communities Fund (SCCF), which has been running for five years. Applications open today.

Round five will see a total of $160 million given to groups in 93 regional LGAs statewide, at an average of about $1.7 million each.

The Orange LGA will receive a maximum of about $1.9 million, while the state electorate of Orange - including the LGAs of Orange, Cabonne, Parkes and Forbes - will receive a maximum combined total of about $6.2 million.

NSW upper house MP Sam Farraway said the program had seen $500 million spent over the past four rounds, on more than 2,000 projects across regional NSW.

"I strongly encourage eligible organisations to apply," he said.

"If you are a local sporting club in need of new change rooms, or a youth group running holiday programs, this is your chance to secure support to deliver projects that will make a real difference in your community."

Lighting received a $700,000 boost. Supplied.

Records show that Orange City Council has been a key beneficiary of the state's largesse, allowing it to fund projects such as building villas to provide accommodation for women and children at risk at The Orchard ($684,859); upgrading track and storage facilities at Gosling Creek ($256,240); establishing Orange Youth Hub ($336,620) and the Orange CBD lighting upgrade ($700,000).

The $660 million SCCF is part of the NSW government’s $3.3 billion Regional Growth Fund.

In his June budget state treasurer Matt Kean said that although the state was racking up billions in debt, it was good debt. It was almost a Labor-like performance from the state's money man.

And, Kean said, peering into a treasury crystal ball that has shown over the decades to be prone to fogginess, the deficits wouldn't last long, and soon we'd be swimming in cash again.

A spokesperson for Kean told the Guardian in June that "the NSW government is committed to continuing to invest in the state’s productive capacity because, over the long term, the best way to ensure that the state’s finances are strong is to ensure that the state’s economy is strong.”

According to the SCCF guidelines applicants must be one of the following:

  • regional councils and Joint Organisations

  • non-government organisations

  • community organisations registered as incorporated associations

  • Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

Ineligible applicants include:

  • individuals or groups of individuals

  • unincorporated organisations

  • for-profit commercial organisations

  • applicants located in Greater Sydney, Wollongong or Newcastle.

"Community amenity projects must be local projects that enhance the lives and wellbeing of regional communities," stated SCCF guidelines. "General community amenity projects must be for either:

  • construction of new or upgrades to existing local community or sporting infrastructure

  • capital works related to street beautification and other public places that promote the health, happiness and wellbeing of the community

  • delivering programs that benefit the local community and provide public benefit

  • infrastructure to assist the delivery of general community programs

  • infrastructure or community projects or programs which improve and promote accessibility and inclusion.

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