While the announcement of $25 million for the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF) is welcome, the City of Casey waits with bated breath for the October State Budget.
The total funding available through the fund is now $25 million – half of what was previously shared by the ten Interface Councils and, this year, the funding will also be shared with six Peri-Urban Councils.
The City of Casey takes pride in its ongoing positive collaboration with the State Government and is hopeful the State Budget in October will provide additional funding support for the Casey community, who have been some of the hardest hit by the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Chairing the most recent Interface Councils Forum, Interim Administrator at the City of Whittlesea, Lydia Wilson said:
“The Growing Suburbs Fund is a fund that delivers for individuals and families by reducing levers of disadvantage. It increases community engagement, supports mental wellbeing and improves access to health infrastructure services,” she said.
“At a time like this, Interface Councils believes the GSF will provide essential support for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people.”
The GSF is an established program and every dollar invested by Government is matched or doubled by other funding sources. This amount of leveraging is a real benefit for the State Government.
The returns far exceed other funding programs, such as the Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme, where the State Government contributes up to 90 per cent of the cost of a project.
More than 360,000 people live in Casey and more than 1.6 million people live in the Interface Councils Region, but the fund will now provide support for an additional 200,000 people who live in the Peri-Urban Group of Rural Councils.
COVID-19 has seen a spike in family violence and incidents of mental illness due to rapid unemployment. In the City of Casey and the rest of Melbourne’s outer suburban areas, the existing gap of essential health and human services and critical infrastructure is widening even further.
City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM highlighted the importance of the funding received to date.
“The Growing Suburbs Fund has helped deliver ten family and community service hubs and eight major sport and recreation projects, which are vital in creating a connected community.
“GSF is a key part of the funding needed to address the needs of our fast-growing community.”
Historically, the GSF has contributed to the City of Casey with projects including the Selandra Community Hub (pictured above), and the Clyde North and Endeavour Hills community precincts. These places are where local networks are formed and people’s lives are improved.
In addition to the social benefits generated, more than 6,000 jobs have been created by the Growing Suburbs Fund across the Interface councils region. This is important in a region where a good mix of local jobs is scarce and unemployment is the highest in Victoria.
The City of Casey has received $20.5 m for 18 priority projects over the past five years.
There has been an oversubscription to the GSF’s priority project funding round every year, which shows the willingness of Councils to financially commit to these important community projects.
The City of Casey is hopeful the upcoming budget will include another Growing Suburbs Fund announcement and provide additional assistance to people currently living in outer suburban areas without the adequate infrastructure or support.
All Interface Councils Growing Suburbs Fund Progress Reports and the GSF Social Benefits Brochure are available on the Interface Councils website.