Voting for the ‘My Community Project’ grant program opens today.
Local residents will have just one month to vote for their favourite local projects before it closes on 15 August 2019.
But Illawarra Labor MPs have expressed concerns with the voting process arguing that many disadvantaged communities in the electorates of Keira, Wollongong and Shellharbour do not have access to the Internet and this will skew the final selection of successful projects.
Residents in the electorate of Shellharbour will also be forced to travel to Warrawong, Wollongong and Kiama Service NSW Centres to vote because no Service NSW Centres currently exists in the Shellharbour electorate.
Currently in its first year, My Community Project will provide funding to local community projects based on the results of a public vote.
To be eligible to vote residents must be over the age of 16, and have a valid Medicare card as verification. Voting can be completed online at: mycommunityproject.service.nsw.gov.au or in-person at a Service NSW Centre.
Voters will need to select between three and five local projects and arrange them in order of their preference before submitting their vote. Each person can vote only once.
Projects that receive the highest preferential votes will be funded. A total funding of around $260,000 is available for each electorate and successful projects will be announced in September 2019.
A list of projects in the electorates of Keira, Wollongong and Shellharbour are attached.
As noted by Ryan Park MP, Member for Keira:
“I encourage everyone to go online and vote for some of the great projects that have been proposed in our community.
“I am concerned that some projects will be disadvantaged and receive fewer votes than they deserve because of limited access to the internet in some pockets of my community. I hope the Minister takes this into account in future rounds of the program.”
As noted by Paul Scully MP, Member for Wollongong:
“I encourage all residents in the Wollongong electorate to have their say on their preferred local community projects.
“I am very concerned, however, that many disadvantaged communities in my electorate may not have access to the Internet and this may skew the vote in favour of projects where Internet accessibility is the highest.”
As noted by Anna Watson MP, Member for Shellharbour:
“I’d like to wish good luck to all local schools, sports clubs, community groups, and not-for-profit groups that submitted a project for this program and happy voting to all Shellharbour residents.
“Unfortunately for residents of the Shellharbour electorate that don’t have internet access or wish to vote in person, they’ll need to travel into Warrawong, Wollongong or Kiama to have their say.
“I can only hope the Minister listens to my community’s plea for a local Service NSW Centre and that next year every member of my community has the same, convenient access to vote on the projects that matter to them as the rest of the Illawarra.”