Federal funds branch out to councils

The Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) is a $1 billion federal program investing a first round of $150 million in 35 projects worth almost $418 million.

Most of the projects fall under local government, with clubs, societies and non-for-profit organisations making up the remainder.

These projects are primarily community buildings, cultural and tourist projects, training centres and regional airport upgrades.

Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean said the RDAF is part of the government’s $4.3 billion budget commitment towards regional investments including health and hospitals, skills, higher education and infrastructure.

“Up to $100 million was initially made available for investment-ready projects that supported the growth of local communities across the country,” Mr Crean said.

He said due to the high demand of funds, the available limit was extended to $150 million for Round One.

Projects varied nationally, with $7 million allocated towards the $21 million Newcastle Art Gallery Redevelopment.

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Ron Ramsey said the process with the RDAF has been “particularly helpful” for providing project advice on what is required and when in terms of the outcome.

“We’ve found the exchange to be very positive and supportive as much as they could be with very clear direction advice,” Mr Ramsey said.

According to Mr Ramsey, due to the funding announcement being so recent, vendors for the redevelopment have not yet gone to tender.

NSW-based Lismore City Council will receive $4.96 million for the $5.99 million Lismore City Hall upgrade.

Mayor Jenny Dowell said council will contribute close to $1 million to the project, which has been set aside in the 2012-13 budget, as part of the funding agreement.

Victorian-based council City of Greater Bendigo will receive $12.3 million for a $25.8 million community theatre.

Mayor Rod Fyffe said the next step in the project will be to finalise funding support from the State Government and produce detailed designs and approvals.

Projects in other states included $5 million to Rockhampton Regional Council for the $15 million Rockhampton Southside Memorial Pool redevelopment in Queensland; Glenorchy City Council received $2.32 million for the $15.9 million Glenorchy Art Sculpture Park Stage Two project.

The Shire of Roebourne in Western Australia received $15 million for the $65 million Karratha Leisure Complex; Barossa Council received $4.81 million for a $5.44 million bicycle/walking path; and Alice Springs Town Council received $3.5 million for the $5.04 million regional waste management centre.

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