• Tony Bosworth

Labor promises crisis refuge west of the river with $2.5m towards upgrade of Northo community centre

Updated: May 5

During the 2021 floods the North Richmond Community Centre became the go-to-place for those who had to evacuate, but west of the river has no official evacuation point, an issue Labor says will be put right with $2.5m of funding, if they get elected.

MP Susan Templeman, volunteer Sharon Stevens, North Richmond Community Centre Manager Birgit Walter, and Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management, Senator Murray Watt

Unlike some political announcements during this election campaign, which seem to pop up almost randomly, this one has a lot of thought behind it, with Macquarie MP Susan Templeman having pushed for funding to upgrade the North Richmond centre for a long time.

This morning – Wednesday - Ms Templeman and Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management, Senator Murray Watt, were at the North Richmond centre to announce that an Albanese Labor Government will help Hawkesbury people find refuge in times of crisis by committing $2.5 million to help redevelop the North Richmond Community Centre so it can operate as a first response emergency evacuation point.

“The Hawkesbury region has been through devastating bushfires and repeated floods for more than two years, and those disasters have highlighted the need for improved facilities for residents who are forced to evacuate,” Ms Templeman said.

“This was particularly evident west of the river when homes and businesses were destroyed by the Black Summer bushfires in 2019, and then again when the cutting of bridges and roads by floods created isolation in 2021.

“In addition, it is high time there was investment in community facilities west of the river, for non-emergency use.”

“This funding, which would be added to by state or local government funds, would help redevelop and transform the North Richmond Community Centre into not only a vibrant and sustainable community hub for residents, but also an evacuation centre,” said the MP.

The investment would assist with the first stage of proposed upgrades to the centre, which include:

  • An upgrade of the kitchen, revitalised façade, entry points and playground, plus a mix of active and passive outdoor spaces with seating, shaded areas, barbecues and a bike track;

  • The addition of two men’s and two women’s shower cubicles for evacuation use;

  • Creating additional space;

  • Upgraded air-conditioning systems; and

  • An upgrade to the existing IT system.

“This commitment would not only mean more community facilities during the good times, but a safe haven for residents to turn to during times of trouble,” Ms Templeman said.

“Extraordinarily important community connections are made thanks to the programs that operate out of the North Richmond Community Centre. From connecting mums and bubs with each other, its youth programs and its seniors’ offerings, the centre is a real mainstay of this community.

“I am very proud an Albanese Labor Government would work with Hawkesbury Council to deliver an incredibly valuable piece of infrastructure.”

Ms Templeman says the community centre will be funded through Labor’s Disaster Ready Fund, which will revamp the Morrison Government’s Emergency Response Fund, and invest up to $200 million per year on disaster prevention and resilience.

Ms Templeman says three years after it was announced, the government’s $4.8 billion Emergency Response Fund has not spent a cent on disaster recovery and has not completed a single disaster prevention project.

“All it has done is earn the Morrison Government over $800 million in interest,” she says.

“Labor will put these funds to work to keep locals safe, keep properties safe and reduce the cost of repairing damage from natural disasters.”

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