• Tony Bosworth

Multi-million dollar Kurrajong Heights, Bilpin, Macdonald Valley cash splash from Feds

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, fronted the cameras today to officially unveil funding to Hawkesbury community members and groups in some of the worst hit areas during the 2019-20 Black summer bushfires.

Several groups and organisations are set to receive large amounts of funding for much-needed community projects.

The big winner is the Kurrajong Heights Bowling Club which gets a whopping $811,695 which will allow a fire staging area to be set-up and for the buildings to be better prepared for future fire situations.

Almost half a million dollars - $453,212 - is being handed over to Rufftrack Limited to upskill and engage vulnerable young people through nine land rehabilitation projects in the Macdonald Valley, but that’s not all, there’s also $455,000 earmarked for a community hall upgrade to St Albans School of Arts to create a ‘Refuge & Social Hub’ in the Macdonald Valley and that will include a new kitchen and improved access points.

Hawkesbury Independent School gets $185,656 for risk reduction and resilience projects which means the installation of two large capacity water tanks, a rooftop sprinkler system to reduce the risk of ember attack and a solar and battery system which would run access to the water supply even in times of emergency.

Successful funding for projects under the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants and the Connected Communities grants had been due to be announced by the Federal government in December last year but was delayed by two months, keeping community groups waiting.

Hawkesbury Council has been handed over $4m under the Connected Communities Through Disaster Recovery and Beyond fund to work with Telstra to install three new base stations at Berambing, Central MacDonald and Upper Colo. In addition to the new base stations, a 4G Small Cell at St Albans and two new 4GX-lite Mobile Satellite Small Cells at Upper Macdonald and Higher Macdonald will also be installed.

Hawkesbury Council will receive over $330,000 to design and construct a new ​​car park next to the Bilpin Community Centre. The carpark will double as a key staging area.

The Council will also receive $78,000 for the installation of new shade shelters at Bilpin Oval, Colo Heights Reserve and St Albans Park playgrounds, and just over $158,000 for the production and presentation of a new exhibition that will explore residents’ experiences of the bushfires - Burnt into Memory.

The Macdonald Valley Association will receive over $280,000 to help provide residents with access to and training in critical 2-way radio communications and emergency kit resources, under the ‘Connected and Prepared Hawkesbury’ banner.

Hawkesbury Council will also receive just over ​​$196,000 for new signage for the St Albans area that identifies roads, bridges, creeks and other key features.

Hawkesbury Mayor, Patrick Conolly, said today, "I'm very pleased to see such a significant investment from the federal government following our advocacy. It’s going to make a huge difference in future emergency situations.”

Here’s the full list of grants announced today:

Hawkesbury Independent School Risk Reduction & Resilience Project - $185,656

Fire Recovery & Land Rehabilitation in the Macdonald Valley - $453,212

St Albans and surrounding district - $196,350 for new signage that identifies roads, bridges, creeks and other key features.

Bilpin Hall car park - $330,225

Community hall upgrades to create a Refuge & Social Hub in Macdonald Valley - $455,000

To Hawkesbury Council - Connected Communities Through Disaster Recovery and Beyond - $4,146,780

Connected & Prepared for residents in Macdonaldn Valley - $280,227

Playground Shade Sails - $78,000

Bilpin District Recovery and Resilience Project – Kurrajong Heights Bowling Club - $811,695

Burnt Into Memory, which goes to Hawkesbury Council and is already underway - $158,740

The grants were officially announced this afternoon by Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne.

Macquarie Federal MP Susan Templeman congratulated those Hawkesbury community groups that have been announced to receive the long-awaited bushfire recovery funding.

“Community groups put in some very hard work applying for this funding, and I not only congratulate them for their success in securing millions of dollars, but thank them for their patience,” Ms Templeman said.

“There are some communities who'll be very happy to see projects announced in the latest bushfire recovery funding, from the tough-as-boots Kurrajong Heights and Bilpin community who might end up with a bowling club that actually meets their needs – to the Macdonald Valley,” Ms Templeman said.

“St Albans and the surrounding community are still finding their feet not just from fire but from two floods, and they'll see things like an upgrade to their community hall.

“There’s also a Connected Communities Program and other smaller projects that have been announced in the Hawkesbury.

“These grants are the result of the hard-fought battle I took to the federal government in January 2020, speaking about it in every Parliamentary sitting and sharing stories of survival and recovery.

“Now - more than two years after the fires devastated our area and just weeks out from an election - we are seeing the result.

“I am sorry for those who missed out, and I will continue to fight for mitigation and preparation funding from the government’s $4 billion Emergency Response Fund.

“Not a cent has been spent and it has now earned the government $800 million in interest.

“Now we need to see this promised money delivered as soon as possible, so work can begin.

“No doubt the Prime Minister, who has not visited bushfire-affected communities in our area, will find time to pop in within the next few weeks to take a few photos on the back of this announcement,” said Ms Templeman.

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