Susan Templeman encourages community group to apply for grants program

Hawkesbury community groups wanting to improve their facilities are being urged to get ready for the next round of funding from the Stronger Communities program.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman said Expressions of Interest for the next round of the long-running program would be opening at the end of this month.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman with Wilberforce United Soccer Club members, from left to right, Don Culey, Daniel Davey, Boris Racki and Adam Jones, with the new lights in the background (Archive picture).

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman with Wilberforce United Soccer Club members, from left to right, Don Culey, Daniel Davey, Boris Racki and Adam Jones, with the new lights in the background (Archive picture).

"A total of $150,000 will once again be available for community groups to fund up to 20 capital projects in the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains," she said.

"Grants of up to $20,000 will be available for small projects that deliver social benefits to our community.

"These can include things like community gardens, the upgrading of facilities to provide inclusive access, sports equipment, some IT equipment and software, or fit outs for community spaces like men's sheds and community centres."

Ms Templeman said while she was pleased to see community groups would not be required to match funding, the available pool was far too small.

"My independent assessment panel had more than $1 million in applications rolling in from Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains community organisations for the last round of Stronger Communities funding," she said.

"While we welcomed the government's decision to waive the 50/50 matched funds requirement in that round, in recognition of how difficult fundraising had been during COVID-19 and natural disasters, no additional funds were made available for MPs to allocate.

"As a consequence, we received requests for larger grants from many groups, but insufficient funds to meet them."

Ms Templeman said the latest lockdowns only exacerbated that situation.

"It would have made more sense to see an overall increase in funding available so more projects could benefit," she said.

"It will mean that not everyone will receive the amount of money they need, and some very worthy projects will possibly miss out altogether."

Wilberforce United Soccer Club benefitted from $20,000 in Stronger Communities funding in a previous round, which was used to help install lights around the bottom field of its Woodlands Road grounds.

The lights made a real difference to the club and its players, with members of the Over 35s being able to play under lights close to home rather than at Bligh Park where they previously had to travel.

Projects must be completed by December 31, 2022, and groups must have an ABN to be eligible.

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