Interface Councils said close to 180 community infrastructure projects have increased social benefits for people living in Melbourne’s outer suburbs thanks to more than $194 million provided by the Victorian Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund (over five years), leveraging a total project value of more than $520 million.
Interface Councils spokesperson and Mayor of Nillumbik Shire Council Cr Karen Egan said the latest Growing Suburbs Fund Social Progress Report, released today, showed that of the 177 community infrastructure projects delivered since the Growing Suburbs Fund was introduced five years ago, 136 have improved health and wellbeing; 122 have reduced disadvantage; 59 have encouraged community capacity building; 108 have increased community engagement and 116 have increased volunteerism.
“In the lead up to the State Budget, particularly in such a challenging fiscal environment, it’s important to focus on what the Growing Suburbs Fund has achieved beyond the community infrastructure it has brought forward. These are just physical assets but they have fostered community wellbeing and bolstered the social fabric of local communities.
“From new and improved sporting clubs that give young and old the chance to exercise and build friendships; to purpose-built playspaces for kids of all abilities to play and learn; to improved safety and access for people with disabilities to visit revitalised community spaces in low socio-economic areas; and renovated community service hubs to enhance and increase access to counselling, disability support services and diabetes education.
“These builds have happened in communities where previously a lack of a critical physical infrastructure was compounding social disadvantage, creating a long-term financial cost and strain on our health system.
“When you look at the fund in this context and in a tight fiscal context, with the compounding effect of COVID-19, the bushfires, the drought and the ongoing challenge for governments to address infrastructure gaps, it becomes even more important for the Growing Suburbs Fund to be renewed. We want to ensure that Victoria’s fastest growing areas have the critical community infrastructure necessary to reduce the long-term financial cost associated with higher levels of disadvantage.
“In just five years, not only can we see the impressive physical fruits of our labour, we are able to quantify the positive social outcomes created by these places. After all, places are more than just buildings made of concrete, steel and bricks. Places are for people and when people have inspiring places to learn, play, exercise and come together, they have a chance to prosper,” Cr Egan said.
Media contact: Zoe Forbes email@example.com or 0438 924 462
*Information on the projects and benefits for each Interface Council is available upon request.