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$15m package for community organisations

Building stronger communities is the goal of a $15 million budget package, says Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Steve Maharey.

“The government is actively supporting third sector organisations to provide effective services which respond to locally-identified pressures and priorities.
Budget 2002 focuses on supporting local decision making and builds on the more than $30 million invested in ‘for community, by community’ initiatives in the government’s previous budgets.

“In line with the recommendations of the Community and Voluntary Sector Working Party, funding is being allocated in this budget to strengthen the community organisations and the essential services they provide [all figures over four years unless specified]:

- $8.24 million to the Community Organisations Grant Scheme (COGS). This represents a 20 per cent boost to the funds available to local distribution committees and is the first increase since 1995;
- $2.016 million to the Stronger Communities Action Fund to fund an additional two communities in identifying and providing services for children and families. In addition, Child, Youth and Family will receive an extra $1.184 million over two years to implement the Local Services Mapping project in which community organisations and government collaborate locally to match services;
- the Prime Minister’s growth and innovation framework identified closing the digital divide as a key issue for communities. The Community Employment Group will receive $1.912 million to work with communities to boost their use and knowledge of information and communications technology (ICT); and,
- $1.434 million to establish a further nine Heartland Service Centres in rural communities. The 12 centres established since 2000 are proving very popular and are bringing back ‘face to face’ contact with government agencies for people living in rural areas. With another four Heartland centres already funded from the 2001 budget to be established this year, the total number of Heartland Centres will stand at twenty-five.

“Budget 2002 continues this government’s record of supporting local solutions for local problems,” Steve Maharey said.

Ends

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