News

Unique project funding scheme announced

By Benalla Ensign

Benalla will be given the chance to nominate and decide on its own funding under a new community building fund, announced by the state government.

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the new grassroots democracy program, Pick My Project, would be backed by $30 million from the Victorian Budget 2018/19 and would be spread across the state, giving every community the chance to benefit.

In a Victorian-first, all residents aged 16 and over will be able to submit their idea for consideration under the program.

All they will need is an idea that helps build a stronger community, and the backing of a local organisation, community group, school, local council, or other eligible group able to help deliver the project.

Ideas could include anything from sporting and recreation infrastructure, community arts projects, improvements to community facilities or the local environment.

Projects will need to be feasible and have land-owner consent, but there will be no restrictive guidelines — meaning many local priorities that fall-between the cracks of other grant programs will be eligible for funding.

Communities will then get to vote for the projects they think are most important, giving residents the first and final say on the best way to improve their area.

‘‘This is about putting community funding decisions back in the hands of communities — helping people in Northern Victoria come together to improve their local neighbourhood,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘I want to hear from young people, sporting clubs, community groups, schools, everyone who is active and involved in their community — because they know better than anyone what is needed.’’

Ms Symes also encouraged community members to contact her via email at jaclyn.symes@ parliament.vic.gov.au with their suggestions.

Projects between $20000 and $200000 will be eligible under the program.

The initiative will start in May and winning projects will be announced in September.

●To get ready and register your interest, visit pickmyproject.vic.gov.au