Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has welcomed the new Growing Regions Program to support local government and community groups in regional Australia to upgrade and replace aging aquatic facilities.
The grants, which were announced by the Federal Government this week, will provide between $500,000 and $15 million to cover 50 per cent or more of eligible expenditure and can be used for funding community infrastructure including community pools.
The State of Aquatic Facility Infrastructure Report 2022 conducted by Royal Life Saving found that across Australia, 500 pools will reach their end-of-life by 2030, with $8 billion required to replace them.
Royal Life Saving Society – Australia Chief Executive Officer, Justin Scarr encouraged local governments and community groups to prioritise applications for pools.
“Community pools are more than just places to swim; they are part of the fabric of the community, particularly in regional areas where they provide connection, employment and recreation opportunities,” Mr Scarr said.
“We know that local government, particularly in regional and remote areas, has struggled to find the funding to replacing aging pools even though they are a critical community resource.
“Increasingly we are seeing local governments having to consider closing pools all together as they start to need significant investment for repairs, or outright replacement.
“Aquatic facilities are a key contributor to drowning prevention activities, particularly in regional and inland locations. This is why aquatic facilities are a key feature of the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030.
“From a social, health and economic perspective we know aquatic facilities make an enormous difference to the communities they serve and there is a quantifiable positive return on investment.”
The Growing Regions Program replaces the previous Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, which was not continued in this budget.
Applications for the Growing Regions Program open on Wednesday 5 July and close on Tuesday 1 August 2023 at 5pm.
Incorporated non-profit organisations, First Nations Community Controlled Organisations and local government agencies or bodies in regional areas can apply.
Projects which have already accessed Commonwealth funding, or which have commenced construction will not be eligible. Successful projects must be completed by 31 December 2025.
Feasibility studies are not eligible for funding.