Councillor Column: Community Grants make an impact

January 26, 2022 BY

The city has given a grant of just over $9,900 to do preliminary planning for a project put forward by the Rotary Club of Highton at the Old Paper Mill site in Fyansford. Photo: FYANSFORD PAPER MILL

One of the most effective ways the Council makes a direct impact in the local community is through our annual Community
Grants program.

We offer grants for projects of all kinds – ranging from major $350,000 contributions for upgrades at sporting clubs and other community facilities, to much smaller grants for equipment purchases.

Our grants program supports environmental sustainability projects, heritage restorations, community events, our arts and culture sector, sporting clubs, and a wide range of other groups across the region.

Many of these groups rely on the efforts of their dedicated volunteers and operate on a very tight budget – so any grant we can provide, whether big or small, makes a huge difference.

Just before Christmas we awarded our major Community Infrastructure grants, as well as our Geelong Heritage grants, together totalling around $3.1 million in value.

As chair of the Council’s Heritage portfolio, it was great to see just over $96,000 going to five very worthy heritage projects.

Previously called the Central Geelong Heritage Grants program and only open to properties in central Geelong, this year the Council has changed the name of the fund and opened eligibility across the entire region.

As a result, we have contributed funding for projects stretching from Lara to Portarlington.

In Lara the Council awarded $36,000 towards the roof replacement and restoration of the former Shire Engineer’s residence in Rennie Street.

This Federation design was also once the local police house, so it has a significant place in Lara’s history.

In Portarlington, one of the town’s original homesteads, ‘Tarina’, on Drysdale Street, has received a $27,500 grant towards a roof restoration.

The change to the grant guidelines has also enabled us to provide a grant of just over $9,900 to do preliminary planning for a project put forward by the Rotary Club of Highton at the Old Paper Mill site in Fyansford.

The club has an aim of running visitor tours of the site and wants to re-establish water flow in the canal race and install a turbine as a demonstration of the original power generation system.

This is potentially a fantastic initiative considering the historical importance of the Old Paper Mill.

We’ve also provided a grant of $14,000 for restoration of gable and windows at 128 Ryrie Street – a shop in the heritage core of central Geelong, as well as an $8750 grant to Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College for the front façade of its 1856 school building.

Of course Greater Geelong’s heritage extends far beyond European settlement and back thousands of years through the Wadawurrung people.

We’ll soon be making a public announcement about the recipient of our first ever First Nations Cultural Heritage Grant – a new grants stream created specifically to support projects that bring to life our region’s incredible First Nations history.

This is something the Council is excited about and we look forward to sharing the details.

Business support program

Sadly, businesses are being faced with fresh challenges as a result of the latest wave of COVID cases.

While many had hoped the end of last year’s lockdown would herald a return to more positive times, business operators are now being significantly impacted by staff shortages and other associated issues.

Early in the pandemic the Council allocated funding to a business support program offering free advice and mentoring in a range of areas, including grant writing, human resources, digital marketing, finance, legal matters and OH&S.

This program is still on offer, so if you are a business owner and would like to access support please head to geelongbusinesssupport.com.au for information.

During 2021, the City’s Economic Development team supported over 3010 small businesses with vouchers, mentoring services, COVID Safe business grants, COVID business support, a Business Concierge service and the Geelong Small Business Festival.

In addition, the COVIDSafe business support team have visited and assisted over 1300 small business and hospitality venues in the region over the past few months.

This is free support, with help on things such as signage, check-ins, QR codes, adapting to the Victorian rules, COVIDSafe planning and a range of other resources.

Cr Peter Murrihy
Brownbill Ward, City of Greater Geelong