Seven local projects receive federal government funding

YARRAM’S historic Regent Theatre will get a much-needed facelift as part of a million-dollar federal government cash injection into the economy of Wellington Shire.

The building’s facade, which dates back to 1930, will be restored and accessibility improved. New signs will also be installed.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester said $240,000 would be spent restoring the theatre, as one of seven local projects to receive funding from a program designed to stimulate spending and support jobs in drought-affected areas.

“The Regent Theatre is a wonderful community asset for Yarram and the surrounding districts,” Mr Chester said.

“It has hosted events ranging from community performances and school presentations to rock concerts and opera.

“The drought has had a significant impact on Wellington Shire.

“Businesses here also suffered from a downturn in visitor numbers over summer due to the bushfires.

“Now with the coronavirus, many of our small communities are under financial pressure, and it would be impossible for locals to raise the money needed to undertake projects of this size.

“I’m pleased the federal government is working with our local councils to continue improving infrastructure to support local jobs and bring lasting community benefits.”

The funding also includes:

Wellington Shire mayor Alan Hall said work would begin on the projects as soon as possible.

“These projects have been identified as priorities in the communities within our shire that have borne the brunt of the impact of drought,” Cr Hall said.

“Much of the preliminary work has been done, so we are in a position to be able to get the work started quickly.

“This money from the federal government gives us a welcome opportunity to get a number of significant projects done now, enabling those communities to enjoy the benefits sooner.

“I’m particularly happy community groups that would otherwise struggle to raise the money needed to improve their facilities will now be able to see their plans realised.”

Drought Communities Program funding is available to eligible councils, including Wellington and East Gippsland shires and Latrobe City, for local infrastructure projects and other drought-relief activities.

The program provides short-term support, including by boosting local employment and procurement, while also addressing social and community needs.