Blue Mountains community groups wanting to improve their facilities are being urged to get ready for the next round of funding that could deliver them up to $20,000, Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman has announced.

Ms Templeman said Expressions of Interest for the next round of the long-running Stronger Communities program would be opening at the end of this month.

“A total of $150,000 will once again be available for community groups to fund up to 20 capital projects in the Mountains and Hawkesbury,” Ms Templeman said.

“Grants of up to $20,000 will be available for small projects that deliver social benefits to our community.

“These can include things like community gardens, the upgrading of facilities to provide inclusive access, sports equipment, some IT equipment and software, or fit outs for community spaces like men’s sheds and community centres.”

Ms Templeman said while she was pleased to see community groups would not be required to match funding, the available pool was far too small.

“My independent assessment panel had more than $1 million in applications rolling in from Mountains and Hawkesbury community organisations for the last round of Stronger Communities funding,” Ms Templeman said.

“While we welcomed the government’s decision to waive the 50/50 matched funds requirement in that round, in recognition of how difficult fundraising had been during Covid and natural disasters, no additional funds were made available for MPs to allocate. As a consequence, we received requests for larger grants from many groups but insufficient funds to meet them.

“The latest lockdowns have only exacerbated that situation, and it would have made more sense to see an overall increase in funding available so more projects could benefit.

“It will mean that not everyone will receive the amount of money they need, and some very worthy projects will possibly miss out altogether.

“Even a modest increase would mean organisations like charities, service and sporting groups, and school P&Cs that apply for these grants to help fill a gap left by governments will have more of a chance to fulfill that need.”

Blaxland Preschool Kindergarten (pictured) received $3000 in Stronger Communities funding in a previous round, which was used to assist with the installation of a solar panel system.

Access to solar-generated power and a new washer and dryer meant it was cheaper to wash, dry and reuse cloth towels, and subsequently cut down waste by making disposable paper hand towels a thing of the past.

Expressions of Interest for the grants program can be made through Ms Templeman’s office, with the independent panel assessing the merits of each project before recommendations for funding are made.

Projects must be completed by December 31, 2022, and groups must have an ABN to be eligible.

“It’s a fairly simple online Expressions of Interest form to be filled in, which can be done from October 31,” Ms Templeman said. For more information on Stronger Communities eligibility and how to apply, email susan.templeman.mp@aph.gov.au.

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