$7.6 million regional development boost for the Illawarra

The Crown Street Mall in Wollongong’s CBD and the Warilla Police Station will share in $7.6 million of investment through Round Two of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) for major refurbishments.

Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean today announced with the Member for Throsby Stephen Jones and the Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird the RDAF announcements, which leverage other forms of investment.

Mr Crean said nearly $5 million will be invested in Wollongong’s Crown Street Mall Refurbishment project, worth almost $15 million, while $2.6 million will go to Warilla’s $5.15 million Southern Community Hub and Youth Foyer.

“Wollongong attracts more than 3 million visitors every year – with many coming to shop – making it one of the economic powerhouses of New South Wales,” Mr Crean said.

“The revitalisation of the Crown Street Mall supports the growth and development of the city centre.

“The improved facilties will strengthen economic opportunities for retailers while providing a social dividend for the community and visitors.”

Ms Bird said that Wollongong City Council’s project has indicated it will create more than 200 jobs in the retail and business sectors.

“The project covers the area of Crown Street from Keira Street to Kembla Street and a portion of adjoining Church Street,” Ms Bird said.

“The work is due to be completed by April 2015 and includes drainage and water improvements, better pedestrian access, more trees, a performance and play area, public seating, lighting improvements and free WiFi.

“The new Crown Street Mall will deliver an exciting and safe space in the heart of Wollongong and help the mall fulfil its role as a key public space within the Wollongong CBD.”

Mr Crean said the $2.6 million investment in Warilla’s $5.15 million Southern Community Hub and Youth Foyer will convert the old police station into a community hub.

“The project is being delivered by Southern Youth and Family Services and will create 15 full-time and 15 part-time jobs,” he said.

“It will deliver a variety of social support and health services for young people and families, and a youth accommodation facility that will also provide education, employment and social services for 20 disadvantaged or homeless young people.”

Mr Jones said the new precinct will promote social inclusion in the community.

“The community is thrilled that this project has been given the green light,” Mr Jones said.

“The community hub and youth foyer will provide the services to improve the employability of people in the region and reduce dependence on welfare programs.

“This project ticks all the regional development boxes; it leverages other funding sources, delivers social and economic benefits and will deliver new jobs.”

Mr Crean said the Federal Government is investing $200 million across Australia, including $66.6 million for 15 projects in New South Wales with a total leveraged value of more than $243 million.

“RDAF is part of the rollout of the Federal Government’s $4.3 billion investments in regional health and hospitals, skills, higher education and infrastructure,” he said.

“With our economy in transition, we have strengthened the role of the nation's 55 Regional Development Australia Committees, including Illawarra RDA which played a vital role in working with their community to identify and prioritise projects consistent with its Regional Plan.

“Round Two of RDAF builds on the $150 million distributed to 35 projects through Round One last year, which included nine projects worth $30.87 in New South Wales,” he said.

More information on the Regional Development Australia Fund and all projects can be found at www.regional.gov.au

What: Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, and Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, will announce RDAF Funding for a refurbishment of the Crown Street Mall and redevelopment of the old Warilla police station into a community hub.

Where: Office of Sharon Bird MP, 74 Crown Street, Wollongong.

When: Wednesday, 6 June 2012 at 9:30am.