Avenel has had a good week.
The small but slowly growing town in the Strathbogie Shire will surge ahead with a $526000 upgrade to its preschool, while the newly improved Avenel Hall has been unveiled.
Victorian Government funding of $350000, announced this week, will ensure the Avenel Preschool upgrade becomes a reality, aiming to improve access for local families.
Visiting the centre this week, State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the funding injection would help the facility expand to accommodate more enrolments, a range of early years services, maternal, child health and wellbeing outreach programs.
The works, which will include a dedicated planning and administration space and multipurpose meeting room, hope to ensure the centre helps develop a precinct for the town, with the objective of providing increased support to vulnerable families in the area.
Ms Symes stressed the importance of early education in giving children ‘‘the best start in life’’.
‘‘Which is why we are investing in first-rate early learning facilities in Avenel,’’ she said.
‘‘As a working mother who has been reliant on childcare, I am absolutely passionate about the provision of quality childcare options in country Victoria.’’
The extensions are expected to boost capacity for kindergarten students, from 28 to about 60 places.
Strathbogie Shire Mayor Amanda McClaren said the funding announcement provided much needed support to Avenel families, where she said limited early childhood services had meant families had to find alternative arrangements in Seymour, Nagambie and Shepparton.
The development would be a massive source of support for families in the town, she said.
Meanwhile, the new, improved and expanded Avenel Hall has opened.
After $400000 worth of upgrades to the historic hall, $300000 of which came from a state government grant, the more modern hall includes improved spaces for community meetings and events, and creative spaces for dance and arts and crafts activities.
Strathbogie Shire Council provided the extra $100000.
Ms Symes said the project had increased the footprint of the hall by about 25 per cent, provided energy efficient facilities and extra spaces to be used independently of the main hall.
The upgrade included an extension to the building, with three new meetings rooms, a kitchen, renewal of main toilets, installation of a storm water re-use system and structural improvements to the existing building.
‘‘The hall has been an important community hub for the residents of Avenel since 1907 when it was first constructed, however, ageing infrastructure and a growing population meant it was due for an upgrade,’’ Ms Symes said.
‘‘Avenel Hall has a rich history, it’s a place that has kept the community connected and strong for more than 100 years and this upgrade ensures it provides for the community for decades to come.’’
The upgrade came through the government’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund.