Nationals pledge $2 million for ConnectGV

By Myles Peterson

ConnectGV was the grateful recipient of $2million in pledged federal funding on Friday.

The Nationals’ deputy leader Bridget McKenzie joined local member Damian Drum on the election campaign to make the announcement, promising if the federal Coalition retained government ConnectGV would be a beneficiary.

‘‘This organisation has served Shepparton and Goulburn Valley for over 60 years, assisting those with a disability and their family to get the services and support they need to live their lives,’’ Ms McKenzie said.

‘‘I think you can only make these sorts of promises when you’ve got the budget back in the black — when you’ve actually made sure at a federal level your spending is under control — and you are able therefore to invest back into the community.’’

The proposed works, in the planning for more than 18 months, are budgeted to cost $5million. ConnectGV has reportedly raised $3million.

‘‘The fact that the organisation themselves has been able to raise funds locally says a lot ... but more importantly how much the wider community values its role here.’’

Contesting the seat of Nicholls as the incumbent, Mr Drum agreed with his party deputy that the government had a duty to look after the least fortunate.

‘‘(ConnectGV) is just an integral part of our society — we should be judged by how we treat our most vulnerable members of our community,’’ he said.

‘‘Even with the introduction of the NDIS, we see that there is a genuine need to keep funding ConnectGV for the next 50 to 100 years.’’

New facilities will allow ConnectGV to harness NDIS funding delivering further disability services in the region, according to the organisation’s general manager Treena Best.

‘‘In order to be competitive in the NDIS market we need to be have the facilities that match the support that people require,’’ she said.

ConnectGV chief executive Carolynne Young said by diligent fundraising, the organisation was able to place itself in a position to be more attractive for federal and state government funding.

‘‘Our board has been very forward thinking. They knew that at one point in time we would need to do this and they’ve just been putting some dollars away for that to happen.’’

Full funding will allow ConnectGV to upgrade a range of rooms and services and fix some pressing structural issues with the organisation’s current facilities, according to Ms Young.

‘‘The floor is sinking in the main common area and also at the back where we provide our sensory and art programs. We recently had that completely drop so we had to do some repairs,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ll be able to also build brand new rooms, brand new facilities — wet areas that are so aged and outdated — sound-proofed rooms. We’re very excited and grateful that they see the value of this project.’’

ConnectGV will now wait to see if federal Labor will match the funding commitment.

‘‘We’ll accept a commitment from any party. Anyone’s commitment we’d welcome. We’re only here for our client group and we want the best for them,’’ Ms Young said.