Keith Pitt MP Federal Member for HINKLER

Constituency Statement - Stronger Communities Program Round 4

Mr PITT (Hinkler—Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) (11:04):  I rise to speak on the Stronger Communities Program, which is now open for round 4.

This has been an incredibly successful program inside my electorate: $150,000 to each federal electorate for community groups and not-for-profits, arranged within a grant fund between $2½ thousand and $20,000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis. With this fund we have replaced the roof on the Bundaberg hot rod club, in conjunction with them. We've helped to provide freezers for We Care 2 in Hervey Bay, a local community group which provides meals for those who are less fortunate. We've been able to help upgrade the car park and bitumen of Hervey Bay & District Tennis Association, and also help with a kitchen upgrade in the Burgowan Bowls Club. I know that you might not know where that is, Deputy Speaker Georganas: it's in the small town of Torbanlea. And I can tell you that the assistance of between $2,500 and $20,000 simply could not be raised by a small community group like this. You would have to sell an awful lot of lamingtons to make $20,000 in fundraising activities!

This has been a really strongly supported program, and long may it continue. Once again, it is open. We've delivered over $450,000 to the electorate in the last three rounds. Of course, on a dollar-for-dollar basis that's almost a million dollars for these small community groups, and I can say that they're all very grateful. It has made a real difference for them and for their clubs. I would encourage those organisations which are out there to apply to my office by five o'clock on 3 September. I use an independent committee to review the applications and they make recommendations to me as to what they think should be funded. Obviously, it is always oversubscribed, so get in early and make a great application.

Grants for between $1,000 and $5,000 are also open for volunteer organisations in Hinkler. Once again, I'm calling on those community organisations to apply for a share of up to $20,000 million in funding to support the efforts of their volunteers. This money can be used to pay for laptops, fuel costs or to train volunteers. It will help improve their fundraising, of course.

In my electorate, volunteers are such an important part of our community. We have an older demographic—we have many people who are retired and who get out there and help our community. In fact, we have one of the strongest groups, in terms of the numbers versus our population, who are out there volunteering every single day. Without them, we simply could not do the jobs which get done in my electorate. I'm very proud of the people who do this work—until they are well after their retirement age, of course. It's great to see that there is an opportunity for them.

Finally, we are looking for some STEM superstars. The Superstars of STEM program supports and trains women who are working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to share their passion with the community. The first group of superstars engaged with more than 7½ thousand high school students. This is, of course, about inspiring more young women and girls to study and work in the STEM field. It is an important part of what we do into the future, it will be an important part of jobs in the future and I look forward to seeing what they can do.

Authorised by Keith Pitt, Federal Member for Hinkler, 41b Woongarra Street, Bundaberg QLD 4670

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