Project to Boost Temora Youth Wellbeing

A Hip-Hop music program to be delivered through Temora Shire Council is among the latest projects to be announced under the NSW Government’s Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery initiative.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the Temora Youth Go UP&UP project will support recovery and boost resilience for young people in the region following the social impact of Covid-19.

“I’m delighted this opportunity will provide a positive and healthy way for young people in the Temora area to reconnect,” Ms Cooke said.

“This project is a great example of how we can help young people build resilience and improve wellbeing by providing them with the tools and experiences they need to become the best version of themselves.”

Minister for Regional Youth Ben Franklin said the $10.3 million Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery Initiative offers large grants between $10,000 and $50,000 and small grants for up to $10,000.

“The large grants fund projects such as community events, peer support groups, cultural connection or partnership programs, while small grants are to enable initiatives like sporting programs and barbecues,” Mr Franklin said.

“Our Regional Youth Community Coordinators will help connect young people with the projects that best support their wellbeing and recovery and foster resilience and connection.”

The Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery Initiative is funded through the NSW COVID-19 Economic Recovery Initiative and the co-funded NSW and Australian Governments’ Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply for funding for wellbeing programs, events and resources as part of the initiative. Applications for both large and smaller grants are open now and close on 31 December 2022, or when fully allocated.

For program and eligibility guidelines, visit nsw.gov.au/YouthWellbeing.

$160 Million to help make Our Region Stronger

Applications will soon open for the fifth round of the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund, which will see further investment in local community infrastructure and programs that will make a big difference to our region.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the latest round was a great opportunity for councils and community groups to seek funding for projects that improve the quality of life in smaller communities.

“I am very pleased the NSW Government is delivering on its commitment of supporting investment in regional and rural communities, making our region an even better place to live and visit,” Ms Cooke said.

“We have seen a great number of local projects delivered through this program, and I encourage eligible organisations with a great project in mind to make the most of this opportunity and submit an application.”

Over $44 million for 227 projects across the nine local government areas of the Cootamundra electorate has been secured through the program to date.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the latest round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund builds on the previous rounds and continues to provide important infrastructure and programs for regional towns.

“The Stronger Country Communities Fund is continuing to make a real difference to the lives of people right across regional NSW, with $500 million invested over the past four rounds delivering more than 2,000 local projects in regional NSW,” Mr Toole said.

“Everywhere I go, people tell me about the positive difference that Stronger Country Communities Fund projects make to their everyday life, whether it’s a new skate park that kids of all ages love, new lighting for sports grounds or programs that support and inspire young people living in the bush.

“The NSW Government is investing record amounts to deliver the big picture infrastructure needed to stimulate regional economies, but we’re also backing community projects that make a big positive difference to everyday life.”

The $660 million Stronger Country Communities Fund is part of the NSW Government’s $3.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, which is being invested in local projects that improve the lives of people living in regional NSW.

Applications for Round Five of the Stronger Country Communities Fund open on Friday, 5 August 2022.

For more information, visit: www.nsw.gov.au/sccf

Bronze “Bill the Bastard” unveiling

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke has welcomed the official unveiling of a bronze, life-size sculpture of Australia’s greatest war horse, ‘Bill the Bastard’, at a ceremony in Harden Murrumburrah.

Ms Cooke said it was fantastic to see the statue in-situ at Murrumburrah, the birthplace of the Australian Light Horse.

“This project has been a long time in the works and is an absolute credit to the dedication and perseverance of many deeply passionate members in this community.

“Bill is a source of great pride for all involved and an absolute drawcard to Harden Murrumburrah and the Hilltops region more broadly.”

The project was made possible thanks to over $400,000 in funding from the NSW Government’s Stronger Communities Fund.

Major donations and contributions alongside that of the NSW Government were:

  • $200,000 raised amongst the local community,
  • $100,000 from the Kruger Trust,
  • $80,000 from Harden Regional Development Corporation,
  • $30,000 from Mr Bill Gibbons of Victoria.

The ‘Bill the Bastard’ statue was created by local sculptor Mr Carl Valerius and bronzed by Mr Matt Crawford of Crawford’s Casting.

Speaking at the unveiling, Mr Valerius said it was a fabulous outcome for the community.

“To have an idea and believe in it, you can achieve almost anything. I thank the State Government for their support and belief in a little old sculpture in a town like Murrumburrah.”

Special guests present at the ceremony also included Brigadier Glen Ryan from Victoria Barracks in Sydney, along with 97yr old Mr Keith Taylor who travelled from Uranquinty for the occasion.

The sculpture of ‘Bill the Bastard’ and his five riders can be found at the 1st Australian Horse and Australian Light Horse Memorial precinct in Murrumburrah.

For more information, please visit Home – Bill the Bastard.

Be Part of the 65th Annual Seniors Festival

The call is out for local organisations to help fill a calendar of engaging and empowering activities for older people during the 2023 NSW Seniors Festival.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the $200,000 NSW Seniors Festival Grants Program supports initiatives that encourage people aged 60 or over to stay healthy, connected to their community and active.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate or build on the diverse skills and interests of seniors in our community in areas like art, sport, health or technology,” Ms Cooke said.

“This year’s Seniors Festival included computer classes, dance lessons and gardening workshops, so it would be terrific to see local groups come up with more creative and fun activities for the 2023 festival.”

Local councils, community groups and not-for-profit organisations are among those who can apply for grants of up to $10,000.

“The Seniors Festival is an opportunity for all seniors in our community to be active, connected and social—no matter their location, language or ability level,” Ms Cooke added.

Minister for Seniors Mark Coure said the NSW Seniors Festival is the largest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and has been running for more than 60 years

“These grants reinforce the NSW Government’s commitment to helping older people in NSW stay connected with their community as outlined in the Ageing Well in NSW: Seniors Strategy 2021–2031.”

The Seniors Festival will run from 1 – 12 February 2023. Applications for grants are open now until 1 August 2022.

For more information and to apply, visit seniorsfestival.nsw.gov.au/events/nsw-seniors-festival-grants

Winter Holiday Fun Coming to the Region

Youth in the Cootamundra electorate will be able to enjoy a variety of workshops, programs and trips over the upcoming winter school holidays, thanks to the NSW Government’s $10 million Holiday Break Program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke welcomed the program and said it offers great opportunities for young people to learn new skills, meet people and have fun at the same time.

“The Holiday Break program empowers young people to come together, step out of their comfort zone and do activities they might otherwise not have ever dreamed of doing before,” Ms Cooke said.


“Youth in Coolamon with have a chance to try their hand at a NAIDOC painting workshop, while youth from Cootamundra and Gundagai who have never seen snow before will get the chance to take a trip and learn how to ski and snowboard. Activities are being run all across the electorate for young people to get out and enjoy.”

Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres said a number of free sport and recreation activities are included to help keep kids active during the winter break.

“These school holidays there are 16 camps across regional NSW that include meals and activities such as archery, BMX, orienteering, problem solving skills and more,” Mr Ayres said.

“Holiday Break camps are a fantastic opportunity for regional youth to challenge themselves and learn new skills, and I encourage all parents to register their kids now and give them an experience they will never forget.”

The program is also supporting 34 leading arts, screen and cultural organisations to show young people what they have to offer. 

Funding for the program is part of the State Government’s commitment to making the arts more accessible to young people across regional NSW.

Minister for Regional Youth and the Arts Ben Franklin said the programs will enable young people to enjoy a wider range of activities.

“We have a vibrant youth arts sector in NSW that covers many forms, and this is reflected in the wonderful array of workshops that will be on offer for young people during the winter school holidays,” Mr Franklin said.

“We are investing in our innovative arts, screen and cultural organisations and making their ambitions a reality, while also improving access to high quality and diverse experiences for children and young people.

“These inspiring sessions provide an important opportunity for young people to find their passion, develop new skills from professional artists and explore exciting forms of self-expression and collaboration.”

To find out more about activities near you and for program guidelines, visit nsw.gov.au/winterbreakprogram

Community Groups Invited to Apply for NSW Government Infrastructure Grants

Organisations in the Cootamundra electorate can now apply for funding to support local community projects thanks to the NSW Governments Clubgrants Category 3 Infrastructure Grants opening.

“$12.5 million is available this year for new or upgraded facilities across sport and recreation, arts and culture, disaster readiness and community infrastructure,” Ms Cooke said.

“This is an opportunity for local organisations to apply for funding for projects that will provide long-term benefits to the community.

“In previous rounds we have funded the Narrandera Golf Club to install new irrigation. We also helped the Gundagai Swimming Club upgrade their facilities.

This is about connecting the community, fostering participation in sport, recreation and arts, and boosting social inclusion and disaster resilience,” Ms Cooke said.

Since 2015, the NSW Liberals and Nationals in Government have funded more than 520 community projects worth $81 million under the Infrastructure Grants program. 

These grants are made possible by the Clubgrants Category 3 Fund which re-invests profits from registered clubs’ gaming machines into community projects. Funding is available for infrastructure projects in four key areas:

  • Arts & Culture
  • Community Infrastructure
  • Disaster Readiness
  • Sport & Recreation

Applications for the first round of funding for 2022/23 are open from 27 June to 18 July.

To find out more information or to apply, please visit nsw.gov.au/grants-and-funding/clubgrants-infrastructure

Organisations in the Cootamundra electorate can now apply for funding to support local community projects thanks to the NSW Governments Clubgrants Category 3 Infrastructure Grants opening.

“$12.5 million is available this year for new or upgraded facilities across sport and recreation, arts and culture, disaster readiness and community infrastructure,” Ms Cooke said.

“This is an opportunity for local organisations to apply for funding for projects that will provide long-term benefits to the community.

“In previous rounds we have funded the Narrandera Golf Club to install new irrigation. We also helped the Gundagai Swimming Club upgrade their facilities.

This is about connecting the community, fostering participation in sport, recreation and arts, and boosting social inclusion and disaster resilience,” Ms Cooke said.

Since 2015, the NSW Liberals and Nationals in Government have funded more than 520 community projects worth $81 million under the Infrastructure Grants program. 

These grants are made possible by the Clubgrants Category 3 Fund which re-invests profits from registered clubs’ gaming machines into community projects. Funding is available for infrastructure projects in four key areas:

  • Arts & Culture
  • Community Infrastructure
  • Disaster Readiness
  • Sport & Recreation

Applications for the first round of funding for 2022/23 are open from 27 June to 18 July.

To find out more information or to apply, please visit nsw.gov.au/grants-and-funding/clubgrants-infrastructure

Livvi’s Place Albert Park Opening

A new playground, designed with elements to enable inclusive play for all children has been opened at Albert Park, Cootamundra, thanks to joint funding of $200,000 from the NSW Government’s Everyone Can Play grant scheme and $200,000 input from Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council, in conjunction with the Touched By Olivia Foundation.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said it was an honour to be at the opening of this unique playground which would provide a place to challenge and encourage active play in an environment designed to incorporate nature.

“This playground has been created as a space where children can delight in the giant treehouse, swing on all sorts of different types of swings, and have their imaginations sparked by water features,” Ms Cooke said.

“Everyone feels welcome here. Every child can play here. This project has been designed so that all children can enjoy this space, regardless of ability. The vision that has been shown in regard to diversity and inclusion is remarkable.”

“I also recognise the efforts of Mayor Charlie Sheehan and Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council staff in seeing this vision come to life along with the Touched by Olivia Foundation.”

Extensive community consultation and feedback was sought throughout the process of the design of this playground. Thoughts and ideas from children regarding how they wished to play was an integral part of the process and contributed to the overall design.

Along with connecting children to nature and providing an inclusive space, this playground also acknowledges the Indigenous connections to the park, incorporating the theme of a long-neck turtle.

2022 Community Building Partnership Program Now Open

Community projects needing additional funding support can now apply for the NSW Government’s 2022 Community Building Partnership Program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has encouraged local councils, organisations and community groups to get involved.

“This program has been hugely successful in the Cootamundra electorate allowing local groups to undertake a wide range of projects,” Ms Cooke said.

“We have had freezer upgrades for Meals on Wheels, refurbishments at Men’s Sheds and the purchase of maintenance equipment to help local sporting clubs – just to name a few.”

“This investment by the NSW Government is about helping to deliver positive social, environmental and recreational outcomes, while also promoting community participation, inclusion and cohesion.”

Since 2009, the Community Building Partnership (CBP) program has awarded more than $399 million to over 18,000 projects.  

In 2022, there is a maximum of $400,000 to allocate in each electorate with incorporated not-for-profit community organisations and local councils eligible to apply for grants of between $5,000 and $150,000.

Applications opened on Monday 16 May 2022 and close on Friday 10 June at 5pm.

For more information, please visit: https://www.nsw.gov.au/projects/community-building-partnership

Stage Two of Safety Work on the Newell Highway to Begin

Work is set to begin next week on the second of three stages of pavement rehabilitation to improve safety on the Newell Highway.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government has funded $3.5 million for this stage of work which will provide a safer and stronger road on a 1.8-kilometre section of the Newell Highway West of Grong Grong.

“Resurfacing and widening this stretch of road will improve the safety and driving experience for motorists,” Ms Cooke said.

“These enhancements will make the road more reliable, reducing the need for regular maintenance.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the NSW Government is committed to ensuring a safe and reliable road network for motorists across the state. 

“The Newell Highway is the main inland road link from Victoria to Queensland. It is used as a major freight transport route and connects a number of inland urban centres, including Dubbo and Parkes, Mr Farraway said.

“This work follows from the $2.5 million worth of road rehabilitation safety improvements carried on a 1.4-kilometre section of the Newell Highway near Gawnes Road in 2019. Stage 2 will continue these improvements further west along the Newell.”

Work on road rehabilitation, road widening, line marking and vegetation removal will start near Gawnes Road and join up with the Newell Highway realignment at Grong Grong.

Work will be carried out between 6am and 6pm Monday to Friday from Monday 16 May until Friday 9 September, weather permitting.

Traffic control, single lane closures and reduced speed limit of 40 km/h will be in place during work. Motorist are advised to allow for an additional five minutes travel time.

Transport for NSW thanks motorists for their patience while work is carried out. For the latest traffic updates call 132 701, visit livetraffic.com or download the Live Traffic NSW app.

Important Step Forward for New Women’s Refuges

Women and children escaping domestic and family violence in the Cootamundra electorate will soon receive greater support with expressions of interest for the first of round of funding for new women’s refuges set to open on 9 May.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke is encouraging local organisations to apply for NSW Government funding to deliver new women’s refuges in our region.

“The NSW Government is prioritising supporting victim-survivors of Domestic Violence across NSW and this funding is being made available to deliver refuges to support women and children leaving violence,” Ms Cooke said.

“The roll out of new women’s refuges is the first step in helping victim-survivors start their new life, and I am very keen to see local organisations put in for this new funding opportunity.”

Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward said the NSW Government’s $426 million commitment over four years to establish new refuges is the single largest investment in the state’s history to address domestic abuse.

“No one should live their life in fear, but all too often women stay in violent relationships because they feel they have nowhere to go,” Mrs Ward said.

“Our record investment shows we are sending a strong message that enough is enough. Women who make the courageous decision to leave an abusive partner can feel secure knowing they will have a safe haven to go to where they can begin rebuilding their lives.

Self-contained accommodation is located alongside services including counselling, legal assistance, and education and employment support.

The sites may also feature meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment for court appearances, communal kitchens, and playgrounds.

Next week, Minister Ward will host a roundtable with domestic violence advocacy groups, specialist homelessness services and peak bodies to discuss the roll out.

Expressions of interest will also open shortly to apply for the first round of funding and interested parties should monitor the NSW e-tendering site for the latest information: https://www.tenders.nsw.gov.au/ 

For confidential advice, support and referrals, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63), NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017) or Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491). In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).