Junee, Narrandera and Temora Awarded NSW Government Library Funding

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has announced $456,720 in funding for Junee, Narrandera and Temora Shire Councils under the 2021/22 Public Library Infrastructure Grant program.

Ms Cooke said the grants are part of $6 million worth of funding for 26 public library projects across NSW.

“These are significant grants that will help our local libraries undertake a variety of measures such as increasing the programs offered at their libraries and the purchasing of new furniture,” Ms Cooke said.

“Our close-knit communities take great pride in our libraries that provide a wide range of valuable assets to the community, and cater for all ages. It is important that they have quality facilities, great collections and access to the internet, so it is wonderful to be able to assist in upgrading these critical sources to ensure they can continue to be a source of delight, entertainment, education and information.”

Projects awarded funding under the program:

  • Junee Shire Council, $319,110 to refurbish Junee Library increasing the usable public space in the library by removing a large service desk and office. Funds will also provide flexible furniture throughout the library, and upgrade lighting, electrical and flooring.
  • Narrandera Shire Council, $35,523 to enhance access to collections and increase space for programs in Narrandera Library’s children’s area. The project will include new mobile shelving, furniture, signage and technology.
  • Temora Shire Council, $102,087 for improvements to Temora library as the final stage of an ongoing renovation project. This phase includes painting and new signage, upgraded lighting, automatic doors and accessible entrance.

NSW Minister for the Arts, the Hon Ben Franklin said public libraries continue to grow and provide access to services that help people at all stages of their lives.

“This funding is part of the additional $60M over four years the NSW Government is providing to enhance library services and facilities across the state,” Mr Franklin said.

“The NSW Government is committed to working with councils to enhance library services and facilities across the state.

“This funding allocation brings the total of State Government support for NSW libraries in 2021/22 to a record $38.6 million.”

NSW State Librarian Dr John Vallance said the funds will enable councils to develop or improve library buildings and mobile library services.

“Two years of fires, floods and plague have left the people of New South Wales more in need of strong, safe, well-provisioned libraries than ever before. Public library funding is one of the State Government’s most significant contributions to the health of our communities.”

The Library Council of NSW, assisted by the State Library, assessed the applications for grants under the 2021/22 program.

2022 Cootamundra Electorate Local Achievement Award Winners

Seniors who help the Cootamundra electorate thrive have been recognised for their efforts, with member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke announcing six recipients of the Local Achievement Award as part of the 2022 NSW Seniors Festival celebrations.  

Ms Cooke said this year’s recipients showcase the qualities of seniors who make our region a diverse, active and inspirational place to live.

“I congratulate and thank them for their generous contributions, remarkable skills and extensive knowledge which continues to benefit our community,” Ms Cooke said.

“The award winners were nominated by the community and highlight the many ways seniors support their families, communities and society more broadly.”

Recipients for the Cootamundra electorate Local Achievement Awards are:

  • Mrs Fay Richards of Temora for her work with St Paul’s Anglican Church Temora, Temora Swimming Club, Temora Rural Museum and Temora Probus Club.
  • Mr Kevin Richards of Temora his work with St Paul’s Anglican Church Temora, Temora Swimming Club, Temora Rural Museum and Temora Probus Club.
  • Mrs Beth Firman of Temora for her work with Temora Shire Council’s Australia Day celebrations, Temora and District Debutant Ball and Temora Town Hall Theatre.
  • Ms Rita Broad of Junee for her worth with Can Assist Junee and the Junee Regional Heritage and Transport Association.
  • Ms Mavis Bracken of Cootamundra for her work with Can Assist Cootamundra.
  • Mr Peter Stead of Coolamon for his work with Coolamon Landcare.

The Local Achievement Awards are among an array of celebrations that took place across the state as part of the 2022 NSW Seniors Festival.

Minister for Seniors, Mark Coure, said the awards program and festival are key initiatives in the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting seniors.

“NSW has an ageing population and we continue to respond to the challenges and opportunities that come with this,” Mr Coure said.

“We are striving towards our vision of creating a state where residents experience the benefits of living longer, while being able to contribute, be included and actively participate in their communities.”

The NSW Seniors Festival ran from 25 March – 3 April 2022 and is the largest festival for seniors in the Southern Hemisphere

For more information about NSW Seniors Festival and the Local Achievement Awards, please visit: seniorsfestival.nsw.gov.au

Funding For Veteran Projects In Cowra And Junee

Projects in Cowra and Junee are among more than 50 across NSW set to receive funding to commemorate veterans across the state.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke today announced funding for That Homeschool Life and the Junee Broadway Museum under the latest round of the Anzac Community Grants Program.

“Funds will assist That Homeschool Life with the distribution of the fictional post-war book ‘Jack’s Visit to Cowra’, a children’s story connected to Cowra’s Prisoner of War Campsite,” Ms Cooke said.

“The Broadway Museum will use their funds to protect and preserve the Army Great Coat and the Call to Arms certificate belonging to former Junee resident Corporal Frank Boyton who enlisted on 10th October, 1941.”

“These two projects are unique, among the many ways in which we can honour the service and sacrifice of our veterans.”

“Our small communities will be forever thankful for the sacrifices made by past and present servicemen and servicewomen who have contributed to over a century of service to our nation.”

Minister for Veterans Affairs David Elliott said that more than $56,000 will be provided to support a range of projects.

“Projects being funded will commemorate and educate NSW communities about the service and sacrifices of current and former military servicemen and servicewomen,” Mr Elliott said.

“These great projects and initiatives recognise Australia’s war service history, educate a new generation and support the wellbeing of the NSW veteran community.”

For the full list of 2021 ACGP recipients and more information about the program visit www.veterans.nsw.gov.au/acgp2021.

Junee Welcomes $787,682 in Funding for Community Projects

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has announced that the Junee Shire is set to receive $787,682 under the NSW Government’s fourth round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund.

This latest round of NSW Government funding has been spread across four projects, each of which is set to benefit communities across the Shire.

  • $59,772 to Illabo Public School to construct a Covered Outdoor Learning Area for students and the wider Illabo community
  • $228,020 to build a ramp into the 50 metre pool to facilitate increased accessibility at the Junee Junction Aquatic and Recreation Centre
  • $346,425 to provide a dedicated female change room at Loftus Oval, for the Junee Junior Rugby League club
  • $153,465 for sporting and social facility refurbishments in Old Junee, including a community garden and landscape features.

“Projects like these bring to life the NSW Government’s vision to help make regional NSW be the best place to live, work and visit,” Ms Cooke said.

“These four projects showcase facilities in Junee particularly those in small villages but also how the small villages who are passionate and committed to enhancing and developing their communities.

“The latest round of funding takes the total amount of funding through the Stronger Country Communities Fund for projects across the Junee Shire to $3,900,384 over 20 projects.” 

Junee Shire Council General Manager, James Davis said the projects across Junee will be a great addition to the town’s development.

“It’s great to see these facilities over the Junee Shire receive funding. These projects will better improve the learning and sporting experiences in the area,” Mr Davis said. 

Secretary of the Old Junee Hall, Anna Lashbrook said this funding was reassuring to the small village of Old Junee.

“We look forward to seeing our plans come alive, and building an asset not just for ourselves, but for the entire shire,” Mrs Lashbrook said.

Illabo Public School P&C secretary, Fiona Hodge said this funding is an exciting new addition to the Illabo community. 

“I don’t think we are going to realise the major impact this will have on not only the school but the wider Illabo community until the COLA is actually built. We will be able to hold events and learning for all outdoors in comfort,” Mrs Hodge said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole announced that 435 projects across every single one of the state’s 93 regional Local Government Areas (LGAs) would receive funding under Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four.

“The Stronger Country Communities fund delivers guaranteed investment in every single regional LGA in NSW, and has seen $500 million invested across more than 1900 local projects since 2017,” Mr Toole said.

“About half of this latest $100 million round will deliver 189 female sporting projects, including the construction or upgrade of female change rooms, additional amenity blocks and bathrooms, and playing surfaces like netball and tennis courts.

“It will also deliver hundreds of projects that make everyday life in the regions easier, for things like new playgrounds, clubhouse, art gallery renovations, streetscape, accessibility, lighting upgrades and community programs.”

The Stronger Country Communities Fund is part of the $2 billion Regional Growth Fund, which alongside the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund is delivering infrastructure and programs that generate opportunities, investment and jobs.

For more information, go to: www.nsw.gov.au/SCCF.

Rail Workers Give Miniature Railway a Facelift

Workers on big rail project in the Riverina Murray region – the $60 million Junee to Griffith track upgrade – have pitched in to help a little rail project, the Yanco Miniature Railway.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the John Holland crew, working on behalf of Transport for NSW under the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Rail program, donated time and materials to help upgrade the smaller-scale track.

“The Yanco Miniature Railway has been closed since February 2020 because of COVID-19, so workers on the Junee to Griffith project used the closure time to upgrade the model train exhibit,” Ms Cooke said.

In late November, the project team carried out a working bee at the miniature railway, donating timber sleepers and surplus track from the Junee to Griffith project.

These materials were used to upgrade the miniature railway’s existing 800-metre track and begin work on an extension.

“The project team welcomed the opportunity to support a local community group impacted by COVID-19, by recycling the existing rail lengths that had been replaced between Junee and Griffith and reducing waste from the upgrade,” Ms Cooke said.

Project Manager Gareth Beynon from John Holland visited the miniature railway and was amazed by its replica miniature-scale model train ride.

Yanco Miniature Railway Club President Terry Ward said workers put new gravel on the tracks, mowed grass, removed overgrown vegetation and began excavation work for a future tunnel.

“I cannot thank the crew enough. We’re hoping to reopen early next year and are excited to welcome back families to our upgraded miniature railway,” Mr Ward said.

The 174 kilometre Junee to Griffith upgrade project is expected to be completed early next year, providing a better freight link to port as well as domestic markets.

Capacity on the rail line will be increased to support heavier trains, and train speeds may increase for some train configurations between Junee and Griffith; improving network efficiency, ensuring shorter delivery times and reducing transport costs.

Fixing Country Rail is a $400 million NSW Government program providing targeted infrastructure funding from Restart NSW for regional freight projects.

For more information on the Fixing Country Rail program

visit: https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/programs/fixing-country-rail 

***images available to download here: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/joD9w6SgIC

Station Upgrades for Junee and Cootamundra

Work will begin this month on station upgrades at Junee and Cootamundra under a NSW Government initiative to improve accessibility and safety for rail travellers.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said Junee and Cootamundra were among 37 regional and intercity stations to benefit under the latest round of the Transport Access Program (TAP) – delivering safe, modern and accessible public transport infrastructure across the state.

“The upgrades will make these stations more accessible to those with a disability, limited mobility, carers or parents with prams and customers with luggage,” Ms Cooke said.

“Commuters at Cootamundra will get a new kiss and ride zone, an improved ticket office, upgraded stairs and better bathrooms including new family accessible toilet facilities.

“The Junee upgrade will deliver an improved station forecourt, a bus and coach stop and a kiss and ride bay on Railway Square.”

Existing accessible parking spaces at Junee station will be improved and commuters will also benefit from upgrades to paths, kerbs and ramps around the station entrance. Heritage aspects of the station will be restored and accessible bathroom facilities will be improved with an ambulant toilet for both male and female bathrooms.

Initial work will begin at both stations tomorrow, Tuesday 23 November and will include removing some existing structures and setting up temporary facilities. All improvements are expected to be completed within six months.

The contract for both sites has been awarded to local construction company Joss Group and planning approval has been granted for these projects.

Almost $600 million has been committed to TAP upgrades in regional NSW since 2011, with more than 470 projects either completed or currently underway across the state.

Local Heroes Honoured for Volunteer Efforts

In recognition of their tireless dedication to the Junee community, the team at the Junee Roundhouse Museum have been named the 2021 Riverina Volunteer Team of the Year.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards recognise the significant contributions individuals and organisations make across all sections of the community.

“Congratulations to the team at the Junee Roundhouse Museum who play an integral role in keeping Junee’s rail history alive,” Ms Cooke said.

“Thank you to all of our local volunteers around the region, who are the lifeblood of our communities.”

“We are extremely grateful for their continued commitment and I congratulate all award recipients and thank everyone who nominated.”

The annual awards are run by The Centre for Volunteering, the state’s peak body for volunteering.

The awards follow the release of the inaugural NSW State of Volunteering Report, which found more than 4.8 million people volunteered in NSW in 2020.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said the awards recognise volunteers who have gone above and beyond for their communities.

“The pandemic may have tested the character and resolve of our state but our volunteers responded in a variety of ways,” Mr Henskens said.

“I am inspired by the incredible people that devote their time and energy to benefit others and I congratulate all award winners.”

The recipients of the 2021 Riverina Volunteer of the Year Awards are:

  • Young Volunteer of the Year: Tylar Shepheard
  • Adult Volunteer of the Year: Helen Chant
  • Senior Volunteer of the Year: Hazel Cook
  • Volunteer Team of the Year: Junee Roundhouse Rail Museum
  • Club Volunteer of the Year: John Rodd

The awards are supported by the NSW Government and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs.

For more information, visit https://www.volunteering.com.au/volunteer-awards/.

Improved school facilities at four schools in the Cootamundra region

Students and staff at four local schools are set to benefit from improved facilities, as part of the $484 million 2021/22 Minor Capital Works program.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said she was proud of the continued investment in public school students in the electorate.

”I’m delighted that school communities will benefit from continued upgrades, such as new fencing and continued improvements to accessibility,” Ms Cooke said.

“It’s essential for our students, that they can thrive in a great learning environment, no matter where they live or what their circumstances may be.”  

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the projects at local schools in the Cootamundra electorate was part of the NSW Government’s record investment in public education infrastructure and complements works that have commenced across schools as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Across NSW, thousands of students are benefitting from new and upgraded schools and improved learning environments,” Ms Mitchell said.  

“These projects also provide hundreds of jobs for local businesses across NSW.” 

The NSW Government is investing $7.9 billion over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver 215 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW. 

School nameProject Summary
Cootamundra High SchoolVision Works
Junee High SchoolLift Access to stage
Temora Public SchoolSafety Fencing
West Wyalong High SchoolAdmin & Staff upgrades

Junee Lawson House Mortgage Extinguished

Lawson House, a 22-unit residential complex in Junee which supports older Junee
residents and those most vulnerable in the community, has had the mortgage of over
$130,000 extinguished by the NSW Land and Housing Corporation.


Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said this was a big win for current residents
who call Lawson House their home and residents for generations to come.


“The extinguishment of the mortgage provides certainty for the volunteer committee
of Lawson House which is vital, especially given the current shortage of affordable
housing in Junee,” Ms Cooke said.


“I acknowledge the hard work and efforts of the committee for Lawson House in
working closely with my office and the Land and Housing Corporation to deliver this
result for the people of Junee.”


Spokesperson for Lawson House, Lyn Whiles said it was a relieving result.


“The committee for Lawson House are delighted with the positive outcome to our
situation,” Mrs Whiles said.


“There has been some tireless work and effort put in to get this result. We are so
thankful this was the final outcome for us.”


Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said it was a great outcome
for the local community.


“I have seen the hard work Steph and the Lawson House Committee put into their
community and to achieve this result”, Mrs Pavey said.


“It is important that we all continue to work together.”


Lawson house has been assisting the Junee Community for nearly 60 years. The
complex of 22 units provides low-cost accommodation for those older residents who
are able to live mainly independently.

Boost for Local Public Libraries

Stacey Moses, Luke Taberney, Margaret Kanaley, Steph Cooke MP and Pam Halliburton stand amongst book shelves and smile at the camera.
Stacey Moses, Luke Taberney, Margaret Kanaley, Steph Cooke MP and Pam Halliburton

Two local libraries will soon benefit from the NSW Government’s Public Library Infrastructure Grant program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke today announced funding for the Junee Library and Temora Library from the program:

  • $26,630 to upgrade shelving at Junee Library, adding castors so shelving is moveable. This will allow the library spaces to be reconfigured providing more flexible use of spaces for library programs and events.
  • $194,000 to improve the amenity of Temora Library with the introduction of contemporary stylish furniture, new carpet and signage.

Ms Cooke said the improvements would help enhance these vital community spaces.

“Modern libraries offer so much to people of all ages; places to learn, study, access technology, hold meetings and events, socialise and of course borrow everything from books, films and games,” Ms Cooke said.

“It’s so important we support them to ensure they continue to be fit-for-purpose for the community and meet modern needs.”

“This funding will help both the Temora and Junee Libraries to continue to be important community spaces for everyone.”

Junee Shire Council’s Director Planning and Community Development Stacy Moses said the funding would help transform the Junee Library.

“We’re reconfiguring all of our shelving and putting them on casters making them more durable so we can actually move the library around substantially and have more engagement with the community with events,” Ms Moses said.

“We’re really excited with all the changes that will bring to us. The Junee Library is very important to the local community and we are hoping this will make it more of a community hub.”

“We are very thankful for the grant and are looking forward to getting those casters on.”

Previous support for local libraries from the NSW Government’s Public Library Infrastructure Grantprogram include:

  • $189,014 for Temora Library building a new outdoor reading and activity space, new accessible toilet facilities, and wheelchair accessible ramps.
  • $200,000 for the Bland Shire Library to create a dedicated young adult space, mobile shelving and furniture, improved display and a range of seating options.
  • $200,000 on a youth space at Narrandera Library incorporating areas for collaborative study, meeting, socialising and being connected, accessible toilet and entrance.
  • $44,727 for Grenfell Library for a microform reader/printer, furniture and shelving.

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said 25 local councils, of which 20 are in regional NSW and five in Sydney, will receive grants for projects this year to extend and improve public library buildings, spaces and information technology for NSW communities.

“This significant grant program is part of the $60 million that the Berejiklian Government is providing to enhance library services and facilities across the State between 2019 and 2023,” Mr Harwin said.

“It is essential that all residents have equitable access to services, and I am particularly delighted to see that this grant funding will help improve library spaces as their critical services are reintroduced in line with the COVID-19 safety plans.”

NSW State Librarian Dr John Vallance is pleased that the funds will enable councils to develop or improve library buildings and mobile library services.

“In my role visiting libraries across NSW, wherever I go I see the importance of quality library infrastructure, and the great community need for books, information and safe, welcoming public space. NSW public libraries are open to everyone, and the State Library is proud of its long partnership with these crucial institutions.”

The Public Library Infrastructure Grants program is administered by the State Library of NSW on behalf of the Library Council of NSW.