Nationals’ plan to breathe life back into community sport

The Victorian Nationals have called for the immediate delivery of a $10 million fund to get community sport back on its feet.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said lockdowns had seen sporting clubs across Victoria suffer 18 months of cancellations, ripping the soul out of local sporting clubs.

Participant and volunteer bases have been eroded and facilities and equipment left unused and gathering dust.

Many sporting clubs now face significant financial pressures and need additional support to restart in time for the coming summer season and beyond.

Under this new funding program, individual sporting clubs could apply for up to $50,000 in funding towards kick-starting operations and supporting ongoing financial viability.

Ms Bath said community sporting clubs contribute significantly to the physical and mental health of local communities.

“Community sporting clubs provide so many benefits physically and mentally to our local communities, but they face uncertain futures due to the disruption of yo-yoing in and out of lockdown and constantly changing restrictions,” Ms Bath said.

“Community sport is the lifeblood of regional communities and performs an important role in keeping people connected and supporting local small businesses.

“With the footy and netball seasons having been cut short, the financial stress on clubs has been compounded after the 2020 season failed to get off the ground.

“Footy and netball clubs in Gippsland were getting ready for bumper finals series, functions and presentation nights that would have provided a much-needed financial boost.”

Ms Bath said under the released roadmap for Victoria competition cannot commence for this summer’s cricket season until at least 80% of the population is double dosed – taking the possible start date well into November.

“This is a month and a half later than usual, which robs local cricket clubs of the chance to utilise their facilities while still being expected to pay rents and associated costs.

“Many other local sport clubs including tennis and bowls clubs are understandably nervous about the season ahead with the social benefits of these clubs so important across such a broad demographic.

“Without any significant revenue streams of late clubs will be managing the impacts of harsh lockdown measures well into the future, which is why I’m calling on the Andrews Government to immediately implement the funding proposal to help get community sport back on its feet.

“The Andrews Government needs to offset some of the harm caused by its decisions and insensitivity towards regional communities throughout the pandemic.”