much-needed Stage 2 IWC Health & Wellbeing Centre development in Bundaberg is
in jeopardy after the whole region missed out almost completely in the latest
round of Federal Government Stronger Regions funding.
IWC, which is
community-run and charitable, announced today that as a result of the whole Bundaberg
region receiving just 0.31 per cent of the total $126.5 million allocated
nationally, it had been forced to take the major project off the table. It means
hundreds of potential jobs will not now be created and a huge $43.5 million financial
injection into the regional economy vanishes.
Government has pledged to invest $1 billion over five years for projects that
will ‘deliver economic and social benefits’ to regions and ‘strengthen
communities’, to use its own words,” said IWC General Manager Wayne Mulvany, pictured below on the IWC Stage 2 Development site.
"But when the
news around successful submissions for Round Three of Stronger Regions was made
on Friday 7 October with $126.5 million allocated, the whole Bundaberg region
received just 0.31 per cent, or just over $400,000, of that sum. This is
outrageous given Bundaberg’s high unemployment and poor economic situation.”
said action must be taken to remedy the situation, or the community would
continue to suffer.
region is one of the government’s identified areas of highest need, with its
own social index, SEIFA, showing at least 80 per cent of people in the region
are among the most disadvantaged in Australia.
proposed $14.8 million IWC Stage Two Development, which has been approved by
council, a great investment opportunity for Bundaberg region is knocking on the
doors of government – an opportunity that ticks all of the boxes for Stronger
Regions funding and state economic growth strategies. But our application for $6.5
million towards the $14.8 million total cost has been rejected,” said Mr
"It is not just about IWC. All our entire region
has in fact received through this massive funding exercise is an upgrade of an
existing park at Bargara, including a new toilet block. How does that compare
to a project that would deliver almost 200 jobs during construction,
causing more than 600 flow-on jobs in the community, and create 46 permanent long-term jobs, as would the IWC Stage 2
"It’s all very well for the government to say there was a
large number of submissions, but how can our region miss out so badly? And how
can our politicians stand by and let it happen?”
Mr Mulvany said the decision by the Federal Government to
turn its back on Bundaberg had forced IWC to make a tough decision around the
proposed Stage 2 development.
"Right now the Stage 2 Development of the IWC Health
& Wellbeing Centre has to be off the table for us. We are a community-run,
charitable and non-government organisation delivering what our people need and
want – we have 12,500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients and growing.
"Many of our services urgently need to expand to meet
community demand and growing waiting lists, particularly around the treatment
and case management of chronic disease, and this is why we have moved on the
Stage 2 development planning. But the Federal Government has effectively tied
our hands around Stage 2 because we cannot, as a not-for-profit organisation,
afford the whole $14.8 million ourselves.”
Mr Mulvany called for immediate action from the region’s
politicians, Federal Member Keith Pitt and State Members Leanne Donaldson and
Stephen Bennett, urging them to join together to fight for their region
regardless of party politics.
"This is scandalous. People in our region
should be horrified about the lack of interest in Federal Government around
Bundaberg region. IWC has already asked our Keith Pitt for an urgent meeting to
see what can be done – our community needs to fight back and demand a fair go.
"It should also be noted that Member for
Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson would not support the IWC submission with a letter
of support, but now we call on her to put aside her politicking around
community projects and stand up for the region she has been elected to promote
Mr Mulvany pointed to comments by Deputy Prime
Minister Warren Truss at the launch of the Stronger Regions Round Three
funding. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional
Development said: "I encourage
applicants to put forward projects that demonstrate strong economic outcomes
and address disadvantage, to give themselves the best opportunity for success.”
Government’s guidelines around the funding also said: "The Fund is investing in
crucial infrastructure projects that are being conceived by local communities.”
said: "This Stage 2 development is a direct response to community demand, and
designed in consultation with the community.”
"We were told
it needed to be ‘shovel-ready’, with permissions in place, so we put in a lot
of work acquiring and clearing the site adjacent to the Stage 1 Health &
Wellbeing Centre in Bundaberg, and then gaining Development Approval. Now this.
Industry Association (HIA) modelling shows that this project would have a direct cost benefit to our regional economy of
$43.5 million during the life of the construction alone.
decision means that for IWC, the Stage 2 Development has to be shelved. No new
jobs, no expansion of community-driven health care to our most at-risk and
disadvantaged. Our hands are tied.”