Member for Morwell Russell Northe last night in State Parliament highlighted the plight of several Latrobe Valley sporting and community organisations that have lost access or are soon to lose access to their facilities, through no fault of their own.
“I’ve called upon the Victorian Government to take action to support these same organisations that are facing not having a home or facilities for their members”, Mr Northe began. “This really is an extraordinary situation, and just so disappointing and unnecessary and that is why I have called upon the Government to step up and resolve these matters”.
“We unfortunately well recall the complete failure of the Government to support user groups of Hazelwood Pondage”, Mr Northe continued. “Long-standing groups like the Latrobe Valley (LV) Yacht Club, LV Game fishing club and the LV Triathlon Club have all lost access to their clubrooms which they had developed with their own funds. I was gutted to hear that the LV Yacht Club has moved on and their vital Sailability program was disbanded. Now the future of other organisations are also in jeopardy including the Morwell Clay Target Club, LV Squash and the Traralgon and District Arts Society.
“Sporting and community groups spend a copious volunteer time and care building their membership up, and to have their efforts torn down on account of their facilities being made unavailable to them, through the subsequent lengthy consultation periods, or a complete lack of support, is terribly disrespectful and irresponsible. These groups can’t make plans for events or fundraisers in the future not knowing what might lie ahead”.
The most recent casualty is the Morwell Clay Target Club whose clubrooms are currently located on land owned by Energy Australia. Unfortunately, they have been advised that they need to vacate current premises by the end of the year. Whilst Energy Australia have generously provided alternative land for the Club to re-establish themselves, they do not have the financial capacity to rebuild facilities and infrastructure at their new site. Despite representations to the State Government, no support has been forthcoming for this very successful and popular Club who could well be without a home by the end of the year.
“Another long-running sporting club that has been greatly affected by this very issue, is the LV Squash crew. You would remember they were effectively forced into homelessness through the Government’s Morwell Gov Hub build”, Mr Northe continued. “This group were promised that they would be assisted to relocate to appropriate alternative facilities, but this promise has not eventuated. Whilst the State Government has announced that the Churchill Leisure Centre’s squash courts would be upgraded this was not the preference of LV Squash who were forced out of their home in Morwell and the organisation is now currently in limbo. LV Squash have sought to explore an opportunity to re-establish their home that they believe would provide the best opportunity for retention and growth of its membership however, this option seems to not even be on the Government’s radar”.
“We now see the Traralgon and District Arts Society (TADAS), who are currently located on the Traralgon Railway Station site in a heritage public transport building, facing similar circumstances. They too, have been ordered to vacate their premise by October due to works within the Governments Regional Rail Revival program. Whilst it’s understandable works on the southern platform are necessary the treatment of the Arts Society and its members has been appalling in my opinion”. Mr Northe said.
The lack of contact and direction from the Governments own Departments and agencies has caused much anxiety and distress and its simply unacceptable that the Government has fobbed the issue off to Council in an endeavour to find the Arts Society a temporary home. The question must be asked as to why its necessary to force TADAS from its home in the first place whilst these works are taking place.
Talk about being left in limbo – it’s my understanding the use of TADAS facilities would be for the purpose of storage and if that is the case then why does TADAS have to relocate. I also ask who is going to financially assist TADAS a volunteer organisation if it has no choice but to find a commercial premise to continue its operations. It makes absolutely no sense and the lack of certainty for this wonderful organisation is really distressing. The State Government can’t even advise TADAS if they will be allowed back in their own home which is just disgraceful.
“These situations make it very difficult for these organisations to retain and attract their membership numbers and to have those participating enthusiastic about their future”, Mr Northe said. “It’s hard enough in the current COVID-19 climate to keep organised sport and community clubs going, these extra pressures are just ridiculous”.
“That’s why I’ve put to the Premier that this situation is completely unacceptable, and we can ill afford to have even more local sporting clubs and organisations left with a home or facilities particularly in the current environment. The Hazelwood Pondage situation was diabolical enough whereby several clubs were left without a home base, and I call upon the Government and the relevant Ministers to step in and step up and help these organisations and their members who have been left out in the cold”.
“We need to support our incredible, vital and important community and sporting clubs!” Mr Northe concluded.