Picture: FILE IMAGEWIMMERA and Mallee councils will receive $4.5 million through a drought communities programfor infrastructure projects to drive jobs and spending.

The federal government will announce the money on Monday, which includes $1.5 million each for West Wimmera, Yarriambiack and Buloke municipalities.

The money will go towardsprojects that provide employment for people whose work has been affected by drought.

Yarriambiack MayorRay Kingston said the money was an exciting opportunity for communities.

“To the federal government’scredit, they’ve given us flexibility to target the money to what’s best for our communities,” he said.

“We’ve already been through a good process with the communities in our shire, who havehighlighted what the most important projects are in each our of towns.

“There’s a little bit of water to go under the bridge to nail down those projects and what fits the criteria, but we’ve got a good list there and I’m confident we’ll tick off most of them.”

Cr Kingston said establishing an ambulance transfer station at Warracknabeal’s aerodrome was a priority.

“That project is important for the entire region, and I’m pretty sure that will go ahead,” he said.

“The$1.5 million is big for us in the context of community infrastructure, and I’m confident the feds willsee really good value from that money.”

Cr Kingston said the funding came as a pleasant surprise.

“The government asked us for some input a while ago about drought funding,but at that stage we didn’t know a lot about where this was headed,” he said.

Member for Mallee Andrew Broad will visit Warracknabeal and Donald on Monday and Edenhope on Tuesdayto announce the funding.

He said the money was not an election commitment.

“Councils don’t have to have matching funding, and the money is not contingent on us winning the election –the money will be delivered into council bank accounts,” he said.

“I understand Yarriambiack has a fairly good list of where they want their money to go, and West Wimmera has a very good list too.

“Buloke is still working through their priorities.

“The money will go towards creating jobs and relates toeconomic, social and cultural infrastructure.”

Mr Broad said the money was made available because the three municipalities were added to a list of declared councils, which acknowledges communities facing tough times because of drought.

Hethanked Regional Development MinisterFiona Nash for helping to have the councils added to the declared councils list.

Mr Broad said Yarriambiack, West Wimmera and Buloke councils would submit projects to theDepartment of Infrastructure and Regional Development for assessment.

He said there was no deadline for submissions, but the Drought Communities Program fundingcomponent of projects must be completed by June 30, 2019.

The Drought Communities Program is different to theDrought Assistance Program, which Wimmera Uniting Care is seeking ongoing funding for.

The federal government will not fund the program after June 30.

The initiativehelps peopleinHorsham Rural City, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh, West Wimmera and Buloke municipalities dealing with drought.

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