CANBERRA MATTERS: Grants help communities stay strong and healthy

COMMUNITY ASSET: Meryl Swanson at Birralee Park, Kurri Kurri, where a new shade sail will be built thanks to a Stronger Communities Grant.
COMMUNITY ASSET: Meryl Swanson at Birralee Park, Kurri Kurri, where a new shade sail will be built thanks to a Stronger Communities Grant.

Good people and good ideas are key to help our community thrive.

One such idea is a new shade sail for Birralee Park playground, in Kurri Kurri, which I was pleased to support for a Stronger Communities Grant.

Cessnock City Council will receive $12,500 towards the project and contribute the balance.

As I drive along Heddon Street, Kurri Kurri I regularly see how Birralee Park and neighbouring Kurri Kurri senior sportsground are important local facilities that are helping to keep our young people active.

The shade sail will be around 16 by 11 metres and will sit over the play equipment. It’s another way we can help build strong community networks and strong, healthy bodies. The shade sail will also provide shelter from the sun’s harmful rays.

Cessnock City Council recently adopted a Health and Well Being Plan which placed a high priority on skin protection and the prevention of skin cancer.

This is the second Stronger Communities Grant I have been able to announce for Kurri Kurri.

Last month I went along to the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs’ annual presentation evening at the bowling club and was able to announce that their application for a grant for a mural had been successful.

The mural will be painted on the club’s grandstand and will depict the Bulldogs’ rich rugby league history.

These grants were awarded under the Stronger Communities program, headed up by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

I was rapt with the quantity and quality of the applications from Paterson.

My very great thanks to the other community leaders who comprised the judging committee: Slow Food Movement leader Amorelle Dempster, former Port Stephens MP Bob Martin, local businessman Jim Sullivan and I faced a very challenging task making recommendations.


It gave me great pride to help local historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher launch their book, You Can’t Fight, You’re A Girl, at Kurri Kurri Public School on Saturday.

John and Yvonne’s book tells the story of a brave and resourceful young woman named Maud Butler and the lengths she went to to try and contribute to the war effort.

Like me, Maud was a student at Kurri Kurri Public School, so it was a fitting venue for the book launch.

The illustrated work is a historical text that will be used by Stage Two and Three students throughout NSW.

I was given the opportunity to speak during the launch as was my colleague Liesl Tesch, who resides on the Central Coast.

Liesl, a successful Paralympian and champion sailor, is now a NSW Parliamentarian. Like Maud, she is an inspirational example of a woman who overcame the odds to succeed.


And still in the vein of awesome women with a Kurri Kurri connection, I’d like to give a shout-out to Hayley Mossman and Charlotte Childs.

Both of these girls are in Year 6 at Kurri Kurri Public School and were recently awarded the Fred Hollows Humanity Award at a Ceremony in Parliament House, Sydney.

Well done!

Meryl Swanson is the Federal MP for Paterson