Life-changing projects championed by Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines have been funded in the latest round of the Building Better Regions Fund, including Mansfield Autism Statewide Service’s Operation Gamechanger and a 48 kilometre Rutherglen wine walk cycle trail.

More than $9.2 million has been committed to five projects in Indi in round five of the Building Better Regions Fund. Dr Haines made strong representations to the Federal Government on many of the projects.

Mansfield Autism Statewide Service has been granted $3.8 million for the Operation Gamechanger project, which will provide new facilities and expanded services for children with autism and their families.

“I am thrilled the Federal Government has decided to invest in Mansfield with a $3.9 million contribution to construct a new early intervention facility as part of Mansfield Autism’s Project Gamechanger,” Dr Haines said.

“MASS is an world-leading centre for children with autism and demand far exceeds current capacity. This funding will ensure MASS can continue to support children with autism and their families through retreats in the Mansfield region, which will also create local jobs and boost the tourism sector as part of our COVID recovery.”

The MASS Gamechanger project has been included in Dr Haines’ budget submission in 2021 and 2020, and Dr Haines has met with former education minister Dan Tehan and current Education Minister Alan Tudge, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to lay out the case for supporting the project.

Indigo Shire Council has been awarded $5.13 million for the Rutherglen Wine Walk Cycle Trail, which was also included in Dr Haines’ budget submissions in 2020 and 2021.

“I’m also pleased to welcome $5.13 million in funding for this project, which I put to the Treasurer as part of a broader call on the Government to establish a new regional tourism infrastructure fund to make sure regions like the North East had the best chance of bouncing back from COVID, bushfires and border issues,” Dr Haines said.

“There is over $135m in shovel-ready tourism infrastructure projects in Indi right now.”

The Rutherglen Wine, Walk, Cycle Trail is a 48km network of multi-use trails with many ride or walk options to suit one-hour to three-day visitor experiences, aligned to the current and future visitor markets.

The aim is to develop and expand walking, cycling and wine tourism and recreation by linking Rutherglen’s town centre to Lake Moodemere, the Murray River, multiple winery cellar doors, food producers, cafes and restaurants.

The trail includes a 14.8 kilometre section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail and will activate local businesses, including those businesses which are not currently accessible via the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail.

Mount Hotham will also get improved access for people with disabilities, after $245,000 was awarded to Disabled Wintersports Australia for an infrastructure project.

Also in Indi, the Wodonga Urban Landcare Network was granted $20,000 for the Finding Our Voice: media and messaging for volunteers project. It will deliver a series of online and face-to-face workshops, group mentoring, and a workbook for environment and sustainability groups in the Wodonga region.

The Australasia-Pacific Extension Network was granted $19,600 for Growing Emerging Extension Leadership in Regional Australia, a project that will deliver a leadership program to emerging rural leaders in regional communities.

“The funding for these projects is a testament to the amazing work being done across Indi,” said Dr Haines.

“Our region has so much to offer and I am so proud to have worked side by side with councils and community groups to make sure they get the funding they deserve.”

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