Disappointment has turned to celebration for Lifeskills Plus, with the announcement of $650,000 from the NSW government to purchase and equip a new centre for the region’s people with disabilities.
Lifeskills Plus applied for funds from Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance last year, but the application was denied and Lifeskills was left wondering how it would raise the funds to make the much-needed move.
Following campaigning from local, state and federal politicians who had seen the dire need for a new facility, member for Orange Andrew Gee visited Lifeskills on Wednesday to announce that Andrew Constance had approved $650,000 for the organisation.
“I know that the Lifeskills organisation here in Mudgee has been struggling with their accommodation here for a long time,” Mr Gee said on Wednesday.
“It’s pretty old and it’s pretty cramped, and it’s a very difficult place to work.
“I’m pleased to announce today that the minister for ageing and disability Andrew Constance has looked into his heart and also his wallet and is announcing a grant of $650,000,”
The grant will enable Lifeskills to purchase the former Clarkson’s Clearance building beside its Southside Skills Centre and the group will continue to raise funds towards the building’s modifications.
Lifeskills will now look for a building that can be augmented to meet the group’s needs, and continue raising funds to finance the modifications.
Lifeskills Plus CEO Carolyn Peek said a new centre would provide a safer and more positive environment, increase respite capacity, allow for more effective daily programming and activities, as well as making it easier to welcome community volunteers to come and share their time and interests with people at the Lifeskills centre.
“It’s really important that the environment people are in reflects the quality of care that they are provided, and the value given to them in their community,” Ms Peek said.
Ms Peek thanked the regional ADHC team, local state and federal members and council for their support in the push to win the funding.
Lifeskills currently supports over 60 people with disabilities from Mudgee, Gulgong, Kandos, Rylstone and as far away as Running Stream at both its Perry Street and Southside centres.
The Perry Street facility provides care for 20 people with disabilities, with numbers continuing to grow on a monthly basis through word of mouth, people leaving school, school referrals for the Out of School Hours Service and respite care, and new families coming to town.
“I take my hat off to the staff and the people who are on these boards and do this job,” said Mayor Des Kennedy.
While he said the region had won larger grants before, none had been more significant than Lifeskills’ $650,000.
“Of all the things you see happen in your local region, this is probably the most important grant I’ve seen come to our region in the last 20 years,” he said.
“Thank you all, everyone associated with Lifeskills, for all the hard work you do,” Mr Gee said.
“I think that the work you do here is invaluable, it’s wonderful work you do and the community would be lost without you.”