Adjournment: Williamstown Football Club

I wish to raise a matter for the Minister for Sport; in fact it is similar to the matter raised by the member for Bentleigh. The action I seek from the minister is for him to consider favourably the application made by the Williamstown Football Club for a community sports infrastructure loan. The Williamstown Football Club has been part of the Hobsons Bay community for a very long time; in fact its inception in 1864 makes it one of the oldest sporting clubs in the country. Notably the club fielded their first women’s team in this year’s VFLW competition, the first standalone VFL club to do so. This initiative is obviously very exciting for the development of women’s football in Melbourne’s west, and I think it will pave the way for a generation of young girls and women to play football at the highest level without ever needing to leave our region in the west.

Beyond the club’s VFLW endeavours, it plays a very significant role in the community. Not only does the club support numerous grassroots clubs but it also features prominently in the development of budding young footballers at our local schools. For example, the club delivers an accelerated football program at both Williamstown High School and Bayside College.

With the success of women’s football and the introduction of the club’s VFLW side it has become apparent that facilities at the Point Gellibrand ground are no longer fit for purpose. What that means in a practical sense is that when the women’s game is completed what they are often doing is returning to the changing rooms just as the men are in their final stages of warming up and about to run onto the ground, and that is obviously not practical any longer. The club has developed a very sensible and strong solution and are willing to invest heavily in their own facilities. They have won considerable support from the AFL, who have made a funding pledge to upgrade the facilities as well.

I will never miss an opportunity, as the club’s number one ticketholder, to wish the club’s men’s senior team every success for the remainder of the season, particularly given they are just two wins away from claiming their 17th premiership. Therefore I would very much urge the minister to consider favourably the loan application made by the club.

Hon John EREN MP – Minister for Sport

I refer to your adjournment debate matter regarding the application submitted by the Williamstown Football Club to the Community Sports Infrastructure Loans Scheme.

Recently, Treasurer Tim Pallas announced that 37 applications had been received from councils, clubs, associations and educational institutions across Victoria seeking a total of $186.5 million towards $427 million worth of community sports projects. This overwhelming response demonstrates that the Community Sports Infrastructure Loans Scheme has been embraced by the sport and recreation sector across Victoria.

I can confirm that the Williamstown Football Club’s application is currently under assessment by representatives of my department who will evaluate the strategic planning, project development and community benefit of each application accordingly. All projects recommended by the department will then be subject to a financial assessment conducted by the Department of Treasury and Finance to ensure an organisation’s financial sustainability and viability.

I note your support for the project and commend you for your commitment to advocating the importance of sport and recreation in your electorate. I anticipate announcements of successful applications will take place mid-October.