ECEC to benefit from NSW investment in regional development
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > ECEC to benefit from NSW investment in regional development

ECEC to benefit from NSW investment in regional development

by Freya Lucas

May 20, 2024

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is just one of a number of sectors which will benefit from a recent announcement by the New South Wales Government that it will invest $35 million in regional development initiatives. 


The $35 million funding allocation is drawn from the broader $350 million Regional Development Trust pool which will support a package of initiatives to boost the long-term resilience of regional NSW, with a focus on job creation and primary industry expansion.


The funded projects have been guided by the Regional Development Advisory Council and informed by a number of roundtables with rural communities hosted by the Minister for Regional New South Wales, Tara Moriarty, across the state.


This process has ensured the transparency and integrity of the investments, a Government spokesperson noted, and align with the 4 focus areas of the Regional Development Trust, namely:


  • sustainable regional industries, including emerging and job creating industries
  • aboriginal economic development and enterprise
  • community infrastructure and capacity building
  • improving regional service delivery.


The $35 million package includes:


$10 million Western NSW Workforce Activation Package to establish, expand or upgrade Western NSW childcare (sic.)


  • The Western NSW Workforce Activation Package will provide $10 million to establish, expand or upgrade early childhood and education care across 3 initial local government areas of Bourke, Broken Hill and Cobar.
  • This initiative is designed to increase the availability of long day care in regional areas.
    Co-designed with the early childhood sector, this is an innovative approach to strengthening the workforce in remote communities by addressing one of the barriers faced by parents looking to return to work in areas where there is little or no early childcare available.
  • Successful applicants must demonstrate that funded activities will increase their ability to offer additional childcare places.


“This funding will allow long day care services to extend their hours or modify their services. This gives more flexibility to both parents looking to get back into the workforce, and creates new opportunities for early childcare workers,” Deputy Premier of New South Wales and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said.


$15 million to improve rural and remote airstrips


Effective remote and Western NSW airstrips that are accessible all year round will increase economic development opportunities, plus the delivery of health care and emergency services to reach communities that would otherwise be required to travel long distances to access similar services.


The NSW Government has commenced an audit of remote and rural airstrips across 20 local government areas in Western NSW and will develop a rollout schedule, based on priority and need, that will be completed by September this year.


Following this, the NSW Government will commence the upgrades of airstrip and aerodrome related infrastructure and equipment improvements.


This investment will improve rural and remote communities’ access to critical services, businesses, essential workers and supplies particularly in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.


$5 million to empower Aboriginal businesses


  • The Aboriginal Economic Development Package will support Aboriginal businesses and organisations to identify and execute commercial opportunities, leading to improved economic and employment outcomes.
  • The funding will assist eligible Aboriginal organisations and businesses to deliver projects that enable improved economic and employment outcomes – for example, upgrades to community-controlled facilities or the expansion of native food operations.
  • Aboriginal projects are currently under consideration, with commencement of the pilot program to happen over the coming months.


$5 million to encourage economic growth and employment in regional NSW


  • $5 million will be invested to provide low-interest loans to eligible small and medium businesses to encourage economic growth and employment in regional NSW.
  • From today food and beverage manufacturing small and medium businesses will be able to apply for loans between $100,0000 and $1,000,000, with a 2.5% fixed interest for the life of the loan, to allow them to invest in new technologies and equipment that increases efficiency and productivity.
  • NSW is home to more than 30% of the nation’s small and medium enterprises. However, the RBA has highlighted that currently small businesses are finding it difficult to access finance from traditional lenders with approval times, underwriting security requirements and interest rates cited as key concerns.
  • This investment from the NSW Government has been developed to make it faster and easier for regional small businesses to thrive.


Further investments in these projects will be considered following an initial review of their implementation.


“I have been lucky to visit country towns across all of the state, from Bega to Broken Hill, and hear firsthand from communities about issues facing regional NSW,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said.


“I am committed to working with local communities on solutions and projects that work for them, and that is what the Regional Development Trust is designed to deliver.”


The announcement was welcomed by the NSW Farmers Party, who thanked the Government for its decision, saying the announcement to establish and upgrade long day care services in Broken Hill, Bourke and Cobar will provide a boost to attract and retain young farming families, where early childhood and education care is often limited.


“Whether you live in Cobar or in Canberra, all families deserve to have access to early childhood and education care when and where they need it,” NSW Farmers Western Division Council Chair Gerard Glover said. 


“$10 million in funding to increase access to these services across parts of rural NSW will go a long way to ensuring parents can return to work when they need to, while being confident their children are being cared for safely.”


“Accessing critical services such as childcare or healthcare in rural and regional NSW shouldn’t be this hard – so a boost to help overcome these barriers has been warmly welcomed by us all.”

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