Multi-million dollar funding boost for Helensburgh sporting infrastructure

Rex Jackson Oval, Helensburgh

COMMUNITY sporting infrastructure will receive a multi-million dollar funding boost in the far northern Illawarra as part of a NSW Government program. 

The Helensburgh Park Multisport Facility Upgrade at Rex Jackson Oval will receive a $3.2 million to improve the precinct by modernising infrastructure at the local pool and upgrading lighting.

An additional $2.1 million will enable the construction of a new gymnasium room at the ‘Burgh Healthy Hub’ to cater for gymnastics, aerials, circus and tumbling activities. The existing amenities will also be upgraded to improve accessibility.

State MP for Heathcote, Lee Evans said the two Helensburgh projects will benefit from the NSW Government’s Multi-Sport Community Facility Fund.

“Sport is part of the fabric of our community and our Government has a strong track record of investing in grassroots sport to deliver modern, accessible facilities,” Mr Evans said.

“This funding will upgrade facilities and enable more locals to enjoy the benefits of sport and active recreation but I am always looking to do more.

“This year I have been working with the presidents of Helensburgh sporting clubs (rugby league, soccer, netball, cricket, little athletics and off road cycle) to come up with a future proofed solution for Rex Jackson Oval.

“Together we agreed that a ‘Helensburgh Sporting Precinct’ will benefit our local community for many years to come, with multi-purpose, modern facilities to enhance all clubs that utilise the field. Premier Perrottet recently visited Rex Jackson Oval and listened to the pleas of the executive to find a way.”

State MP for Heathcote, Lee Evans and NSW Minister for Sport Alister Henskens with representatives of local sporting bodies at Helensburgh Swimming Pool on Wednesday.

Wollongong Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery said the work that is planned as part of the facility upgrade will extend the Helensburgh swimming pool life by another 40 years, and will address issues with the ageing pool shell and plant equipment.

“It’ll also allow for a new solar shade structure to be installed and for the construction of accessible and changing place amenities,” Cr Bradbery said.

“These steps are crucial to the longevity of the pool facility but also to ensure it meets the needs of the local community and those who visit the pool for exercise, relaxation or to socialise.”

Wollongong City Council general manager Greg Doyle said the Helensburgh Park Plan of Management identified the need for a combined community centre, library and sporting precinct.

“We’re focussed on taking an integrated approach to planning for this diverse community and their wide-ranging needs,’’ Mr Doyle said.

“This multipurpose facility is fundamental to offering sport and recreation opportunities. We’ve a vision to take what is here now – a pool facility and neighbouring sports field facility – and create a multisport facility that supports both aquatic and land-based recreation, as well as link in with a new community centre and library.

“A particularly exciting opportunity this grant funding provides is that we will be able to offer DDA compliant changing place amenities for wheelchair users through this facility. Accessibility is a key focus of Wollongong Council and I’m pleased we’re able to continue to build on the positive steps we’re already taking to address equitable access to Council facilities.’’

Through this project Council will also be exploring options for inclusive play, such as zero-depth splash pads, for people of all ages and abilities.

In addition to improvements to Helensburgh Pool, the multisport facility upgrade will also fund improvements to lighting at the pool as well as on the adjoining natural turf field at Rex Jackson Oval.

“The Fund is targeted at providing more opportunities for people to play sport and be healthy and active,” Cr Bradbery said.

“We’re keen to support more people to participate in sport and one of the ways we can do this is by providing improvements to sport field lighting which allows more people to play for longer.”

Mr Doyle said both the improvements to sports field lighting at Rex Jackson Oval and the upgrades for Helensburgh Pool were identified in Council’s current Infrastructure Delivery Program for delivery between 2023 and 2026.

“For some people in Helensburgh this might be the first time they’re hearing of these exciting plans for this popular sporting precinct,” he said.

“This Grant funding is much appreciated by Council, as it allows us to do more for our community, and to deliver much-needed improvements.

“It also continues Council’s ongoing investment in the northernmost part of our Local Government Area. We’re committed to this suburb, and I look forward to further conversations with our community as we work through the next steps.”

The Multi-Sport Community Facility Fund provides grants between $1 million and $5 million for new or upgraded sport facilities.

NSW Minister for Sport Alister Henskens said the program prioritises projects that provide inclusive and accessible facilities that enable more people to play sport.

“These projects will not only provide more opportunities for people to play sport, but they will also generate a local sports facility infrastructure boom, creating jobs and delivering an economic boost for the northern Illawarra,” Mr Henskens said.

“Regardless of age, ability or the sport you play, this multi-million Government investment is delivering game-changing projects that promote participation and secure a brighter future for local communities across NSW.” 

For more information about the program, visit the website.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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