Havelock Housing Association (HHA) has secured a grant of $343,890 as part of the Federal Government’s Driving Social Inclusion through Sport and Physical Activity program.
The community housing provider was one of three successful sole-ACT applicants announced on 30 June, with MARSS Australia Inc receiving $273,700 for their project Harmony Sports Program, and Warehouse Circus Inc $211,741 for Circus Where You Are.
Federal Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck, said the program is designed to strengthen communities through participation.
“Sport and physical activity is a key element of a stronger, more resilient, more connected life,” Minister Colbeck said. “This is even more important as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The grants are the outcome of an open competitive process run by the Federal Government last year, with more than 850 applications received.
HHA CEO Andrew Rowe said they were “enormously excited” to receive the grant as “it will make a massive difference to our resident community”. However, he was worried they had asked for a lot “but we wanted to make a big impact and make sure we had the resources to do it well”.
He said engagement with all residents was important to the application process and will also play a role in the program’s outcomes.
Residents were surveyed as to what activities they felt would benefit their lives, with their responses included as part of the application process. Mr Rowe said their feedback during the program will also be important moving forward.
“I think it’s essential … having the evidence to show what works or doesn’t to guide future initiatives and guide future decisions. We want to make sure we make the biggest impact for what we do.”
Mr Rowe said the successful program, Havelock Housing Building Communities, will emphasise social inclusion and building the confidence of their resident cohort. This will be achieved through fun sport and physical activities including swimming, water exercise, walking, cycling, yoga, mindfulness training and other recreational activities to be identified by the residents themselves.
The grant will allow HHA to employ someone who will be dedicated to sport and recreation for the two years of the grant program. Mr Rowe said it will provide a significant expansion to the community development initiatives already in place.
Many of the community development initiatives were put on hold due to COVID-19, however, Mr Rowe said they are gradually opening up. He said COVID-19 will have an impact on the types of events and activities they can do “but it won’t stop us. It’s about being flexible and adaptable”.
Overall, he said the program is about empowering and encouraging inclusion and building confidence in residents.
It is hoped the program will increase the sense of belonging among HHA residents, improve their physical and mental health, and enhance community engagement. Additionally, it will contribute to social inclusion and the wellbeing of residents of all ages and backgrounds, including vulnerable and disadvantaged and those with high and complex needs.