Children’s charity Royal Far West is set to benefit to the tune of $5.1 million.
The NSW government has committed the grant to help the charity build a new state-of-the art health and learning facility, and in turn support thousands more vulnerable children and families across regional Australia.
The construction of the new Centre for Child Health and Learning is just one of the benefits the funding will bring to Royal Far West.
It will also see the expansion of its Telecare for Kids program, on-site accommodation and schooling for children and their families, and a fleet of vehicles which would allow RFW staff to travel further into remote and rural areas.
It’s not the only exciting news for the charity at the moment either – it seems a visit from Prince Harry could be on the cards during his trip to Australia later this year.
Royal Far West chief executive Lindsay Cane said the government grant was timely, given the immense hardship that children and families in remote and rural areas were facing due to drought conditions.
“Despite the resilience of country people, there’s no doubt the current drought has amplified the tremendous challenges faced by the families we work with, who are also coping with the stress of caring for a child with developmental issues,” Ms Cane said.
“This $5.1 million grant will go a long way to helping Royal Far West fulfill its goal of tripling the number of children and families it helps each year, to 15,000 by 2020.
“We need to connect with and help these kids urgently. The long term-consequences of not treating children with developmental problems can be significant – from fostering at-risk adults, to poorer education, higher rates of chronic disease, unemployment, homelessness and crime – the list goes on.”
The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Member for Manly James Griffin announced the funding this morning during a “topping out” ceremony at the charity’s Manly site – a construction tradition which marks the last beam being installed at the highest point of a new building.
Mr Barilaro said RFW provided services that children and families in regional areas would otherwise struggle to access.
“Right now, with the drought hitting hard across the state, the work they do could not be more important,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The tyranny of distance means so many children with developmental problems in rural and remote parts of NSW are at risk of ‘falling through the gaps’, and Royal Far West is all about making sure those kids don’t miss out, and instead get the specialised health care they need,” he said.
Mr Griffin said the $5.1 million grant builds upon a $10 million grant from the NSW government in 2014.
“Every year 1000 families visit Royal Far West in Manly, where they can get specialised care while enjoying a scenic break from life in the bush,” Mr Griffin said.
“When complete, the new state-of-the-art facility will also house the Royal Far West School, which accommodates about 20 teachers and 50 children, including their siblings, allowing for continuous schooling while the family is away from home,” he said.
The building is set to be officially opened in December, however the charity is hoping to have most of the construction work done ahead of a potential royal visit by Prince Harry.
Buckingham Palace has already notified Royal Far West the charity has been shortlisted for a visit. Prince Harry would be following in his grandmother’s footsteps with the visit. Queen Elizabeth toured the Manly site in 1970.