Bright future ahead as sod turns at ConnectGV

By James Bennett

The future of disability access in the Goulburn Valley starts now, with shovels expected to hit dirt in the coming weeks for the new ConnectGV site.

At yesterday's sod-turning for the $5.3 million Bowenhall St facility, chief executive Carolynne Frost said the wait after 10 years of financial planning was over.

The old building across the road is outdated; however, the new facility will have better accessibility and new equipment and technology.

“We understood, and our predecessors understood, that what we currently have in terms of infrastructure would not meet our needs,” Ms Frost said.

“It was going to be incredibly disruptive for our clients to have to move elsewhere if we built on that block.

“So, for them to actually be able to see their building — and it is their building — come to life, that's just incredible.

“You could hear (the excitement) and they (clients) have been waiting, waiting, waiting!”

This site will soon become the new home of ConnectGV on Bowenhall St, Shepparton.

The new building will also include a new bathroom, art rooms, sensory rooms, gym and a soundproof music room.

Ms Frost said the building must be completed by March 2021.

A majority of the money was raised from the community and ConnectGV, while the remainder came from the Federal Government.

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the $2 million in federal funding was only made possible by the Coalition winning the 2019 election.

He said Ms Frost was one of the first people he phoned on election night, to tell her the "good news".

“It's great to be able to come good and assist with the new building,” Mr Drum said.

“The best we could come up with was an election commitment, should the Coalition win the election on May 18, then we would find the money through the Community Development Grant.

“It was a great phone call to make on the Saturday night of May 18.”

ConnectGV chief executive Carolynne Frost says the build will take about 12 months to complete. Pictures: Alana Christensen.

The fundraising for the new building now shifts, as ConnectGV is hoping to raise $100 000 for specialised equipment.

“Equipment we put in the building is quite costly,” Ms Frost said.

“We've identified a number of different types of equipment we'd like and the focus will be on raising funds for them.

“Last year we raised in excess of $30 000, the community absolutely got behind us.

“There are some really generous community members out there and they really do support what we do."

Ms Frost said the current building would eventually be demolished.

“That will be a sad day because there is history there,” she said.

“1953 is when a small community and committee of people got together, and we started operating out of Deakin Reserve.

“Then in 1957 they built across the road.”

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