The Morrison Government has thrown its support behind a new educational hub for young Indigenous students and members of the Bachar Houli Academy at Punt Road Oval.
The $60 million William Cooper Centre will bring together sport, culture and diversity under one roof as the home to the Korin Gamadji Institute, the Bachar Houli Academy, Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) and women’s and community football.
The Centre, initiated by the Richmond Football Club, will deliver residential accommodation, digitally enhanced learning spaces, and improved amenities and training facilities.
It will also increase the number of people engaged through the facility from around 90,000 to more than 200,000 on an annual basis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the project would help foster a stronger sense of community through sport.
“Australians know all too well that the power of sport extends beyond the boundary line and that’s what establishing the William Cooper Centre is all about,” the Prime Minister said.
“This Centre encourages inclusion, promotes understanding and will empower young Australians from a diverse range of backgrounds to achieve great things.
“We’re building on our plan for Australia’s population with projects like this, by helping promote stronger ties within our communities.
“It will serve as an enduring legacy for its namesake William Cooper, who was one of the leaders of the NAIDOC movement, and has inspired generations of Indigenous people to follow in his leadership.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Morrison Government had committed $15 million to help establish the centre as part of the upcoming Budget.
“We understand that initiatives like the Korin Gamadji Institute, the Bachar Houli Academy, MITS and increasing women’s participation in sport play an important role in the social and economic success of our community,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“This investment will ensure that more young people can share in the benefits of these important programs by removing the constraints at the current facilities.
“Our Government can make these investments, which benefit our communities, because our plan for a stronger economy is working,” the Treasurer said.
The development will also see an increased seating capacity at Punt Road which plays regular host to VFL and VFLW matches.
The funding for the William Cooper Centre follows a $2.1 million investment in MITS for a new Alumni Boarding House, $15 million to make Carlton’s Ikon Park the home of AFLW in Victoria, $15 million to establish a home for the Brisbane Lions AFLW team in Springfield, Queensland, and $60 million to support grassroots sports clubs to upgrade their facilities through the Community Sport Infrastructure grant program.