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Government commits to rural Australia with $15 million institution

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In part due to a $15 million NSW government commitment, Royal Far West has announced the opening of the Manly Centre dedicated to improving the lives of rural, remote and regional children.

The Centre’s state-of-the-art facilities will “change the lives” of children across Australia and ensure they have access to health and education services. With a fully integrated health program, children and families will have access to critical support.

CEO of Royal Far West, Lindsay Crane, said at the Manly Centre: “Kids who can’t speak or read or catch a ball, be socially appropriate, hold a pen, tell a story, who find it hard to make friends… these are the kids who need to grow up well and resilient in our communities.

“These are the kids who inspired us to innovate and create new solutions,” Crane said. “We’ve created an opportunity to solve a problem that state and federal governments have wrestled with for many years and have concluded on many occasions that it is too hard. For us at Royal Far West, it can never be too hard.”

The NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, was present at the new Manly Centre to unveil the building, located in Sydney, on Monday. She said that she is “incredibly proud” of what the $15 million commitment achieved, adding: “What I feel really proud about is that we integrated the health and education needs in this one location and that is really visionary.”

With the grant, the six-storey facility was able to integrate clinic rooms and specialists to aid children in care. It features virtual counselling, speech and occupational therapy services and guesthouses for regional families that are accessing treatment in Manly.

Former Prime Minister and Member for Warringah, Tony Abbott, said: “This area and facilities like this don’t just service locals, they service people from all around NSW and increasingly all around Australia. It’s right and proper that the federal government should support institutions such as this that services the wider community.”

The newly-announced Australian Governor-General, David Hurley, said he will remain committed to rural Australia in his new role. As patron of the charity, he said that rural Australia is at the heart of the Australian lifestyle.

Announcing the outcomes of a report last year, Hurley said that one in three country children are unable to access the health services they need and are five times more likely than those living in urban areas to have challenges in developmental health.

Hurley recognised the work of organisations in this space that work to ensure children have a future: “Across the board, we see organisations working to achieve that and Royal Far West is pivotal in that process.”

Along with Berejiklian and Abbott, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the “dream has become a reality” and welcomed the new institution.

“Today kids from the bush are going to have the care, attention, love and support that they need,” McCormack said. “It’s always been here and we know that sometimes sadly in rural NSW that when in pain, you have to catch the plane.

“The fact is now they’ve got somewhere to go.”

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