Labor to support NRL community building infrastructure program


A Foley Labor Government will invest up to $55 million to help establish 10 high-performance, community-based Centres of Excellence linked to National Rugby League (NRL) clubs across NSW.

These facilities will enable individual clubs to double the size of their community programs, increasing social, educational, health, cultural and sporting opportunities.

Labor’s $55 million reservation will be a co-investment with the NRL and its clubs, local government and the private sector. The total cost to deliver 10 Centres of Excellence across NSW is $180 million.

The facilities will be squarely designed around strengthening links between clubs and local areas – delivering community-based amenities that aren’t just for the exclusive use of the rugby league clubs.

Each project will be subject to a business case and thorough assessment before government funding is approved. The facilities must be able to demonstrate benefits to the local community beyond sport.

The Centres of Excellences will be true community facilities across the state with a variety of amenities from community classrooms, playing fields, meeting spaces and lecture theatres to wellness centres, aquatic and leisure centres, training facilities, visual arts spaces and change rooms.

The facilities will help support a range of youth, Indigenous, education and health programs currently administered by rugby league clubs.

The first project to receive support from a Foley Labor Government will be $5 million towards the South Sydney Rabbitohs Centre of Excellence at Heffron Park.

The $22.2 million Heffron Park development will support the South Cares program and include a community classroom, learning centre, lecture theatre and upgraded playing field.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader Luke Foley:

“NSW is the traditional heartland of rugby league. Labor’s investment will see fantastic facilities built for the benefit of the whole community.

“The benefits of sport to our young people is widely known and Labor is pleased to support the great work the game is doing in local communities.

“NRL teams form an integral part of our community – and these facilities across the state will help rugby league clubs roll-out community programs.”

Quotes attributable to Deputy Labor Leader Linda Burney:

“Rugby league does a fantastic job mentoring young people in our community – especially kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

“I have had a long and proud association with Indigenous rugby league – and I’m proud Labor will contribute to these fine community facilities.”

Quote attributable to Guy Zangari, Shadow Minister for Sports and Recreation:

“The Centres of Excellence are about extending professional sporting facilities as community amenities – building stronger and deeper ties between clubs and their communities. It’s really about utilising the power of rugby league to drive wider community and social benefit.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Treasurer and Member for Maroubra Michael Daley:

“The Rabittohs are the pride of southern Sydney. Their success is underpinned by a passion and commitment to the local community, running programs and providing skills and training opportunities for young people.

“Labor is proud to support teams like Souths to deliver Centres of Excellence where the wider benefits to the community are clear.”

Government funding for the Centres of Excellence will be determined on a case by case basis and subject to a business case and assessment of broader community benefits.

Ten Centres of Excellence identified by the NRL are linked to the following clubs: South Sydney Rabbitohs; St George Illawarra Dragons; Wests Tigers; Sydney Roosters; Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs; Newcastle Knights; Manly Warringah Sea Eagles; Cronulla Sharks; Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels.

The NRL is also in discussions with the Canberra Raiders to secure a Centre of Excellence in the ACT that would support rugby league in the Queanbeyan area and wider catchment.

The NRL has estimated that construction of the centres will generate 520 FTE jobs.

Labor’s funding is reserved against the $950 million arts, culture and tourism infrastructure fund, outlined in Labor’s infrastructure program A Better Way.

The South Sydney Centre of Excellence has a total project cost of $22.26 million. The facility will create a permanent base for the operation of the Rabbitohs and the administration and delivery of their community programs.

The project will allow for the expansion of Souths Cares, delivering community education, training and employment programs to more than 8,000 people a year.

Improved community facilities at Heffron Park include new meeting and learning spaces, improved public amenity and an upgraded playing field.