Financial set-backs and a change of architect are failing to deter Warrnambool RSL’s push for a state-of-the-art new war memorial.
The RSL launched plans for the $330,000 interactive memorial last year, with support from local councils, philanthropic trusts and a community fund-raising campaign.
Committee member Duncan Stalker said the project required $65,000 more to bring it to life, $25,000 more than expected due expected funding from Warrnambool City Council falling through.
“We asked the council to make the contribution and because of severe budget restrictions they were unable to,” Mr Stalker said.
“We’re disappointed but we understand their position.”
Mr Stalker said the council was still providing about $20,000 of in-kind support to help make the memorial a reality.
The project committee has already approached businesses and organisations to help make up the funding shortfall.
“We’re very hopeful of getting the remaining funds that we require,” Mr Stalker said.
“We’re within sight of where we need to be. We’ll get there.”
A significant saving for the project is coming from a new partnership with Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus.
“They will bring expertise in electronic software design,” Mr Stalker said.
“It’s a win-win for Deakin because they get their students involved in the project and it’s great for us as well.”
Among the memorial’s features will be a touch-screen with searchable information on the district’s servicemen and women.
The architect who designed the revamped RSL building is now also on board after a serious illness to the original designer. Bolden Constructions had been appointed to construct the memorial, Mr Stalker said.
In Parliament last week, Western Victoria Upper House MP James Purcell called on the state government to chip in more funding to the war memorial project.
“This is a unique memorial in regional Australia. It will list 12,000 local servicemen and servicewomen and can be updated to recognise current and future war heroes from our region,” he said.
“The organising committee has had a major setback with the Warrnambool City Council now withdrawing their contribution of $25,000, citing rate capping as limiting the funds available for such one-off projects. My question is: will the Treasurer come to the rescue of this hardworking RSL branch to allow this project to be completed?”
Mr Stalker said time was running out for people wanting to take part in the buy-a-paver project.
As part of the memorial’s design, families can purchase a paver for a relative that would be engraved with a veteran’s name and serial number. Contact the RSL to get involved.