Thursday, 20 May 2021

The Andrews Labor Government is delivering a long-term plan that will create jobs and give people in north east Victoria the care they need as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

In total, the Victorian Budget 2021/22 will support an average of 38,000 new jobs each and every year over the next four years – with thousands of them in rural and regional Victoria.

That includes the Labor Government’s once-in-a-generation $3.8 billion reform to build a new mental health system from the ground up.

Right now, too many people in the north east have to travel away from their families and communities for care.  This Budget will transform the way support is offered in regional Victoria – with more care in regional communities, more early intervention, more focus on wellbeing and prevention, and a new dedicated system for our kids.

That includes delivering the first 20 of between 50 and 60 new local services, providing a ‘front door’ for care embedded in communities – including our first fast-tracked sites in Benalla, as well as Greater Geelong and the Latrobe Valley.

We are investing $17.4 million in sub-regional follow-up care in Echuca, Wangaratta and across the state.

Not only will we be building the mental health system Victoria needs – we’ll also be supporting around 3,000 jobs. From nurses, to doctors, allied health and support staff, these new roles will make sure Victorians get the support they need, while also giving thousands more Victorians the security of a job.

This year’s Budget includes $1.2 billion to protect our children and help keep vulnerable families together. This investment will deliver 246 new child protection practitioners, more support for our carers and bring family services into schools, early childhood education and community health hubs to identify at-risk families early.

As well as improving the lives of Victorian children and families, this funding will also support around 1,000 jobs across our state.

Community safety is key, which is why the Andrews Labor Government is delivering a new $28.84 million police station for Benalla. This significant investment will provide local police officers with the modern, safe and secure station they need to work from while protecting the community.

We’re investing in the services that matter to Victorians. That’s why we’re backing the Hume Riverina Community Legal Centre’s Health Justice Partnership with Upper Murray Family Care to support young people at risk.

This year’s Budget delivers on our promise to introduce kinder for every three-year-old child. Having begun its rollout out in select regional communities first – including Strathbogie Shire – $167 million will see this support delivered across regional Victoria, reaching every local government area for the very first time.

Offering at least five funded hours a week from next year, the program will be scaled up to deliver 15 hours a week for families by 2029. It’s not just great news for kids – families will save $1150 on average, while an extra 6000 roles for qualified early childhood teachers and educators will also be created.

Since we came to government, our big infrastructure build has delivered the road, rail, schools and hospitals Victorians need – supporting 177,000 jobs.

This year’s Budget continues that work, with $986 million to build 25 new X’Trapolis 2.0 trains, supporting 750 jobs. Major works will be done in Ballarat, supporting jobs in manufacturing and supply chains across our state.

We know how important our waterways are and the role they play in protecting our native water species, which is why this Budget invests in restoration of waterways and catchments in North East Victoria, including the headwaters of the Mitta Mitta River.

Local clubs like the Albury and Wodonga Motorcycle Club are the heart and soul of our community. The Budget is backing their future with $105,000 for an irrigation watering system to cover all the tracks at the Club.

We’ll keep investing in our kids’ future with $3.5 billion in education, including $148.2 million to establish the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, furthering our teachers’ professional development. This includes a new regional academy in Shepparton – one of seven new regional academies across the state.

We’re providing $1.6 billion to continue our massive school building blitz that is expected to support around 3,500 jobs – investing in local kids and backing local workers.

Mount Beauty is one of 52 Victorian schools that will be upgraded in this year’s Budget – including 17 in regional Victoria – with $2.32 million to upgrade and modernise Block C.

Not only will this give our students new classrooms and learning spaces, it’ll create good jobs for Victorians. Across the state, our investment in more and better schools is expected to support 3,500 jobs.

This Budget invests $277 million to put student mental health, health and wellbeing at the centre of our school communities. That includes $200 million for a new School Mental Health Fund – rolling out in regional Victoria first and enabling schools to introduce new support and programs, based on the needs of their kids.

The Mental Health in Primary Schools pilot will be expanded to include 100 schools, putting a Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator in every participating primary school and supporting 100 jobs.

And because we want to make sure Victorians have the right skills to be ready for these jobs, we’re investing $384 million in our skills sector, including 12,200 extra subsidised training places in our TAFE and training system.

This includes $86 million to establish the brand-new Victorian Skills Authority, a new anchor organisation that will drive reform of our skills sector and help support more Victorians find work.

Financial advice and services are more important than ever for Victorians doing it tough, which is why this Labor Government is delivering $5.8 million for the Rural Financial Counselling Service – offering free and impartial advice to farming and related small businesses suffering financial hardship.

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, this Budget delivers $7.1 billion to continue supporting our hospitals and healthcare system. This includes a further $1.3 billion to continue our public health response to COVID-19.

Older Victorians deserve the best care, in a comfortable and supportive environment that feels like home and that’s what this Budget will deliver with the new Glenview Community Care Nursing Home in Rutherglen.

Some $129 million in regional development and agriculture investments will deliver local solutions to local problems, and advance a 10-year plan to strengthen agriculture in Victoria and the 77,000 jobs that it supports.

Victoria has built a reputation across the globe for high-quality produce – the Budget will further boost our standing by investing $11.7 million to strengthen agriculture traceability systems and protect Victorian jobs.

The Budget also invests $6.4 million for the Victorian Fruit Fly Strategy, which will be released next month, and $19.9 million to fast-track the agriculture sector’s response to climate change.

We know how important it is to provide practical support measures which help local residents and communities as they continue to recover and rebuild after bushfires – which is why this Budget is continuing its investment bushfire recovery financial wellbeing services for Towong.

Regional Partnerships continue to play a critical role in helping develop opportunities and overcome challenges in our local communities. An investment of $5.1 million will further strengthen Regional Partnerships so they can continue to elevate regional voices, insights and issues.

Since its establishment in 1986, the Victorian Rural Women’s Network has supported women who are finding new and innovative ways to grow and improve their communities. This year, we are providing $1.4 million to continue the network’s important work.

Across our investments, this Budget supports an average of 38,000 new jobs every year over the next four years. More than numbers on a page, that means 38,000 new opportunities for Victorian workers. And with it, certainty and security for tens of thousands of Victorian families.

That means not only will our investments deliver the support and services our state needs, we’ll be getting Victorians back to work to make it happen. With this Budget, we’re creating jobs and caring for Victorians.

Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

“This is a Budget that cares, and delivers, for the North East – investing in the support, services and infrastructure our country towns need.”

“This Budget invests in local mental health services, more beds and better preventative care across the North East – because mental illness touches every community, in every corner of our state.”