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Our successful 98th State Nationals Conference in Benalla highlighted the important role rural and regional Victoria plays in the State’s future.

Press Releases

$25,000 grants to tackle local graffiti issues

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Regional shires encouraged to apply to tackle graffiti 
  • Part of Coalition’s $35 million Community Crime Prevention Program
  • Up to $25,000 available until 20 June

Councils can now access grants of up to $25,000 to combat graffiti in local neighbourhoods as part of the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government’s graffiti grants program.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today encouraged local councils to think about graffiti solutions that would improve the visual amenity of neighbourhoods and increase community confidence in the safety of public places.

“The Coalition Government is serious about responding to concerns about graffiti vandalism, which is why we have committed more than $10 million over 4 years to reduce graffiti through a range of strategies under our anti-graffiti plan,” Mr Ryan said.

“The grants are open to councils to partner with local organisations such as schools, community and residents groups, local police, retailers and trader associations, to come up with local solutions to tackle graffiti.

“These might include design features such as murals, education and information programs, and graffiti removal projects.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was committed to stamping out graffiti at a local level.

“Over the past three years, the government has provided more than $918,000 to fund 57 projects across the state through the grants.

Crime Prevention Minister Edward O’Donohue said that the Labor Party had shown its lack of commitment to such programs by abolishing the crime prevention portfolio from the shadow ministry.

“When Daniel Andrews reshuffled his front bench in December, the crime prevention portfolio disappeared,” Mr O’Donohue said.

“The Coalition Government is delivering programs to help communities find local solutions to local problems, while Labor is offering nothing.”

“These grants make a real difference and I strongly encourage councils across the state to apply for grants of up to $25,000.”

The Graffiti Prevention and Removal Grants are part of the Coalition Government’s $35 million Community Crime Prevention Program, which helps promote community safety and prevent crime in communities across Victoria.

Applications close on Friday 20 June and to apply or for further information, visit

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Coalition Government reduces fire levy rates

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government cutting fire levy rates from 1 July 2014
  • More funding for CFA and MFB in the 2014-15 State Budget
  • Fire services better resourced under the Coalition Government than Labor
The Victorian Coalition Government will reduce the Fire Services Property Levy rates in 2014-15 for all property owners, Treasurer Michael O’Brien and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced today.

"The Coalition Government’s successful implementation of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission property-based levy has proven to be a fairer way to fund our fire services,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We are reducing the levy rates from 1 July 2014 while also increasing funding to our fire services. The Coalition Government is delivering better funding for our fire services with lower average costs for households and businesses.”

The variable levy rate will be lower across all property categories than the 2013-14 rates. A fixed charge of $102 for residential properties and $205 for all other properties will apply.

From 1 July, the average household’s contribution to fire services funding in a CFA area is expected to remain at $142, with average MFB area household contributions remaining at an average of $143. This represents a reduction in real terms for the average household.

A $50 concession for eligible pensioners and veterans will continue to apply, benefitting over 400,000 households across the state, easing cost of living pressures.

The fire services property levy funds services provided by the CFA and the MFB twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week including personnel, training, infrastructure and equipment.

“This tax reform provides greater funding for our fire services while also reducing the rates on households, businesses and farmers right across Victoria,” Mr O’Brien said.

The new rates also reflect the recategorisation from 1 July 2014 of residential-investment flats from the commercial to the residential rate, delivering further savings for tenants and property owners across Victoria.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said that the Coalition Government had promised to overhaul the fire services levy and had delivered.

“Last year we brought in the lowest levy rates for regional areas we could afford. This year, we’ve lowered them again,” Mr Ryan said.

“The average business in the CFA area will now pay $823 instead of $923 a year.

“The average business in a CFA area on an industrial block will see its bill drop from $1,689 to $1,389, saving $300.

“Farmers are big winners, with their average Fire Services Property Levy dropping from $449 to $402. This is a massive drop from the average of $725 each farmer was paying back in 2011-12.”

Mr O’Brien said that for more than a decade Labor refused to reform the insurance-based fire services levy. This refusal continued despite recommendations from the Bushfires Royal Commission that it should be abolished.

“It costs over $780 million a year to fund our vital fire services. Record funding of $326 million for the MFB in this year’s budget will include the replacement of all respiratory protection equipment,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The 2014-15 Budget also provides an investment of $29 million for the CFA to support an accelerated fleet replacement program.”

The Coalition Government continues to directly fund 12.5 per cent of MFB and 22.5 per cent of CFA operating budgets.

“Since coming to office in 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion and the MFB more than $1.45 billion,” Mr O’Brien said.

The 2014-15 Budget for the CFA is $457 million, $58 million more than under the last Labor Budget. The 2014-15 Budget for MFB is $326 million, $39 million more than under the last Labor Budget.

For more information about the property-based levy visit

Media Contact: Les White 0409 805 122 

Gippsland schools celebrate Education Week

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • The 70th annual Education Week runs from 18-24 May
  • New resources and activities under theme – Scientists do Amazing Things
  • Victorian Coalition Government building a better education system

This week schools across Gippsland will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Education Week while also discovering how science influences our daily lives.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said this year’s theme – Scientists do amazing things – would allow students to explore the wide range of career options in the field and participate in scientific experiments.

“Scientific innovation is the key to facing critical challenges like food and water security, delivering improved health and wellbeing, and ensuring Victoria’s prosperity and development,” Mr Ryan said.

“Education Week is a great time to celebrate Victoria’s education system, our scientific advancements, and for schools to showcase their programs to the local community.”

Mr Ryan said a revamped Education Week website, which contained sections for parents, teachers and students, provided information about science learning and careers, as well as fun science experiments to undertake at school and home.

“The Victorian economy is highly diversified and science is the key to many industries and services, including agriculture, manufacturing, building and construction, technology, research and education, and health,” Mr Ryan said.

“That is why the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government is investing a total of $31.2 million in 400 science teaching scholarships, training 200 Primary Maths and Science Specialists and developing six Specialist Science and Maths Centres.”

“In addition to that funding, the Coalition Government is also providing grants for schools to specialise in areas such as science, engineering, aeronautics and earth sciences.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was focused on building a better education system for all students and their families with a record $8.8 billion funding for schools in 2014. 

For more Education Week information, visit  

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870 

Coalition supporting Gippsland volunteers

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • $4.42 million invested in volunteering program for students
  • Victorian Coalition Government supporting volunteers
  • Unite with more than 1.5 million people; become a volunteer today

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government this week announced more than $4 million to support volunteer programs for Victorian secondary school students.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the funding would see more than 20,000 students take part in volunteering and give back to their communities through the Advance program.

Mr Ryan said that the Coalition Government’s $4.42 million volunteer program would support more than 420 Victorian secondary colleges including those in Sale, Leongatha, Korumburra, Yarram and Foster.

“The Advance program helps young people develop skills and receive training across a range of sectors, including animal welfare, culture, conservation, emergency services, events, human rights, and sport and recreation, that will help them transition from school to work,” Mr Ryan said.

“Examples of local activities include joining the Air Force cadets, becoming a volunteer surf lifesaver, CFA or SES member, helping out the Red Cross, becoming a Girl Guide or Scout and assisting at a community radio station.

“This is a great Coalition Government initiative that provides young Victorians with exciting opportunities so that they can volunteer and make a difference in their communities.”

Mr Ryan said National Volunteer Week was a fitting time to announce funding that would assist young people to be more active volunteers and also thank all of the young Gippslanders that already contribute their time to benefit others.

"Volunteers make a real difference in our communities, from volunteering their time as fire fighters, assisting with Meals on Wheels, providing lifesaving at our beaches and assisting at Visitor Information Centres. They provide a crucial service and for that I thank them.”

Mr Ryan today caught up with volunteer members of the Sale Fire Brigade to thank them for the service they give to the Sale and surrounding communities.

“At present, Sale Fire Brigade has 120 members, which includes 15 junior members and 13 auxiliary members, who actively contribute their time and skills to benefit members of the Sale community,” Mr Ryan said.

“In the 2012-13 year, the brigade was called out a record number of 246 times, which demonstrates the commitment that these members and fire fighters have for the communities they protect.”

Mr Ryan said most years the brigade attended around 230 turnouts.

“About 20 per cent of Sale Fire Brigade’s membership provides essential support services to reduce the workload of the fire fighters, so they can concentrate on putting out fires,” he said.

“The role that support members play to a brigade is invaluable and should never be underestimated.”

Mr Ryan said with more than 1.5 million Victorians currently volunteering, now was a great time to become involved in a community organisation.

“Volunteering brings immense personal satisfaction for the volunteer as well as making communities more active, confident and resilient,” Mr Ryan said.

"Research shows that people who volunteer report better physical and mental health as well as improved employment opportunities.

"Volunteering allows people to learn new skills, meet people and create networks, as well as providing a sense of belonging through team work and getting involved in the local community."

For more information on the Advance program, visit or to learn more about volunteering, visit: 

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Coalition Government building a better Gippsland

Friday, June 06, 2014

This week’s Victorian Coalition Government 2014-15 State Budget delivers in the key areas of education, roads, tourism, business, emergency services and health, Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition’s State Budget delivers improved infrastructure and services for residents and businesses throughout Gippsland to build a better, more connected Victoria.

“This Budget is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into Gippsland and other regional cities and rural communities,” Mr Ryan said.

The Liberal Nationals Coalition Government outlined significant expenditure in the 2014-15 Budget that benefits residents in the Gippsland South electorate. Highlights include:

  • $5.6 million to upgrade Korumburra Secondary College;
  • $4 million for planning and stage One works at the Sale Specialist School; 
  • $5.12 million for the Leongatha heavy vehicle alternate route;
  • $14 million for regional tourism marketing to increase visitors to regional Victoria;
  • $14 million to provide small business owners with practical financial management, marketing and human resources strategies;
  • $4.7 million to upgrade the online energy price comparison tool, My Power Planner;
  • $65 million to fund bushfire management measures;
  • $29 million for the CFA to acquire 78 additional vehicles
  • $20.5 million to replace Respiratory Protection Equipment for CFA and MFB firefighters;
  • 5.5 million for practical on-ground partnership with Landcare groups;
  • An additional $3 million a year for the Boating Safety and Facilities Program, bringing total funding to $8 million annually; and
  • $1.2 billion commitment per year to Vocational Education and Training.

Mr Ryan said these investments build upon the Coalition Government’s recently announced budget initiatives. Highlights in the Gippsland South region include: 

  • An extra $130 million pumped into road maintenance, meaning that more than $500 million will be delivered in the coming year for maintaining roads - up from $384 million under Labor;
  • $73 million for a major redevelopment of Latrobe Regional Hospital, including a new emergency department with double the capacity of the current facility, a new 30-bed ward and a cardiac catheterisation laboratory;
  • $13.5 million for the rollout of new tasers to all 24 hour police stations across regional Victoria, including Sale; 
  • $34 million to expand drug and alcohol treatment services and tackle the use of illicit drugs including ice throughout the state, including Gippsland;
  • $2 million to improve wild dog control; and
  • $3 million to provide support for regional councils to assess infrastructure demand, develop business cases and manage projects.

“By rebuilding Victoria’s finances and keeping the economy strong, the Coalition Government has been able to advance key projects, including those under the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Nationals are exceptionally proud of the Regional Growth Fund, which has contributed to more than 70 projects in the Wellington and South Gippsland shires, leveraging almost $60 million in total investment.”

Mr Ryan said the local projects announced in the 2014-15 State Budget built on the Coalition Government’s significant investment in Gippsland over past Budgets.

Mr Ryan said the Liberal Nationals Coalition Government is building a better Victoria by delivering a strong budget with a record $27 billion investment in roads, rail, health and education, ensuring growth, jobs and opportunities across the state.

“This is in stark contrast to the risk that Daniel Andrews and Labor pose to Victoria’s economy and prosperity. Victorians cannot afford a return to Labor, which is more interested in kowtowing to its union mates than addressing the needs of regional Victorians,” he said.

“Only a Liberal Nationals Coalition Government can be trusted to deliver these important projects on time and within budget.”

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Equipment grants for Gippsland youth

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Grants to purchase equipment for youth events now open
  • Coalition committed to helping young people stay connected
  • Grants of up to $5,000 open until Friday 16 May

Grants of up to $5,000 to purchase equipment such as projectors for youth movie nights, iPads for youth council meetings or PA systems for youth events are now available from the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government’s Equip program was making it easier for young people to get involved in their communities.

“The Equip grants provide funding to buy items such as iPads, laptops, cameras and sound systems that can be used to host youth events,” Mr Ryan said.

"We know that groups in rural areas have great ideas to get young people involved in their community, but sometimes need a helping hand, and these grants are providing that assistance.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government recognises the significant role young people play in shaping their local communities.

“As a government, we are committed to helping young people connect with their community through a number of programs such as the Be Heard Community Radio Program and Local Government Youth Inclusion Grants,” Mr Ryan said.

“These grants are only available to regional community organisations and councils, so I encourage all Gippsland groups to apply for a grant of up to $5,000.”

Minister for Youth Affairs Ryan Smith said it is important that young people are supported to get involved in their local community.

“The Equip Grant program is part of the Coalition Government’s $3.2 million Shape It! strategy which supports young people in rural and regional Victoria to participate in local decision-making and their community.

“The program will be delivered through the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria’s ‘Victorian Rural Youth Services’ initiative which promotes research, training and policy development to support young people living in rural areas.

Applications close on Friday 16 May, visit: to apply.

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

$10,000 grants for crime prevention initiatives

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Grants of up to $10,000 now open to local groups, schools and councils
  • Funding can be used for security lighting, fences and alarms
  • More than $200,000 in grants funding already delivered

Community groups, schools and councils in Gippsland are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for crime prevention initiatives as part of the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government’s Community Safety Fund.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said groups with innovative and practical community safety projects should apply.

“In the two previous rounds of these grants, groups in Wellington and South Gippsland shared in more than $200,000 to deliver projects in and around their clubrooms that improve safety and security,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government recognises that locals are best placed to identify and prioritise safety and security issues in their communities, and we will support them to do so.”

Mr Ryan said councils, community and sporting groups, and local schools are able to access these grants that can be used to install a range of security measures.

“This includes installing security lighting, padlocks, security screens, fencing, or undertaking awareness activities to deter crime and increase community safety,” he said.

Mr Ryan said previous local grant recipients included Nyora Recreation Reserve Committee, which received $10,000 to install security lighting, and Sale Scout Group, which was granted more than $9,000 to install security lighting and fencing.

Crime Prevention Minister Edward O’Donohue said the grants support local community groups to help provide safer and more secure facilities for local people.

“Over the past three years, the Coalition Government has provided more than $2.8 million to fund 422 projects across the state through the grants,” Mr O’Donohue said.

“The grants are part of the Coalition Government’s $35 million Community Crime Prevention Program, which helps promote community safety and prevent crime in communities across Victoria.”

Applications close on Monday 12 May and to apply, visit:

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870 

$73 million expansion for Latrobe Regional Hospital

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • New emergency department more than double existing capacity 
  • Cardiac catheterisation lab in Gippsland for the first time 
  • Victorian Coalition Government building a healthier Victoria 

The Victorian Coalition Government is building a healthier Victoria by investing $73 million in a major redevelopment of Latrobe Regional Hospital, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced on Tuesday.

“The Coalition Government is investing record funding to build world-class hospitals in regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“Part of the Coalition Government’s commitment in the 2014-15 Budget will include $73 million for a major redevelopment of Latrobe Regional Hospital.

“The Coalition Government’s investment will future-proof the Latrobe Regional Hospital, ensuring its staff continue to provide the best available health care for the Latrobe Valley and broader Gippsland communities.

“This investment ensures those who are seeking to access basic hospital services, or more specialised treatments such as cardiac care, aged care, cancer care, elective surgery, maternity, rehabilitation or mental health services, will receive world-class care in their local community.

“The $73 million redevelopment of the Latrobe Regional Hospital is yet another example of the Coalition Government’s strong record of investment in the Latrobe Valley and across Gippsland.”

Minister for Health David Davis said the Stage 2a redevelopment of the Latrobe Regional Hospital would increase capacity, including a new emergency department more than double the capacity of the existing facility and a new 30-bed ward.

“It will also incorporate a 12-bed short-stay unit, two day rooms for endoscopy procedures, a new entrance and admissions area and a new public car park,” Mr Davis said.

“The addition of a cardiac catheterisation laboratory will be a major boon for heart patients in Gippsland.

“This will be a most welcome enhancement to the services available at Latrobe Regional Hospital, enabling it to deliver better health outcomes.

“The Coalition Government’s commitment to the Latrobe Regional Hospital redevelopment stands in stark contrast to 11 years of Labor neglect.”

The Coalition Government’s new investment builds on more than $4.5 billion of works underway in health infrastructure across Victoria.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the first stage of the Latrobe redevelopment, incorporates the new Gippsland Cancer Centre, scheduled to be completed later this year.

“In addition to the Cancer Centre, works are also currently underway on expanding subacute, rehabilitation and mental health facilities.

“Importantly, Latrobe Regional Hospital has an important teaching and training role, and facilities for medical students are being expanded.

“An expanded Latrobe Regional Hospital reduces the need for travelling to Melbourne, with world-class health care being delivered closer to home,” Mr Northe said.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

Deputy Premier announces new home for Sale Specialist School

Friday, June 06, 2014

• Land purchased for new Sale Specialist School
• Victorian Budget to deliver $4 million for planning and stage one works
• Victorian Coalition Government supports students with special needs

The future of the new Sale Specialist School is assured, with Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan announcing on Tuesday that land had been secured for the new school.

Mr Ryan, who was joined by Member for Gippsland East and Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs Tim Bull and Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien, said a four hectare site on the Princes Highway, in Sale’s north, had been acquired.

Mr Ryan also announced today that the Victorian Coalition Government would provide an initial $4 million in the 2014-15 Victorian Budget for planning and design, and to deliver stage one works.

The total cost of the project is anticipated to be in the order of $15 million.

“This is a great day for students, parents and teachers at the Sale Specialist School,” Mr Ryan said.

“Securing the land and providing an initial $4 million to begin stage one works confirms what we have all been hoping for, and that is a new Specialist School will be built in Sale to cater for the growing number of students.”

Mr Ryan said the site chosen was one of the largest of the 13 sites originally offered up by local landowners, enabling construction of a school that will cater for a growing demand for years to come.

Mr Ryan said planning and design works for the new school would now begin.

“It was not possible to begin designing the new school until the land had been secured, but with the land now purchased we can start the process with certainty,” Mr Ryan said.

“I strongly encourage parents and families to share their vision and ideas with the school board about how they would like the school designed and built.”

Mr Ryan said once planning and design was complete, initial works would begin at the site.

“The intention of this first $4 million is to enable stage one works to begin. The balance of funds to complete this project will follow.”

Mr Bull said today's announcement would make an enormous difference to the lives of so many children with special needs and their families.

"The families of students both present and future that access this school from towns in my electorate like Maffra, Heyfield, Stratford and surrounding districts will be delighted," Mr Bull said.

“To all those who have lobbied for this outcome, my congratulations, and like them, I am already looking forward to this new facility opening its doors.”

Minister for Education Martin Dixon passed on his support for the project and said today’s announcement marked an exciting next step in the realisation of a vision to develop a truly world class specialist school in Sale.

“To cope with growing student numbers, Sale Specialist School currently operates at its main Raymond Street campus as well as on part of Sale College’s Guthridge Campus,” Mr Dixon said.

“By creating a one-campus school on a larger site, students and teachers will have the space to learn and grow in a modern learning environment.

“The Coalition Government has committed more than $79 million towards building and upgrading special schools in the past three budgets.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

ANZAC Day message

Friday, June 06, 2014

• Gippslanders encouraged to attend a local service
• Students have an opportunity to enter the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize
• Grants available to honour and share stories

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan encouraged Gippslanders to pay tribute to the original ANZACs who served at Gallipoli and the Western Front, while also commemorating a century of service by Australian servicemen and women this ANZAC Day.

Mr Ryan said 2014 marked 100 years since the start of the First World War.

“The ANZAC centenary will enrich our understanding of the sacrifices made by Australian servicemen and women during the First World War and by members of the Australia Defence Force who continue to serve around the world,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is through the First World War campaign that the spirit of ANZAC with its qualities of courage, mateship and sacrifice was born.

“That same ANZAC spirit is alive today. Evidently, more than 42,000 Australians have applied to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli in 2015, marking 100 years since the landing of ANZAC troops during the First World War.”

Mr Ryan said for Australia, the First World War remains the most costly conflict in terms of casualties.

“From a population of less than five million, more than 400,000 men enlisted, of which more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner,” he said.

“In each capital city and every country town there is a memorial reminding us that those servicemen and women paid the price in sacrifice so that we can now enjoy today and every day in peace and freedom.”

Mr Ryan said grants of up to $20,000 were now available from the Victorian Liberal National Coalition to honour and share the stories of those First World War servicemen and women. The grants will be available on an ongoing basis over the period of the Anzac Centenary (2014-2018) and applications for the current round need to be submitted by 10 June 2014.

“Projects could include establishing new war memorials, organising or enhancing local ANZAC Day commemorative events during the centenary period and publishing books that educate the community about Victoria’s contribution to the war effort,” he said.

Mr Ryan said the grants will be available on an ongoing basis over the period of the Anzac Centenary (2014-2018) and applications for the current round need to be submitted by 10 June 2014.

“Young Victorians with an interest in the history of the ANZACs are encouraged to enter the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize which provides 12 students with the opportunity to participate in an overseas study tour to Gallipoli and the Western Front.

“Regional finalists also have the chance to tour a significant Australian location and will be invited to attend lunch with the Premier.”

Mr Ryan said the competition was open to all Victorian students currently enrolled in year nine or 10 with entries in a number of formats including essays, stories, websites and video presentations now being accepted.

“On Friday 25 April, communities in Gippsland will gather to remember those who gave their lives, those who returned home from war ill or maimed and those who have lived with the terrible memories of their war experiences,” he said.

“ANZAC Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

“While commemorating the ANZAC centenary, I encourage Gippslanders to consider the families whose loved ones have never returned from war or conflict and spare a thought for the personal sacrifice they are now enduring.”

To apply for the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize or ANZAC centenary grants visit: or phone 1300 366 356.

For information on ANZAC Day services contact your local RSL or shire offices.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870