Press Releases

$80,000 in prizes on offer for best school gardens

* * - Wednesday, April 09, 2014


·        Victorian Schools Garden Awards promote biodiversity and sustainability
·        $80,000 in prizes for the best and most innovative primary and secondary school gardens
·        Coalition Government is building better education beyond the  traditional classroom

The search for Victoria’s best and most innovative school garden is on with entries for the 2014 Schools Garden Awards now being accepted.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the awards were a great way for students to learn about recycling, reducing waste and limiting their waste consumption away from a typical classroom environment.

“Over many years, these awards, run by Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria, have encouraged generations of children to get out of the classroom and into the garden to increase their understanding of biodiversity and sustainability,” Mr Ryan said.

“The awards provide schools with a way to get students out of the classroom and learn how to design, grow maintain and harvest their own gardens.”

Mr Ryan said he would be thrilled to see a school from Gippsland announced as a winner of one of the categories.

“There are four categories that encompass schools ranging from less than 100 pupils through to those who have more than 280 pupils as well as a category for secondary and P-12 (primary to year 12) colleges,” he said.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government has contributed $55,000 to the $80,000 prize pool, which includes nursery vouchers and four separate turf and installation packages.

“A new seedling grants scheme is also on offer this year to get applicant schools started with their gardens,” Mr Ryan said.

The Victorian Schools Garden Awards program is now open to all Victorian schools, public and non-government and closes on 1 August. Winners will be announced later in the year at a ceremony in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

For more information on how to enter, visit:  

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870




Tackling teenage risk-taking on the road

* * - Monday, March 31, 2014

• Empowering teenagers to get out of potentially dangerous situations
• Revamped Fit2Drive workshop targetting 60,000 year 11 students
• Victorian Coalition Government committed to improving road safety

Gippsland students are among more than 60,000 year 11s that are the focus of a new campaign to save young lives on the roads.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the revamped road safety workshops were being rolled out in schools to encourage teenage passengers to positively influence their friends, who are considering drink driving, speeding or other dangerous behaviour.

“I am sending a letter to all local secondary schools informing them of this important program, and I strongly encourage local principals and teachers to make a booking for the road safety workshop to visit their school,” Mr Ryan said.

“Young people continue to be over-represented in road trauma and the dangers of irresponsible behaviour on the roads can be dire.

“Teenagers need skills and practical strategies to get themselves out of potentially dangerous situations.

“Participants will develop personal and school road safety plans that will empower them to challenge dangerous behaviours and understand the risks involved.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government had partnered with the F2D Foundation (Fit2Drive) to deliver the program, which has Victoria at the forefront of road safety behavioural change at a secondary school level.

“The workshop will be delivered by trained university students and will include group discussions and various scenarios to explore strategies to keep our young people safe on the roads,” Mr Ryan said.

“The revamped F2D workshop, with involvement from police and MFB is increasing its reach to approximately 500 secondary schools.”

The Coalition Government together with road safety agencies has been successful in reducing the young driver casualty crashes by 20 percent in recent years through measures such as the Graduated Licensing System (GLS), a ban on mobile phone use for all probationary drivers and a range of support programs like F2D.

For more information or to book a workshop at your school, visit

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870

When you post or share, It’s There For Life

* * - Thursday, March 27, 2014

• Grants of up to $30,000 available to help young people stay safe online
• Young Gippslanders urged to think twice about what they’re posting on social media
• Grant applications need to be submitted by 5pm on Friday 4 April

Gippsland community organisations with programs that educate and encourage young people to be responsible digital citizens are encouraged to take advantage of grants of up to $30,000 on offer from the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government before they close on 4 April.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the grants are about working with young people to ensure that they are careful about what they say and do online.

“The successful recipients of these grants will build on the Coalition Government’s It’s There for Life campaign, which reminds young people to think twice before uploading photos or posting online,” Mr Ryan said.

“With more and more young people reporting that online posts and images posted on Facebook and Twitter have resulted in them missing out on jobs, being bullied or falling foul of the law, the Coalition Government is taking action to help young people safeguard their privacy and protect their reputations.”

An avid user of social media to promote the Coalition Government’s messages and announcements, Mr Ryan said the web has a long memory and once something was online, it could be there for life.

“Social media is a great tool, but it also has potentially damaging impacts. As young people go forward and start a career or enter into relationships their digital reputation can stay with them for life,” Mr Ryan said.

“While I am not saying don’t post comments and images on social media, I urge you to think twice before you do.”

To apply for It’s There For Life grants visit Applications close on Friday 4 April, with successful projects to be announced in June.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870  

Gippslanders invited to Parliament Open Day

* * - Friday, March 14, 2014
  • Parliament open day on 23 March runs between 10.30am and 3.30pm
  • View areas normally off limits to the public
  • Discover Parliament House’s rich history

Gippslanders are invited to attend the annual Parliament House Open Day to explore areas that are usually off limits to the public, such as the Legislative Assembly and Council chambers.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the Open Day on Sunday 23 March would allow Gippslanders to sit in the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and Council, browse the Parliamentary library and enjoy morning of afternoon tea in the Members’ Dining Room.

“Open Day is a fantastic chance for country Victorians to visit Parliament House and have a look around as it provides a full day’s worth of activities rather than the normal daily tour,” Mr Ryan said.

“Victoria’s Parliament House opens its door only once a year to the general public. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through the building and stroll through the magnificent Parliamentary Gardens.

“This is a great opportunity for visitors to learn about the colourful Parliamentary characters who have left their indelible mark in the history books as well as finding out what democracy means to Victorians.”

Mr Ryan said the open day provided visitors a chance to see where their elected Members of Parliament work and learn more about the Parliamentary process.

“As you wander through the historic building, members and staff of the Parliament will be on hand to answer your questions,” Mr Ryan said.

“There will also be a range of entertainment in the Parliamentary Gardens, which will appeal to Gippsland’s keen gardeners.

Mr Ryan said Parliament House Open Day runs between 10.30am and 3.30pm on Sunday 23 March and those seeking more information should visit or phone his Sale office on 5144 1987.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870

Kids to buckle up with a safety blitz on country school buses

* * - Friday, February 28, 2014

Seatbelts are being fitted on all new dedicated free rural and regional school buses to improve safety, Minister for Roads Terry Mulder announced today.

“This is an important Victorian Coalition Government project that builds on the significant advances we have already made with regard to school bus safety,” Mr Mulder said.

“In order to install seatbelts on school buses as quickly as possible, Public Transport Victoria will replace 90 dedicated free school buses each year, ensuring that students have safe and modern buses to get to and from school.

“PTV will also retrofit 10 existing buses with seatbelts each year. These improvements will be funded by the Government at no cost to the bus operator.”

This new blitz on seat belts on school buses is in addition to 54 replacement school buses that have been ordered since 2013.

The program will lift the percentage of school buses fitted with seat belts from 43 per cent to 70 per cent within the next five years.

“The Coalition Government is committed to improving the safety of the state’s fleet of dedicated free school buses,” Mr Mulder said.

“I am pleased to announce that local bus operators will receive a replacement or retrofitted school bus as part of this program in 2014.”

Mr Mulder said the program built on the Coalition Government’s existing bus safety initiatives.

“We have carried out significant works at bus pick-up and drop-off points around the state in order to make them safer for students and pedestrians,” Mr Mulder said.

“Research has shown that students are most at risk when getting on and off school buses so we have carried out significant work installing safety fences and student marshalling areas around school bus interchanges.”

New $200 travel allowance for apprentices

* * - Friday, February 21, 2014

Apprentices that have to travel more than 100 kilometres to access training are now entitled to $200 from the Victorian Coalition Government to assist with meals, accommodation and transport.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said many apprentices found it costly to attend trade school and this funding would ease the financial burden on those travelling from Gippsland to access training.

“To access funding through the Apprenticeship Travel Allowance Scheme pilot, apprentices must travel more than 100 kilometres from their home to their training organisation for three or more consecutive days of training,” Mr Ryan said.

“Local apprentices are vital to the ongoing delivery of essential services across Victoria which is why in 2012 the Coalition Government increased the subsidy for every apprenticeship course by an average of 20 per cent.”

Mr Ryan said the pilot program would help thousands of regional apprentices and was another example of how the Coalition Government was making vocational training more accessible for those living in regional areas.

“This funding will greatly assist young people and adult learners to gain skills where the jobs are and where the jobs are needed,” he said.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had recently doubled the bonus subsidy for regional training, meaning vocational training providers, including TAFEs, had received an additional $20 million for delivering training in regional Victoria.

“These changes are supporting more regional vocational students than ever, with close to an extra 60 per cent more subsidised enrolments across country Victoria since coming to government,” Mr Ryan said.

“These record figures are supported by the Coalition Government’s record investment of $1.2 billion in the training system as we work towards building a skilled workforce for the future of Victoria.”

Visit for more information on the program.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870

Preparations begin for National Youth Week

* * - Friday, February 14, 2014

A program that urges participants to see the person not the disability and another that raises mental health awareness among year nine students will be implemented at two local schools thanks to funding from the Victorian Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said Mirboo North Secondary College and Sale College would each receive $2,000 to conduct the events as part of National Youth Week 2014 (NYW), which starts on 4 April 2014.

“National Youth Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the enormous contribution that young people make to our communities,” Mr Ryan said.

“It’s also a time to ensure that young people have the chance to speak up about the things that matter to them and, most importantly, be heard.”

Mr Ryan said Mirboo North Secondary College’s program would educate students about the benefits of including people with disabilities into mainstream social environments.

“Through the use of sport and teamwork, the program aims to help change the perception students have of people with disabilities,” Mr Ryan said.

Sale College’s peer-driven activities will see 120 year nine students participate in a group ‘Zumba’ session as part of the Mental Health Awareness Program.

“By participating in a group ‘Zumba’ class, students will be able to feel the positive influence that exercise and the release of endorphins has on their mental health,” Mr Ryan said.

“Sale College students will participate in interactive sessions to learn about self-care, exercise and endorphins, art and music therapy, good nutrition, relaxation and the services that are available to them.”

Mr Ryan said grant recipients were chosen by 28 young people from across Victoria who participated in a two day workshop to assess the grant applications.

Minister for Youth Affairs Ryan Smith said Sale College and Mirboo North Secondary College were two of the 94 organisations that would share in more than $185,000 to deliver National Youth Week activities across Victoria.

Mr Smith said the week was about young people getting involved in local activities designed by them and for them.

“These grants support a wide range of activities that reflect the diversity of Victoria’s young people,” Mr Smith said.

“I look forward to another very successful National Youth Week, especially as one of the biggest celebrations for young people in Australia.”

For more information visit or contact Mr Ryan’s Sale office on 5144 1987.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870 

$10,000 grant to help Longford Pre-School

* * - Friday, February 07, 2014


Students at Longford Pre-School will soon have a new $10,000 semi-enclosed deck area which will provide an additional learning space and undercover recreation area, thanks to the Victorian Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the new deck area would enable the school to run an indoor-outdoor education program.

“Outdoor activities will no longer be affected by poor weather ensuring students learning activities or recreation time is not disrupted,” Mr Ryan said.

The deck will have partial walls, a roof, double doors and a ramp for easy access to the large outdoor playground.

Longford Pre-School teacher Karen Allison said the school was very excited to receive the funding so they can begin construction.

“It will provide a valuable learning space that will enable current and future students, including disability students, to participate in our education programs, ” Ms Allison said.

Mr Ryan said Longford Pre-School was among 87 pre-schools and kindergartens across the state to share in $700,000 through the Coalition Government’s minor capital grants program to improve play areas and facilities.

He said the Coalition Government has made available additional grants to early childhood organisations including:

• Integrated Children’s Centre Grants up to $1.6 million to support the construction of new early childhood education and health centres;
• New Early Learning Facilities Grants up to $650,000 to support communities to meet the demand for kindergarten places; and
• Early Learning Facility Upgrade Grants up to $350,000 to support existing services to upgrade facilities to meet the demand of kindergarten places.

Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Wendy Lovell said minor capital grants such as this one were part of the Coalition Government’s recently announced $20 million children’s capital grants program.

The funding brings our investment in children’s capital projects to new record highs,” she said.

“Since December 2010, the Coalition Government has allocated $106 million of state and national partnership funding towards building and upgrading hundreds of children and early childhood services, including many in regional Victoria,” Ms Lovell said.

For more information, visit

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870 

Applications open for Nationals Scholarship

* * - Thursday, February 06, 2014

Gippsland students enrolled in their first year of university are encouraged to apply for a scholarship of up to $5,000 from The Nationals to assist with study costs.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said The Nationals Scholarship for Young Leaders encouraged students to return to a regional area on completion of their tertiary studies.

“The Nationals are a proud, long-time sponsor of this bursary and each year I am pleased to see that applications are received from large number of high quality leaders from across Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“Although many years ago now, I undertook my secondary education in a country area and fully understand the barriers faced by rural students wishing to pursue a university degree.

“I admire the strength and resilience it takes for students and their families to overcome those barriers and this scholarship is one way that we can encourage country students to continue with their education.”

Mr Ryan said the total value of the scholarship was $5,000, which could be allocated as a single scholarship or shared amongst one or more successful applicants.

“Last year, the scholarship was shared by Korumburra’s Kaitlyn O’Brien and Caitlin Hand of Red Cliffs near Mildura,” Mr Ryan said.

“Again, the scholarship recipients will be chosen based on their academic achievements, local leadership qualities and involvement with their local community.

“It is intended that the scholarship be awarded to students who are intending to return to or remain in the country after their course and demonstrate a career commitment that will ultimately benefit regional Victoria.”

The Nationals State Director Jenny Hammett said the party had great faith in the potential of young regional Victorians and encouraged students in Gippsland to apply for this year’s scholarship.

Ms Hammett said applications would be accepted until Friday 28 February 2014 and application forms could be downloaded from The Nationals website: 

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Students return to school

* * - Friday, January 24, 2014


Deputy Premier Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan encouraged students returning to school to approach their studies with enthusiasm and excitement.

“School is the building block of your future and if you make the most out of it and try to enjoy it, you are more likely to do well,” Mr Ryan said.

“I look back on my school years with fondness and I know the education I received opened up many opportunities for me and helped shape my career.

“Some parents will be sending their children off for their first day of primary school. As a parent, I know that feeling of pride and excitement as they watch their child leave home to begin a new chapter in their life.

“I extend my best wishes to all teachers, students and their families. I am sure that through the dedication of our teachers and the important partnership with parents, Gippsland schools will continue to give our students the best start in life.

“Students and teachers in Gippsland can also look forward to enjoying the benefits of $33.8 million in additional funding, which is being provided as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s record $5.2 billion investment in government schools in 2014.”

Mr Ryan said some students in Gippsland would be excited but nonetheless nervous to start their final year of secondary school education.

“For those undertaking the VCE this year, I wish you well and encourage you to stay focused on your goals and give it your all,” Mr Ryan said.

“The VCE is a challenging time and you should be proud to begin a busy yet rewarding year of studies.

“I ask that teachers, families, peers and friends support students undertaking VCE or VET studies this year to enable them to achieve their best.”

Mr Ryan also called on motorists to be aware of the 40km/h speed zones around schools.

“During pick up and drop off time there will be an increased number of students around schools and I urge drivers to be mindful of this fact and drive carefully,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870

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