Press Releases

Alcohol and drug support for Central Gippsland Health Service’s Emergency Department

* * - Friday, October 24, 2014

  • $500,000 boost to the Central Gippsland Health Service emergency department to better manage drug-affected patients
  • Coalition Government invests $165 million to address the harms of alcohol and drugs in the community
  • Builds on Coalition’s tough new sentencing laws for assaulting hospital staff

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has announced $500,000 to enable the Central Gippsland Health Service’s emergency department better respond to patients affected by alcohol and drugs, such as ice.

Mr Ryan said the Central Gippsland Health Service (CGHS) in Sale was one of six hospitals to receive the funding, which is part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s record $165 million in funding for alcohol and drug programs in the 2014-15 Budget.

“The local emergency department will now decide what new resources will best suit the needs of the community, which could include hiring a new alcohol and drug specialist or additional training for existing staff,” Mr Ryan said.

“The staff in the emergency department at CGHS are on the front line every day helping patients who are drug and alcohol affected, along with those who are suffering other medical emergencies.

“The Coalition Government is allocating additional resources to assist these frontline staff and ultimately benefit the patients.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said the recent Parliamentary inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamines, particularly the drug ice, had travelled around Victoria hearing about the impacts of the drug.

“Alcohol and methamphetamines, particularly ice, can destroy health, relationships and have a massive impact on our local communities,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This is important funding to assist our first response medical staff in the emergency department to better provide support their drug and alcohol affected patients through their times of crisis.”

Central Gippsland Health Service chief executive Dr Frank Evans said the Coalition’s funding acknowledged the considerable health care challenges associated with drug and alcohol misuse.

“Alcohol and drug abuse is a significant and increasing problem in the community,” Dr Evans said.

“Our challenge is to meet our absolute commitment to provide a safe environment for our staff while at the same time acknowledging the many causes of drug and alcohol misuse.

“This includes the links to mental health problems, poverty and disadvantage.”

Dr Evans said CGHS would use the funds to protect staff and help make difference to people struggling to cope with mental health issues and drug and alcohol problems, in line with the hospital’s social justice policy.

Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said the funding for the Sale ED was part of the Coalition Government’s $165 million investment to reduce the impact of drugs and alcohol in the community.

“$34 million has been allocated specifically to address the harms of ice and other drugs in the community and provide treatment for an additional 2,000 Victorians.”

Ms Wooldridge said a range of other initiatives has been announced by the Coalition Government to improve safety in Victoria’s hospitals, including:

  • More than $40 million for safety and security initiatives in hospitals across the State, including training, improvements to buildings and upgrading duress and security systems;

  • New laws introduced to Parliament in June increasing the sentence for seriously assaulting an emergency department doctor or nurse to a minimum of six months;

  • Further reforms introduced into Parliament recently creating a minimum six month sentence for serious assaults against all hospital staff.

“The Coalition Government knows it is critical that we invest now so Victorians across the state can access appropriate treatment and support for alcohol and drug problems, as well as make the emergency department a safer place and patients and staff,” Ms Wooldridge said.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Coalition Government investment pays dividends for Sale’s Greenwattle Racecourse

* * - Friday, October 24, 2014


  • Punters won’t miss a moment of the action with a new wide screen TV for Sale Turf Club 
  • New horse stalls, fencing and gates improve safety at Greenwattle Racecourse ahead of the Sale Cup 
  • Victorian Coalition Government continues to support country racing

As the marquees go up at Sale’s Greenwattle Racecourse ahead of this Sunday’s Sale Cup, Deputy Premier and Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has announced a new big screen TV for the Sale Turf Club.

At Greenwattle Racecourse, Mr Ryan also inspected new tie-up stalls and perimeter fencing which has greatly improved safety at the track following an investment of $58,733 from the Liberal National Coalition Government.

Mr Ryan said more than $109,000 had been invested in the new 47 square metre big screen TV to be installed on the infield at the racecourse and to give a significantly better view of the races for everyone at the track.

“Joint funding from the Coalition Government and the racing industry of almost $218,250 will see a magnificent new big screen TV installed at Sale’s Greenwattle Racecourse,” Mr Ryan said.

“This is great investment that will also provide the Sale Turf Club with significant savings as it currently hires mobile screens for its major race meetings such as the Sale Cup this Sunday.

“Currently at non-feature racedays there is no big screen available to patrons.

“As well as saving on the hire costs of a mobile screen, the Sale Turf Club now has the chance to generate revenue by hiring out the big screen for local events such as movies, expos and other community events,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said today’s announcement was in addition to investment at the racecourse that included the construction of new horse stalls and fencing improvements.

“The new tie-up stalls are a boost for racing and training at Sale and will improve safety conditions, particularly for the horses, their trainers and strappers,” Mr Ryan said.

“The project, jointly funded by the Coalition Government and the racing industry, resulted in the demolition of 15 dilapidated stalls and replaced with 18 new modern stalls.                                                                                                                

“The Coalition Government has provided $58,733 towards this new project through its Victorian Racing Industry Fund, with the Sale Turf Club and Racing Victoria each contributing $29,366 towards the total project cost of $117,465.”

Mr Ryan said these upgrades built on other recent improvements at Sale racecourse funded by the Coalition Government including an enhanced irrigation and drainage system and a new set of practice starting stalls.

Sale Turf Club chairman David Wilson said with 20 race meetings annually, the provision of a big screen would ensure more than 20,000 patrons that frequented the course would not miss a minute of the action. 

“The new and larger tie-up stalls ensure horses, trainers and strappers are provided with a safe environment leading into their race. 

“The additional new stalls complete the replacement program which provides the club with 123 tie up stalls to be used on race day and during early morning track work conducted on a daily basis,” Mr Wilson said.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said the Coalition Government was a strong supporter of country racing and was committed to growing the economic and social benefits that arise from the racing industry.

“The racing industry provides an economic benefit of $110 million to Gippsland, including 1,100 full-time jobs and the direct participation of more than 5,600 people,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The Coalition Government’s $80 million Victorian Racing Industry Fund, derived from unclaimed dividends and on-course wagering taxes, is critical to growing these economic benefits,” he said.

“The Coalition Government is committed to backing these important projects because it is vital to foster growth in the racing industry, which is worth $940 million annually to the state’s rural and regional economy.”

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404 

A new police station for Sale progressing on time and on budget

* * - Friday, October 24, 2014


  • Deputy Premier inspects works at site of new Sale police station
  • New station on track to be complete by March 2015
  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $18.2 million for project

The site of the old prison in Sale is being transformed into a new modern 24-hour police station that will assist Victoria Police protect and serve the community of Sale and district.

The Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today inspected the construction of the new Sale police station and said works were expected to be completed by March next year.

“Development at the site has moved ahead over the past months, with significant progress having now been achieved,” Mr Ryan said.

“The result is a very impressive building, with its architectural superiority to be surpassed only by its functionality.”

Mr Ryan said the new police station would accommodate a uniform branch, CIU,  highway patrol, police prosecutors, sexual offences and child abuse investigation team, and the Police Service Area Commander.

“The building will include interview rooms, holding cells and conference and training facilities that will be used an as incident control centre during emergency situations. Staff will have access to mess rooms, change rooms and a gym.

“An absolute feature of the building is the old red brick prison wall which has been retained and incorporated in the modern design of the new station,” Mr Ryan said.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said the existing police station at Sale, built in 1976, no longer met the needs of the local police.

“This is the oldest 24-hour police station east of Dandenong and is long overdue of an upgrade,” Mr O’Brien said.

“When it opens the new station will have room for 63 police personnel and has significant room for growth inline with police numbers in future years.

“The Coalition Government recently announced the success of its $602 million commitment deliver 1,700 additional frontline police.

“This was the single largest law enforcement recruitment exercise in Victoria’s history.

“The Coalition Government is investing record levels of funding in Victoria Police, enabling them to keep communities safer.” 

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404 

Coalition Government delivers a further $1.3 million for South Gippsland Highway

* * - Thursday, October 23, 2014

  • 14 sections of the South Gippsland Highway to be resealed
  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $1.3 million to complete works
  • Community feedback helped identify areas in need of resealing

The Victorian Coalition Government continues to repair key roads in South Gippsland, with a further $1.3 million being injected into resealing works on damaged sections of the South Gippsland Highway.

The $1.3 million investment will reseal a total of 14 sections of the South Gippsland Highway from Lang Lang to Stradbroke, providing significant relief for local motorists.

The investment will be provided through the Coalition Government’s record $500 million roads maintenance investment.

The first of the 14 sections of the South Gippsland Highway to be resealed was announced recently, with $34,000 allocated for works near Meeniyan.

Today’s announcement confirms the remaining 13 sections of the South Gippsland Highway to be resealed, including sections at Lang Lang, Korumburra, Leongatha, Meeniyan, Welshpool, Yarram and Stradbroke.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan welcomed the investment and said the resealing works would begin shortly.

“Over the winter months VicRoads carried out significant patching works along the South Gippsland Highway, providing a short term fix,” Mr Ryan said.

“This work was only designed to be a temporary fix, with important resealing works held off until the warmer months, which are now upon us.

“The resealing works will improve the road surface, creating a smoother ride for motorists, while making the road surface waterproof and more resistant to future damage.

“I want to reassure local motorists that we are listening to their concerns about road conditions and will continue to invest to fix our roads.”

Mr Ryan said VicRoads would continue to monitor the condition of the local road network and he encouraged locals to continue reporting damaged sections of road to VicRoads so it could be patched and resealed as quickly as possible.

Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien echoed Mr Ryan’s comments and said VicRoads had taken into account community feedback when identifying the sections of the highway in need of significant repairs.

“I thank the South Gippsland community for its strong feedback, and I want to reassure locals that we are listening to their concerns,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The Nationals, working in Coalition Government, will continue to invest in our road network to repair the significant damage which has occurred over recent years.

“The Nationals understand that fixing country roads, saves country lives.”

Mr O’Brien said the Coalition Government had invested well over $100 million to fix and upgrade local roads in South Gippsland over the past three and a half years, with more money flowing through to the region on an ongoing basis.

“We will continue to prioritise this region to ensure our local roads can be fixed or upgraded as quickly as possible,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We will also continue to invest in key safety upgrades, new passing lanes as well as supporting local councils to fix and improve local roads.” 

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Coalition Government gives voice to rural councils

* * - Thursday, October 23, 2014


  • Deputy Premier commits $3 million to continue Networked Rural Councils
  • Coalition Government’s investment supports Victoria’s 38 rural councils
  • Coalition Government building a better regional and rural Victoria

Networked Rural Councils, which provides a collective voice for Victoria’s 38 rural councils, will be funded for a further four years under a re-elected Victorian Coalition Government.

Speaking to Mayors and CEOs of Victoria’s 38 rural councils in Melbourne yesterday, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced that a re-elected Coalition Government would continue to support Rural Councils Victoria to deliver the Networked Rural Councils program with $3 million over four years.

The $3 million investment if the Coalition Government is re-elected will be provided through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government recognised the importance of helping Rural Councils Victoria provide a collective voice for the state’s 38 rural councils.

“Rural councils have local on-the-ground knowledge to deliver initiatives that benefit our rural communities, and by sharing this knowledge and information we can make a real difference across the state,” Mr Ryan said.

“Each of our rural councils have individual and unique needs, however, there are many situations where they can benefit from networking and a shared voice.

“Whether it is the Wellington Shire, East Gippsland, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, Benalla, Mitchell or Campaspe, our rural shires need a forum to be able to come together and speak as one – Networked Rural Councils provides this forum.

“Lobbying as one enables our rural shires to secure additional state and federal funding for local services and infrastructure, it ensures innovative service delivery solutions can be shared, and helps our rural councils attract new business, jobs and investment – particularly at a regional level.

“Today’s announcement that a re-elected Coalition Government will continue the successful $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program for another four years is a perfect example of the benefits of a single voice.

“Thanks to strong lobbying from Bill MacArthur and others here today, our rural councils will each receive $4 million over four years to build and repair shire managed roads and bridges.

“Without our 38 councils lobbying for this initiative as one, and a Coalition Government which recognises the importance of our rural areas, this funding would simply not have been made available.

“And it certainly would not be delivered under a Daniel Andrews-led Labor government which refuses to commit to funding the Country Roads and Bridges Program, nor further funding Networked Rural Councils.

“Labor’s focus is squarely on union-led, city-based projects, that do nothing for communities outside of Melbourne.”

Minister for Local Government Tim Bull joined Mr Ryan in Melbourne yesterday to meet with the 38 Mayors and CEOs and said he strongly welcomed the four-year, $3 million commitment if re-elected, to continue the Networked Rural Councils program.

“This great program is empowering our rural councils to meet current and future challenges,” Mr Bull said.

“It is enabling them to collaborate on projects that stimulate growth and economic development.

“By working collaboratively, local councils are identifying and addressing issues they have in common and they are participating in decision making that impacts on their broader region – which makes this program so valuable.

“Only a Liberal Nationals Coalition Government is committed to supporting our rural councils.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

New emergency services training centre opened at West Sale

* * - Monday, October 20, 2014


  • Firefighters have improved access to breathing apparatus training at a new facility at West Sale
  • $793,000 invested to upgrade the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC)
  • Victorian Coalition Government building a better and safer Victoria

Firefighters in Gippsland have improved access to breathing apparatus training with the official opening of an upgrade at the West Sale campus of the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC).

In West Sale, Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the Liberal National Coalition Government had invested $793,000 in the upgrade that would benefit the region’s firefighters.

“The new building and facilities at the West Sale campus will support CFA members and is a fantastic resource for all emergency service personnel in Gippsland,” Mr Ryan said.

“The type of training offered gives our volunteers the skills and practical experience that is essential for their role in protecting the community,” he said.

“All of the VEMTC campuses are purpose built to allow volunteers to take part in training scenarios that are as close as possible to reality.

“Facilities provide for both ‘live fire’ simulations and other scenarios that reflect the variety and complexity of incidents that emergency services volunteers face.
“This investment at West Sale has promoted growth and created jobs, and importantly ensures Victoria’s emergency service workers have the best training facilities.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was proud of the vital work performed by CFA and its 55,000 members who protected 3.3 million Victorians and more than one million homes and properties across the state.

“We will continue to support CFA members by providing the facilities and equipment they need to save lives and property,” Mr Ryan said.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said since coming to office in November 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with $2.3 billion in funding.

“This financial year the CFA budget is $457 million; that is $58 million more than it was when Labor left office,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“The Coalition Government has invested in firefighter safety with $20.5 million to replace respiratory protection equipment for CFA and MFB firefighters.

“This investment, along with the opening of the new facility at West Sale demonstrates the Coalition Government’s strong commitment to supporting the CFA and its volunteers who play a critical role in Victoria’s emergency response.” 

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Coalition Government grant makes Leongatha men’s shed more accessible to more people

* * - Monday, October 20, 2014


  • Victorian Coalition Government funding will allow people with mobility aids to access shed more easily
  • Funding delivered under $4 million Strengthening Men’s Sheds program
  • Coalition Government is committed to building and improving men’s sheds

Leongatha Men’s Shed will now be accessible to more people thanks to an injection of more than $12,000 from the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government.

Visiting the shed on Friday, Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the project, totalling $18,495, would enable a new concrete driveway, paths and a parking area to be built to make the shed easy to access for those with mobility aids.

“About 20 men attend the Men’s Shed gatherings on Wednesdays, however a few of those use walking frames and have trouble navigating the current path and across the grass into the shed,” Mr Ryan said.

“This funding will allow a wider driveway, paths and a concrete parking area close to the shed to be built, meaning those with mobility issues will be able to park nearby and access the shed more easily.

“The shed is a great contributor to the Leongatha community, so it makes sense to make this fantastic facility accessible to more people.”

Mr Ryan said the shed had benefited the community in a number of ways, including the contribution of wooden garden beds for the community garden, attending Woorayl Lodge Aged Care to make and paint bird boxes with residents and offering mentoring to clients from Yooralla disability organisation.

“Once a fortnight, a group of eight young men from Yooralla come here to learn hands-on skills from the shed’s members, so these new paths will make it easy for those guys to access the shed too,” Mr Ryan said.

"The Coalition Government recognises the significant role men's sheds play in local communities through engaging a range of men, including those with a disability, farmers, war veterans, retirees and the unemployed.”

Mr Ryan said the grant was delivered through the latest round of the $4 million Strengthening Men’s Sheds Program.

“This funding commitment shows that we are serious about supporting men’s sheds to continue to grow and thrive and provide stronger and more integrated communities,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was pleased to deliver $12,330 towards the $18,495 project, with the shed, Community College Gippsland and Yooralla to contribute the balance of funds.

Mr Ryan encouraged any men interested in finding out more to visit the shed, located in Howard Street, on Wednesdays from 1pm.

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Funding to protect wildlife in Gippsland South

* * - Wednesday, October 15, 2014


  • Local wildlife shelters to share in Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants 
  • Grants assist shelters to care for native wildlife in Gippsland South 
  • Coalition Government is building a better Victoria

Wildlife carers in Gippsland South can continue protecting the region’s native animals following the latest round of the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government’s Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today announced $8,725 in grants to help locals care for sick and injured wildlife.

“The work of the five grant recipients is important to maintaining the health of the region’s local wildlife,” Mr Ryan said.

“Animal carers and shelter operators here in Gippsland South do important work to protect and nurture our native wildlife.

“For example, Our Haven Wildlife Shelter at Golden Beach was one of the recipients of funding, receiving $2,000 to assist in their work.

“Theresa and Tony Matthews at Our Haven Wildlife Shelter perform a marvelous service to our local community in taking care of sick and injured wildlife.

“This funding will assist Theresa and Tony to build a new enclosure for kangaroos and joeys, allowing them to reclaim the living space in their home from the wildlife which currently occupy it.

“It will also assist them to purchase heat pads to assist the joeys, who have lost their mothers, to sleep, along with an incubator for very young joeys.

“These grants are another example of how the Coalition Government continues to support practical environmental projects in our local community.”

Mr Ryan said other grant recipients in Gippsland South included:

  • Individual carers in Sale to receive a grant worth $1061 to repair an enclosure and purchase nest and release boxes;
  • Individual carers in Koonwarra to receive $2000 to purchase a flight aviary for bird rehabilitation;
  • Individual carers in Welshpool to receive $2000 to purchase heat pads and hot boxes, formula to feed the animals and fuel for rescues; and
  • Individual carers in Woorarra West to receive $1664 for a new enclosure.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said in Victoria each year authorised shelter operators and foster carers rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for release.

“The Coalition Government is committed to recognising and rewarding those in Gippsland with the experience, knowledge and commitment to protect our iconic wildlife,” Mr O’Brien said.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the Coalition Government’s Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants Program supports an amazing network of tireless and dedicated volunteers.

“More than 100 carers and shelter operators along with three wildlife organisations across Victoria will share in grants totaling $212,700 to maintain or upgrade the facilities they need to care for native animals,” Mr Smith said.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Spring has sprung! Time to collect your firewood for next winter

* * - Monday, October 13, 2014


  • Spring firewood collection areas are open across Victoria
  • Permits for firewood collection have been abolished
  • Now is the time to stock up for next winter

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has encouraged locals who use firewood as a source of heating to take advantage of the spring firewood collection season.

Mr Ryan said after being closed for winter the designated firewood collection areas are open and will remain open for collection for domestic use until 30 November 2014.

“Firewood can be collected without the need for a permit from any of the designated firewood collection areas,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government made it easier for firewood collection on public land when it abolished the useless permit system in 2011.

“The new system makes it easier for households to collect firewood from areas of public land close to their homes without the burden of unnecessary red tape and regulation.”

Mr Ryan said firewood collection areas within the Gippsland South were located in Alberton West, Carrajung South, Darriman, Giffard West, Gormandale, Stony Creek, Willung South, Won Wron and Woodside.

“Firewood collection is only permitted during designated times of the year and from designated firewood collection areas,” Mr Ryan said.

“Firewood collected at these sites is for personal use only and cannot be sold. Official signs will display the rules and collection limits.”

For more information and specific locations visit or call 136 186.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Koonwarra CFA celebrates a station upgrade and new medium tanker

* * - Monday, October 13, 2014


  • Deputy Premier officially opens upgraded CFA station at Koonwarra
  • Koonwarra CFA receives the keys for a new medium tanker
  • The Victorian Coalition Government delivers upgrades to 240 CFA stations

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has officially opened the $245,000 upgrade to Koonwarra fire station and delivered a new medium tanker that will boost the CFA’s fire fighting capacity in Gippsland.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government was getting on with the job of ensuring the state was protected from the threat of bushfires and other emergencies.

“The Koonwarra station upgrade forms part of the Coalition Government’s investment of $125 million to build or upgrade 250 CFA stations across the state,” Mr Ryan said.

“With 240 stations now completed, we are well on track to deliver on this commitment, which is helping to make our country communities safer.

“The upgrade provides the brigade’s 34 members with an additional engine bay room, new communications board, better amenities and car parking spaces.”

During the event, Mr Ryan also officially handed over the keys to a new $345,000 medium tanker.

“This new four-wheel drive truck has a water capacity of 2,350 litres and includes a crew protection spray system, which will increase firefighter safety.

“It is absolutely crucial that our emergency services are supported with the resources and infrastructure they need to keep Victorians safe.

“Both the station extension and new tanker will boost emergency response capabilities in the region.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had enormous respect for CFA firefighters and were delivering record funding to help them protect local communities.

“Since coming to office in November 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion in funding,” Mr Ryan said.

“And as part of the 2014-15 State Budget, the Coalition Government is contributing an additional $29 million to the CFA to buy 78 new vehicles.”

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

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