Press Releases

Deputy Premier announces Terms of Reference for Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry

* * - Friday, March 21, 2014

  • Deputy Premier announces full board to undertake the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry and outlines Terms of Reference
  • Victorian Coalition Government is focused on ensuring community safety for all Victorians

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan today announced the full board to undertake the Hazelwood Mine Fire inquiry and outlined the inquiry’s Terms of Reference.

The Hon Bernard Teague AO, who headed the Black Saturday bushfires Royal Commission, will head the inquiry. He will be joined by Professor John Catford and Ms Sonia Petering.

“Justice Teague will be ably supported by Professor Catford and Ms Petering, who bring appropriate expertise in health and emergency services to the inquiry,” Mr Ryan said.

“Professor Catford is a senior health professional and is Executive Director of Medical Services at Epworth HealthCare.

“Ms Petering is an experienced corporate lawyer. She is Chair of the Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria and a Director of the Transport Accident Commission.”

The inquiry will be given broad terms of reference to examine the circumstances of the Hazelwood mine fire; the emergency response to the fire; and the response and support provided to Morwell and other affected communities.

“The inquiry’s Secretariat will be based in Morwell and the Board will be given all necessary resources to fully support its inquiry,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Inquiry will have broad powers of investigation, similar to a Royal Commission. This includes power to conduct examinations, summon documents and examine witnesses under oath.”

Premier Denis Napthine announced the Inquiry into the Hazelwood Mine Fire on Tuesday 11 March, and said the inquiry would give Victorians confidence that the government is focused on ensuring community safety.

“The inquiry will allow us to review the mine operations and emergency response to the Hazelwood fire,” Dr Napthine said.

The Board will be asked to submit its final report and any recommendations to the Victorian Government by the end of August 2014.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Stand together and speak out about bullying

* * - Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Bullying in any circumstance is never acceptable
  • Speaking out about bullying helps to diminish bullying
  • Everyone has the right to feel as though they belong
  • Cyber bullying has become a serious problem

Whether it’s in the classroom, on social media, via text or on the bus travelling to or from school, there is no excuse for bullying in any form.

That was the message Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan offered today when he visited Yarram’s primary school and secondary college.

Mr Ryan’s visit to the schools coincided with National Day against Bullying and Violence and National Harmony Day, which will be recognised by the schools tomorrow, Friday 21 March.

Speaking to year seven and eight students at Yarram Secondary College, Mr Ryan said this year’s National Day against Bullying and Violence theme - Bullying. No Way – highlighted that bullying was never acceptable.

“There are many forms of bullying such as excluding people from joining in, physical violence, saying things that upset the person to their face or online or sharing private or unflattering images and messages,” Mr Ryan said.

“All bullying, including cyber bullying, has a negative impact on the ‘target’ that can lead to serious health and social concerns including low self-esteem, reduced academic outcomes, social disconnect, depression and suicide.

“You cannot always judge the effect of your actions online and often messages are taken in a way that you hadn’t intended and with that are consequences that go well beyond your control.”

Mr Ryan said cyberbullying affected people of all races and girls were just as likely to be cyber bullies as boys.

“Cyberbullying can sometimes be worse than other types of bullying because the bully may be anonymous or meaner than they would be in person and the bullying can come at any time, which often leaves victims feeling unsafe in their own homes,” he said.

“With so many Australian youths saying they’ve been cyber bullied, I encourage students to think about what they are saying and the effect that it may have on other people before hitting the post or send buttons on their Facebook or phone.” 

Mr Ryan urged students to stand together and get tough on bullying by speaking up if they or someone they know is being bullied online or face-to-face.

He said those who bully others often aim to impress or intimidate bystanders and the reaction of bystanders can either support or discourage bullying from happening.

“If bystanders do nothing, this can be seen as a form of silent approval whether it’s in the yard or online, however the actions of a supportive bystander have the power to stop or diminish bullying and help the bullied student to recover from the incident,” Mr Ryan said.

“Everyone at your school, sporting club, youth group or community organisation has a right to participate in the activities they enjoy without feeling threatened or intimidated and I encourage each student to ensure this can happen in Yarram.”

In promoting Harmony Day at Yarram Primary School, Mr Ryan said the event was a day to celebrate the diversity of cultures in Australia while making everyone feel as though they belong.

 “This year’s theme ‘Everyone Belongs’ identifies that we should all show cultural respect to everyone who calls Australia home – from the traditional owners of the land to those who have come from many countries around the world,” Mr Ryan said.

“There are many ways to incorporate cultural inclusion into our day to day lives and it can be as simple as saying good morning and afternoon in a different language each week.”

Mr Ryan said Yarram Primary School students would tomorrow participate in a range of culturally diverse activities specific to their year level.

“To celebrate Harmony Day, I encourage you all to take a moment to think about the people who have come from more than 200 countries that have helped make Australia the great place it is today.”

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870

$76,000 boost for community mental health

* * - Friday, March 07, 2014

• More than $76,000 to improve mental health outcomes for children
• Gippsland families to benefit from Coalition Government funding
• Victoria’s finances are back on track, allowing for increased investment in health

A new consulting and observation area that will assist practitioners to better treat young mental health patients can now be developed in Sale thanks to $76,324 from the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the funding would allow Latrobe Regional Hospital to create a specific children’s area with a play room and viewing area for training and therapy observation at the Child and Youth Mental Health Service in Sale.

“This funding, provided through the Coalition Government’s Mental Health Community Support Services program, will provide a space that will be more inviting and practical for children, youth and families accessing these services,” Mr Ryan said.

“There is no doubt that the physical environment plays an important part in the service experience for consumers and I am delighted that the Liberal National Coalition Government can deliver imperative health outcomes like this for regional Victorians regardless of their age.”

Mr Ryan said Latrobe Regional Hospital’s Sale service was one of 12 organisations to be awarded a grant as part of the $2.5 million of funding to enhance clinical community mental health services.

Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said grants such as this enabled health providers to redevelop existing buildings and amenities, establish new facilities, improve security, expand services and, overall, provide a better environment for staff and clients.

Ms Wooldridge said the Coalition Government was investing more than $100 million each year in community-based mental healthcare, which assisted more than 12,500 people to access services in the community rather than in hospital settings.

“Victoria’s Priorities for Mental Health Reform 2013-15, outlines a reform agenda, which will ensure that Victoria continues to lead the way with quality and responsive care,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“Our reforms are putting individuals and families at the heart of mental health services and investing in services to improve the lives of people with a mental illness.

“The investment in these facilities will deliver improved services and better cater for the needs of people with a mental illness and their families.”

Further funding under this program will be available in 2014 following completion of the recommissioning of the MHCSS sector.

For more information on Victoria’s Priorities for Mental Health Reform 2013-15 visit

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870

Sign on for Active April and get physical

* * - Wednesday, March 05, 2014

· Be active for 30 minutes every day in April
· Participation prizes include AFL grand final tickets, bikes and GoPros
· New Active April website allows activity tracking

Gippslanders are encouraged to hit back at rising obesity rates and commit to a month of increased physical activity by signing on to the Premier’s Active April campaign.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the month-long campaign encouraged Victorians to challenge themselves to do 30 minutes of physical activity each day during April.

“Victoria is renowned for its good weather in the month of April and it’s the perfect time to get outside and use our fantastic parks and recreational facilities,” Mr Ryan said.

“There’s nothing I enjoy more than getting up early before a day in the office to walk a lap or two of Sale’s Lake Guthridge with my wife.”

Mr Ryan said signing up to participate in Active April was a great start for those who lacked motivation or were finding it difficult to fit physical activity into their daily routine.

“By signing up to something, it gives us a sense of obligation that we need to finish what we’ve signed up to do,” Mr Ryan said.

“The new Premier’s Active April website and app will suit people already on the go as well as those needing some encouragement.

“A new feature is the online activity tracker which is a great way to challenge your family and friends and chart your progress together.”

Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty said the Victorian Coalition Government was committed to finding solutions to the rising levels of sedentary lifestyles and obesity rates.

“That’s why the campaign has evolved from the Premier’s Active Families Challenge, to now focus on all Victorians,” Mr Delahunty said.

“Sixty-one per cent of Victorians are now either overweight or obese. It’s time to convert our passion for sport into actual physical activity.

“We’re encouraging Victorians to embrace this opportunity to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of not only themselves but also their family and friends.”

Premier’s Active April is free to join and offers great prizes and incentives to every participant including the chance to win four AFL grand final and grand final breakfast tickets, Giant bikes and a GoPro camera.

For more information and to register for Premier’s Active April visit or join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870

Health assessment centre to open in Morwell

* * - Friday, February 21, 2014

A community health assessment centre will be open in Morwell from today to provide preliminary health assessments to local residents.

Minister for Health David Davis said the assessment centre has been established by Ambulance Victoria and will be staffed by paramedics and registered nurses.

“It will be conveniently located at the Ambulance Victoria Gippsland Regional office at 2 Saskia Way in Morwell, adjacent to the Mid Valley Shopping Centre,” Mr Davis said.

The centre will offer basic primary health assessments such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and basic respiratory checks such as chest sounds and respiratory rate.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said people visiting the centre will be provided with current health and community information about the health impacts of the mine fire.

“This will assist local GP practices and the Latrobe Regional Hospital by providing easily accessible health advice about the effects of smoke from the mine fire,” Mr Ryan said.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he was pleased local residents could take advantage of the preliminary health assessments.

“A 12 hour service will run from 8am to 8pm each day. Should anyone need medical care, they will be referred to their own doctor or to Latrobe Regional Hospital,” Mr Northe said.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester said that excessive smoke levels can not only aggravate existing heart or lung conditions, but may also cause members of the community to experience irritated eyes, coughing or wheezing.

“Children, the elderly, pregnant women, smokers and those with existing heart or lung conditions, including asthma are more sensitive to the effects of breathing in fine particles,” Dr Lester said.

“Everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy physical activity and keep informed about fire activity in their immediate area.

“In extended, very smoky local conditions, sensitive individuals should consider temporarily staying with a friend or relative living outside the smoke-affected area. Others should also consider a break away from the smoky conditions if practical.

“Anyone with a heart or lung condition should take their medication as prescribed by their doctor.

“People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan.”

The opening of the health assessment centre follows the establishment of a community respite centre at the Moe Town Hall, which Mr Davis visited yesterday.

If you have concerns about your health, or someone in your care, you can call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24.

For information about how to protect your health from the impacts of smoke and ash visit

For air-quality updates visit

Discuss organ and tissue donation

* * - Monday, February 17, 2014

With one organ and tissue donor able to transform the lives of up to 10 recipients, Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan is urging Gippslanders to discuss organ donation with their loved ones during Donate Life Week.

Mr Ryan said it was important that those considering organ and tissue donation discussed their wishes with their family, friends, work colleagues and sporting teammates.

“People of any age regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion may one day need a life-transforming or life-saving transplant and currently in Australia there are around 1,500 people on organ transplant waiting lists,” Mr Ryan said. 

“DonateLife Week, which runs from 23 February until Sunday 2 March, is a great chance to discuss organ and tissue donation with your family and if you’ve already decided to donate, it is a good time to remind them of your decision.”

Mr Ryan said every Victorian family needed to know the donation decisions of their loved ones because in Australia, the family of every potential donor is asked to confirm the wishes of their loved one before organ and/or tissue donation proceeds.

“Anyone older than 16 can donate, and potential donors need to make sure they’ve registered with the Australian Organ Donor Register in addition to informing loved ones of their decision,” Mr Ryan said.

“Even if you’re previously indicated your decision elsewhere, such as on your license renewal, it’s important to express your wishes on the register, which can be linked to your Medicare number and is the only nationwide donor register.

“Alternatively, registration forms may be available from your General Practitioner or local medical centre.”

Mr Ryan said the DonateLife campaign was something that he considered very important and in line with this year’s theme encouraged locals to ‘have the chat that saves lives – ask and know your loved one’s wishes’.

For more information on organ and tissue donation, visit 

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 

$60,000 for new Men’s Shed at Foster

* * - Friday, February 07, 2014


The Corner Inlet Men’s Shed will receive $60,000 from the Victorian Coalition Government to build a new facility at Foster’s Station Park.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the funding would provide the current 23 members with a permanent home.

“Over the past four years, members have been forced to work from a number of venues, however they will soon have a place to set up their workshop permanently,” Mr Ryan said.

Corner Inlet Men’s Shed secretary Graeme Green said the group was thrilled to receive the grant from the Coalition Government.

“Currently, we’re working out of a shed that is out of town, and although we’re extremely grateful to be able to use the shed, it’s difficult to access for those members who don’t drive,” Mr Green said.

“Due to the location of the shed at Station Park, we’ll attempt to retain a station feel when we’re designing the new facility.

“All of our members are thrilled to have a permanent home to undertake our various projects including toy making and timber furniture restoration.”

Mr Ryan said the Men’s Shed movement was an important initiative that had rapidly expanded across Gippsland.

“This shed will be a significant community asset and will provide major health and well-being support to members of the community who might otherwise find themselves isolated and vulnerable,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the $60,000 contribution from the Coalition Government had leveraged another $40,000 from the local community which included funding from the South Gippsland Shire Council, the Men’s Shed and in-kind support.

“Across the state, nearly $4.9 million will be invested to build 41 new Men’s Sheds, which includes $2.2 million from the Coalition Government and $2.7 million from community groups, fundraising and local and federal government,” Mr Ryan said.

Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge said the Men’s Shed program had become an important aspect of building stronger communities, with more than 230 sheds operating across Victoria.

“Men’s sheds provide men with opportunities to develop and use new skills, establish social networks and give back to their local community,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“These grants will help more men to get involved in their local communities and they will also give more communities access to better facilities in their local area.”

Media contact:
Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870  

Disability sector awards now open to Gippslanders

* * - Thursday, January 23, 2014


Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today called for nominations for the 2014 Victorian Disability Sector Awards.

Established in 2011, Mr Ryan said the awards recognised and honoured individuals, businesses and organisations that were making a difference to the lives of Victorians living with disability.

“It’s important that we acknowledge the contribution of individuals and organisations that choose to work on improving the lives of people with disability, whether that be in a voluntary or professional capacity,” Mr Ryan said.

“Victoria continues to be a leader in disability, with individuals, businesses and the disability sector partnering with the Coalition Government to introduce key reforms, such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).”

Mr Ryan said judges of the 2014 awards would look for entries across the nine categories that demonstrated innovative and creative thinking.

“I encourage nominations about people or organisations that are having a positive impact by thinking outside the box,” Mr Ryan said.

“Previous award winners include a volunteer who created a social media space for people with disability and a disability support worker who helped individuals to review their exercise programs and achieve their fitness goals.”

Mr Ryan said the 2014 Victorian Disability Sector Awards were a partnership between the Coalition Government and National Disability Services.

Nominations for the 2014 Victorian Disability Sector Awards close on Friday, 7 March 2014 and can be submitted at

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Victoria records lowest road toll in 90 years

* * - Monday, January 06, 2014


Acting Premier Peter Ryan, along with Minister for Roads Terry Mulder and Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips, today welcomed news of a record low Victorian road toll of 242, some 40 less than last year.

“Victoria has just recorded its lowest road toll in almost 90 years,” Mr Ryan said.

“We haven’t seen a road toll this low since 1924, when 224 people were killed on our roads.

“We are proud of the work done so far and proud that the community and all road users have joined with police and all arms of government in a real team effort to reduce tragedies on our roads.

“However, there is still a long way to go. Most road deaths are not ‘accidents’ as such, but the result of poor choices, including choices to speed, or drive under the influence of alcohol.

“Everyone in the community needs to deeply consider the choices they make.

“There are towns in my electorate of South Gippsland with populations of fewer than 242 and to think of this many people dying on our roads every year is tragic.

“We have come a long way in saving lives, but we will not rest until the road toll is zero.”

Mr Ryan said the state’s road safety strategies, including the introduction of the Graduated Licensing System and the Safer Road Infrastructure Program, had helped save lives.

“The Victorian Coalition Government Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, unveiled in March, included some bold new initiatives to build on these gains,” Mr Ryan said.

“We asked Victorians to tell us what they thought would help save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.

“Victorians called for more enforcement, a stronger approach to those doing the wrong thing and more education, and we’ve listened.”

Mr Ryan said 2013 saw the Coalition Government announce increased measures to stop drink driving; compulsory increased penalties for using a mobile phone while driving, the release the Road Mode mobile phone app and the start of education programs for reckless drivers to supplement tough hoon penalties.

Mr Mulder said the road safety partners, including Victoria Police, the TAC, VicRoads and the Department of Justice, have created new road safety campaigns and public education programs targeting road safety issues.

“This year we saw Victoria’s first ever distractions campaign and we worked with motorcyclists on a campaign to help them achieve the perfect ride,” Mr Mulder said.

“While it has been great to see the reductions in fatalities this year we know that we are only ever one bad week or one bad month away from losing those gains.

“We need to continue to work together to come up with new initiatives and strategies to help us achieve our vision of zero deaths and serious injuries.”

Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said while it is encouraging to see the reduction in road fatalities there is still work to be done to reduce serious injuries on our roads.

“The last 12 months have seen a reduction in fatalities but we have not seen the same reduction in serious injury collisions,” Mr Rich-Phillips said.

“We have a number of initiatives underway in 2014 to reduce serious injuries including the Enhanced Crash Investigation Study with the Monash University Accident Research Centre which will be unveiled in February.

“The TAC has also committed $1 billion under the Safer Road Infrastructure Program over the next decade to make Victoria’s most dangerous roads safer for all road users, a vital element of the Safe System approach.

“The release of the Parliamentary Road Safety Committee inquiry into serious injury later this year will give us a better understanding of what we can do to reduce life changing injuries.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

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