Press Releases

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

New facilities to attract visitors at Agnes Falls

* * - Friday, October 03, 2014


  • Deputy Premier inspects new facilities at the Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve
  • New picnic area and amenities expected to attract more visitors to the waterfalls
  • Victorian Coalition Government supports tourism in regional areas

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan was in the Strzelecki Ranges yesterday to inspect the new visitor facilities at the Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had invested $195,000 to upgrade the new facilities at Agnes Falls.

“Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve in Gippsland is home to a spectacular waterfall that cascades over a series of rocks over a 59 metre drop,” Mr Ryan said.

“Tourists and locals already know that Agnes Falls is a spectacular place for a picnic or short walk, and the upgraded facilities will help to attract more visitors to this wonderful tourist attraction.

“The new facilities include a picnic shelter with tables, toilets, new signage and plans for a new lookout over the picturesque park.

“The new facilities will greatly enhance this special part of the world, attracting more visitors to the park and delivering benefits to our regional economy.”

The Deputy Premier acknowledged the work of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, South Gippsland Shire Council, Parks Victoria and the Friends of Agnes Falls.

Mr Ryan reserved particular praise for the Friends of Agnes Falls’ Kathy Whelan.

“Kathy is a wonderful ambassador for Agnes Falls and her passion for the place is infectious.”

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien welcomed the upgrade at Agnes Falls and acknowledged a new partnership with Corrections Victoria.

He said that Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place, a culturally appropriate community corrections centre for Koori men, would be involved in the ongoing maintenance of the local tourism site.

 “This project really shows environmental partnerships in action and demonstrates the many benefits of using local knowledge and developing relationships beyond the park boundary.”

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Bright Court House reopened to the community

* * - Thursday, August 14, 2014


  • Bright Court House to be restored for public use
  • Deputy Premier announces $145,000 investment in the project
  • Victorian Coalition Government putting locals first

The Bright Court House will be refurbished with the support of the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, returning this much-loved historical building to community hands.

Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan was in Bright yesterday to announce the Victorian Coalition Government would invest $145,000 in the almost $200,000 refurbishment.

Mr Ryan, who was joined by The Nationals Member for Benalla Bill Sykes and The Nationals Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy, said the investment would bring the run-down Bright Court House back to life, enabling the local community to once again host live theatre and other forms of entertainment at the venue.

“The Bright Court House is the town’s oldest building, it is heritage listed and held dear to the local community’s heart,” Mr Ryan said.

“Built in 1861, it was used as a court of petty sessions for Buckland Goldfields where it operated right up until 1989.

“Over the next 10 years it continued to host a wide range of community activities, most notably the Alpine Actors and Foothill Theatre and Bright P-12 College’s drama and music events and activities.

“By the year 2000, the facility had run its race, with the structure of the Court House deteriorating to such a point that it was no longer deemed safe for community use and was shut down.

“The Coalition Government’s $145,000 investment will enable the Bright Court House to be reopened, returning it to community hands.”

Dr Sykes welcomed the investment, which will deliver a number of key improvements including:

  • modifications to ensure all ability access to the building;
  • establishment of a kiosk and foyer area;
  • installation of staging, tiered seating, heating and cooling, a control room, sound system and lighting;
  • replacement of floor coverings; extension of the car park;
  • landscaping; and
  • upgrade of toilets and actor facilities.

“The improvements will deliver a state-of-the-art community facility capable of hosting a wide range of events and users groups,” Dr Sykes said.

“Refurbishing the Bright Court House has long been at the top of the local community’s list of priorities and I am proud to be here today alongside the Deputy Premier to announce this funding.”

Mr McCurdy, whose existing seat of Murray Valley will be renamed Ovens Valley and will include Bright following the 2014 Victorian Election, said this project was another terrific example of how the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund was putting locals first.

“Strong support for the refurbishment has been received from the Alpine Women’s Group, Alpine Shire Youth Council, Bright Alpine Actors, Chamber of Commerce, and Lions and Rotary Clubs, and I expect these groups and others to make full use of the Court House,” Mr McCurdy said.

Mr McCurdy said the community had ‘put its money where its mouth was’, with a number of local groups and organisations chipping in towards a total project cost of $194,000.

He said this included $8,000 from the Rotary Club of Bright, $5,000 from Bright Alpine Actors, $6,000 from MADAS Productions, and $5,000 from Alpine Shire Council.

Mr McCurdy said the Bright United Men’s Shed and local businesses had also contributed a combined total of $13,000 in goods and services, as well as an in-kind contribution of $12,000 from the Court House committee of management.

The Bright Court House Redevelopment project will be completed by the end of this year.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

$12 million on offer to Engage young locals

* * - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $12 million to help young Victorians reach their potential
  • Program initiatives include volunteering, mentoring and real life skills
  • Local organisations can apply for up to $150,000

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today announced that the Victorian Coalition Government would invest $12 million into the Engage program to help young Victorians build skills needed for life after school.

Mr Ryan said the Engage program offered grants of up to $150,000 to local community organisations and councils to help young people become more involved with their local communities.

“The funding will support organisations and councils to deliver a wide range of initiatives including volunteering and mentoring programs, and projects that boost real-life skills and connect young people to further education, training or careers,” Mr Ryan said.

“Through these projects, young people have the opportunity to become more connected to their community, become engaged in education, training and career pathways and have an opportunity to build their networks.

“The program provides local groups with the practical resources they need to listen, respond and create opportunities for young Gippslanders so that they can fulfil their potential,” Mr Ryan said.

“I urge local groups to submit an Engage grant application to enable them to conduct programs to engage younger members of their communities and help them to build skills that they can use in future community service ventures and employment.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s $12 million 2015 - 2017 Engage program was another example of this government’s commitment to providing young Victorians with more opportunities to become involved in their communities.

“Since 2012, more than 100,000 young Victorians have been involved in Engage, highlighting the success of the program,” Mr Ryan said.

Minister for Youth Affairs Ryan Smith encouraged organisations to reach out to young people in the community and work with them to develop innovative projects that could be eligible for an Engage grant.

“Through this Coalition Government program, Victoria’s young people will have access to fantastic initiatives that help develop new skills and networks,” Mr Smith said.

The Engage program is part of the Coalition Government’s Youth Statement, Engage, Involve, Create that outlines its vision for young Victorians.

Applications close on Friday 1 August 2014. For more information or to apply, visit

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Coalition helping to tell Leongatha’s story

* * - Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Local history group received more than $5000 for history plaques
  • Grant will help locals and visitors learn about Leongatha’s past
  • Coalition Government enriching communities and preserving history

The Leongatha community will be better placed to learn about the town’s past, with the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government providing more than $5,000 for the Leongatha Historic Plaque Project.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the $5,345 grant to the Leongatha and District Historical Society would enable the group to install 10 plaques around the town that explained the historical significance of certain sites and buildings.

“The Leongatha and District Historical Society plays an important role in the community and this project will not only help to bring to light some of the research the group does, but tell the story of our region as well,” Mr Ryan said.

“Once these plaques are installed, they will enhance the historical understanding of sites and buildings for locals and also give visitors an overview of the town’s history.”

Mr Ryan said the Leongatha group was one of 63 Victorian community organisations, ranging from schools and libraries, to sporting clubs and museums to share in close to $350,000 in grants through the 2014 round of the Local History Grants program.

“The program supports projects that tell stories from communities across Victoria to help us gain an understanding of our state and our people,” Mr Ryan said.

Secretary of the historical society, Lynette Skillern said the society had shortlisted sites and buildings of where they’d like to install plaques.

“Currently, we’re in the process of contacting owners of the buildings to see if they’re interested in having one of these plaques installed,” Ms Skillern said.

“One example of where we’ll install a plaque is at the Bills Horse Trough at the Leongatha Recreation Reserve.

“These iconic troughs were funded by members of the Bills family and installed in many towns so that horses would have a place to drink on arrival.”

Ms Skillern said people wanting to learn more about the town’s history could visit the Leongatha Historical Society (in McCartin Street) on Thursday or Friday afternoons between noon and 4pm.

The Local History Grants Program is managed by the Public Record Office Victoria and further information on the grants can be found at

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

$1 billion Regional Growth Fund transforms Nyora Community Hall

* * - Monday, June 02, 2014

  • Deputy Premier announces $255,000 funding for Nyora Hall upgrades
  • Projects will deliver flexible, functional and appealing community meeting place
  • Victorian Coalition Government’s Regional Growth Fund is putting locals first

Everybody will be Kung Fu fighting in Nyora following Friday’s announcement by the Victorian Coalition Government that it will support a major redevelopment of the Nyora Community Hall.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan was in Nyora on Friday to announce the Coalition Government would invest $255,000 from the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to support a $340,000 redevelopment of the much-loved community hall.

Mr Ryan said the hall would be transformed into a flexible, functional and appealing meeting place that the Nyora community could be proud of.

The redevelopment will include the replacement of roofing and gutters, the treatment of external walls to eliminate rising damp, the installation of bi-fold walls, internal upgrades, paintwork and a redesigned entry.

The project will also include new car parking, landscaping and drainage improvements.

“The redevelopment of the Nyora Community Hall was identified as a key priority by the local community and we have listened to their concerns and invested $255,000 to ensure this project goes ahead,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Nyora Community Hall is the only community meeting space in Nyora and is a popular location for weddings, birthday celebrations and other community gatherings.

“It is also used for a wide-range of community activities, including playgroups, patchwork groups, Kung Fu classes, the community newsletter office, outreach programs, the local Lions club, as well as hosting the Council immunisation program.

“Nyora residents and user-groups will benefit from having a reliable, flexible and usable space at their disposal.”

Mr Ryan said the redevelopment would be finished by June next year.

Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien, who joined Mr Ryan at Friday’s announcement, said the redevelopment would ensure the Nyora Community Hall continues to meet the needs of the community as Nyora’s population grows.

“Nyora’s population is projected to grow from 1,300 today to more than 2,100 by 2030,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We need to build the infrastructure that can support a growing population and that is why we have invested more than $250,000 to enable this significant redevelopment of the Nyora Community Hall to be undertaken.”

Mr O’Brien said the project was another example of the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund putting locals first.

“Right across Gippsland, the Regional Growth Fund is investing in vital local projects that would otherwise have struggled to secure funding,” Mr O’Brien said.

“In the South Gippsland Shire alone, the Regional Growth Fund has invested more than $13 million to support more than 30 projects, leveraging around $60 million in total investment.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

$25,000 grants to tackle local graffiti issues

* * - Tuesday, May 27, 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

Regional Growth Fund makes McIndoe Park safer

* * - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

  • McIndoe Park is now safer and more accessible for families and children
  • $120,000 upgrade includes new rotunda, free BBQs, perimeter fencing and improved disabled access
  • Victorian Coalition Government invested $88,000 to make the project a reality

Leongatha’s much-loved McIndoe Park is now safer and more accessible for families and children of all ages and abilities thanks to an $88,000 investment from the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan was in Leongatha on Friday to officially open the $120,000 McIndoe Park Development Project.

Mr Ryan, who was joined by Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien at Friday's event, said the project included new perimeter fencing and child proof gates, new pathways to improve disabled access, as well as a new rotunda with free barbecues, tables and chairs.

“McIndoe Park is one of the most used and loved community spaces in Leongatha, regularly hosting large community events such as concerts and Australia Day celebrations,” Mr Ryan said.

“Its accessible playground and open space make it a popular place to play for children of all ages and abilities, while its beautiful surrounds and picnic facilities mean it’s a perfect location to host gatherings with family and friends or simply for an afternoon out.”

Mr Ryan said that while the park was a popular destination for locals and visitors to Leongatha, it wasn’t always safe.

“There are two busy roads bordering the park and an accessible water drain nearby which has caused significant concern for parents of young children,” Mr Ryan said.

“Having secure fencing around the perimeter of the park will mean children are protected from the road and water drain, providing much relief for parents.”

Mr O’Brien said the installation of new pathways linking the rotundas to the playground had greatly improved accessibility at McIndoe Park, particularly for students from the South Gippsland Specialist School.

“The South Gippsland Specialist School spends a lot of time at McIndoe Park thanks to its impressive range of accessible playground equipment,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The development of these new pathways will make it easier and safer for students to access the accessible play equipment, enabling them to get the most out of this wonderful facility.”

Mr Ryan thanked the South Gippsland Shire Council, which contributed $22,000 towards the project, and the Lions Club of Leongatha, which contributed $10,000.

He said this project was another example of the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund putting locals first.

“Without a specific fund designed to support initiatives such as the McIndoe Park development, this important upgrade may have never been completed,” Mr Ryan said.

“The community asked for this development, local parents and the council drove it and the Coalition Government is proud to provide the funding to make it a reality.”

Mr Ryan said this project was one of more than 30 across South Gippsland to receive Regional Growth Fund support, delivering almost $60 million of leveraged investment to the region.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer  0437 547 731 

Coalition Government thanks emergency workers and volunteers

* * - Monday, May 19, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government thanks volunteers and emergency services personnel for their contribution to protecting Victorian communities
  • More than 7,000 fire fighters fought the Hazelwood fire in Morwell
  • Thank you held during 2014 National Volunteer Week

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Minister for Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells on Sunday recognised and thanked Victoria’s emergency services personnel and volunteers at a barbecue at Kernot Hall in Morwell.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is proud to support the vital work of emergency workers and volunteers who protect our state,” Mr Ryan said.

The barbecue was one of several events being held across Victoria to recognise the emergency workers and firefighting volunteers for their contribution to the community.

Mr Ryan, representing Premier Denis Napthine, said the 2013-14 bushfire season posed a serious challenge to regional Victoria, with fire conditions at their worst since Black Saturday.

A total of 4,600 bush and grass fires burned more than 463,000 hectares of land across Victoria this bushfire season. One person died and eighty houses were destroyed by fire across the state.

Morwell experienced the largest mine fire ever to occur in Australia during February and March this year. More than 7,000 firefighters engaged in the firefighting and more than 500 people worked directly and indirectly on the fire and its effects.

“The Coalition Government remains committed to helping the Morwell community get back on its feet following the Hazelwood Mine Fire,” Mr Ryan said.

Joining Mr Ryan in Morwell, Mr Wells said the event was an important opportunity to thank volunteers for their efforts during the 2013-14 fire season.

“Victoria has more than 90,000 operational and non-operational emergency services volunteers,” Mr Wells said.

“Our volunteers have a proud history assisting Victorians during times of need, and we are grateful for their outstanding support again this fire season.”

Member for Morwell Russell Northe thanked emergency services workers and volunteers for their tireless efforts during the Hazelwood Mine fire.

“This has undoubtedly been a trying time for local residents, and I join them in acknowledging, praising and being truly thankful for the relentless efforts of emergency services and volunteers who worked day and night to put out the Hazelwood fire and respond to the needs of the township.”

The barbecue was held during National Volunteer Week, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

More than six million people in Australia participate in voluntary work, representing 36 per cent of the population according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2010.

Coalition supporting Gippsland volunteers

* * - Friday, May 16, 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

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