Press Releases

New visitor centre opens a gateway to Gannawarra

* * - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today joined Member for Rodney Paul Weller and the local community in celebrating the opening of the Gateway to Gannawarra Education, Cultural and Heritage Centre in Cohuna.

Mr Ryan said the $1.2 million centre would showcase the Murray Region and was a key part of the Gannawarra Shire Council’s plan to boost nature-based tourism.

“The Gateway to Gannawarra Education, Cultural and Heritage Centre provides a new and modern space for community meetings, exhibitions, community celebrations and cultural events,” Mr Ryan said.

“The new facility will help increase the profile of Cohuna and the region which will help attract more tourists to the district while bringing a much needed boost to the local economy.”

Mr Ryan said the state government provided $600,000 towards the construction of the new centre including:

•           construction of a multi-purpose centre, comprising visitor services and amenities, with capacity to provide both community and business activities;

•           directional signage to nearby tracks and trails;

•           a local information desk, maps/ weather and booking information; and

•           car and caravan parking and landscaping.

Mr Ryan said the project had significant input from the community which would ensure its ongoing success.

“The Cohuna Progress Association, Cohuna Lions Club, Club Barham, Cohuna & District Historical Society and the Murrabit Advancement Association all played an important role in the creation of the centre,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund would play a vital role in supporting similar projects in the future.

“The Regional Growth Fund will support projects that help create jobs, stimulate growth and enhance the quality of life for people living in regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

To find out about the Regional Growth Fund visit:

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

$1.9 million for Gannawarra Shire infrastructure projects

* * - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan has announced $1.9 million for important new infrastructure works in the Gannawarra Shire.

Speaking in Koondrook today, Mr Ryan said the funding would support major infrastructure improvements including the Kerang Levee and upgrades to the Koondrook Tourist Road.

 “The Gannawarra Shire was severely impacted by campaign floods that hit Victoria in late 2010 and early 2011 with widespread damage to properties and community assets,” Mr Ryan said.

“Funding for important infrastructure projects will help as the region continues to recover.”

Mr Ryan said the funding provided to the council was under the Local Government Infrastructure Program (LGIP) -  which was part of the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

Gannawarra Shire Council has allocated funding to five projects:

  • $770,000 Kerang Levee;
  • $500,000 Benjaroop Tresco Road upgrade;
  • $240,000 Wayside stop amenities;
  • $270,000 Leitchville, Marcoma & Cohuna Recreation Reserve Master Plan implementation; and
  • $120,000 Koondrook Tourist Road (bridge and island road).

“The LGIP gives councils the ability to identify local priorities and make decisions about new infrastructure needs and improvements on existing assets.”

During his visit, Mr Ryan also joined representatives of the local community to officially celebrate the completion of the Town Centre Improvement Project.

“The Koondrook community has achieved its vision to improve the functionality of the Apex Park area,” Mr Ryan said.

“The park now includes a child-friendly and multi-purpose meeting space with public conveniences and surrounding riverfront making it a more user-friendly space.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Government provided $250,000 toward the project, with the Gannawarra Shire Council providing the balance of the overall $406,000 project.

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Vic Coalition announces $2 million boost for Port Welshpool Long Jetty

* * - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Plans to restore the historic Port Welshpool Long Jetty have received a significant boost with the Victorian Coalition Government announcing a further $2 million towards the project. 

Speaking at a community consultation in Port Welshpool overnight, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the additional $2 million would bring the Coalition Government’s funding commitment to the project to $5 million.

“The South Gippsland Shire Council has recently allocated $1 million for the Long Jetty restoration, which is expected to cost approximately $10 million,” Mr Ryan said. 

“The $5 million commitment from the Victorian Coalition Government will ensure the community is best placed to secure funding from the Commonwealth to complete restoration works.

“The Port Welshpool Long Jetty is a wonderful historical piece of maritime infrastructure that is cherished by the Gippsland community.” 

The Federal Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent has also announced that if the the Federal Coalition wins at the next election it would commit $5 million to the Welshpool Long Jetty works.

“I welcome the commitment from the Federal Coalition and I encourage the Federal Labor  Government to also support the restoration of this iconic Victorian attraction,” Mr Ryan said. 

“The local council will make a submission to the Commonwealth under the Regional Development Australia Fund for a contribution towards the project.

“The 900 metre Long Jetty is the longest in Victoria and is an important piece of maritime history that should be preserved for current and future generations to enjoy.” 

Mr Ryan said the $5 million from the Coalition Government would be provided through the
$1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“The Coalition Government is committed to investing in regional Victoria to create prosperity, more job opportunities, economic and social resilience and a better quality of life,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Victorian drowning rate lowest on record

* * - Monday, November 28, 2011

Victoria has experienced the lowest rate of drowning deaths on record according to the 2011 Victorian Drowning Report released today by the Victorian Coalition Government. 

Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan said 34 people died in drowning incidents in 2010/11– the lowest drowning rate since the start of the Play It Safe by the Water campaign in 1998.

“While the latest figures are an improvement on previous years, the reality is one drowning death in the water is one too many, and that people of all ages must be vigilant around waterways,” Mr Ryan said. 

“One area that has seen a significant improvement is the rate of toddler drowning deaths, which is down from seven in 2009/10 to just one in 2010/11,” Mr Ryan said.

“The ‘20 seconds is all it takes for a child to drown’ advertising campaign is believed to have played a big part in reducing the death toll and the government will invest $500,000 to ensure it continues this summer.” 

Mr Ryan said while the overall result was welcome, the report showed that drowning deaths were still too frequent among certain age groups and in certain areas.

“The report highlights that there are still too many drowning deaths in the 5 to 14 years of age group and amongst young males,” Mr Ryan said. 

“People aged over 60 years, however, accounted for the highest drowning rate, with medical conditions playing a major factor in these drownings.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government, together with the aquatics industry, was working on new and existing water safety strategies to promote water safety and highlight the risks.

“The Coalition Government has allocated $3 million this financial year to continue delivering water safety programs which include the Play It Safe by the Water campaign, community and school education programs and lifesaving services,” Mr Ryan said. 

“Advertising campaigns over summer will reinforce safety messages to parents, carers and at-risks groups such as Look Before you Leap and Never Swim Alone.

“Children will also benefit from a $1.6 million Coalition Government VICSWIM initiative to make learn-to-swim classes more affordable for families by providing subsidies on lessons,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Water Safety Week urges Victorians to play it safe

* * - Monday, November 28, 2011

Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan today encouraged all Victorians to help spread the water safety message this summer at the launch of Water Safety Week in Melbourne.

Mr Ryan joined water safety ambassadors from Life Saving Victoria, Aquatics & Recreation Victoria, Surfing Victoria, Swimming Victoria and Yachting Victoria at the launch where Victorians were urged to enjoy the water safely this summer.

“While the Victorian drowning death toll is currently the lowest on record with, 34 deaths in 2010/2011, the reality is that one death in the water is one too many,” Mr Ryan said.

“Summer is almost here and the message is clear: Victorians need to play it safe by the water, whether it is around the local pool, down the coast, at a lake or a river.

“Never swim alone, look before you leap and never take your eyes off children in or around the water – the tragedy is 20 seconds is all it takes for a child to drown,” Mr Ryan said.

Water Safety Week, which runs until Sunday 4 December 2011, encourages Victorians of all ages to participate in a range of water safety activities in a variety of environments.

More than 180 aquatic facilities have registered to participate in Water Safety Week this year, offering activities focusing on water safety and survival skills.

Mr Ryan said the newly-released 2010/11 Victorian Drowning Report identified some encouraging outcomes in water safety, with the rate of toddler drowning deaths down dramatically, from seven in 2009/2010 to one in 2010/2011.

“In Victoria, while we have exceeded our target in reducing drowning deaths in children aged under five years, work is still needed to reduce drowning deaths in inland waterways and those aged over 60 years,” Mr Ryan said.

“Since the Play It Safe by the Water campaign began in 1998, the drowning death rate in Victoria has more than halved, dropping from 1.38 people per 100,000 of population to 0.61 per 100,000 of population.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had allocated $3 million this financial year to continue delivering water safety programs, including the Play It Safe by the Water campaign, community and school education programs and lifesaving services.

“The Coalition Government is also delivering on a $1.6 million election commitment by making VICSWIM learn to swim classes more affordable for many children across Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“The program, which is managed by Aquatics and Recreation Victoria, offers subsidised swimming lessons, bringing the total cost per participant to approximately $5 per swimming class for this summer.  This is less than half the regular cost.”

Mr Ryan said while lifesavers aimed to reduce aquatic-related death and injury, all Victorians needed to be safe around aquatic environments and venues.

“This summer season, Victoria’s 26,000 volunteer lifesavers from 57 patrolling clubs will be out in force across 66 beaches with 120 professional lifeguards supporting them,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said last season, lifesavers across Victoria performed more than 690 rescues and assisted in more than 1800 first aid incidents.

For more information about the VICSWIM program and to enroll visit

Media contact:   Sonia Heath 0413 485 526  




Broadmeadows Leisure Centre

Croydon Leisure & Aquatic Centre

Frankston - Jubilee Park Aquatic Centre

Healesville - Jack Hort Memorial Pool

Heidelberg - Olympic Leisure Centre

Ivanhoe Aquatic & Fitness Centre

Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre

Reservoir Leisure Centre

Ringwood Aquatic Centre

Templestowe - Westerfolds Sports Centre

Werribee Olympic Outdoor Pool


Alexandra Swimming Pool

Apollo Bay Comm. Pool & Leisure Centre

Avenel Swimming Pool

Avoca Swimming Pool

Bairnsdale Aquatic & Recreation Centre

Beaufort Swimming Pool


Bendigo East Swimming Pool

Berriwillock Swimming Pool

Birchip Swimming Pool

Black Hill Swimming Pool

Buninyong Swimming Pool

Charlton Swimming Pool

Chiltern Pool

Colignan Swimming Pool

Colac - Bluewater Fitness

Corryong Swimming Pool

Cowes Primary School    

Regional cont’d

Daylesford Swimming Pool

Dimboola Swimming Pool

Donald Swimming Pool

Dookie College Pool

Eildon Swimming Pool

Eskdale Pool

Foster Swimming Pool

Geelong Grammar - Handbury Centre

Hamilton Indoor Leisure & Aquatic Centre

Hawkesdale Swimming Pool

Healesville Indoor Pool

Irymple Swimming Pool

Kilmore Swimming Pool

Korumburra Outdoor Pool

Lakes Entrance Aquadome

Maffra Memorial Pool

Marysville Swimming Pool

Merbein Swimming Pool

Mildura Waves Swimming Pool

Mirboo North Swimming Pool

Murtoa Swimming Pool

Nagambie Outdoor Swimming Pool

Newstead Swimming Pool

Nyah Community Pool

Orbost Outdoor Pool

Ouyen Swimming Pool

Red Cliffs Swimming Pool

Rupanyup Swimming Pool

Rutherglen Swimming Pool

Sea Lake Swimming Pool

Seymour Sports & Aquatic Centre

Seymour Memorial Outdoor Pool

Stratford Pool

Tallarook Outdoor Pool

Tangambalamba Keiwa Valley Pool

Trentham Swimming Pool

Violet Town Swimming Pool

Warrnambool Aquazone

Winchelsea Pool

Wodonga Olympic Swimming Pool

Wycheproof Swimming Pool


Yea Swimming Pool


Open Water

Anglesea Point Roadknight

Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron

Cowes Yacht Club

Dromana Foreshore

Ocean Grove Foreshore

Torquay - Cosy Corner

Warrnambool Main Beach


$30,000 to help Melbourne leave its Heart in Morwell

* * - Monday, November 28, 2011

Soccer fans in Morwell are in for a treat with the announcement that Melbourne Heart will play a fixture game against Wellington Phoenix at the Latrobe City Sports and Entertainment Stadium in December.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan and Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty said the Victorian Coalition Government would provide $30,000 to bring the Hyundai A-League football game to Morwell.

 “Securing an A-League fixture event is a fantastic coup for Latrobe City Council and the people of Morwell,” Mr Ryan said.

“The match will be televised on Foxtel nationally and throughout Asia, providing opportunities to market Gippsland as a great place to visit and a region that can host significant events.” 

Mr Ryan said the Latrobe region was undergoing substantial economic and social change. 

“Developing business and event tourism activities is an important way of helping the Latrobe Valley economy to diversify,” Mr Ryan said. 

Mr Delahunty said elite events such as the A-League match would provide a world-class spectator event without leaving the region.

“The introduction of Melbourne Heart to the A-League has helped to foster and build upon the increasing popularity of the world game here in Victoria,” Mr Delahunty said.

“While there are countless local football competitions held across the state each week, distance can often be a barrier to getting along to an A-League match in Melbourne.”

Member for Morwell Russell Northe welcomed the announcement saying bringing elite teams to the Latrobe Valley was a great initiative that would further promote the region as a major sporting and events hub.

Funding for the event is from the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund and the Significant Sporting Events Program.

The game will be held at the Latrobe City Sports and Entertainment Stadium on 4 December at 3pm. For event information and to purchase tickets visit

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541 (Minister Ryan) or
Fiona Telford 0409 037 946 (Minister Delahunty)

Vic Coalition Govt unveils hard-hitting bushfire advertising campaign

* * - Sunday, November 27, 2011

Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan today unveiled a new series of hard-hitting bushfire advertisements funded by the Victorian Coalition Government in a bid to save lives this summer.

Mr Ryan said less than three years since the tragic 2009 Victorian bushfires which had claimed 173 lives, authorities were concerned complacency was creeping back into the community.

“These television advertisements, which will run across Victoria from Thursday 1 December until the end of February, are confronting and shocking but necessary as they portray what can realistically occur when people are ill-prepared for fires,” Mr Ryan said.

“Victoria is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world so it is crucial the community understands and recognises the importance of preparing for fires before summer arrives.”

Mr Ryan said the advertisements highlighted the need for all Victorians to be prepared for the fire season, not just residents living in high-risk areas but those travelling the state.

“These chilling advertisements include a 60-second television commercial that describes the horror of what it would actually be like to be caught in a bushfire,” Mr Ryan said.

“The important lesson from this is that if you have a bushfire plan then you are not risking your life, or your family’s, on a last-minute decision.”

The advertisements will run during the 6pm news bulletins until the end of February, with the option to extend the campaign should there be a late fire season.

The Bushfire Bereaved Community Advisory Group reviewed and provided feedback with regards to the Coalition Government's new fire safety advertising campaign.

The group has stated it supports the Government's stance on delivering a 'hard hitting' campaign in an effort to improve understanding and overcome complacency.

Mr Ryan said it had never been easier to access information to create a fire plan or check warnings and conditions.

“During Fire Action Week earlier this month several new online resources were launched including a new FireReady smartphone application to provide users with up-to-date warnings and other useful information, such as how far away a fire is from your location,” Mr Ryan said.

“There are also the My Plan and Travellers’ Checklist pages available on the CFA website or through Facebook that will help you plan for fire, so there’s no excuse for not being prepared.”

Mr Ryan said the advertising campaign and the available resources were designed to ensure people understood that fire safety was everyone’s responsibility.

“It’s not good enough to put off your fire plan until the threat is on your doorstep, you must develop your plan now and practise it with your family or friends. Or, if you are travelling, be certain to check the fire warnings before you go,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact:                      Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Work begins on $500,000 Grand Strzelecki Track

* * - Friday, November 25, 2011

Construction of the 85 kilometre Grand Strzelecki Track was officially launched today by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan.

Speaking from the Tarra Valley, Mr Ryan said the $500,000 project would connect the Morwell and Tarra-Bulga National Parks and showcase some of Victoria’s most picturesque regions.

 “The Grand Strzelecki Track will follow the native forests of Balook and the Tarra-Bulga National Parks in the east, to the rolling hills of the Jeeralang district and Morwell National Park in the west,” Mr Ryan said.

“While the Wellington Shire section involves the upgrading and widening of existing tracks and river crossings, the Latrobe section includes 34 kilometres of walking tracks connecting Jeeralang and Balook to Tarra Valley.”

 Mr Ryan said the 2009 bushfires caused widespread damage across the Gippsland region and the development of this new attraction would be an important step in the recovery process.

 “Up to 250,000 people visit national parks in the region each year to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty and many walking tracks,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Grand Strzelecki Track will add a ‘world class’ walking trail to the mix that will entice even more visitors and help stimulate new economic and social activities for local communities.”

Mr Ryan said funding for the project was provided through the $4 million Bushfire Recovery Community Infrastructure Program (BRCIP).

“Under the program $202,000 will be provided to Latrobe City Council for the western section of the track and $300,000 to Wellington Shire Council for the eastern section,” Mr Ryan said.

“The BRCIP is a joint initiative from the Bendigo and Adelaide Banks, Community Enterprise Foundation and Regional Development Victoria to assist Victoria’s rural, regional and interface council areas that were severely affected by the 2009 bushfires.”

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Vic Coalition announces Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee

* * - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Victorian Coalition Government is calling for expressions of interest for a new Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee  as part of an election commitment to improve the health of the iconic Gippsland Lakes.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan and Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the committee would help ensure the environmental significance of the Lakes was maintained into the future.

“The Ministerial Advisory Committee will play a vital role in protecting the environmental welfare of the Lakes and guide decision-making on development within the Lakes region,” Mr Smith said.

“This announcement marks a new era towards protecting the lakes and the surrounding catchment which will in turn increase the capacity of tourism, recreation and business opportunities in the Lakes region.”

Mr Smith said the Coalition Government had appointed Gippsland resident Dr Peter Veenker as Chairperson of the new committee, who had broad skills in land and water management, strategic planning, financial management, board governance and community engagement.

“Committee nominations are now being sought from people who live or work locally or who has intimate knowledge of the Gippsland Lakes,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Ryan said the government was also seeking nominations from people with experience in the field of environmental science, tourism and recreation, business and management, strategy and planning; and environment and conservation.

“The Ministerial Advisory Committee will develop an environmental strategy for the Gippsland Lakes to enhance opportunities for the state’s recreational fishers and tourism related business in the area,” Mr Ryan said.

“The government is investing $10 million over four years for practical environmental projects to protect the Lakes, which is one of Australia’s most significant natural landmarks.

For more details on the expression of interest process visit 

Media contact:          Kate Walshe 0411 472 299

First PSO recruits start training at Police Academy

* * - Monday, November 21, 2011

The first intake of Protective Services Officers (PSOs) today begin their training at the Victoria Police Academy as part of a Coalition Government’s commitment to reduce crime, violence and anti-social behaviour in and around train stations.

The 21-strong team aged between and 19 and 57 are the first of 940 PSOs being deployed by Victoria Police to stations across Melbourne and major regional centres from 6pm until last train, delivering on a key Coalition Government election promise.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan joined Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay to congratulate the recruits during an induction ceremony.

“PSOs will play a vital role protecting commuters on platforms, operating in concert with their Transit Police colleagues who provide safety and assistance on the trains,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the recruits were a diverse group with varied backgrounds and previous careers, including Australian Federal Police, retail, and hospitality but they all had one thing in common – wanting to make a difference on the rail network.

“As part of an extensive 12 week training program at the Victoria Police Academy. these PSOs will undertake the same Operational Tactics and Safety (OTS) Training as police, which includes the same firearms training and defensive skills training. They will also undergo the same rail safety training as their Transit Police colleagues,” Mr Ryan said.

“PSOs will also learn about the law, conflict resolution, dealing with vulnerable people, mental health and much more to ensure they are prepared for the rewarding, but challenging career ahead of them.”

Mr Ryan said after the recruits graduated from the academy they would be ready for further ‘on the job’ training in early 2012 under the direct supervision of Transit Police officers at Flinders Street, Southern Cross and City Loop rail stations.

“As PSO recruits continue to enter the academy and then graduate over the next three years, we will see PSOs at more and more stations across the metropolitan rail network and at major regional centres,” Mr Ryan said.

“With additional enforcement powers to other PSOs, those guarding train stations will be able to deal with criminal and anti-social behaviour to improve safety and community confidence.”

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

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