Press Releases

Vic Govt pledges $250,000 to Oxfam East Africa food crisis appeal

* * - Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Acting Premier Peter Ryan today pledged $250,000 on behalf of the Victorian Coalition Government to Oxfam Australia for its East Africa Food Crisis Appeal.

Over 13 million people in East Africa are facing disastrous shortages of food and water following the worst drought in 60 years.

“In Australia we will be sharing time and food with our loved ones during the festive season while families across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in a desperate struggle of survival,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coaltion Government’s contribution is in keeping with the spirit of giving and may assist in alleviating some of the dreadful realities faced by millions in East Africa.”

Every day thousands of people are being displaced after leaving their homes in search of food, often walking for weeks only to arrive at overcrowded, dangerous and poorly serviced refugee camps.

“There is a desperate need for water, sanitation and food in those camps and much more can be done to support people so they never have to set off on that heartbreaking journey in the first place,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is the right thing to do and I urge all Victorians to dig deep and give to assist those less fortunate in East Africa get through this terrible crisis.”

Acting Director of International Programs at Oxfam Australia Andrew Hartwich welcomed the Coalition Government’s support, saying it would make a real difference towards saving lives in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa.

“This donation will help Oxfam in its aim of reaching more than 3.5 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia with lifesaving aid including food, water and sanitation,” Mr Hartwich said.

To give to the Oxfam’s East Africa Food Crisis Appeal go to www.oxfam.org.au/eastafrica

Media contact: Fotis Kapetopoulos 0409 669 496

Emergency assistance available following Christmas Day storms

* * - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Victorian Coalition Government has activated Personal Hardship Grants for Victorians affected by the severe storm that swept parts of the state on Christmas Day.

Acting Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government’s recently-improved Personal Hardship Assistance Program would help families begin their journey back to recovery as soon as possible.

“The Christmas Day flood event could not have come at a worse time and the Government is working hard to ensure affected households can access the next level of assistance where necessary,” Mr Ryan said.

The two level of grants available are:

Emergency Relief Assistance: Provides payment of up to $480 per adult and $240 per child up to a maximum of $1,200 per household for those affected by the storm to cover emergency shelter, food, clothing, personal items or specific transport needs.

Emergency Re-establishment Assistance: Provides up to $30,000 to help eligible households with tasks such as clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding and replacing some damaged contents.

“The Emergency Re-establishment Assistance grant allows for the means-tested payment to eligible individuals or households who have no other means to re-establish their homes sooner,” Mr Ryan said.

“So far, we have had very few households apply for this assistance but we also understand that some households may need additional help over the coming days.

“At all times, Victorians can rest assured that the Coalition Government has appropriate measures in place to help people in need return to a normal life as quickly as possible.”

Victorians wanting more information about the Government’s Personal Hardship Assistance Program are urged to contact their local municipal council or visit
www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/financial-support

Media contact:        Simon Troeth 0439 300 335 S

ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FOLLOWING FLASH FLOODING ACROSS VICTORIA

* * - Friday, December 23, 2011

Minister for Emergency Management, Robert McClelland MP and the Victorian Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan today announced that financial assistance will be made available to communities affected by the heavy rain and flash flooding across Victoria on 18 and 19 December 2011.

Mr McClelland said assistance would be provided through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), jointly funded by the Commonwealth and States, to the six local government areas of: Northern Grampians, Horsham, Mildura, Macedon Ranges, Bendigo and Hume.

Mr McClelland said: “These storms impacted a widespread area across the state and have caused damage to property, businesses and community infrastructure.

“Both the Commonwealth and Victorian governments are committed to assisting individuals, families and communities affected by disaster events.” 

Mr Ryan said detailed assessments were continuing in affected areas to establish the full extent of the damage.

“The assessments are currently focused on the six local government areas hit by the December storm events and should it be identified that other areas have suffered damage from this event, assistance may be extended to cover those areas as well,” Mr Ryan said.

Under the NDRRA, Emergency Relief Assistance is available to cover a range of expenses incurred in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, such as food, clothing, medications, accommodation, and one-off transport costs.

Joint NDRRA funding will also be available to assist Local Councils with the cost of disaster operations and clean-up activities and to restore damaged community infrastructure.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Department of Human Services would administer emergency grants and help alleviate personal hardship experienced as a result of the severe storms and floods.

“People who have suffered personal hardship and distress should contact their local Department of Human Services branch or visit www.dhs.vic.gov.au  for further information about assistance for immediate essential needs for health, safety and wellbeing.”

Mr Ryan said that the clean-up and restoration process was well underway. 

“The Victorian SES responded to over 300 calls from affected households as a result of these severe storm events and has carried out widespread clean-up activities after the flooding,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said it was unfortunate that some of the communities hit by these storms are still recovering from the devastating floods at the beginning of 2011.

“While the full extent of the damage is still being assessed, it is likely that public infrastructure damaged by the floods earlier this year will again have been damaged by this event,” Mr Ryan said.

The Commonwealth Government, through Emergency Management Australia, will continue to work closely with the Victorian Government to support families and communities through the recovery process.

Media Contact: (Mr McClelland’s Office) Simon Ferguson           0427 934 112

  (Mr Ryan’s Office)               Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Road Safety Camera Commissioner appointed

* * - Friday, December 23, 2011

Former County Court Judge Gordon Lewis AM will become Australia’s first independent Road Safety Camera Commissioner,  Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said today.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is pleased to announce that Mr Lewis will start in the newly-created role in February as part of this government’s commitment to provide greater transparency and public accountability around road safety cameras,” Mr Ryan said.

“This is the first office of its kind to be established anywhere in Australia and motorists will be pleased to know they have a man of such integrity in charge of this significant new office providing another layer of confidence for all road users in Victoria.

“Judge Lewis is a decorated legal professional who will be able to provide ongoing support for motorists in regard to the state’s road safety cameras and their operation.”

Mr Ryan said the office of the Road Safety Camera Commissioner, which would include three full time staff, would provide the following essential functions:

  • quality assurance and reporting: to independently monitor and review current camera operations;
  • investigate and review: any part of the system at his own choosing, or if requested by the Minister to do so;
  • complaints management: so that any person who feels they have been hard-done-by can lodge a complaint with the Camera Commissioner, though it won’t be his role to intervene in individual cases; and
  • reference group: the Camera Commissioner will be able to establish a reference group of external advisors to assist him in his role.

“This is a significant day for Victorian motorists who will now have a permanent and independent office to assist with complaints and quality assurance of the state’s road safety camera program,” Mr Ryan said.

The independent Road Safety Camera Commissioner will have the capacity to review and investigate any aspect of the camera system and make appropriate recommendations.

Judge Lewis will report to Parliament on an annual basis.

Media contact:          Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Neighbourhood Safer Place for Loch Sport

* * - Friday, December 16, 2011

Residents of Loch Sport will officially have a place of last resort in the event of a bushfire following the establishment of a Neighbourhood Safer Place (NSP) in the community.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan joined representatives of the Wellington Shire Council and the community to welcome the new NSP at Lions[SK1]  Park today.

Mr Ryan said Loch Sport was one of the state’s most at-risk communities and the development of an NSP had been a priority for the town.

“Loch Sport is a beautiful but particularly challenging location when it comes to bushfire risk and it is pleasing for the community to now have one more option they can include in their bushfire planning,” Mr Ryan said.

Lions[SK2]  Park was designated by Wellington Shire Council as an NSP after an exhaustive review and investigation process involving state government, local council, the CFA and the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had provided $460,000 to the Wellington Shire Council to support the establishment of the NSP at Lions Park.

“To meet the stringent standards required of an NSP the Lions [SK3] Park site needed extensive remediation work including the removal of vegetation and bank stabilisation works,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had committed $13 million to assist local governments in establishing NSPs and other shelter options in high-risk bushfire locations.

“Difficult locations, like Loch Sport, are in bushland environments and in many cases require extensive works to vegetation, access and egress, and sometimes infrastructure before they can be designated as an NSP,” Mr Ryan said.

“To date 212 places of last resort have been established across Victoria to increase the options available to communities for bushfire planning.

“NSPs, however, are places of last resort in the event that all other plans fail, and individuals and communities must plan ahead, understand the risks and be aware of the safest available options in the event of a bushfire,” Mr Ryan said.For more information about NSPs visit: www.saferplaces.cfa.vic.gov.au


Media contact:          Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Coalition Govt bushfire buy-back consultations complete

* * - Friday, December 16, 2011

More than 200 people in bushfire-affected communities have participated in information and consultation sessions across Victoria as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s voluntary bushfire buy-back scheme.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan said there had been a positive response to the Coalition Government’s initiative, which was moving to deliver on Recommendation 46 of the Bushfires Royal Commission.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend the 80 information and consultation sessions, which were largely one-on-one or small group format, in what is a significant scheme for bushfire-affected communities,” Mr Ryan said.

“The majority of those who attended were landowners who lost their principal place of residence, while neighboring landowners and community leaders were among those who joined the sessions.”

Sessions were conducted between 10 November and 9 December in the fire-affected communities of Bendigo, Chum Creek, Churchill, Flowerdale, Kinglake, Marysville, Myrtleford, St Andrews, Strathewen, Wandong, Whittlesea, and Yarra Glen, with extra sessions held in Melbourne to complete the consultation process.

Issues raised included:

  • the future use of the land acquired, as landowners don’t want to increase the bushfire risk in their communities;
  • the maintenance of all land in bushfire prone areas, whether that be by private landowners, local or state government, or other agencies; and
  • how long the acquisition process will take, and how valuations will be undertaken.

Mr Ryan said many landowners had expressed a strong commitment to their land and their community at the recent consultations.

“Selling their land is a watershed moment in the recovery process for fire-affected landowners and I’m proud this government is giving that option in line with the Bushfires Royal Commission final recommendations,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said now the sessions were complete, information would be collected and finalised details of the scheme would be announced in the new year.

“Applications will be open from 1 March 2012 and an application form will be sent to those who have already expressed an interest,” Mr Ryan said.

“After 31 May we will know the number of applications and will be able to write to each applicant informing them of when we are likely to assess their property and make an offer if they are eligible.”

Further information on the Coalition Government voluntary bushfire buy-back scheme is available on the Department of Justice website www.justice.vic.gov.au/buyback.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Rural road signs help spread road safety message

* * - Thursday, December 15, 2011

Road signs across rural Victoria will alert motorists to high-risk areas and help slow down speeding drivers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Peter Ryan today announced that eight new signs were in place on freeways and highways in and out of Melbourne to reinforce the facts that speeding kills and cameras save lives.

“The signs are yet another way in which the Coalition Government is sending a strong message that if you speed, you will be caught,” Mr Ryan said.

“We know that speeding contributes to about 30 per cent of all road fatalities, so if speeding motorists slowed down we’d reduce last year’s road toll of 288 to about 200.”

The eight new signs are located on the Princes Hwy at: Tynong, the South Gippsland Hwy at Lang Lang; the Princes Hwy at Waurn Ponds; the Hamilton Hwy at Fyansford; the Midland Hwy at Gheringhap; the Western Fwy at Melton; the Calder Fwy at Diggers Rest; and the Hume Hwy at Beveridge.

Mr Ryan said the signs displayed the message “High Risk Area, Police Enforcing Speed” to notify motorists that if they exceeded the speed limit, they would be penalised.

“The signs will complement the 47 electronic variable messaging signs that have been used across Victoria since April and provide coverage on every major route outbound from Melbourne and Geelong to Victoria’s main rural cities.

“Motorists in rural and regional Victoria are overrepresented in our road toll so we have to get the message through to people on these roads that one of the easiest ways to stay safe is to simply obey the speed limits,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the signs were part of the Coalition Government’s initiatives to provide transparency to Victoria’s speed camera use while making drivers aware of the dangers and reality of speeding.

“We are serious about reducing the road toll and highlighting the importance of safe and responsible driving, particularly as we head into the holiday period,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact:  Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Mobile Speed Camera weekly publications removed

* * - Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Victorian Coalition Government will no longer publish a weekly list of rostered mobile road safety camera locations around Victoria after consideration was given to a recent Auditor-General’s report into Victoria's road safety camera program.

Recommendation 4 of the Auditor-General’s report said ‘to increase the effectiveness of the mobile camera program: The Department of Justice should review the impact of publishing the list of weekly rostered camera sites for mobile cameras on road safety.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Peter Ryan said the internal review had found the publication of weekly rostered sites for mobile cameras had no demonstrated impact on road safety statistics.

“Based on findings of the review, and taking into consideration the Auditor-General’s recommendation, the Coalition Government has decided not to continue providing a weekly list of rostered mobile road safety camera locations,” Mr Ryan said.

The weekly list is currently published on the government’s ‘Cameras Save Lives’ website and distributed to media outlets.

The departmental review compared statistics for mobile camera locations between February and September 2010 (pre-publication) with February to September 2011 (post-publication).

The review found there was an eight per cent drop in the state-wide monthly average for infringements issued from mobile cameras, which could also be attributed to adverse weather and flooding, mobile warning signage, and industrial action by police from July.

An examination of country and metropolitan LGAs also showed there were no significant differences in the proportion of speeding vehicles state-wide and no established link between the weekly publication of mobile camera locations and road fatalities.

“The Coalition Government will continue to provide a wealth of information about Victoria’s speed and red-light cameras including maintaining a complete list of more than 2,000 mobile camera sites around Victoria on our website,” Mr Ryan said.

“The weekly publication of mobile camera locations has been part of sweeping reforms under the Coalition Government to provide greater transparency, integrity and public accountability around Victoria’s road safety cameras.”

For information about Victoria’s road safety cameras visit www.camerassavelives.vic.gov.au

Media contact:          Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Vic Coalition announces $270,000 towards Leongatha’s alternate truck route

* * - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The establishment of an alternate heavy vehicle route for Leongatha is a step closer with the announcement of $270,000 from the Victoria Coalition Government for a detailed planning study this week.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the Coalition had listened to the community’s concerns and acted quickly to support options for an alternate truck route.

“The South Gippsland Shire  and community groups have called for this initiative for many years. It is a great step forward to now see it delivered,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is estimated that up to 1,000 heavy vehicles pass through the Leongatha shopping strip along the South Gippsland Highway each day.

“The $270,000 in funding will go towards planning for a future alternate truck route that will redirect heavy vehicles away from the town centre, and provide planning certainty for further development within Leongatha.”

Mr Ryan said the comprehensive planning study would look at route options and planning provisions to support the project.

“This important study will look at preferred options for the alternative truck route and subsequent intersection upgrades and requirements,” Mr Ryan said.

“The study will include survey work, specialist investigations, the development of concept designs, community consultation and cost estimates.

“In addition, it will consider the need for a Planning Scheme Amendment to add a Public Acquisition Overlay to the South Gippsland Planning Scheme to protect the preferred alignment.”

Mr Ryan said Leongatha is one of the region’s most vibrant communities and the provision of a heavy vehicle alternative route was a priority for the future development of the town.

“Leongatha a major commercial and industrial hub for the South Gippsland region and the Coalition Government is pleased to support the community’s call for a heavy vehicle route.”

The comprehensive VicRoads planning study will commence early in 2012.

Media contact:  Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

$2.5 million healthcare education boost for Gippsland

* * - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan and Minister for Skills and Higher Education Peter Hall today announced a new program that will see local Gippsland students gain healthcare qualifications while contributing to the long-term healthcare needs of their local community.

The innovative project, which will be led by Monash University, is part of a $20 million Victorian Coalition Government program to increase access to higher education and training for young people in regional and rural Victoria.

Mr Ryan said the first round of the $20 million Regional Partnership Facilitation Fund (RPFF) would support the establishment of eight new programs across rural and regional Victoria, delivering more than x higher education places for young Victorians.

“This exciting partnership we are launching today between Monash University, GippsTAFE and AdvanceTAFE has the potential to provide 150 local students with a Diploma of Health and Community Care,” Mr Ryan said.

“The partnership will not only give our young people access to a university qualification, it will go a long way to improving healthcare in the region.”

By completing the new Diploma in Health and Community Care, students can progress to a Monash University degree in a range of health and community areas including nursing, community welfare, and allied health.

“Projects like this have been made possible through the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund. The Fund supports regional cities and country communities to create new prosperity, more opportunities and a better quality of life,” Mr Ryan said.

Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall said the Government had provided a RPFF grant of $1.5 million dollars to the project, with Monash University, GippsTAFE and Advance TAFE contributing the remainder.

“The Coalition Government’s RPFF will make it easier and more affordable for young regional and rural Victorians to access higher education and training locally and play a key role in reversing the skills and brain drain of young people moving to the city,” Mr Hall said.

“Currently more than half of metropolitan students who complete Year 12 go on to obtain a higher education qualification. In regional Victoria this is closer to one third.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe welcomed the funding announcement.

“This is the first step to securing a high-quality health and community care workforce that will help Gippsland address its health care challenges into the future,” Mr Northe said.

“Victoria needs our regional areas to grow and thrive as it is vital for the economic wellbeing of our state and the program announced today that has been developed by Monash, GippsTAFE and Advance TAFE will do just that.”

It is anticipated that 150 students will be enrolled in the new diploma by the end of 2013.

Media contact: James Martin 0400 744 913

Project details:

$1.5 million for a new Diploma of Health and Community Care in the Gippsland region with links to the second year of an undergraduate degree in a range of health services such as Nursing, Community Welfare and Allied Health at Monash University’s Churchill campus.

Potentially 150 students will be enrolled or have completed the new Diploma by the end of 2013 with 50 students admitted in each cohort beginning in mid-2012. The consortium aims to attract students from under-represented groups such as unemployed and retrenched workers as well as students from more traditional backgrounds.

The Education Program targets an area of community and industry need in the Gippsland area.

Partners: Monash University, Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE (GippsTAFE), and Advance TAFE.


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