Press Releases

Nominations for 2012 Victorian Disability Sector Awards close 7 March

* * - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The 2012 Victorian Disability Sector Awards are currently open and Gippsland residents are being encouraged to nominate a member of the community or organisations who demonstrate excellence in service and a commitment to the development of people with a disability.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the awards celebrate and acknowledge those who demonstrate excellence, passion, vision and commitment to assisting people with a disability achieve their life goals.

 “It is important that we recognise the essential work of those who are supporting people with a disability,” Mr Ryan said.

“These awards recognise the efforts of those individuals, teams, organisations and businesses for the significant contribution they are making to improve the lives of those with a disability,” Mr Ryan said.

Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge said the continued efforts of disability support workers, volunteers and businesses are important in helping ensure people with a disability can achieve their goals and participate within the community.

“These awards provide a unique opportunity for this commitment and valuable community contribution to be acknowledged and honoured,” Ms Wooldridge said.

Members of the public can make a nomination in eight different award categories including: Support Worker (Individual); Support Worker (Team); Client Services Worker; Leadership; Emerging Leader; Volunteer; Business Supporting Disability and Lifetime Achievement Award categories.

Nominations close Wednesday 7 March 2012 and winners will be announced at the disability Sector Awards ceremony on Thursday 26 April.

For guidelines and nomination forms visit http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disabilityawards.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 108 870

Vic Coalition Government activates emergency grants following storms

* * - Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan has activated emergency relief grants to help families affected by the recent storm event in central and northern Victoria.

“The Coalition Government is committed to ensuring those who are genuinely in need receive adequate support to help them resume a normal life as quickly as possible,” Mr Ryan said.

“As Minister for Emergency Services, I have approved the activation of emergency re-establishment assistance to help eligible families with the costs of re-establishing their homes where other measures, such as insurance, aren not available or are insufficient.”

Mr Ryan said under the Coalition Government’s Personal Hardship Assistance Program, eligible Victorians who incurred costs because their homes were uninhabitable could apply for emergency relief assistance.

“Relief assistance provides payments of up to $480 per adult and $240 per child up to a maximum of $1,200 per household to cover emergency shelter, food, clothing, or personal items,” Mr Ryan said.

“In addition to that immediate support, I have approved the activation of emergency re-establishment assistance to eligible Victorians in extreme hardship whose homes are uninhabitable, whose insurance will not be sufficient to make their homes habitable again, and who meet an established income test.

“This provides up to $30,000 per household for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding and replacing some damaged contents,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said officers from the Department of Human Services would assess each case on an individual basis, with any payments tested against each applicant’s current insurance and income.

“This assistance is designed to help Victorians in genuine need to re-establish their homes sooner. It is not a replacement for insurance, which will always provide a greater level of cover, so it’s crucial people contact their insurance providers first,” Mr Ryan said.

Victorians seeking emergency support, including advice about possible financial assistance, should contact their local council. Information about the Personal Hardship Assistance Program is also available at www.dhs.vic.gov.au/emergency.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

$2.19 million for Wangaratta wastewater project

* * - Friday, February 24, 2012
The Victorian Coalition Government today announced support for a substantial investment by Bruck Textiles in an innovative wastewater management system at the company’s textile plant in Wangaratta.

Acting Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government would contribute $2.19 million to the wastewater project with Bruck Textiles to invest the balance of the $5.87 million funding.

“The Government welcomes Bruck’s investment which confirms the company’s presence and ongoing commitment to sustainable manufacturing in north east Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the project would deliver significant environmental benefits and assist Bruck Textiles to become more competitive.

“The investment, made in tandem with the Coalition Government, will enhance the company’s expansion domestically and enable it to further develop overseas markets,” Mr Ryan said.

“Bruck Textiles specialises in high-value, technically advanced fabrics designed for an expanding array of customers and it has invested significantly in modernising its manufacturing process.

“The growth potential of Bruck has been inhibited in part by the large volumes of trade waste generated in the textile process and the capacity constraints at the external Wangaratta Trade Waste Treatment Plant in dealing with this waste.

“The $2.19 million Government funding will help alleviate these obstacles by allowing Bruck to treat and recycle waste water on site, reducing the volume that must be treated externally.

“Reducing waste eliminates a bottleneck in Bruck’s overall production process and will allow the company to seek out new markets and increase its manufacture of high value fabrics.”

Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy said the project would provide important benefits for the local environment by enabling Bruck to reduce its annual consumption of potable water by up to 106 megalitres and its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1,292 tonnes.

“Bruck Textiles is one of the major employers in Wangaratta and the project will enhance the long term sustainability of the textile industry in north east Victoria,” Mr McCurdy said.

“The Coalition Government is proud to support the economic development of our regional industries and increase the productivity potential of regional Victoria.”

Mr McCurdy said funding would be provided from the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund and the project works were scheduled to be completed by late 2013.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Better recruitment, training and support for CFA volunteers

* * - Friday, February 24, 2012
Victorian firefighters are to benefit from better initiatives for recruitment, retention, recognition and leadership, as well as increased support and training under the Victorian Coalition Government plans to improve arrangements for volunteers.

Speaking at the official opening of the new Gippsland CFA Regional Control Centre in Traralgon, Acting Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan outlined the Victorian Coalition Government’s vision for CFA volunteers, through its co-ordinated response to the David Jones Inquiry.

“The independent inquiry led by former County Court judge David Jones highlighted issues CFA volunteers have been raising for years and I have urged the CFA to view this as an opportunity to create a renewed organisation culture,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government has given this report due consideration, and in a new spirit of cooperation, convened independently facilitated workshops with the CFA, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), the United Firefighters Union and the Fire Services Commissioner.”

Mr Ryan said the David Jones inquiry and its 41 recommendations would be fundamental to the success of a volunteer-based and integrated CFA.

“The CFA is now driving the implementation of this report, together with regular consultation from the VFBV, around the framework of six key themes that emerged from the report,” Mr Ryan said.

Key themes

· Culture and leadership to empower and support volunteerism
Ensure organisational design, systems and processes are directly aligned to growing, maximising, and empowering the vital community-based volunteer resource

· Recruitment, retention, recognition and utilisation of volunteers
Introduce, expand and improve initiatives for the recruitment, retention and recognition of volunteers and increase opportunities available to them within the CFA to maximise the optimal utilisation of volunteer capacity

· Strengthening the volunteer-based and integrated service delivery model
Develop the service delivery model to more effectively utilise the individual and collective expertise and capacity of employees and volunteers as an integrated team, commensurate with risk.

· Improved support for brigades and communities
Strengthen the support provided to CFA volunteers, CFA brigades and their communities so they are better able to prepare for and respond to emergencies

· Training development
Engage volunteers in and improve the development of training for volunteers so that it best meets their individual and collective needs

· Training delivery and assessment
Engage volunteers in and improve the availability and delivery of training to volunteers so that it best meets their individual and collective needs

“The Coalition Government will be seeking regular progress updates from the CFA on the implementation of the David Jones inquiry recommendations, and I look forward to measureable outcomes,” Mr Ryan said.

The CFA has already begun a number of initiatives that address key recommendations in the report including:

· the development of a statement of vision, mission and values to give the CFA clear purpose and focus as it develops its goals, leadership and structure to align with the concept of ‘one CFA’ (Recommendation 6);

· the development of a new Human Capital Management System, accompanied by a new web-based Volunteer Support Portal, which will provide improved functionality for CFA volunteers, including the management of brigade transfers for CFA members (Recommendation 8);

· the deployment of 64 Volunteer Support Officers over the next four years to work directly with CFA volunteer firefighters (Recommendation 39);

· the development of a Statewide Operations Training Strategy, with a discussion paper to be released in March 2012 for consultation with volunteers. The strategy will address several of the inquiry’s recommendations (Recommendation 16,18,19,29);

· reviewing the process for the recognition of current competency and recognition of prior learning with a view to making that process more transparent, fair and efficient (Recommendation 31); and

· progressing the joint CFA/Department of Sustainability and Environment Incident Management Team Training with respect to the management of incident control centres and the training of incident management teams (Recommendation 36).

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s response to the David Jones inquiry was part of its broader modernisation of Victoria’s emergency management arrangements.

“The government is currently implementing and reporting against a range of reviews and activities in the emergency management area, including the Final Report of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, the Review of the 2010-11 Flood Warnings and Response and the Fire Services Commissioner’s Reform Action Plan, as well as the White Paper into emergency management,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

New incident control centre to improve emergency preparedness in Gippsland

* * - Friday, February 24, 2012
Acting Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan joined Member for Morwell Russell Northe in Traralgon today to officially open the new Gippsland Regional Control Centre.

Mr Ryan said the new regional control centre in Franklin Street would overcome the limitations of the previous site and ensure more effective and meaningful coordination between emergency services agencies during emergency events.

“The new centre will be a permanent base from where CFA, DSE, Victoria Police and VicSES staff will operate in the event of emergencies,” Mr Ryan said.

“The new control centre will facilitate a better working relationship between emergency service partners and importantly, provide improved information and warnings to the community.

“When fully operational, the Franklin St control centre can house up to 25 agency personnel under the management of a regional controller.”

Mr Northe said the need for more effective and meaningful local regional fire co-ordination was one of the clear outcomes of the 2003, 2006 and 2009 Gippsland campaign fires.

“This control centre will give emergency service personnel access to better communication and improved high-speed IT capacity which will allow incident controllers to provide the latest maps, weather information and warnings to firefighters or volunteers on the frontline during emergency events,” Mr Northe said. 

While in Traralgon Mr Ryan also launched the Gippsland Strategic Fire Management Plan.

“The new plan identifies local trends and issues that impact on fire management in Gippsland and enables better alignment of plans between the local shire and agencies,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Gippsland Strategic Fire Management Plan recognises the need for agencies and the local community to work together to ensure the best approach to fire management.

“This is the first time such a holistic approach has been taken to fire management planning in this region and is a significant step towards a more inclusive and transparent way to plan and respond to emergencies in an area where the threat of fire is constant.”

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

$50,000 for Mildura Housing & Settlement Strategy

* * - Thursday, February 23, 2012
Mildura Rural City Council will prepare a strategy to guide the community’s future housing and settlement needs beyond 2030 with the help of a $50,000 grant announced by the Acting Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today.

Mr Ryan said the funding would help the Mildura Rural City Council develop a new housing and settlement strategy that would support the strategic planning of the city, which is growing at an annual rate of 1.2 per cent.

“The strategy will contribute significantly to the future prosperity and wellbeing of Mildura by promoting sustainable residential development and protecting the agricultural base of the local economy,” Mr Ryan said.

Member for Mildura Peter Crisp said the Mildura Housing and Settlement Strategy would help long-term planning for Mildura and the surrounding settlements.

“The strategy will help identify new opportunities and develop a strategy for future long-term residential and rural living development in Mildura and its surrounding areas,” Mr Crisp said.

“The strategy will identify future long-term consequences of drought and climate change scenarios on Mildura’s Older Irrigation Area (MOIA).

“The strategy will plan for appropriate rural and urban land use in the Mildura region having regard to agricultural adjustment and the long-term security of the MOIA.

“It will also investigate the socio-economic impacts and opportunities of current and projected climate conditions, particularly in relation to retired horticultural land.”

Mr Ryan said funding for the $170,000 Mildura Housing and Settlement Strategy was from the Coalition’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“The Regional Growth Fund is the Coalition’s flagship program supporting growth, development and greater quality of life for people living in regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“This important project will help Mildura Rural City Council in strategic, long-term economic, infrastructure and land-use planning that will meet the needs of this vibrant and growing regional centre,” Mr Ryan said.

The Mildura Housing and Settlement Strategy is expected to be completed in mid-2013.

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Mildura's riverfront developments receives $2m boost

* * - Thursday, February 23, 2012
Acting Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today announced a further $2 million in funding for the Mildura Riverfront Parklands Project.

Speaking in Mildura, Mr Ryan said the funding was in addition to $5 million already committed to the riverfront development by the Victorian Coalition Government in 2011.

“The extra $2 million will fund further improvements to the riverfront precinct including to the pedestrian bridge at Deakin Avenue, the rowing club and upgrading arts studios and Jaycee Park,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government and the Mildura Rural City Council have jointly committed $8.5 million towards the Riverfront Parklands Project and will continue to seek input from the Commonwealth Government to meet the overall project costs of $13.3 million.”

Member for Mildura Peter Crisp said the $13.3 million project would transform Mildura’s iconic waterfront into three key areas: the Wharf Precinct, the Ornamental Lakes and Nowingi Place.

“The project includes constructing a two kilometre riverfront boardwalk, expanding and extending the existing wharf and boat moorings by 350 linear metres to facilitate greater access and use by houseboat and licensed tourism operators and upgrading river edges,” Mr Crisp said.

“Other elements include a new tourism kiosk incorporating ticketing, public toilets and a café, landscaping, irrigation and beautification works, redeveloping the skate park and ornamental lakes and upgrading the public performance venue 'Nowingi Place'.”

Mr Ryan said additional funding for the Riverfront Parklands Project riverfront development was from the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“The Regional Growth Fund is the Coalition’s flagship program supporting growth, prosperity and better quality of life for people living in regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Mildura Riverfront Parklands Project is part of the $222 million Mildura Riverfront Precinct Development, a project of state significance that will bring great social and economic benefits to the region.

“The development is a catalyst project designed to unlock investment in Mildura’s riverfront area and attract more tourists and private investment in the Loddon Mallee region.”

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Ryan announces $2.2m in new funding Mildura airport redevelopment

* * - Thursday, February 23, 2012
The multi-million dollar terminal upgrade at Mildura Airport will now proceed following the announcement of an additional $2.2 million in funding from the Victorian Coalition Government.

Speaking in Mildura, Acting Premier Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government would increase its contribution towards the project to $5.2 million to ensure the airport expansion could commence as soon as possible.

“The Coalition pledged $3 million towards the project during the 2010 election campaign and had originally hoped the Commonwealth would meet the remaining costs,” Mr Ryan said.

“With no sign of funding from the Commonwealth and given the project’s significance to the region, the Victorian Coalition Government has decided to increase its commitment to ensure the project goes ahead.”

Member for Mildura Peter Crisp welcomed the additional funding and said the improvements to the airport would now proceed without delay.

“The refurbishment will include remodeling the check-in area, redesigning the baggage system and a significantly larger and redesigned floorspace that will better support the flow of inbound and outbound passengers moving through the terminal building,” Mr Crisp said.

“The Mildura Airport Terminal Redevelopment Project includes extending the landside face of the passenger terminal, as well as remodeling and refurbishing the internal areas of the airport.”

Mr Ryan said the additional money for the Mildura Airport redevelopment was from the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“The Regional Growth Fund is the Coalition’s flagship program which is supporting growth and development in regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“In addition to funding from the Coalition Government, the Mildura Rural City Council will contribute $1.2 million for the redevelopment, which is estimated to cost $6.4 million.

“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.”

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

First PSO graduates ready to protect commuters

* * - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Acting Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan today welcomed the additional safety that newly-deployed Victoria Police Protective Services Officers (PSOs) will provide commuters travelling Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network.

“Our first squad of 18 PSO graduates from the Victoria Police Academy will undertake their first shift tonight at Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s commitment to delivering 940 PSOs to make travelling on our trains safer after dark,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said Victoria Police Command had made the operational decision to deploy the first PSOs to Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations, followed by Richmond, North Melbourne and Footscray stations in coming weeks.

“This first deployment of PSOs is a significant milestone, ensuring there is added security to stamp out crime, violence and anti-social behaviour at two of Melbourne’s busiest train stations,” Mr Ryan said.

“These 18 officers will provide additional security at platforms from 6pm until last train every night, and while they are on duty they will have the power to apprehend, detain, arrest and remove any offenders or people threatening to commit offences.”

Mr Ryan said the officers would initially work under the direct supervision of transit police as part of their on-the-job training.

“Having completed the rigorous 12-week training course at the Victoria Police Academy, PSOs will now get valuable on-the-job training under the supervision of highly-experienced police officers from Victoria Police’s Transit Safety Division,” Mr Ryan said.

“These PSO recruits have gone through the same operational tactics and safety training as police, including the same firearms and defensive skills training.”

Mr Ryan said Victoria Police was in the process of recruiting 940 PSOs and 1,700 police officers by November 2014 as part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to improve safety on the streets and at railway stations across Victoria.

“The Coalition Government is providing the necessary funding to boost frontline police services to make Victoria safer,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Sale Men's Shed funding boost

* * - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Funding of $1,230 has been granted to the Sale Men’s Shed to strengthen its long-term viability, Acting Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had provided a total of $88,115 to 30 Men’s Sheds from across Victoria through its Capacity Building Fund, which supported activities such as training sessions on occupational health and safety, first aid and governance.

“I congratulate the Sale Men’s Shed on securing this funding, which will be used for OH&S and First Aid training,” Mr Ryan said.

“The funding will allow the Sale Men’s shed to have a trained OH&S officer and First Aid officer, which will increase the capacity of the shed to meet OHS requirements.

“Men’s Sheds play an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of men in our community and I am pleased the Victorian Coalition Government is providing vital funding to ensure these sheds can continue to grow and attract new members.”

Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge said the Victorian Men’s Shed Association (VMSA) was playing an increasing role in ensuring new and growing Men’s Sheds were sustainable.

“Volunteers contribute countless hours to supporting their members, and the Coalition Government is pleased to support their efforts,” Ms Wooldridge said.

VMSA president Paul Sladdin said Men’s Sheds were increasingly being recognised as valuable to older men’s wellbeing, particularly to their social enjoyment, ongoing learning capacity, and ability to contribute to their community.

“These grants are welcomed by the VMSA as they will provide opportunities for members to network with other sheds, as well as providing training opportunities in areas that will assist in ensuring the sustainability of the shed,” Mr Sladdin said.

“Men’s Sheds provide an environment where productivity and being of value to the community contribute to a man’s feeling of self-worth and help to develop a sense of meaning in the years following retirement, loss or other hardship.”

Mr Ryan said there are about 160 Men’s Sheds in Victoria. The Coalition Government has committed a further $4 million in the 2011-12 Budget to continue to strengthen Men’s Sheds for the next four years.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 108 870


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