Press Releases

Vic pushes for national disaster assistance reform

* * - Friday, June 29, 2012
Farmers and businesses will get fairer and more transparent disaster assistance under proposed reforms presented by the Victorian Coalition Government at a national emergency management meeting convened in Melbourne today.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan is making a formal submission on the issue to the Standing Council of Police and Emergency Management (SCPEM).

"The current National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) arrangements don’t work which means the Coalition Government can’t give communities a straight answer about when, where and why $25,000 clean-up grants are activated or not,” Mr Ryan said.

“At a time when four local government areas have been rejected for Category C assistance in the past month, our paper calls on the Commonwealth, States and Territories to agree to a common definition and set of activation criteria for Category C by November this year to ensure communities have clarity ahead of the next bushfire and flood season.

“The NDRRA is a Commonwealth determination but all Governments – state and federal – have a big stake in supporting recovery after disasters.”

Category C covers key community and economic recovery measures, including clean-up grants for primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profits.

Mr Ryan said Category C currently lacked an agreed definition and threshold for activation, leading to inconsistent and confusing outcomes for farmers and businesses.

“There has now been four local government areas rejected by the Commonwealth for Category C assistance in the past month,” Mr Ryan said.

"The Coalition Government’s proposed measures provide an interim solution while the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) undertakes a broader review of the NDRRA that will be completed in the next 12 to 18 months.

“All governments have recognised the need for reform of Category C and Victoria is keen to ensure this reform is realised as swiftly as possible, prior to the summer bushfire and cyclone season.”

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Vic pushes for national disaster assistance reform

* * - Friday, June 29, 2012
Farmers and businesses will get fairer and more transparent disaster assistance under proposed reforms presented by the Victorian Coalition Government at a national emergency management meeting convened in Melbourne today.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan is making a formal submission on the issue to the Standing Council of Police and Emergency Management (SCPEM).

"The current National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) arrangements don’t work which means the Coalition Government can’t give communities a straight answer about when, where and why $25,000 clean-up grants are activated or not,” Mr Ryan said.

“At a time when four local government areas have been rejected for Category C assistance in the past month, our paper calls on the Commonwealth, States and Territories to agree to a common definition and set of activation criteria for Category C by November this year to ensure communities have clarity ahead of the next bushfire and flood season.

“The NDRRA is a Commonwealth determination but all Governments – state and federal – have a big stake in supporting recovery after disasters.”

Category C covers key community and economic recovery measures, including clean-up grants for primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profits.

Mr Ryan said Category C currently lacked an agreed definition and threshold for activation, leading to inconsistent and confusing outcomes for farmers and businesses.

“There has now been four local government areas rejected by the Commonwealth for Category C assistance in the past month,” Mr Ryan said.

"The Coalition Government’s proposed measures provide an interim solution while the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) undertakes a broader review of the NDRRA that will be completed in the next 12 to 18 months.

“All governments have recognised the need for reform of Category C and Victoria is keen to ensure this reform is realised as swiftly as possible, prior to the summer bushfire and cyclone season.”

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Mobile blackspots fix critical to Emergency Alert

* * - Friday, June 29, 2012
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan today called on the Commonwealth to urgently improve mobile phone black spots in bushfire and flood prone regional areas.

Raising the issue at the Standing Council of Police and Emergency Management (SCPEM) meeting in Melbourne, Mr Ryan said the Commonwealth ­ as the relevant authority – was obliged to improve telecommunications services and eradicate mobile black spots.

“Mobile telecommunications play a critical role in the provision of warnings and information during emergencies,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is leading the charge in the development of a national emergency warning system Emergency Alert ahead of summer with the world first technology to be available to Telstra customers from December 1.”

Mr Ryan said the Emergency Alert service would soon be able to send messages to mobile phones based on location, which would be crucial during emergencies.

Emergency Alert currently delivers voice messages to landline phones in a geographic area and SMS messages to mobile phones based on the service address information of the mobile phone subscriber.

“Emergency Alert has the potential to save many lives in the event of an emergency,” Mr Ryan said.

“Currently, because of a lack of action by the Commonwealth, the Emergency Alert system will not benefit those communities where there are mobile phone black spots.

“Victoria is undertaking comprehensive work to determine the extent of locations at risk and the needs of those communities. The onus is now on the Commonwealth to partner with Victoria to move this work forward,” Mr Ryan said.

Since it became operational Emergency Alert has issued more than 7 million messages.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Victoria leads the way with Police Registration Board

* * - Friday, June 29, 2012
The Victorian Coalition Government will introduce legislation into Parliament this year that will lead the way for major reforms within Victoria Police, Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said today.

Chairing a national meeting of Police and Emergency Services Ministers in Melbourne, Mr Ryan said a new Victorian Police Registration and Services Board would significantly benefit Victoria Police.

“An Australian first, the registration board will deliver many benefits including making it easier for police to re-enter the force or transfer from another state or jurisdiction,” Mr Ryan said.

“This means experienced police in Victoria will not be lost to the profession if they resign and take a career break but later decide to return, as the board will retain their registration while they are not serving as a police member.”

The Victorian Police Registration and Services Board is part of the police EBA and the allied benefits agreed to in 2011.

“Victoria is the first jurisdiction to make these historical reforms and other Australian jurisdictions will closely follow the developments of this initiative ahead of a national approach expected in coming years,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Board would also take in the functions of the Police Appeals Board and a Professional Standards division with responsibility for professional development and training.

“The Board is something that will deliver efficiencies, meaning long term savings for taxpayers,” Mr Ryan said.

“A police registration scheme has been strongly supported by the Police Federation of Australia for many years.

“Discussions over the formulation of such a body have been around for a long time. Victoria is the first jurisdiction to act and we will continue to work with other governments towards a national approach.”

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Ryan welcomes $750,000 boost for two local rural health services

* * - Thursday, June 28, 2012
Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan welcomed a $750,000 boost for the Sale and Foster hospitals, funded through the Victorian Coalition Government’s $5 million Rural Capital Support Fund.

Victorian Health Minister David Davis recently announced that 26 rural health services throughout Victoria would receive a Rural Capital Support Fund grant, including the Central Gippsland Health Service at Sale and the South Gippsland Hospital at Foster.

Mr Ryan said the South Gippsland Hospital would receive $280,000 to fund upgrades to the nurses’ station and medication room, and an expansion of the Urgent Care Department.

“The nurses’ station and medication room infrastructure pose considerable risk to both patients and staff as the area does not meet contemporary building or health care standards,” Mr Ryan said.

“The nurses’ station will be redesigned to provide improved access to the urgent care department and the floor will be restumped to remove an existing OH&S issue relating to a trip hazard from an uneven floor.

“The medication room will be increased in size from four square metres to nine square metres to accommodate two staff members and allow for a medication preparation area, a larger drug safe, a larger drug fridge and for ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ sinks as per current health standards.

“The Urgent Care Department will be expanded by 12 square metres to accommodate an additional treatment bed and larger storage area for equipment.”

Mr Ryan said the Central Gippsland Health Service would receive $470,000 to redevelop centralised intake and patient services.

“The funding will be used to redevelop an area in the hospital that is currently comprised of a redundant dental services area, an existing outpatient services area and a section of the existing medical imaging reception and administration.” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said other Gippsland-based rural health services would also receive funding through the program, including Bass Coast Regional Health, which would receive $1.19 million to redevelop the Public Dental Clinic at Wonthaggi, and Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, which would receive $70,000 to fund a fit-out of the on-site GP practice and replace the existing aged suction equipment at its dental clinic.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to improving the Victorian health system so that Victoria’s rural and regional areas have access to the best possible health care,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 108 870

Advancing Country Towns initiatives benefit Benalla

* * - Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today announced two new initiatives in Benalla under the Victorian Coalition Government’s $9.4 million, four-year Advancing Country Towns (ACT) program.

Launching the Fair Start and Super Services initiatives with Nationals Member for Benalla Dr Bill Sykes in Benalla today, Mr Ryan said the projects were great examples of Benalla Advancing Country Towns providing solutions to local challenges.

“The Coalition Government is pleased to contribute $365,000 towards these valuable initiatives that, together, will create opportunity and improve quality of life for the disadvantaged in the local community,” Mr Ryan
said.

“The Benalla ACT project has received $810,000, to create new opportunities for education, employment, skills and training and better services. Fair Start will receive an allocation of $320,000 and Super Services will receive $45,000.”

Mr Ryan said Fair Start would target the youngest in the Benalla Community, while Super Services would benefit the whole community.

“The Benalla ACT Fair Start initiative will pilot the internationally-successful Parents Early Education Partnership (PEEP) program that supports parents and carers as the child’s earliest and most significant educators,” Mr Ryan said.

“Super Services will bring together important local family and community services so that families have better access and do not miss out on the services that will help them improve their quality of life,” Dr Sykes said.

“Benalla is one of nine regional and rural communities, which are the focus of Victoria’s $9.4 million, four-year Advancing Country Towns program.”

Dr Sykes said Benalla Advancing Country Towns had also provided seed funding for the Aspirations and Job Readiness project and had leveraged $25,000 in additional funding from the local Regional Development Australia Committee, to support Benalla College to improve educational outcomes and employment opportunities for secondary students.

For more information about Advancing Country Towns, visit http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/communitydevelopment/regional-programs/advancing-country-towns

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

$15.8m Wodonga transport interchange makes Logic

* * - Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Australia’s busiest freight route between Melbourne and Sydney will soon have a central service hub in Wodonga providing much needed facilities to support long-haul truck drivers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today joined Member for Benambra Bill Tilley to announce the development at Logic as part of the $15.8 million Wodonga Logic Transport Project.

“The major new development will include the construction of a 24-hour service centre, a Fatigue Management Centre (large rest area) for up to 45 trucks and a secure area for the exchange of trailers between Sydney-based and Melbourne-based drivers,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Fatigue Management Centre, in particular, will be a major improvement addressing the critical shortage of rest areas along this route that has existed for many years.

“The Trailer Interchange site will support greater flexibility for drivers, allowing Melbourne-based drivers to exchange trailers with Sydney-based counterparts, which will effectively reduce time away from their home base.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government would contribute $1.64 million towards the project from its flagship $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“In addition to 48 indirect jobs, it’s expected that the Wodonga Logic Transport Project will create up to 120 direct ongoing jobs at the site including service centre attendant roles, jobs in food and beverage, delivery and cleaning,” Mr Ryan said.

“It will also build on the strength of the existing Logic Industry Park, which is already a major industrial hub supporting 470 full-time employees across a range of industries including food distribution, skills training and freight networks.”

Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said the Regional Growth Fund was critical in supporting locally driven projects that create jobs, growth and development.

“In its first 12 months the Regional Growth Fund has supported over 450 projects valued at more than $368 million,” Mr Tilley said.

“The Victorian Government is also partnering with the Commonwealth to invest $9 million through the Nation Building Program to upgrade several heavy vehicle rest areas along the Hume Freeway.”

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Advancing Country Towns initiatives benefit Benalla

* * - Wednesday, June 27, 2012
 Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today announced two new initiatives in Benalla under the Victorian Coalition Government’s $9.4 million, four-year Advancing Country Towns (ACT) program.

Launching the Fair Start and Super Services initiatives with Nationals Member for Benalla Dr Bill Sykes in Benalla today, Mr Ryan said the projects were great examples of Benalla Advancing Country Towns providing solutions to local challenges.

“The Coalition Government is pleased to contribute $365,000 towards these valuable initiatives that, together, will create opportunity and improve quality of life for the disadvantaged in the local community,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Benalla ACT project has received $810,000, to create new opportunities for education, employment, skills and training and better services. Fair Start will receive an allocation of $320,000 and Super Services will receive $45,000.”

Mr Ryan said Fair Start would target the youngest in the Benalla Community, while Super Services would benefit the whole community.

“The Benalla ACT Fair Start initiative will pilot the internationally-successful Parents Early Education Partnership (PEEP) program that supports parents and carers as the child’s earliest and most significant educators,” Mr Ryan said.

“Super Services will bring together important local family and community services so that families have better access and do not miss out on the services that will help them improve their quality of life,” Dr Sykes said

“Benalla is one of nine regional and rural communities, which are the focus of Victoria’s $9.4 million, four-year Advancing Country Towns program.”

Dr Sykes said Benalla Advancing Country Towns had also provided seed funding for the Aspirations and Job Readiness project and had leveraged $25,000 in additional funding from the local Regional DevelopmentAustralia Committee, to support Benalla College to improve educational outcomes and employment opportunities for secondary students.

For more information about Advancing Country Towns, visit http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/communitydevelopment/regional-programs/advancing-country-towns

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Vic Govt leads the way in supporting regional media

* * - Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Regional and rural media outlets will be more actively engaged to communicate critical information to their local community under a Victorian Coalition Government commitment to better support regional media through a new Regional Communication Policy.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today joined Member for Benalla Bill Sykes and the Euroa Gazette in Benalla to announce details of the Coalition Government’s new policy.

“From the smallest media outlets to the largest, all play an important role in connecting our local communities and that is better reflected in this new policy,” Mr Ryan said.

“The updated policy, which will take effect on 1 July, requires government advertisers to increase expenditure in regional media outlets from 10 per cent to 15 per cent of their total campaign spend.

“There is an obligation for each government department to report annually on the actual spend in regional media, which will be audited by the Department of Premier and Cabinet. This will ensure small and independent newspapers are included where appropriate.”

Mr Ryan said changes to the demographic profile of the state and developments in technology and new media led the Coalition Government to conduct a review of the existing policy.

“The policy was informed by analysis with media experts and stakeholders and through consultation with editors and owners of regional media, including at a Regional Communication Forum, held in Moe in December last year," Mr Ryan said.

As well as increasing the minimum expenditure, the policy incorporates a broader definition of regional media to include outdoor media and significant media partnerships and sponsorships.

“There are no other regional communication policies in existence in Australia,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government intends to continue consultation with regional media as part of an ongoing process, to keep regional communities connected and engaged.”

The new Regional Communication Policy can be found at www.dpc.vic.gov.au.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Joel Joel misses out on Federal Gov’t flood grants

* * - Monday, June 25, 2012
Joel Joel farmers and businesses impacted by the December 2011 storms and flash floods will be extremely disappointed to learn the Commonwealth has rejected an application for $25,000 clean up and recovery grants, Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had provided information to the Commonwealth on damage incurred in the Northern Grampians and Pyrenees local government areas after the event to support an application Category C assistance under the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

“The Coalition Government had been hopeful the Commonwealth would extend this support to the Upper Wimmera Catchment Area (Joel Joel), after the region experienced an intense flash flood in December,” Mr Ryan said.

“Prime Minister Julia Gillard has responded by stating the application ‘does not satisfy the thresholds for the activation of Category C assistance in this instance’.

“Joel Joel has now joined Wangaratta and Campaspe Shires in being rejected for the Commonwealth Government’s $25,000 clean up and recovery grants.

“This latest refusal would bring little hope to the remaining nine Local Government Areas which were impacted by the 2012 floods, and are still awaiting a decision by the Commonwealth about Category C support.”

Mr Ryan said he had recently written to the Commonwealth raising issues with the eligibility criteria being applied by the Commonwealth for the recent flood events.

“My concern is that the Commonwealth is being inconsistent with their support provided following flood and bushfire events in previous years, and it’s to the determent of many regional and rural communities in Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Council of Australian Governments has endorsed a recommendation to define what constitutes a severe event and develop consistent criteria for the activation of Category C under the NDRRA. In the interim, the Victorian Coalition Government is addressing the issue later this week at a national meeting of emergency management in Melbourne."

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

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