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Victoria’s Cross Border Commissioner

Victoria’s state borders during stage 3 of the shutdown in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Victoria has not imposed closures or restrictions on our state’s borders.

The location of essential cross-border services, like Albury-Wodonga Health, mean workers need to travel unrestricted across the border to help us slow the spread of coronavirus.

If Victorians can stay home, they must stay home -- but key services like our health services, freight and logistics that involve travel across our state’s borders can continue.

In South Australia, new restrictions are now in place for their borders, with exemptions for essential transport. The Victorian Cross Border Commissioner is working with the South Australian Government to understand the impacts and people should go to for more information.

If there are concerns about potential variation in state decisions that may impact what is open on one side of our borders and what may be on the other, people should visit, where they can find regularly updated information about what is restricted in Victoria.

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Many people living in Victoria’s border communities have economic and social networks that extend into New South Wales and South Australia.

But legislative, regulatory and practice differences between states can discourage people from taking up work and study opportunities across the border.

These differences can also prevent, or raise issues for, firms doing business.

The need for a Cross Border Commissioner to broker agreements with other states for improved regulatory and service outcomes has long been recognised by border communities.

In 2016, the issue was taken up by the Mallee Regional Partnership.

The Partnership region shares borders with New South Wales and South Australia, while six other Regional Partnerships also share a border with these states.

In late 2017, Regional Development Victoria consulted with a range of organisations including local councils, state government agencies, industry associations and stakeholder groups to inform the development of a business case to establish Victoria’s Cross Border Commissioner.

All organisations consulted supported the establishment of the Commissioner role, many citing examples of barriers faced by citizens and businesses in the areas of education, transport, labour mobility and access to markets.

For example, people working in construction trades, education and hospitality need dual accreditation and licenses to work across states, while the consultation heard of people travelling for hours to access further education when the same course was offered close to home, but just across the border.

Making it easier for firms to do business in other states has potential economic benefits, while addressing practice and regulatory barriers to people accessing education, justice, health and human services has the potential to improve health and social outcomes in border communities.

In Budget 2018/19, the Victorian Government committed $760,000 to fund Victoria’s first Cross Border Commissioner for the first two years.

Luke Wilson is Victoria’s Cross Border Commissioner.

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