Budget 2019/20 delivers for Barwon as Partnership outlines strategic focus28/05/2019
The Victorian Government’s 2019/20 Budget delivers for the Barwon region, including an additional $18.8 million for the Geelong City Deal, as part of a $2.6 billion Delivering for Regional and Rural Victoria program.
Barwon Regional Partnership Chair Kylie Warne today welcomed the Budget, which provides a whole of government focus on delivering for rural and regional Victorians, with improvements across the state to public transport, country roads, tourism infrastructure and TAFE facilities, and provides health facility upgrades while supporting jobs. The Budget provides further tax relief for rural and regional businesses, with the regional payroll tax rate to be reduced to 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate by 2022-23.
In Barwon specifically, as well as the boost for the now more than $370 million Geelong City Deal - which includes Partnership priority actions such as the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre and revitalisation of central Geelong - there is:
- $1.6 million to establish a new statutory authority to manage and protect the Great Ocean Road,
- $100 million for the Western Rail Plan to reduce crowding, support population growth and enable fast rail on the Geelong line, and $2 million for design and scoping work for the duplication of track between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds Stations, and
- $13.5 million from the Building Better TAFEs Fund to upgrade the Gordon Culinary School at the Gordon TAFE’s City Campus – delivering state-of-the-art training facilities for cookery and hospitality students in Geelong.
“There are a number of really important investments for the Barwon region in the Budget which match the Partnership’s priorities which is great to see,” explains Ms Warne. “Other priorities await funding, such as the Northern Arc, and the Barwon Partnership looks forward to continuing our collaboration with Government to make these a reality.”
Ms Warne adds that the Regional Partnership is about much more than securing funding at Budget time. She explains that over the past year, as well as championing the City Deal, the Partnership has advocated to raise the leaving age for Out of Home Care from 18 to 21, with the Victorian Government commencing a trial to give young people the option of remaining with a carer until 21. In addition, Partnership priorities funded in previous Victorian Budgets, for example, the expansion of the Geelong Project, an early intervention program that addresses the factors that contribute to educational disadvantage, are now a reality. Thanks to funding last year, the initiative is now running in seven secondary schools in the most disadvantaged areas of Barwon.
Ms Warne says the Partnership – one of nine across the state - is now in its third year and is evolving. Last week the Partnership published its Outcomes Roadmap, which outlines its key, long-term strategic areas of focus going forward and where it is looking to make a real difference.
“This year, as part of the natural evolution of our Partnership, rather than running a large Assembly, we are in the process of identifying a few key issues where we will run smaller, targeted meetings,” she explains. “At these forums, the Partnership will engage with Government, the community and stakeholders in a more decisive, focused and strategic way in order to make a substantial difference in a specific area. The issues we address will mirror the outcomes we are striving to achieve, and we’ll let the community know about these areas of focus shortly via our Facebook page.”