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Budget 2019/20 delivers for Wimmera Southern Mallee as Partnership outlines strategic focus


The Victorian Government’s 2019/ 20 Budget delivers for the Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) region, including funds to upgrade accommodation facilities at Longerenong agricultural college, near Horsham, as part of a $2.6 billion Delivering for Regional and Rural Victoria program.

WSM Partnership Chair David Jochinke 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 WSM specifically, as well as the boost for Longerenong, there is a commitment to roll out universal three-year-old kinder next year in Hindmarsh, North Grampians and Yarriambiack. There is also funding for the upgrade of Lord Nelson Park in St Arnaud and for better responding and meeting the needs of family violence survivors.

“There are several investments in the Budget which match WSM Partnership’s priorities which is good to see,” explains David Jochinke, but he adds that the Regional Partnership is about much more than securing funding at Budget time. He explains that over the past year, the Partnership has been advocating for the development of new mobile towers in priority locations, as well as working with the Department of Jobs, Precincts, and Regions (DJPR) to develop a WSM digital plan. It has also championed the uptake of tele-health in the region in collaboration with the Wimmera Southern Mallee Health Alliance and partnered with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) as part of GNET to map the region’s new energy future.

In addition, Partnership priorities funded in previous Victorian Budgets, for example, $1.3 million in last year’s Budget for family violence crisis properties, are now taking shape. The Partnership has been working with local stakeholders and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to co-design a response to issues of family violence that best meets the needs of the local community. Six properties have been purchased across the region to be used as emergency accommodation.

Mr Jochinke 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 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,” he 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.”

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