The Victoria Budget 2018/19 delivers $4.3 billion for regional Victoria, making sure regional communities have reliable roads and rail, good schools and quality healthcare.
Skilled workers are in demand across regional Victoria and more than ever, the skills required for these high-demand jobs are learned at TAFE. To ensure that cost never stops people from getting the right skills, it includes $172 million to make priority TAFE and pre-apprenticeship courses free – helping us fill skills gaps and get Victorians into work.
More students will be able to access this training and get these good jobs, with $304 million to open new classes and fund more than 30,000 new training places.
More young people will be able to get a trade and go straight into a job with new Head Start Apprenticeships and Traineeships giving students the option to undertake an additional year of high school, and graduate with an apprenticeship or traineeship, ready to work in a high demand or high growth industry.
An extra $44 million will also update learning materials, introduce independent assessments and bring back trade papers to make sure our apprentices are trained to the same high standards with recognised qualifications.
Because every family, in every community, should have a good school close to home, this Budget includes $181 million to build, plan and upgrade 60 regional schools.
Local schools to benefit include Mildura West Primary and Cardross Primary. This is in addition to recent budgets where schools such as Merbein P-10 College, Irymple Secondary College, Red Cliffs Secondary College, Swan Hill Primary School, Underbool Primary School and Yaapeet Primary received funding for upgrades.
Right now, mental illness is hurting communities and leaving families heartbroken, so the Budget invests a record $705 million – the largest investment in the state’s history – to give Victorians the treatment they need.
It includes more rehab beds, more mental health support workers, new and upgraded specialist facilities across the state.
A further $50 million will boost the Labor Government’s flagship Regional Health Infrastructure Fund – a fund that is upgrading hospitals in places such as Birchip and Swan Hill – to make sure regional Victorians can get the best healthcare, in the best facilities, wherever they live.
The Budget also invests $1.3 million to better protect women and children from violence with a boost to crisis support across the Wimmera-Southern Mallee regional partnership area.
$941 million will get on with the job of fixing regional road network. The biggest road maintenance blitz our state has ever seen, will our roads get the funding they need alongside the establishment of a dedicated country roads body, Regional Roads Victoria.
Key sections of the Calder Highway will be upgraded between Mildura and Bendigo to improve safety, travel times and freight productivity. There’ll be new overtaking lanes, roundabouts and rest areas.
Businesses across the north-west will benefit from additional payroll tax cuts. The regional payroll tax rate will be 2.425 per cent – half the metropolitan tax rate and the lowest rate in the nation – helping local businesses expand and growing local jobs.
The Budget also includes $760,000 to establish a Cross Border Commission to reduce barriers to services for Victoria’s border communities and $1.7 million for a Mallee Innovation Centre of Excellence to drive research and development across horticulture, agriculture, sustainability, engineering and water management.