The Andrews Labor Government is delivering a long-term plan that will create jobs and give people in Eastern Victoria what they need as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

In total, the Victorian Budget 2021/22 will support an average of 38,000 new jobs each and every year over the next four years across the state – with thousands of them in rural and regional Victoria.

This includes the Labor Government’s once-in-a-generation $3.8 billion reform to build a new mental health system from the ground up, as the Mental Health Royal Commission’s recommendations are implemented.

Right now, too many people across Eastern Victoria have to travel away from their families and communities for care.  It’s why this Budget will transform the way support is offered in regional Victoria – with more care in regional communities, more early intervention, more focus on wellbeing and prevention, and a new dedicated system for our kids.

Not only will we be building the mental health system Victoria needs – we’ll also be supporting around 3,000 jobs. From nurses, to doctors, allied health and support staff, these new roles will make sure Victorians get the support they need, while also giving thousands more Victorians the security of a job.

Manchester Primary School is one of 52 Victorian schools that will be upgraded in this year’s Budget. This $4.7 million investment will deliver upgrades to classrooms and school buildings including Block C. Not only will this give our students new classrooms and learning spaces, it’ll create good jobs for Victorians. Across the state, our investment in more and better schools is expected to support 3,500 jobs.

The Labor Government is delivering the schools we need for today, and tomorrow. That means building new schools as well as locking in land to build schools for the future. The Budget will secure land in Officer, giving local families confidence their kids will have a great local school.

Our Government wants to make sure local families have great local schools. That’s why this Budget will deliver a brand-new school in Gembrook as part of a $491.57 million package with Officer Rix Road Primary School (interim name) to open in 2023. One of 13 new school builds across the state, this investment will give local kids the state-of-the-art school they deserve.

This year’s Budget also includes $1.2 billion to protect our children and help keep vulnerable families together. This investment will deliver 246 new child protection practitioners, more support for our carers and bring family services into schools, early childhood education and community health hubs to identify at-risk families early.

Since we came to government, our big infrastructure build has delivered the road, rail, schools and hospitals Victorians need – supporting 177,000 jobs.

We’re building the roads we need now, as well as future proofing our road network by investing in planning for our future transport needs. The Budget kicks off the planning to improve safety and operation of York Road between Swansea Road and Monbulk Road, Mount Evelyn, ensuring roads in Evelyn meet our needs as we grow.

Our buses connect locals to work, to school and to each other. This Budget invests $74.3 million to improve our state’s bus services, including reforming bus services between Lilydale, Yarra Glen, Healesville and Eildon to optimise services on routes.

This Budget will also provide additional funding for Tech Schools in Gippsland, Monash, and the Yarra Ranges. This initiative will expand on‐site and virtual delivery capabilities of existing Tech Schools and pilot a mobile Tech School delivery model for students in remote areas of Gippsland.

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, this Budget delivers $7.1 billion to continue supporting our hospitals and healthcare system. This includes a further $1.3 billion to continue our public health response to COVID-19.

When Victorians need urgent care, they need Emergency Departments they can rely on. That’s why this Budget will begin planning to expand the Emergency Department at Maroondah Hospital and Casey Hospital. In addition to supporting local jobs, this investment will make sure our EDs are there for local patients when they need it most.

This Budget invests $277 million to put student mental health, health and wellbeing at the centre of our school communities. That includes $200 million for a new School Mental Health Fund – rolling out in regional Victoria first and enabling schools to introduce new support and programs, based on the needs of their kids.

The Mental Health in Primary Schools pilot will be expanded to include 100 schools, putting a Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator in every participating primary school and supporting 100 jobs.

And because we want to make sure Victorians have the right skills to be ready for these jobs, we’re investing $384 million in our skills sector, including 12,200 extra subsidised training places in our TAFE and training system.

This includes $86 million to establish the brand-new Victorian Skills Authority, a new anchor organisation that will drive reform of our skills sector and help support more Victorians find work.

We’re also supporting local tourism in Gembrook with $11.2 million in funding to support the operation of Emerald Tourist Railway – supporting jobs and backing local tourism.

Some $129 million in regional development and agriculture investments will deliver local solutions to local problems and advance a 10-year plan to strengthen agriculture in Victoria and the 77,000 jobs that it supports.

Victoria has built a reputation across the globe for high-quality produce – the Budget will further boost our standing by investing $11.7 million to strengthen agriculture traceability systems and protect Victorian jobs.

The Budget also invests $6.4 million for the Victorian Fruit Fly Strategy, which will be released next month, and $19.9 million to fast-track the agriculture sector’s response to climate change.

Regional Partnerships continue to play a critical role in helping develop opportunities and overcome challenges in our local communities. An investment of $5.1 million will further strengthen Regional Partnerships so they can continue to elevate regional voices, insights and issues.

Since its establishment in 1986, the Victorian Rural Women’s Network has supported women who are finding new and innovative ways to grow and improve their communities. This year, we are providing $1.4 million to continue the network’s important work.

Across our investments, this Budget supports an average of 38,000 new jobs every year over the next four years. More than numbers on a page, that means 38,000 new opportunities for Victorian workers. And with it, certainty and security for tens of thousands of Victorian families.

That means not only will our investments deliver the support and services our state needs, we’ll be getting Victorians back to work to make it happen. With this Budget, we’re creating jobs and caring for Victorians.

Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing:

 “This is a once-in-a-generation Budget that builds on our record investment in the Dandenong Ranges and ensures that more people across the region get the mental health support, treatment and care they need, closer to home. It also invests in education, skills, and training to create pathways into employment and to drive the economic growth and recovery of our region.”