The Andrews Labor Government is putting patients first in Eastern Victoria.

Across our nation – and around the world – the pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on health systems. From a sharp increase of critical COVID patients to disrupted care, resulting in longer hospital recovery time, the last two years have really knocked our health system around.

When we came to government, we put an end to the war on our paramedics. We took ambulance response times from the worst in our history to the best. Now – just like we did before – we’ll ease the pandemic pressure on our hospitals and our healthcare workers.

The Victorian Budget 2022/23 will invest over $12 billion to put patients first, with a Pandemic Repair Plan for more staff, better hospitals and first-class care.

Our healthcare workers have been on the frontline of this pandemic, and we know how important it is that we support them into the future.

We’re backing our healthcare workers with training and the extra pair of helping hands they need, so they can give you the very best care.

That’s why the Budget is delivering funding to train and hire up to 7,000 new healthcare workers, including 5,000 nurses.

We’ll provide 1,125 new Registered Undergraduate Nursing Positions and 75 new Registered Undergraduate Student of Midwifery roles over the next two years, and we’re also recruiting up to 2,000 ex-pat and international healthcare workers through a global workforce recruitment drive.

Right around the nation, demand for emergency services is at an all-time high. Our Triple Zero call-takers and dispatchers are dealing with unprecedented call volumes.

But when you call for an ambulance, every Victorian should have the confidence one will arrive. That’s why we’re delivering another 90 paramedics – which means we’ve added 790 extra paramedics to the workforce since we came to government.

And to help our frontline workers reach Victorians who need help faster, we’re investing $333 million to add nearly 400 new staff to increase Triple Zero call-taking and dispatch capacity for Triple Zero services, including ambulances, and training more operators to allocate calls across the state.

This Budget invests in regional health – because regional Victorians deserve the same level of care as people in Melbourne. At the centre of the plan is a $300m injection to upgrade regional hospitals and healthcare facilities in every corner of our state, the largest Regional Health and Infrastructure Fund boost since it was created by the Andrews Labor Government. From operating theatre refurbishments, new waiting rooms and hospital beds, to life saving medical equipment.

We’re also providing $9 million to regional women’s health services and a further $11.5 million to deliver group parenting sessions to support families with children struggling with their mental health. Because no matter where you live, every Victorian and their family deserves great healthcare.

As we roll-out our Pandemic Repair Plan to make sure people in Eastern Victoria get the care they deserve, we’re also getting on with delivering the schools, roads and public transport services they rely on.

The first ever Royal Commission into Mental Health told us that when it to comes to accessing mental health care, Victorians don’t know where to turn, or who to turn to – which is why having a nearby mental health service in your local community can make all the difference. That’s why we’re getting on with delivering four mental health and alcohol and other drug hubs, including a new hub at the emergency department at Latrobe Regional Hospital – so that Victorians and their loved ones struggling with mental health get the care they need close to their families and communities.

You can’t get a first-rate education, in a second-rate classroom. It’s why we’re going to upgrade Coldstream Primary School with $2.4 million to bring buildings at the school into the 21st century and Yinnar Primary School will receive $7.3 million to upgrade the school and stadium – because under the Andrews Labor Government, we’re giving every child the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Local families deserve great local schools and in Eastern Victoria they will get them. We’re building a brand-new school, opening for Term 1, 2024, for 650 kids in the growing community of Officer – Officer Brunt Road Primary school (interim name), giving kids great classrooms for a great education – and at the same time creating local jobs to build them.

We’re also getting on with planning for the future of Victorian families in the community of Pakenham by securing land for the future Pakenham North West Primary School (interim name), so that more kids get to go to a great school, with great teachers, close to home.

Students with special needs should receive the same opportunities as every other student in our state. In this Budget, we’re upgrading 36 special schools, including a $3.7 million upgrade at Officer Specialist School and $6.6 million upgrade at Warragul and District Specialist School to give students new permanent classrooms. This will mean every single special school in Victoria will have received funding for a major upgrade since we came to government.

To make sure every young Victorian gets the education they need for the career they want, the new VCE Vocational Major and Victorian Pathways Certificate will replace VCAL, offering students more choices, a higher-quality curriculum and better workplace experiences – preparing students to jump into further study, training at TAFE or work as soon as they leave school.

The VCAL reforms will save many Victorian families up to $1,000 by cutting out-of-pocket costs, with students no longer having to pay for essential learning materials for VET studies.

Devastating bushfires, floods and natural disasters have highlighted how important it is that our state is prepared, connected and resourced to deliver quick and efficient emergency responses. So we’re increasing capacity of our emergency service operators and workforce to look after us, in our hour of need and working with communities to better prepare and recover from natural disasters now and into the future.

We’re bringing the Commonwealth Games back to Victoria in 2026. These Games will be unlike any before in the history of the Commonwealth Games – they will be held in regional centres across the state – with a focus on athlete hubs including in Gippsland. This will offer the opportunity for regional cities and towns to host major events, tourism, arts, culture, and sport well beyond the Commonwealth Games – and help deliver the triple benefit of creating local jobs and housing and boosting regional economies too.

Local communities deserve great places to play sport and under the Andrews Labor Government, they will have them. We’re investing $88 million to build, upgrade and renovate community sporting infrastructure across Victoria, including at Traralgon Recreation Reserve where $2.75 million is provided to repair flood damage. We’re also investing $1 million for a new skate park at Worrell Reserve in Emerald and $500,000 for a new scoreboard and change rooms at Hughes Park in Croydon North.

We know better roads get us where we need to go sooner and safer – and building them creates new jobs for Victorians. It’s why this Budget delivers funding towards a northbound overtaking lane between Morwell and Mirboo North on the Strzelecki Highway, improving safety and connectivity for local commuters. This Budget also delivers $7.7 million to seal Ryan Road in Pakenham East, improving access to the new train station at Pakenham East and removing the need to detour through local streets.

With this Budget, we’re continuing to back the Latrobe Valley, with $7.5 million for the Latrobe Valley Authority to keep supporting the local community and the growth of new jobs – including continued business concierge services, the Ladder Step Up program and further economic transition planning for workers.

In this Budget, we’ll keep supporting our growing suburbs, with an additional $50 million for our Growing Suburbs Fund so we can continue building health and wellbeing hubs, new parks, and community centres in our growing suburban and peri-urban communities. We will also continue to deliver local initiatives so that Lilydale can flourish through the Lilydale Suburban Revitalisation Board.

We know that many Victorians are still paying too much for their energy bills – that’s why we’re stepping in to help families get the best deal. We’re providing a once-off $250 payment for all Victorian households that use the Victorian Energy Compare (VEC) website – the Victorian Government’s independent price comparator website – to search for the cheapest electricity plan that suits their needs.

With this Budget, we’re getting on with delivering for all Victorians.

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing

“We’re giving our healthcare workers the tools they need to make sure every single Victorian patient gets the world-class care they deserve, close to home, with the support of their loved ones.”

“We have a strong track record when it comes to delivering for workers in Gippsland, including through the Latrobe Valley Authority – not just creating jobs and supporting local projects, but to support the needs of workers and their families.”

“We’re delivering new and upgraded schools across Eastern Victoria, so that kids get the best start in life.”

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