THE Victorian Government has unveiled a $631 million plan to promote economic growth in regional and rural Victoria. The plan, released on June 15, aims to attract jobs and population, investment and opportunities in regional Victoria.
The plan, Ready for Tomorrow: A Blueprint for Regional and Rural Victoria was unveiled by Premier John Brumby and Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan. "Our Government is determined to support families living and working in regional and rural Victoria," Mr Brumby said. "Ready for Tomorrow is a $631 million strategic investment by our Government to drive a new era of opportunity and prosperity in regional Victoria," he said.
Ready for Tomorrow commits $631 million across five key strategies:
- $110.1 million for Investing in Skills and Young People with a new tertiary education package to deliver more opportunities in tertiary education for young people and to make it more attractive for them to stay in or return to the regions. It includes new targets to increase enrolments and graduates, new infrastructure support to encourage investment in student accommodation and for TAFE and university facilities, leadership and cadetship programs, a new youth strategy and support to develop new regional leaders;
- Backing Jobs and Industry with $99.4 million towards a new action plan to create thousands of new jobs, boost regional industries and help small business. It outlines a commitment to grow government jobs in the state's regions, drive up skills, training and exports, support farmers, the food and beverage industry and tourism growth;
- $203.9 million for Building Infrastructure, Connecting Communities to provide regional Victorians with world-class infrastructure in water, cleaner energy, transport and industry development, improvements to broadband services, local roads, timber roads, bridges, bus service expansion as well as more affordable housing;
- $158.4 million for Supporting the Regional and Rural Way of Life with funding for sports clubs, cultural activities and community. It includes infrastructure and amenities support for the well-being of older people in small communities, promoting regional Victoria as a great place to live and work, a boost to programs to help landholders manage vegetation with funding available for building performing arts centres, galleries and other civic amenities; and
- Planning Better Regions – A New Partnership backed by $58.9 million to establish a new approach to regional planning and development including significant funding to support the planning and design of regional cities and towns, support for the development of new growth areas in regional cities, support for future planning in coastal areas and local government. It also includes grants to local councils for future planning work and expertise within local councils, fast-tracking projects to help local communities adapt to climate change and support for smaller councils.
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) welcomed the blueprint's calling it "a critical element needed to complement the state's long-term urban growth plans." MAV President, Cr Bill McArthur, said the Ready for Tomorrow Blueprint was the first coordinated State plan to provide strategic direction on regional and rural Victoria's role in responding to our population growth challenges. However, Cr McArthur said MAV would advocate for other complementary plans, including a Provincial Victoria Transport Strategy and more support for rural land use planning.
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) also welcomed the plan, saying it would assist in building the capacity of Victoria's rural and regional communities but said it would have liked further investment in transport infrastructure, such as local roads.
For more information on Ready for Tomorrow: A Blueprint for Regional and Rural Victoria, visit Regional Development Victoria at <http://www.rdv.vic.gov.au/>.