Media Centre

Middleton Prison Expansion To Deliver Regional Jobs

Work is set to start on a major construction project in Castlemaine, with the Andrews Labor Government signing a $37.6 million contract to expand the capacity of Middleton Prison by 39 beds. The project is expected to create 165 jobs during construction, including around 50 in the Bendigo area and generate opportunities for a range of local contractors. As part of the Labor Government’s contract with successful tenderer, Bendigo-based construction firm Fairbrother Pty Ltd, the project will also see targeted investment in social enterprises and jobs for disadvantaged Victorians. The Dja Dja Wurrung, traditional owners of the land on which the prison sits, have also been involved in planning upgrades to the prison’s indigenous garden and other landscaping, as well as on prison education and cultural awareness programs. Alongside the new cell accommodation being constructed, a number of supporting buildings will be refurbished, and security systems will be upgraded. Construction will start soon and the new beds at the minimum-security facility are expected to be operational in mid-2022 - increasing the capacity of the prison to a total of 287 prisoners. The expansion is part of the government’s $1.8 billion investment in delivering flexible prison capacity, boosting programs to break the cycle of reoffending and keep people out of prison. Middleton Prison is the second site a program to expand the capacity of five Victorian prisons, which includes: Barwon Prison and Marngoneet Correctional Centre in Lara Middleton Prison in Castlemaine Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat Metropolitan Remand Centre in Ravenhall Construction across the five sites is expected to be completed in 2023, as part of a program delivered by the Community Safety Building Authority. Quotes attributable to Minister for Corrections Natalie Hutchins “These infrastructure projects are creating thousands of local jobs and a more secure prison system that boosts community safety.” “This is the second of five sites that are being upgraded, creating local jobs in Geelong, Central Victoria and Melbourne.” “Our investment in prisons will support the rehabilitation of prisoners and help keep staff and the community safe.” Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards “This expansion will help create local jobs across Bendigo through design and construction of these improved facilities. I’m looking forward to seeing this investment help our area thrive.”

Middleton Prison Expansion To Deliver Regional Jobs

Work is set to start on a major construction project in Castlemaine, with the Andrews Labor Government signing a $37.6 million contract to expand the capacity of Middleton Prison by 39 beds. The project is expected to create 165 jobs during construction, including around 50 in the Bendigo area and generate opportunities for a range of local contractors. As part of the Labor Government’s contract with successful tenderer, Bendigo-based construction firm Fairbrother Pty Ltd, the project will also see targeted investment in social enterprises and jobs for disadvantaged Victorians. The Dja Dja Wurrung, traditional owners of the land on which the prison sits, have also been involved in planning upgrades to the prison’s indigenous garden and other landscaping, as well as on prison education and cultural awareness programs. Alongside the new cell accommodation being constructed, a number of supporting buildings will be refurbished, and security systems will be upgraded. Construction will start soon and the new beds at the minimum-security facility are expected to be operational in mid-2022 - increasing the capacity of the prison to a total of 287 prisoners. The expansion is part of the government’s $1.8 billion investment in delivering flexible prison capacity, boosting programs to break the cycle of reoffending and keep people out of prison. Middleton Prison is the second site a program to expand the capacity of five Victorian prisons, which includes: Barwon Prison and Marngoneet Correctional Centre in Lara Middleton Prison in Castlemaine Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat Metropolitan Remand Centre in Ravenhall Construction across the five sites is expected to be completed in 2023, as part of a program delivered by the Community Safety Building Authority. Quotes attributable to Minister for Corrections Natalie Hutchins “These infrastructure projects are creating thousands of local jobs and a more secure prison system that boosts community safety.” “This is the second of five sites that are being upgraded, creating local jobs in Geelong, Central Victoria and Melbourne.” “Our investment in prisons will support the rehabilitation of prisoners and help keep staff and the community safe.” Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards “This expansion will help create local jobs across Bendigo through design and construction of these improved facilities. I’m looking forward to seeing this investment help our area thrive.”

Grants To Boost Community Safety Now Open

Applications are now open for grants under the Andrews Labor Government’s Building Safer Communities Program. There are three categories of grants available which cover a wide range of sectors and projects, with each focused on delivering grassroots and community focused projects to prevent crime. The Creating Safer Places category offers grants of $25,000 to $300,000 for councils to fund urban design projects that apply an inclusive environmental design approach to deter crime, increase safety and activate public places. The Crime Prevention Innovation Fund awards grants of $25,000 to $300,000 for councils and not-for-profit organisations to deliver and evaluate innovative community safety and crime prevention initiatives. This can include projects that engage diverse communities or specific groups, or which establish or strengthen partnerships across community, business, sport and other sectors to address causes of crime. A third grant category, Empowering Communities, will also support community-designed and delivered projects that take an evidence-informed, innovative approach to address issues impacting on crime and perceptions of safety in specific communities. The Building Safer Communities grants are part of the government’s Community Crime Prevention Program, which has invested more than $45 million in almost 800 projects across Victoria since 2015. Applications for the Creating Safer Places and Crime Prevention Innovation Fund grants close at 4pm on 15 March 2021. For more information about the grants visit www.crimeprevention.vic.gov.au/buildingsafercommunities. Quotes attributable to Minister for Crime Prevention Natalie Hutchins “These grants give local communities the resources they need to tackle the crime and safety issues that matter most to them.” “Community organisations and councils are ideally placed to identify what’s needed to make their communities safer.” “It’s also a great opportunity to kick-start innovative new programs and initiatives that make a difference and address the root causes of crime.”

Grants To Boost Community Safety Now Open

Applications are now open for grants under the Andrews Labor Government’s Building Safer Communities Program. There are three categories of grants available which cover a wide range of sectors and projects, with each focused on delivering grassroots and community focused projects to prevent crime. The Creating Safer Places category offers grants of $25,000 to $300,000 for councils to fund urban design projects that apply an inclusive environmental design approach to deter crime, increase safety and activate public places. The Crime Prevention Innovation Fund awards grants of $25,000 to $300,000 for councils and not-for-profit organisations to deliver and evaluate innovative community safety and crime prevention initiatives. This can include projects that engage diverse communities or specific groups, or which establish or strengthen partnerships across community, business, sport and other sectors to address causes of crime. A third grant category, Empowering Communities, will also support community-designed and delivered projects that take an evidence-informed, innovative approach to address issues impacting on crime and perceptions of safety in specific communities. The Building Safer Communities grants are part of the government’s Community Crime Prevention Program, which has invested more than $45 million in almost 800 projects across Victoria since 2015. Applications for the Creating Safer Places and Crime Prevention Innovation Fund grants close at 4pm on 15 March 2021. For more information about the grants visit www.crimeprevention.vic.gov.au/buildingsafercommunities. Quotes attributable to Minister for Crime Prevention Natalie Hutchins “These grants give local communities the resources they need to tackle the crime and safety issues that matter most to them.” “Community organisations and councils are ideally placed to identify what’s needed to make their communities safer.” “It’s also a great opportunity to kick-start innovative new programs and initiatives that make a difference and address the root causes of crime.”

Supporting COVIDSafe Multicultural Festivals And Events

The Andrews Labor Government is helping diverse communities come together in a COVIDSafe way to celebrate their culture and traditions. Acting Minister for Multicultural Affairs Shaun Leane today opened the Multicultural Festivals and Events Program, inviting organisations to apply for funding for events to be held between March and June this year. The funding recognises the important role of community connection and celebration and will support events held either in person or in a digital format. Any in-person event must adhere to the COVIDSafe Public Events Framework. With the entertainment and events industry one of the hardest hit because of the pandemic, this funding will help bring more life and colour to the state, celebrating our vibrant cultural diversity, whilst ensuring the health and safety of all Victorians. In March, Victoria’s Greek community will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greek independence – a significant occasion on the cultural calendar. Delivering on an election commitment, the Labor Government is investing $200,000 to support celebrations. Victoria is home to the largest Greek population in the world outside of Greece. This year’s funding also includes $50,000 to support organisations holding Hindu celebrations, events and festivals. Applications close 3pm on Wednesday, 3 February. For more information or to apply, visit vic.gov.au/multicultural-festivals-and-events-program. Quotes attributable to Acting Minister for Multicultural Affairs Shaun Leane “We have much to celebrate here in Victoria and this funding will ensure that, after such a challenging year, festivals and events are supported to take place.” “Projects funded will celebrate our rich cultural diversity whilst supporting the revitalisation of Victoria’s economy.” “I can’t wait to see Victorians out celebrating the 200th anniversary of Greek independence in March, our dedicated $200,000 funding will help it be COVIDSafe but importantly, a milestone to remember.”

Supporting COVIDSafe Multicultural Festivals And Events

The Andrews Labor Government is helping diverse communities come together in a COVIDSafe way to celebrate their culture and traditions. Acting Minister for Multicultural Affairs Shaun Leane today opened the Multicultural Festivals and Events Program, inviting organisations to apply for funding for events to be held between March and June this year. The funding recognises the important role of community connection and celebration and will support events held either in person or in a digital format. Any in-person event must adhere to the COVIDSafe Public Events Framework. With the entertainment and events industry one of the hardest hit because of the pandemic, this funding will help bring more life and colour to the state, celebrating our vibrant cultural diversity, whilst ensuring the health and safety of all Victorians. In March, Victoria’s Greek community will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greek independence – a significant occasion on the cultural calendar. Delivering on an election commitment, the Labor Government is investing $200,000 to support celebrations. Victoria is home to the largest Greek population in the world outside of Greece. This year’s funding also includes $50,000 to support organisations holding Hindu celebrations, events and festivals. Applications close 3pm on Wednesday, 3 February. For more information or to apply, visit vic.gov.au/multicultural-festivals-and-events-program. Quotes attributable to Acting Minister for Multicultural Affairs Shaun Leane “We have much to celebrate here in Victoria and this funding will ensure that, after such a challenging year, festivals and events are supported to take place.” “Projects funded will celebrate our rich cultural diversity whilst supporting the revitalisation of Victoria’s economy.” “I can’t wait to see Victorians out celebrating the 200th anniversary of Greek independence in March, our dedicated $200,000 funding will help it be COVIDSafe but importantly, a milestone to remember.”

Helping Victorians Recover From Alcohol And Drug Use

Victorians will have better access to specialist drug and alcohol treatment close to home thanks to a $52.1 million investment from the Andrews Labor Government for new residential rehabilitation facilities. Minister for Health Martin Foley today released the final designs for new rehabilitation facilities in the Gippsland, Hume and Barwon regions - the new facilities will provide care and support to an additional 900 Victorians every year. The facilities will provide a structured therapeutic and home-like environment where people experiencing addiction can develop coping skills and address underlying issues to overcome their alcohol and other drug use. New 30-bed adult residential rehabilitation facilities will be built in Corio and Wangaratta, providing 24-hour care and support for people who have been through withdrawal or stabilisation and need to continue their treatment. In Traralgon, a 20-bed youth-specific residential rehabilitation service will be built for young Victorians aged between 16 and 21. The facility will provide around-the-clock care and activities that support lasting behavioural change including coping, social and life skills development, relapse prevention, individual counselling and group work. The youth-specific facility will also support young people to reintegrate back into the community and access educational and vocational training and employment skills – a vital component of making positive and long-lasting change possible. The designs provide a first look at the facility exteriors, grounds and internal fit-outs, which have been carefully considered to create a welcoming and healing atmosphere for individuals and their families. Modscape has been appointed as the builder for three new facilities. The new rehabilitation facilities will help relieve pressure on local health services and reduce the impact of drug and alcohol use on local communities. The residential rehabilitation facilities are part of the Victorian Government’s implementation of wide-ranging reforms across the alcohol and drug sector, including more than $180 million as part of the Ice Action Plan and $87 million through the Drug Rehabilitation Plan. Construction will commence in early 2021, with all three facilities operational by the end of the year. Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Martin Foley “We know the damage addiction causes for families across the state – that’s why we’re doubling the number of rehab beds so more Victorians can get the support they need to beat their addiction faster.” “These new facilities will mean more Victorians can embark on their journey towards to recovery and wellbeing in a place close to their family and support networks.”

Helping Victorians Recover From Alcohol And Drug Use

Victorians will have better access to specialist drug and alcohol treatment close to home thanks to a $52.1 million investment from the Andrews Labor Government for new residential rehabilitation facilities. Minister for Health Martin Foley today released the final designs for new rehabilitation facilities in the Gippsland, Hume and Barwon regions - the new facilities will provide care and support to an additional 900 Victorians every year. The facilities will provide a structured therapeutic and home-like environment where people experiencing addiction can develop coping skills and address underlying issues to overcome their alcohol and other drug use. New 30-bed adult residential rehabilitation facilities will be built in Corio and Wangaratta, providing 24-hour care and support for people who have been through withdrawal or stabilisation and need to continue their treatment. In Traralgon, a 20-bed youth-specific residential rehabilitation service will be built for young Victorians aged between 16 and 21. The facility will provide around-the-clock care and activities that support lasting behavioural change including coping, social and life skills development, relapse prevention, individual counselling and group work. The youth-specific facility will also support young people to reintegrate back into the community and access educational and vocational training and employment skills – a vital component of making positive and long-lasting change possible. The designs provide a first look at the facility exteriors, grounds and internal fit-outs, which have been carefully considered to create a welcoming and healing atmosphere for individuals and their families. Modscape has been appointed as the builder for three new facilities. The new rehabilitation facilities will help relieve pressure on local health services and reduce the impact of drug and alcohol use on local communities. The residential rehabilitation facilities are part of the Victorian Government’s implementation of wide-ranging reforms across the alcohol and drug sector, including more than $180 million as part of the Ice Action Plan and $87 million through the Drug Rehabilitation Plan. Construction will commence in early 2021, with all three facilities operational by the end of the year. Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Martin Foley “We know the damage addiction causes for families across the state – that’s why we’re doubling the number of rehab beds so more Victorians can get the support they need to beat their addiction faster.” “These new facilities will mean more Victorians can embark on their journey towards to recovery and wellbeing in a place close to their family and support networks.”

 

Free Travel For Victorians This Christmas

The Andrews Labor Government will provide free public transport on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day to make sure Victorians can celebrate and reconnect with family and friends across the state. On Christmas Day, metropolitan and regional public transport will run to a regular public holiday timetable and will be free from 3am until 3am on Boxing Day, with Night Network services running through the night. Passengers using a myki are not required to touch on and off and will not be charged if they do. Passengers on V/Line services still need to book their travel on reserved services, but will be issued a ticket free of charge. As Victorians welcome in the new year after a challenging 2020, all train, tram and bus services will also be free from 6pm on 31 December until 6am on 1 January. With COVIDSafe plans in place and limits on gathering sizes applying Melburnians are encouraged to avoid the city – and to plan ahead and pre-book venues to ensure everyone can celebrate safely. Crowd numbers in the CBD are expected to be significantly reduced, with no large fireworks or public celebrations planned. With people expected to celebrate more locally, public transport will continue across the network all night on New Year’s Eve, ensuring everyone can get back home safely. A normal weekday public transport timetable will be in place between 6pm and midnight, with additional services after midnight. Metropolitan trains will run to a 15-minute frequency between midnight and 1am, a 30-minute frequency between 1am and 2am, and every hour from 2am. On the tram network, most services will operate all night – running to a 15 to 20-minute frequency between midnight and 2am, and every 60 minutes from 2am. In addition to free travel during the festive season, the Labor Government will not increase public transport fares in 2021 – in recognition of the difficult year Victorians have had. All myki and regional fares and passes will remain at their 2020 rates next year to ease the financial pressure on Victorian families and encourage people to return to the public transport network into the new year. Face masks must be worn at all times on public transport. For information and to plan your journey on Christmas or New Year’s Eve visit ptv.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll “This year’s festive season is set to be very different – but we’re making public transport free to ensure all Victorians can catch up and celebrate with their loved ones right across the state.” “We know 2020 has been really challenging for a lot of Victorians, so we’re freezing public transport fares for next year to ease the pressure on families wherever we can.”

Free Travel For Victorians This Christmas

The Andrews Labor Government will provide free public transport on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day to make sure Victorians can celebrate and reconnect with family and friends across the state. On Christmas Day, metropolitan and regional public transport will run to a regular public holiday timetable and will be free from 3am until 3am on Boxing Day, with Night Network services running through the night. Passengers using a myki are not required to touch on and off and will not be charged if they do. Passengers on V/Line services still need to book their travel on reserved services, but will be issued a ticket free of charge. As Victorians welcome in the new year after a challenging 2020, all train, tram and bus services will also be free from 6pm on 31 December until 6am on 1 January. With COVIDSafe plans in place and limits on gathering sizes applying Melburnians are encouraged to avoid the city – and to plan ahead and pre-book venues to ensure everyone can celebrate safely. Crowd numbers in the CBD are expected to be significantly reduced, with no large fireworks or public celebrations planned. With people expected to celebrate more locally, public transport will continue across the network all night on New Year’s Eve, ensuring everyone can get back home safely. A normal weekday public transport timetable will be in place between 6pm and midnight, with additional services after midnight. Metropolitan trains will run to a 15-minute frequency between midnight and 1am, a 30-minute frequency between 1am and 2am, and every hour from 2am. On the tram network, most services will operate all night – running to a 15 to 20-minute frequency between midnight and 2am, and every 60 minutes from 2am. In addition to free travel during the festive season, the Labor Government will not increase public transport fares in 2021 – in recognition of the difficult year Victorians have had. All myki and regional fares and passes will remain at their 2020 rates next year to ease the financial pressure on Victorian families and encourage people to return to the public transport network into the new year. Face masks must be worn at all times on public transport. For information and to plan your journey on Christmas or New Year’s Eve visit ptv.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll “This year’s festive season is set to be very different – but we’re making public transport free to ensure all Victorians can catch up and celebrate with their loved ones right across the state.” “We know 2020 has been really challenging for a lot of Victorians, so we’re freezing public transport fares for next year to ease the pressure on families wherever we can.”

Improving Hardship Support In Response To Rates Review

The Andrews Labor Government will introduce reforms to improve the local government rates system in response to a major review. The Local Government Rating System Review, provides an in-depth analysis of Victoria’s rates system. A 2018 election commitment, the review assessed the fairness and equity of the current system and recommends improvements. Local Government Minister Shaun Leane has backed the comprehensive examination delivered by the three-member panel, which concluded the rating system aligns with many of the principles that underpin sound revenue management and highlights more can be done to help people who are struggling. The Labor Government response will support ratepayers in financial hardship, improve transparency and consistent decision-making across councils, and build a fairer system. The Government will adopt 36 of the review’s 56 recommendations in full, in part or in principle. Among the most significant measures, the Government will improve how the system can better support ratepayers who are struggling to pay their rates and will examine the merits of a valuation averaging mechanism to lessen the impact of sudden property value movements that particularly affect farmers. The Government will also pursue reforms to system administration and give councils improved tools for waste charges, special rate and charge schemes and more flexible rate concessions. Enhanced transparency and community engagement requirements in the Local Government Act 2020 will support the implementation of the reforms. As Victoria’s focus shifts to economic recovery from the pandemic, the Government will not support substantial change to how general rates, exemptions and alternative rating arrangements work, which would risk creating financial uncertainty during the recovery period. Consistent with previous years, Minister Leane has also announced the Fair Go Rates Cap for 2021-22 will be set at 1.5 per cent – the forecast Consumer Price Index for the period. The rate cap places a limit on the increase in the total amount of revenue raised by councils through rates each year. This is the lowest the rate cap has been set since it was introduced in 2016. The rate cap mechanism was excluded from the rating system review and will be separately reviewed by the end of 2021, after its first five years of operation. The report and Government response can be read at engage.vic.gov.au/rating-review. Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane “This review has produced the first in-depth look for many years at how rates work in Victoria. I thank the Panel Members for their work and their recommendations for a stronger rating system.” “Our response prioritises reforms that support ratepayers in financial hardship, enhance transparency and consistent decision-making and lay the foundations for greater equity and fairness in the rating system.”

Improving Hardship Support In Response To Rates Review

The Andrews Labor Government will introduce reforms to improve the local government rates system in response to a major review. The Local Government Rating System Review, provides an in-depth analysis of Victoria’s rates system. A 2018 election commitment, the review assessed the fairness and equity of the current system and recommends improvements. Local Government Minister Shaun Leane has backed the comprehensive examination delivered by the three-member panel, which concluded the rating system aligns with many of the principles that underpin sound revenue management and highlights more can be done to help people who are struggling. The Labor Government response will support ratepayers in financial hardship, improve transparency and consistent decision-making across councils, and build a fairer system. The Government will adopt 36 of the review’s 56 recommendations in full, in part or in principle. Among the most significant measures, the Government will improve how the system can better support ratepayers who are struggling to pay their rates and will examine the merits of a valuation averaging mechanism to lessen the impact of sudden property value movements that particularly affect farmers. The Government will also pursue reforms to system administration and give councils improved tools for waste charges, special rate and charge schemes and more flexible rate concessions. Enhanced transparency and community engagement requirements in the Local Government Act 2020 will support the implementation of the reforms. As Victoria’s focus shifts to economic recovery from the pandemic, the Government will not support substantial change to how general rates, exemptions and alternative rating arrangements work, which would risk creating financial uncertainty during the recovery period. Consistent with previous years, Minister Leane has also announced the Fair Go Rates Cap for 2021-22 will be set at 1.5 per cent – the forecast Consumer Price Index for the period. The rate cap places a limit on the increase in the total amount of revenue raised by councils through rates each year. This is the lowest the rate cap has been set since it was introduced in 2016. The rate cap mechanism was excluded from the rating system review and will be separately reviewed by the end of 2021, after its first five years of operation. The report and Government response can be read at engage.vic.gov.au/rating-review. Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane “This review has produced the first in-depth look for many years at how rates work in Victoria. I thank the Panel Members for their work and their recommendations for a stronger rating system.” “Our response prioritises reforms that support ratepayers in financial hardship, enhance transparency and consistent decision-making and lay the foundations for greater equity and fairness in the rating system.”

Planning Revamp To Boost Economic Recovery And Jobs

Improving the efficiency of Victoria’s planning system will help make sure our state’s recovery isn’t held back by bureaucratic red tape or unnecessary delays. As businesses reopen and people get back to work, the Andrews Labor Government will invest $111 million to unlock Victoria’s planning system, speeding up delivery of vital major projects and boosting construction of social and affordable housing – and the jobs that go with them. The Victorian Budget 2020/21 provides $38 million to improve planning processes, as recommended by the Commissioner for Better Regulation, streamlining decision-making and giving the private sector greater certainty to invest, create jobs and bring their business to Victoria. To drive investment in big projects, the Labor Government will create a new assessment model for development proposals greater than $50 million. This model will make the approvals process simpler and quicker for these developments, giving investors even more confidence to build more projects here in Victoria – creating more jobs for Victorians. To boost construction of new social and affordable housing, the Budget also includes $3.86 million to streamline the approval pathway, making it easier for private builders to include social and affordable housing in their developments – and making sure more Victorians have the certainty and security of home. The pandemic pushed a range of planning systems online. To help maintain and improve digital systems for permit and planning scheme amendments – and reduce the bureaucratic burden for Victorians – the Budget invests $15.7 million to deliver ongoing upgrades to these online services. The Labor Government will also invest $4 million to help councils upgrade their digital planning permit systems making it easier to lodge and track permits online, speeding up the process and reducing the hassle of having to lodge paperwork in person. We will also provide a further $14 million to the Victorian Planning Authority, including funding the Streamlining for Growth program. The program provides support to local councils to fast-track local planning applications, boosting employment and making housing more affordable. More than $2 million will go towards a trial of an innovative new 3D spatial data program called Digital Twin Victoria. The trial will bring together a whole host of currently disparate spatial data to develop digital models of Victoria – making it easier to accurately assess and plan projects remotely. To better assess the safety of building and plumbing works in new developments across Victoria, $4.45 million will expand the Victorian Building Authority’s proactive building inspection program, to keep Victorians safe. The Budget also includes $4.4 million to ensure heritage protection for Jacksons Hill in Sunbury – maintaining its numerous heritage-listed buildings and protecting the site’s surrounds while a master plan is developed. More than $3.2 million will continue the implementation of Plan Melbourne – the blueprint guiding Melbourne’s growth, ensuring we continue to plan for strong communities, jobs, and everything that makes our city great. Quotes attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne “As we begin rebuilding from the pandemic, we need a planning system that is set up to drive growth and create jobs as we recover from coronavirus – that’s what these reforms will do.” “This year we’ve seen just how much can be achieved online. We want to build on that strength, creating an easy, online and accessible planning and permit system.”

Planning Revamp To Boost Economic Recovery And Jobs

Improving the efficiency of Victoria’s planning system will help make sure our state’s recovery isn’t held back by bureaucratic red tape or unnecessary delays. As businesses reopen and people get back to work, the Andrews Labor Government will invest $111 million to unlock Victoria’s planning system, speeding up delivery of vital major projects and boosting construction of social and affordable housing – and the jobs that go with them. The Victorian Budget 2020/21 provides $38 million to improve planning processes, as recommended by the Commissioner for Better Regulation, streamlining decision-making and giving the private sector greater certainty to invest, create jobs and bring their business to Victoria. To drive investment in big projects, the Labor Government will create a new assessment model for development proposals greater than $50 million. This model will make the approvals process simpler and quicker for these developments, giving investors even more confidence to build more projects here in Victoria – creating more jobs for Victorians. To boost construction of new social and affordable housing, the Budget also includes $3.86 million to streamline the approval pathway, making it easier for private builders to include social and affordable housing in their developments – and making sure more Victorians have the certainty and security of home. The pandemic pushed a range of planning systems online. To help maintain and improve digital systems for permit and planning scheme amendments – and reduce the bureaucratic burden for Victorians – the Budget invests $15.7 million to deliver ongoing upgrades to these online services. The Labor Government will also invest $4 million to help councils upgrade their digital planning permit systems making it easier to lodge and track permits online, speeding up the process and reducing the hassle of having to lodge paperwork in person. We will also provide a further $14 million to the Victorian Planning Authority, including funding the Streamlining for Growth program. The program provides support to local councils to fast-track local planning applications, boosting employment and making housing more affordable. More than $2 million will go towards a trial of an innovative new 3D spatial data program called Digital Twin Victoria. The trial will bring together a whole host of currently disparate spatial data to develop digital models of Victoria – making it easier to accurately assess and plan projects remotely. To better assess the safety of building and plumbing works in new developments across Victoria, $4.45 million will expand the Victorian Building Authority’s proactive building inspection program, to keep Victorians safe. The Budget also includes $4.4 million to ensure heritage protection for Jacksons Hill in Sunbury – maintaining its numerous heritage-listed buildings and protecting the site’s surrounds while a master plan is developed. More than $3.2 million will continue the implementation of Plan Melbourne – the blueprint guiding Melbourne’s growth, ensuring we continue to plan for strong communities, jobs, and everything that makes our city great. Quotes attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne “As we begin rebuilding from the pandemic, we need a planning system that is set up to drive growth and create jobs as we recover from coronavirus – that’s what these reforms will do.” “This year we’ve seen just how much can be achieved online. We want to build on that strength, creating an easy, online and accessible planning and permit system.”

Massive Boost For Court Capacity

Like all of us, our justice system has had to do things differently this year – which means our courts haven’t been able to move through cases as quickly as they normally do. That’s why the Victorians Budget 2020/21 delivers major investments in new courts and court systems – to provide a strong, efficient, cutting-edge justice system that allows matters to be heard remotely and safely. The Budget invests $47.3 million to improve audio-visual technology and provide greater flexibility in court and justice processes. This means matters before our busiest courts can be heard in a timely manner – building capacity in our justice system and helping reduce delays caused by the pandemic. Not only will this investment enable safety measures likes physical distancing in the short-term – it'll create a faster, more adaptable and efficient court system in the long-term too. The Andrews Labor Government is also delivering new and upgraded court buildings for Victoria, with $272 million to build new law courts in Wyndham. The new precinct will include a new headquarter court with 13 courtrooms, four hearing rooms, three mediation suites and a dedicated Specialist Family Violence Court. The build will also support more Victorians back into work, creating around 400 local jobs. The Labor Government is also delivering $26.8 million to upgrade the Sunshine Law Courts, including building two additional court rooms and creating around 200 jobs. The Budget is delivering $27.2 million for the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) to continue and expand its important work – and to assist IBAC's transition to budgetary independence. The Budget also provides $28.5 million to ensure young and disadvantaged Victorians have access to community legal services – including more support for Victoria Legal Aid’s 24/7 on-call service. Registered Aboriginal Parties will share in $20.2 million to ensure the rights, responsibilities and voice of Traditional Owners continues to be upheld and protected. This includes a new commercial and cultural hub in Bendigo – providing a new home for the Dja Dja Wurrung people to share and celebrate their culture and identity with the local community. The Labor Government is also investing in forensic medical investigation services to further improve the efficiency of our justice system and ensure families who are dealing with the devastating loss a loved one get the answers and support they need. The Budget provides a further $5.9 million for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine to deliver forensic analysis for police and courts, as well as to continue the work of the Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria. The Labor Government is also investing $2.5 million towards the Office of the Public Advocate to continue to safeguard the rights of people with disability. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jill Hennessy “Like all of us, our courts have had to adapt this year – this investment will help them keep evolving and delivering the justice Victorians deserve.” “Not only will this ensure the safety of our courts in the short-term, it’ll create a stronger, faster and more flexible justice system on the other side of this pandemic.”

Massive Boost For Court Capacity

Like all of us, our justice system has had to do things differently this year – which means our courts haven’t been able to move through cases as quickly as they normally do. That’s why the Victorians Budget 2020/21 delivers major investments in new courts and court systems – to provide a strong, efficient, cutting-edge justice system that allows matters to be heard remotely and safely. The Budget invests $47.3 million to improve audio-visual technology and provide greater flexibility in court and justice processes. This means matters before our busiest courts can be heard in a timely manner – building capacity in our justice system and helping reduce delays caused by the pandemic. Not only will this investment enable safety measures likes physical distancing in the short-term – it'll create a faster, more adaptable and efficient court system in the long-term too. The Andrews Labor Government is also delivering new and upgraded court buildings for Victoria, with $272 million to build new law courts in Wyndham. The new precinct will include a new headquarter court with 13 courtrooms, four hearing rooms, three mediation suites and a dedicated Specialist Family Violence Court. The build will also support more Victorians back into work, creating around 400 local jobs. The Labor Government is also delivering $26.8 million to upgrade the Sunshine Law Courts, including building two additional court rooms and creating around 200 jobs. The Budget is delivering $27.2 million for the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) to continue and expand its important work – and to assist IBAC's transition to budgetary independence. The Budget also provides $28.5 million to ensure young and disadvantaged Victorians have access to community legal services – including more support for Victoria Legal Aid’s 24/7 on-call service. Registered Aboriginal Parties will share in $20.2 million to ensure the rights, responsibilities and voice of Traditional Owners continues to be upheld and protected. This includes a new commercial and cultural hub in Bendigo – providing a new home for the Dja Dja Wurrung people to share and celebrate their culture and identity with the local community. The Labor Government is also investing in forensic medical investigation services to further improve the efficiency of our justice system and ensure families who are dealing with the devastating loss a loved one get the answers and support they need. The Budget provides a further $5.9 million for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine to deliver forensic analysis for police and courts, as well as to continue the work of the Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria. The Labor Government is also investing $2.5 million towards the Office of the Public Advocate to continue to safeguard the rights of people with disability. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jill Hennessy “Like all of us, our courts have had to adapt this year – this investment will help them keep evolving and delivering the justice Victorians deserve.” “Not only will this ensure the safety of our courts in the short-term, it’ll create a stronger, faster and more flexible justice system on the other side of this pandemic.”