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03 May 2022

The Andrews Labor Government is putting patients first in South Barwon.

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 funding stage one and two of the more than $500 million Barwon Women’s and Children’s Hospital redevelopment so that new parents and young kids can get the world-class pediatric and specialist care they need, without having to travel to Melbourne. This Budget also delivers better cancer care for patients in Geelong with a new radiotherapy linear accelerator for Barwon Health.  

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 rollout our Pandemic Repair Plan to make sure people in Geelong get the care they deserve, we're also getting on with delivering the schools, roads and public transport services they rely on.

We’re getting on with planning for the future of Victorian families in the growing suburb of Charlemont – securing land for the new Horseshoe Bend Primary School (interim name), so that more kids get to go to a great school, with great teachers, close to home.

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.

Better roads get us where we need to go sooner and safer - and building them creates new jobs for Victorians. It's why we’re delivering $5.3 million in funding to deliver a new roundabout at the Barwon Heads Road, Blackrock Road and Staceys Road intersection in Connewarre, improving safety and connectivity for local families on our roads.

Thousands of Victorians also rely on their local bus to get them to work, school and around their community. Now, thanks to the investment in this Budget, Victorians will get a smarter, faster and more reliable bus network including $13.9 million to deliver improved bus connections between the Surf Coast, Armstrong Creek and Geelong – so Victorians spend less time waiting at the bus stop and more time at home with loved ones.

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 cities across the state – with athlete hubs in regional centers including in Geelong. 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.

The Great Ocean Road is the beating heart of our tourism sector in the state's West. And with this Budget, we're investing to protect it long into the future. This includes making it easier for people with disability with the expansion of Victoria’s network fully accessible restrooms – including on the Great Ocean Road.

We also treasure our local history and this Budget invests $470,000 to upgrade the iconic Lorne Sea Baths into a leading spa and wellness destination.

We’re also investing $16.9 million to build a safer, healthier and more resilient coastal environment for the community. This will fund statewide coastal projects, land management policy partnering with Traditional Owners and planning for our marine life and marine biodiversity to protect our precious natural spaces.

We'll also keep supporting our regional communities, with an additional $30 million for our Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund so we can continue to help country towns become event better places to live, work and invest, and support jobs in regional Victoria.

But that’s not all. We'll also 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 also want to give our multicultural communities the chance to celebrate everything they hold dear, with those they hold close. That's why we're investing $6.4 million to continue the Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund, so we can build and upgrade community facilities and places of worship, through projects such as new car parks, kitchens, and meeting spaces, including $200,000 to look into building a community centre for the Indian Association of Geelong and across Victoria.

We know our important pets are to our health and wellbeing, and we’re providing Cherished Pets in Geelong with $465,000 in funding so they can provide additional boarding facilities and critical wellness care for cats and dogs - continuing the work they do providing affordable accessible solutions to support the pets of vulnerable people in the Geelong region.

But that’s not all. 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 South Barwon Darren Cheeseman

“This Budget looks out for the health of every single Victorian. By fully funding stage one and two of the Barwon Women’s and Children’s Hospital redevelopment we’re investing in the world-class care people in the Geelong region deserve.”

“I’m proud to deliver new bus services for our growing community in Armstrong Creek, this investment will make it easier for families to get around and make this wonderful suburb an even better place to live.”

“Thank you to everyone who signed my petition supporting a new school for Charlemont and surrounds. The Andrews Labor Government is once again delivering for our growing