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Investment in mental health and jobs welcomed

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A spotlight on mental health and jobs as the two key areas of investment in the 2021/22 Victorian Budget has been welcomed by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).

MAV President, Cr David Clark, expects the local government sector to respond positively on the aspects of the budget that support the wellbeing of Victorians as well as the planned spending on services and infrastructure.

“We were pleased to see $3.8 billion in funding to transform the mental health system – this investment will benefit all Victorians,” Cr Clark said.

“The emphasis on new services and attracting more health professionals to rural and regional areas is particularly welcomed.

“We would like to see councils funded to implement the social connectedness programs as recommended by the recent Royal Commission report and accepted by the Government.

“What we know is that Victorian councils already have deep ties to their community and local service providers. There is a real opportunity for the Victorian Government to work closely with councils to ensure these community connections are fully utilised.”

Another good news story is the continued funding for several ongoing programs such as $41.1 million over two years for the school crossing supervisor program.

“This funding gives communities much needed certainty, however, this commitment to the equitable sharing of costs between state and local government should be ongoing,” Cr Clark said.

“While modest, the roadside weed and pests program being guaranteed for four years will be a great relief for rural and regional councils.

“We are pleased the Growing Suburbs Fund has been continued for another year, it remains at $50 million despite the number of eligible councils increasing.”

Cr Clark welcomed the extension of funding for universal access for early childhood, as this is an issue MAV has consistently and strongly advocated for over many years.

"It is also pleasing to see that our councils that are Early Years Managers will receive additional funding to support their ongoing high-quality kindergartens as well as the additional investment in children experiencing vulnerability and trauma.

“Similarly, spending on road network and road safety initiatives is positive, and will help councils provide the infrastructure necessary for economic activity and safe mobility.

“Funding for Victoria’s creative and tourism industries will help these important sectors recover from the impacts of COVID.

“Again, $1.8 million for community leadership training program for women in local government will support increased diversity. It would be a positive step if broader funding to assist councils in meeting their new obligations under the Gender Equality Act and the Local Government Act was provided by the government.”

Cr Clark concluded that Councils are committed to working with government, on behalf of their communities, to improve outcomes for all Victorians.

For further information, contact the MAV Communications Unit on (03) 9667 5590.