Let's talk about Tomorrow

Let's talk about Tomorrow Main Image

We’ve stuck together and stayed strong and now it’s time to talk about what we want for our future.

Thank you to everyone who participated, in helping to identify priorities.

In total we had 155 responses.

I’m really impressed with the detailed ideas and input.

It’s been important to hear from the community and I will be using the information to help me deliver what our community wants.

The first question asked people to rank issues of importance; more than half of people wanted better funding for Health and Hospitals, followed by affordable housing and investment in schools and TAFE. 

Health and Hospitals 51%, Affordable housing 17%, Schools and TAFE 11%, Cost of living 7%, Jobs 5%, Climate change 4%, Cost of childcare 2%, Supporting local business 1%, Stronger wages 1% and Roads 1%.

This is clearly saying we need to continue to invest in our health system. The Victorian Government is investing $541.6 million to upgrade Ballarat Base Hospital. The upgraded hospital includes a multi-level tower with a new emergency department, a women and children’s hub, state-of-the-art theatre suite and an extra 100 inpatient and short-stay beds. Once complete, the hospital will have capacity to treat at least 18,000 more emergency patients and an extra 14,500 inpatients each year.

I took the time to read and review all responses to the four questions; what changes have we made locally, what do we need to do to support local jobs and economies, what can we do to better support each other and what impact is the pandemic having.

What I’m hearing is that the pandemic had a real and significant impact on people’s lives. There was concern around loneliness, job security, getting resources to the vulnerable and the impact on sporting and community groups.

People want a Government that invests in its community. Increased health and mental health services, supporting older Victorians, more social housing, better transport and investments to create secure well-paid jobs. People see that out of the pandemic we can take advantage of new ways of communicating and a greater sense of connectedness.

“Let’s take advantage of the sense of community fostered and use this as a focus point for how we want to be moving forward.” Donna

“I think it has brought people together more and the focus is on how we can help each other more.” R

A lot of people highlighted things that came from the Covid-19 response that they like, including working from home and better access to services through Telehealth or Zoom meetings. We can really take advantage of these trends as they suit regional and rural lifestyles.

“People working from home whenever they can means less stress for them, maybe less child care needed sometimes, & less crowding on public transport & roads.” Judy

I’ve also noted community concern about soil from the West Gate Tunnel going to Maddingly and the impact of the Ausnet project to build a new transmission line.

I advocated for an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the Ausnet project, it’s critical that we assess its impacts, alignment and design alternatives thoroughly, to avoid or minimise effects on the community and environment.  The EES process will give the community the opportunity to put forward their concerns.  

As your local member of Parliament, I will continue to raise concerns with the Minister as soon as they arise.

What else am I going to do?

Casualisation – during the pandemic we have found that a reliance on casual workers comes at a cost – that’s why the Victorian Government will pay up to five days of sick and carer’s pay at the national minimum wage – so no one has to choose between the health of themselves or a loved one and a pay check.  Occupations with high levels of insecurity including hospitality, supermarket workers, security guards, cleaners and aged care staff will be part of the Secure Work pilot scheme starting by 2022. But there is more to be done, so I’ll be advocating for more on how we can reduce the incidence of casual work and create more secure and permanent jobs.

“Cut out casual employment, after probation it should lead to permanent part-time or full-time work.” Lynette

Mental Health - we are getting on with fixing a broken system. $870 million will help implement all the Royal Commission into Mental Health's recommendations and deliver more acute mental health beds.

“Better access to healthcare, I know of a number of people who cannot access timely healthcare because they cannot afford it and the pandemic has made things worse.” R

Schools/TAFE – we have delivered the single biggest investment ever in our schools - making sure students have the classrooms, libraries and learning spaces they deserve. This includes $1.98 million for Linton Primary School, $10 million for Ballarat Specialist School, $898,000 for Cape Clear $272,000 for Woodmans Hill, $350,000 for Mount Clear Primary School. The Andrews Labor Government will help more Victorians reskill, upskill and find work, with up to 80,000 Free TAFE and subsidised training places.  

“Provide positive alternatives, opportunities for education, outlets, resources and activities to create positive and meaningful futures.” Natalie

Affordable housing - we're delivering the biggest investment in public and community housing in Australia, ever. This investment will build more than 12,000 new homes and increase our total stock by 10% in just four years - making sure thousands of Victorians have a place to call home. The City of Ballarat is a priority area for investment, with procurement starting straight away to build new homes, and a guaranteed minimum investment of $80 million.  $20 million will be invested in Moorabool and $15 million for Golden Plains for new houses.

“Spend money on vital social programmes such as building homes for those in need.” Merle

Community – local sporting and community groups have received unprecedented funding to help them cope with the loss of income during the pandemic.  I will keep working to help groups access grants and opportunities at the state level to help them grow. Encouraging participation in sport and recreation at our reserves, walking paths and parks is a great way to keep our community connected.  I will be doing what I can to advocate for these investments and help our communities reconnect at events and markets.

 “The value of passive recreation has been appreciated. Parks, waterways, bike tracks are always in need of assistance.” Chris

“Help facilitate re-engagement and wellbeing, perhaps support community events/activities.” Roger

Regions – many raised the importance of creating jobs in regional Victoria, and I’m proud to say that we’ve invested $156 million in the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, $385 million to upgrade 44 schools and 10 special schools, $406 million to support regional tourism which includes $200 vouchers and in total spent more than 3.5 times what the previous government invested in Regional Victoria.

“Making a concerted effort to look at new ways of developing new employment opportunities. Look at the way new technologies can help in this area.” Paul

Thank you for taking the time to tell me what is important to you.  This was a very valuable exercise, I feel I have gained a much better idea of what locals want and can focus on delivering for you all.

We’ve stuck together and stayed strong and now it’s time to talk about what we want for our future.

The pandemic highlighted some great things about our community:

So many people willing to help their neighbour and prepared to go the extra mile to protect their community.

And some things that aren’t working:

Too many people in casual jobs and too many women relying on insecure work.

I’m looking for your suggestions on how we can create stronger, supportive communities. 

What would you change about the way we work, live and support each other?