Media Centre

MORE SCHOOL SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Teachers and students are being encouraged to think about how they can improve school facilities for students with disabilities or special needs, with round two of funding now open under the Inclusive Schools Fund. Minister for Education James Merlino opened applications today while visiting Belgrave South Primary School to inspect work on a new sensory garden for students with autism, which the school is building thanks to a $100,000 grant from the first round of funding. The Andrews Labor Government established the Inclusive Schools Fund to help government schools build new facilities to better support the social and educational needs of children with a disability. Schools are encouraged to be creative and innovative with their ideas to make interesting and stimulating learning and play spaces that will benefit all students, including those with special needs. The Andrews Labor Government doubled the Inclusive Schools Fund in Victorian Budget 2016/17, meaning a total of $20 million will be delivered to schools over four years. Round two of the funding will deliver $5.5 million to schools across Victoria. The Fund is one of nine initiatives in the Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools to ensure that students with disabilities get the same chances as other students, and fulfils a key election commitment. Applications close on 29 September 2016. Schools can download the guidelines and application form for the Inclusive Schools Fund at http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/inclusiveschoolsfund.aspx Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The new sensory garden at Belgrave South Primary Schools will provide a new learning space that all students can enjoy, including those with special needs.” “I want schools to re-imagine their surroundings and come up with creative ideas about how they can be made accessible to everyone. No ideas are too big and none are too small.” Quotes attributable to Member for Mordialloc and Ambassador for the Special Needs Plan Tim Richardson “This Fund is helping make our schools even better for students with disabilities and special needs.”

MORE SCHOOL SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Teachers and students are being encouraged to think about how they can improve school facilities for students with disabilities or special needs, with round two of funding now open under the Inclusive Schools Fund. Minister for Education James Merlino opened applications today while visiting Belgrave South Primary School to inspect work on a new sensory garden for students with autism, which the school is building thanks to a $100,000 grant from the first round of funding. The Andrews Labor Government established the Inclusive Schools Fund to help government schools build new facilities to better support the social and educational needs of children with a disability. Schools are encouraged to be creative and innovative with their ideas to make interesting and stimulating learning and play spaces that will benefit all students, including those with special needs. The Andrews Labor Government doubled the Inclusive Schools Fund in Victorian Budget 2016/17, meaning a total of $20 million will be delivered to schools over four years. Round two of the funding will deliver $5.5 million to schools across Victoria. The Fund is one of nine initiatives in the Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools to ensure that students with disabilities get the same chances as other students, and fulfils a key election commitment. Applications close on 29 September 2016. Schools can download the guidelines and application form for the Inclusive Schools Fund at http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/inclusiveschoolsfund.aspx Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The new sensory garden at Belgrave South Primary Schools will provide a new learning space that all students can enjoy, including those with special needs.” “I want schools to re-imagine their surroundings and come up with creative ideas about how they can be made accessible to everyone. No ideas are too big and none are too small.” Quotes attributable to Member for Mordialloc and Ambassador for the Special Needs Plan Tim Richardson “This Fund is helping make our schools even better for students with disabilities and special needs.”

WORK BEGINS ON MONTROSE TOWN CENTRE

Work has begun to revitalise community and cultural facilities at the Montrose Town Centre thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Member for Monbulk James Merlino officially marked the beginning of the works at the centre in Montrose today. The project will deliver additional rooms to house maternal and child health services and upgraded facilities for the existing community centre and library. These existing buildings will be joined by an atrium, and will accommodate a new reception and waiting area. Landscaping is also included in the works to be completed with the improved open space providing additional opportunities to support for community events and activities. The Labor Government recognises that councils like the Yarra Ranges are facing a number of challenges as some of Victoria’s fastest growing communities. The $809,000 provided for this project is part of Andrews Labor Government’s $50 million Growing Suburbs Fund, which targets high priority projects in 10 councils on Melbourne’s fast growing urban fringe. The Growing Suburbs Fund helps booming outer suburbs build and upgrade local facilities such as family and community centres, town centres, parks and reserves and playgrounds. Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins “The Andrews Labor Government is helping councils in our booming outer suburbs invest in important community facilities for local residents, through our $50 million Growing Suburbs Fund.” “This Government is proud to invest in projects that improve outcomes in some of Victoria’s fastest growing communities.” Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “This project will boost services in the area and provide a central point for the community to access much needed programs and facilities under the one roof.”

WORK BEGINS ON MONTROSE TOWN CENTRE

Work has begun to revitalise community and cultural facilities at the Montrose Town Centre thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Member for Monbulk James Merlino officially marked the beginning of the works at the centre in Montrose today. The project will deliver additional rooms to house maternal and child health services and upgraded facilities for the existing community centre and library. These existing buildings will be joined by an atrium, and will accommodate a new reception and waiting area. Landscaping is also included in the works to be completed with the improved open space providing additional opportunities to support for community events and activities. The Labor Government recognises that councils like the Yarra Ranges are facing a number of challenges as some of Victoria’s fastest growing communities. The $809,000 provided for this project is part of Andrews Labor Government’s $50 million Growing Suburbs Fund, which targets high priority projects in 10 councils on Melbourne’s fast growing urban fringe. The Growing Suburbs Fund helps booming outer suburbs build and upgrade local facilities such as family and community centres, town centres, parks and reserves and playgrounds. Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins “The Andrews Labor Government is helping councils in our booming outer suburbs invest in important community facilities for local residents, through our $50 million Growing Suburbs Fund.” “This Government is proud to invest in projects that improve outcomes in some of Victoria’s fastest growing communities.” Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “This project will boost services in the area and provide a central point for the community to access much needed programs and facilities under the one roof.”

Victoria’s Young Leaders Set Their Sights On Chengdu

Pandas and spicy cold noodles will soon be on the itinerary for Victoria’s student leaders, with the Victorian Young Leaders to China program heading to Chengdu. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced that the program will be expanded to include language and cultural immersion in Chengdu, in China’s southwest. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province and is famous for its spicy cuisine and Panda sanctuary. It will soon become Victoria’s second sister-state in China with a formal agreement to be signed later this year. The Victorian Young Leaders to China program gives Victorian students the opportunity to travel to China for six weeks to immerse themselves in its culture, history and language. The program helps inspire Victorian students to study Chinese languages, exposes students to international study and travel, and strengthens ties between Victoria and China. Under the five year program, 1,500 Victorian Year 9 students will travel to China to visit Beijing and either Chengdu, Jiangsu or Shanghai. This announcement builds on the strong relationship between the Victorian Government and the Sichuan Department of Education. Earlier this week, Minister for International Education Steve Herbert met senior officials at the Sichuan Department of Education to discuss further collaboration between the pair. Melbourne, Deakin and La Trobe Universities are all active in the Sichuan region. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Life-long friendships are formed between Victorian and Chinese students through this program and it’s exciting to see it expanded to Chengdu so that Victorian students can experience even more of China’s unique history, culture and language.” “Cultures and languages are shared and celebrated through this program, which fosters a greater connection between Australian and Chinese people.” Download the Media Release (293 kB)

Victoria’s Young Leaders Set Their Sights On Chengdu

Pandas and spicy cold noodles will soon be on the itinerary for Victoria’s student leaders, with the Victorian Young Leaders to China program heading to Chengdu. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced that the program will be expanded to include language and cultural immersion in Chengdu, in China’s southwest. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province and is famous for its spicy cuisine and Panda sanctuary. It will soon become Victoria’s second sister-state in China with a formal agreement to be signed later this year. The Victorian Young Leaders to China program gives Victorian students the opportunity to travel to China for six weeks to immerse themselves in its culture, history and language. The program helps inspire Victorian students to study Chinese languages, exposes students to international study and travel, and strengthens ties between Victoria and China. Under the five year program, 1,500 Victorian Year 9 students will travel to China to visit Beijing and either Chengdu, Jiangsu or Shanghai. This announcement builds on the strong relationship between the Victorian Government and the Sichuan Department of Education. Earlier this week, Minister for International Education Steve Herbert met senior officials at the Sichuan Department of Education to discuss further collaboration between the pair. Melbourne, Deakin and La Trobe Universities are all active in the Sichuan region. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Life-long friendships are formed between Victorian and Chinese students through this program and it’s exciting to see it expanded to Chengdu so that Victorian students can experience even more of China’s unique history, culture and language.” “Cultures and languages are shared and celebrated through this program, which fosters a greater connection between Australian and Chinese people.” Download the Media Release (293 kB)

Connecting Victorian And Chinese Students

Victorian and Chinese schools will be able to connect and forge stronger relationships through a new website launched in China. Minister for Education James Merlino and Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos have met Chinese education leaders and former Victorian international students in Beijing to announce the new Schools Connect Portal and updated www.study.vic.gov.au website. The Schools Connect Portal provides an online platform for Victorian and international schools to connect and form sister school partnerships. Victorian schools have 482 partnerships with sister schools around the world, which includes 172 sister-school relationships with Chinese schools – 15 of those in Beijing. These partnerships provide opportunities for Victorian schools to enrich teaching and learning with global perspectives. The new study.vic.gov.au website provides information to international students about studying in Victorian government schools and is available in English, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese. It includes a virtual Hall of Fame, featuring video interviews with Victoria’s award-winning student alumni, and a Find a School search function to help prospective students find the right Victorian school for them. Chinese international students have been studying in Victorian schools for more than 20 years, which helps build the intercultural understanding of local students, supports language learning in schools and better equips our students with the skills they need to succeed both at home and abroad. Minister Merlino also announced the winners of the Victorian Government’s WeChat social media competition, which involved Chinese students producing short videos on why they wanted to study in Victoria. The two winners will visit Melbourne on a five-day study tour. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “International students are an important part of our school system and this new website will help build stronger ties between Victorian and Chinese schools.” “Sister-school relationships help give Victorian students a global outlook and better understanding of other cultures.” Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos “Through this trip we are building stronger ties between the Victorian and Chinese early childhood systems, and creating opportunities to share our languages and culture from an early age.” Download the Media Release (293 kB)

Connecting Victorian And Chinese Students

Victorian and Chinese schools will be able to connect and forge stronger relationships through a new website launched in China. Minister for Education James Merlino and Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos have met Chinese education leaders and former Victorian international students in Beijing to announce the new Schools Connect Portal and updated www.study.vic.gov.au website. The Schools Connect Portal provides an online platform for Victorian and international schools to connect and form sister school partnerships. Victorian schools have 482 partnerships with sister schools around the world, which includes 172 sister-school relationships with Chinese schools – 15 of those in Beijing. These partnerships provide opportunities for Victorian schools to enrich teaching and learning with global perspectives. The new study.vic.gov.au website provides information to international students about studying in Victorian government schools and is available in English, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese. It includes a virtual Hall of Fame, featuring video interviews with Victoria’s award-winning student alumni, and a Find a School search function to help prospective students find the right Victorian school for them. Chinese international students have been studying in Victorian schools for more than 20 years, which helps build the intercultural understanding of local students, supports language learning in schools and better equips our students with the skills they need to succeed both at home and abroad. Minister Merlino also announced the winners of the Victorian Government’s WeChat social media competition, which involved Chinese students producing short videos on why they wanted to study in Victoria. The two winners will visit Melbourne on a five-day study tour. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “International students are an important part of our school system and this new website will help build stronger ties between Victorian and Chinese schools.” “Sister-school relationships help give Victorian students a global outlook and better understanding of other cultures.” Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos “Through this trip we are building stronger ties between the Victorian and Chinese early childhood systems, and creating opportunities to share our languages and culture from an early age.” Download the Media Release (293 kB)

Resignation Of The Chief Fire Officer

The Government can confirm that the CFA Chief Fire Officer Joe Buffone has tendered his resignation to the CFA. Mr Buffone’s decision to resign was his and his alone. Since becoming Minister for Emergency Services, I have both privately and publicly expressed my confidence in Mr Buffone. Despite this, on Tuesday 28 June, Mr Buffone tendered his resignation to the CFA. However, on Wednesday 29 June, Mr Buffone, through his lawyers, made an offer to the CFA to withdraw his resignation if the following terms were met: Equal status with the CEO within the CFA organisational structure Payment of a salary equal to the salary paid to the CEO An entitlement of 12-months’ salary at higher pay if he departed before the end of his contract for whatever reason Mr Buffone’s lawyers gave the CFA a deadline of 5pm yesterday to meet these conditions and drew up proposed terms of settlement. The CFA engaged lawyers to scrutinise the highly unusual nature of these demands. The Government is disappointed by the circumstances surrounding Mr Buffone’s resignation. It does not serve the best interests of CFA staff, or career and volunteer firefighters. Download the Media Release (218 kB)

Resignation Of The Chief Fire Officer

The Government can confirm that the CFA Chief Fire Officer Joe Buffone has tendered his resignation to the CFA. Mr Buffone’s decision to resign was his and his alone. Since becoming Minister for Emergency Services, I have both privately and publicly expressed my confidence in Mr Buffone. Despite this, on Tuesday 28 June, Mr Buffone tendered his resignation to the CFA. However, on Wednesday 29 June, Mr Buffone, through his lawyers, made an offer to the CFA to withdraw his resignation if the following terms were met: Equal status with the CEO within the CFA organisational structure Payment of a salary equal to the salary paid to the CEO An entitlement of 12-months’ salary at higher pay if he departed before the end of his contract for whatever reason Mr Buffone’s lawyers gave the CFA a deadline of 5pm yesterday to meet these conditions and drew up proposed terms of settlement. The CFA engaged lawyers to scrutinise the highly unusual nature of these demands. The Government is disappointed by the circumstances surrounding Mr Buffone’s resignation. It does not serve the best interests of CFA staff, or career and volunteer firefighters. Download the Media Release (218 kB)

Latrobe Valley CFA Staff And Volunteers Working Side-By-Side

Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today praised the firefighters at Morwell and Traralgon fire brigades for their critical work protecting their communities. Visiting the stations today, Mr Merlino was encouraged to see it was business as usual at the integrated brigades, which have a combined workforce of career and volunteer fire fighters. He used the visits to discuss plans to establish a new CFA consultative committee that will work to improve performance and culture within the CFA. This includes recruiting and retaining more women firefighters, improving diversity, recognising and valuing the work of volunteers and career firefighters, and their health and wellbeing. Mr Merlino is also meeting volunteer brigade captains from around the state to discuss their concerns about the proposed CFA Enterprise Agreement. Mr Merlino said the most important step in protecting Victorian communities was to end the misinformation, the scare campaigns, and the dispute that has been going on for over 1100 days. To get the facts on the CFA Enterprise Agreement and the future of the CFA, visit: www.yourcfainfo.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “I’ve been travelling around the state meeting career and volunteer firefighters to hear their concerns and to end the misinformation and scare campaigns.” “Both career and volunteer firefighters are telling me they are tired of being used as political footballs. They want this dispute ended and they want to get on with the job they do best – keeping our community safe.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing “The Morwell and Traralgon Fire Brigades are great examples of how Victoria’s volunteer and career firefighters work together to keep their community safe.” “Keeping our community and our firefighters safe is the number one priority, which is why this dispute needed to end.” Download the Media Release (292 kB)  

Latrobe Valley CFA Staff And Volunteers Working Side-By-Side

Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today praised the firefighters at Morwell and Traralgon fire brigades for their critical work protecting their communities. Visiting the stations today, Mr Merlino was encouraged to see it was business as usual at the integrated brigades, which have a combined workforce of career and volunteer fire fighters. He used the visits to discuss plans to establish a new CFA consultative committee that will work to improve performance and culture within the CFA. This includes recruiting and retaining more women firefighters, improving diversity, recognising and valuing the work of volunteers and career firefighters, and their health and wellbeing. Mr Merlino is also meeting volunteer brigade captains from around the state to discuss their concerns about the proposed CFA Enterprise Agreement. Mr Merlino said the most important step in protecting Victorian communities was to end the misinformation, the scare campaigns, and the dispute that has been going on for over 1100 days. To get the facts on the CFA Enterprise Agreement and the future of the CFA, visit: www.yourcfainfo.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “I’ve been travelling around the state meeting career and volunteer firefighters to hear their concerns and to end the misinformation and scare campaigns.” “Both career and volunteer firefighters are telling me they are tired of being used as political footballs. They want this dispute ended and they want to get on with the job they do best – keeping our community safe.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing “The Morwell and Traralgon Fire Brigades are great examples of how Victoria’s volunteer and career firefighters work together to keep their community safe.” “Keeping our community and our firefighters safe is the number one priority, which is why this dispute needed to end.” Download the Media Release (292 kB)  

Ballarat Tech School Takes Major Step Forward

Ballarat students are a step closer to having a high tech, innovation hub for learning with the appointment of an architect for the new Ballarat Tech School. Minister for Education James Merlino today joined Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard at Federation University to announce Patrick Architects will design the Ballarat Tech School. Patricks Architects is a multi-award winning firm specialising in designing education projects, and has designed schools in Victoria, New Zealand and Indonesia. The Ballarat Tech School will use leading edge technology to teach science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects to students from 18 surrounding secondary schools. The education program will focus on health, food and fibre, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and information technology. The innovative learning environment will provide teachers and students with new ways of thinking, fostering creativity, critical thinking and practical problem solving. Students will also gain crucial insight into employment skills and pathways into education, training and employment. The Ballarat Tech School is a partnership between local schools, government, industry and Federation University. It is one of ten new Tech Schools to be built under the Andrews Labor Government’s $128 million Tech School Initiative, which will help build skills in science, technology, engineering and maths. The Labor Government has set targets to boost performance in these subjects as part of its plan to make Victoria the Education State. This includes a 25 per cent increase in the number of Year 9 students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths, and 33 per cent more 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science. For more information on Tech Schools, visit techschools.education.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This is an exciting step forward for the new Ballarat Tech School, which is on track to open its doors in 2018.” “A Tech School is not a traditional school – it is a shared campus for surrounding local schools, which is equipped with leading edge technology to provide students a new type of learning environment as part of their enrolment at their local secondary school.” Quote attributable to Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard “I‘m thrilled that we’re working with Federation University to develop this new shared campus, which will boast leading edge technology to help prepare students in Ballarat for bright futures.” “The Ballarat Tech School will provide students from 18 surrounding secondary schools the opportunity to develop the skills they need in science, technology, engineering and maths for the high tech jobs of the future.” Download the Media Release (304 kB)

Ballarat Tech School Takes Major Step Forward

Ballarat students are a step closer to having a high tech, innovation hub for learning with the appointment of an architect for the new Ballarat Tech School. Minister for Education James Merlino today joined Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard at Federation University to announce Patrick Architects will design the Ballarat Tech School. Patricks Architects is a multi-award winning firm specialising in designing education projects, and has designed schools in Victoria, New Zealand and Indonesia. The Ballarat Tech School will use leading edge technology to teach science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects to students from 18 surrounding secondary schools. The education program will focus on health, food and fibre, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and information technology. The innovative learning environment will provide teachers and students with new ways of thinking, fostering creativity, critical thinking and practical problem solving. Students will also gain crucial insight into employment skills and pathways into education, training and employment. The Ballarat Tech School is a partnership between local schools, government, industry and Federation University. It is one of ten new Tech Schools to be built under the Andrews Labor Government’s $128 million Tech School Initiative, which will help build skills in science, technology, engineering and maths. The Labor Government has set targets to boost performance in these subjects as part of its plan to make Victoria the Education State. This includes a 25 per cent increase in the number of Year 9 students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths, and 33 per cent more 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science. For more information on Tech Schools, visit techschools.education.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This is an exciting step forward for the new Ballarat Tech School, which is on track to open its doors in 2018.” “A Tech School is not a traditional school – it is a shared campus for surrounding local schools, which is equipped with leading edge technology to provide students a new type of learning environment as part of their enrolment at their local secondary school.” Quote attributable to Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard “I‘m thrilled that we’re working with Federation University to develop this new shared campus, which will boast leading edge technology to help prepare students in Ballarat for bright futures.” “The Ballarat Tech School will provide students from 18 surrounding secondary schools the opportunity to develop the skills they need in science, technology, engineering and maths for the high tech jobs of the future.” Download the Media Release (304 kB)

HELPING THE YARRA PISTOL CLUB GROW

The Andrews Labor Government is helping the Yarra Pistol Club attract more members and develop the facilities locals can be proud of. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today announced the club was one of three across Victoria sharing in $1.9 million from the Labor Government’s Shooting Sports Facilities Program. We’re providing $718,000 to upgrade the range facilities, helping the club become the next premier pistol shooting complex in Victoria. The project will ensure the club is perfectly placed to stage the annual Pistol Australia ISSF National Pistol Competition. The grants will mean clubs will be able to boost participation, better accommodate people of all abilities and provide real pathways from the grassroots to the Olympic Games. Victoria has produced some of shooting’s great stars, including Russell Mark, Deserie Baynes and Adam Vella. Shooting sports clubs are a great place for locals to get together and enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation, and learn about the safe and responsible use of firearms. Victoria is the sporting capital of the world, and we want to stay that way. Our $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure Fund is helping communities all over Victoria update tired facilities and build the venues they need. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk, James Merlino “We want our clubs to offer safe, modern facilities to the thousands of Victorians that use them every week.” “Shooting clubs aren’t just a great place for people to gather, they’re where people learn about the safe and responsible use of firearms.” Quotes attributable to Minister for Sport, John Eren “Victoria has produced some of the world’s great shooters. This is our small role in identifying the next Russell Mark or Deserie Baynes.”

HELPING THE YARRA PISTOL CLUB GROW

The Andrews Labor Government is helping the Yarra Pistol Club attract more members and develop the facilities locals can be proud of. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today announced the club was one of three across Victoria sharing in $1.9 million from the Labor Government’s Shooting Sports Facilities Program. We’re providing $718,000 to upgrade the range facilities, helping the club become the next premier pistol shooting complex in Victoria. The project will ensure the club is perfectly placed to stage the annual Pistol Australia ISSF National Pistol Competition. The grants will mean clubs will be able to boost participation, better accommodate people of all abilities and provide real pathways from the grassroots to the Olympic Games. Victoria has produced some of shooting’s great stars, including Russell Mark, Deserie Baynes and Adam Vella. Shooting sports clubs are a great place for locals to get together and enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation, and learn about the safe and responsible use of firearms. Victoria is the sporting capital of the world, and we want to stay that way. Our $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure Fund is helping communities all over Victoria update tired facilities and build the venues they need. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk, James Merlino “We want our clubs to offer safe, modern facilities to the thousands of Victorians that use them every week.” “Shooting clubs aren’t just a great place for people to gather, they’re where people learn about the safe and responsible use of firearms.” Quotes attributable to Minister for Sport, John Eren “Victoria has produced some of the world’s great shooters. This is our small role in identifying the next Russell Mark or Deserie Baynes.”

 

Setting The Record Straight On The CFA Dispute

The Government welcomes the lifting of the Supreme Court injunction. Since the Government’s unanimous decision to end this dispute, I have been visiting brigades around the state, including in Mildura, Bendigo, Lancefield and Whittlesea. It is clear that firefighters are sick of being used as political footballs. They want the facts and they want this long running dispute to end. I will continue meeting volunteer  and career fire fighters across Victoria to hear their concerns and give them the facts about the agreement. As part of this process, local brigades can request visits from members of the Government through a new website, which includes facts and updates about the agreement. The Coalition continues to run a disgraceful campaign of fear and misinformation about this agreement that is hurting both our firefighters and the community. The website address is: www.yourcfainfo.vic.gov.au Download the Media Release (276 kB)

Setting The Record Straight On The CFA Dispute

The Government welcomes the lifting of the Supreme Court injunction. Since the Government’s unanimous decision to end this dispute, I have been visiting brigades around the state, including in Mildura, Bendigo, Lancefield and Whittlesea. It is clear that firefighters are sick of being used as political footballs. They want the facts and they want this long running dispute to end. I will continue meeting volunteer  and career fire fighters across Victoria to hear their concerns and give them the facts about the agreement. As part of this process, local brigades can request visits from members of the Government through a new website, which includes facts and updates about the agreement. The Coalition continues to run a disgraceful campaign of fear and misinformation about this agreement that is hurting both our firefighters and the community. The website address is: www.yourcfainfo.vic.gov.au Download the Media Release (276 kB)

Recognising Victoria’s Best ‘Hands On’ Students

Victoria’s top students in ‘hands on’ subjects have been recognised at the Victorian Certificate for Applied Learning (VCAL) Achievement Awards. Minister for Education James Merlino presented the awards to students at a ceremony at Melbourne’s Federation Square today. VCAL provides an alternative pathway through senior secondary education for students attracted to applied learning, with many students completing apprenticeships while others move onto further study and training including university. Between its introduction in 2002 and 2015, VCAL enrolments increased from 545 to 23,784, with 447 providers, including schools, TAFE institutes and adult and community education centres. The VCAL Awards acknowledge students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and made a significant contribution to their schools and communities. Mr Merlino presented awards in 21 categories to students, teachers and schools from across Victoria. Narre Warren South P-12 student Dharna Nicholson-Bux was recognised in the category of Koori Student Achievement for her excellence in all her VCAL strands, and for being a strong advocate for a tolerant and multicultural society. Thomas Hunter from Goroke P-12 was recognised for Personal Development Skills after forging strong partnerships between his school and the local pre-school. Mr Merlino also acknowledged the inaugural winners of the Lynne Kosky Scholarship, which honours the legacy of the late Lynne Kosky who created the VCAL qualification. The winners, Aleks Radenovic and Gemma-Mae Stemp, have received funding to undertake VCAL in year 11. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “These awards highlight the opportunities for young people to undertake practical learning in Victoria that will set them up for a whole range of careers.” “VCAL plays a significant role in keeping more young people engaged in education and training and its practical focus builds links between young people, the community, training providers and industry.” Download the Media Release (161 kB)

Recognising Victoria’s Best ‘Hands On’ Students

Victoria’s top students in ‘hands on’ subjects have been recognised at the Victorian Certificate for Applied Learning (VCAL) Achievement Awards. Minister for Education James Merlino presented the awards to students at a ceremony at Melbourne’s Federation Square today. VCAL provides an alternative pathway through senior secondary education for students attracted to applied learning, with many students completing apprenticeships while others move onto further study and training including university. Between its introduction in 2002 and 2015, VCAL enrolments increased from 545 to 23,784, with 447 providers, including schools, TAFE institutes and adult and community education centres. The VCAL Awards acknowledge students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and made a significant contribution to their schools and communities. Mr Merlino presented awards in 21 categories to students, teachers and schools from across Victoria. Narre Warren South P-12 student Dharna Nicholson-Bux was recognised in the category of Koori Student Achievement for her excellence in all her VCAL strands, and for being a strong advocate for a tolerant and multicultural society. Thomas Hunter from Goroke P-12 was recognised for Personal Development Skills after forging strong partnerships between his school and the local pre-school. Mr Merlino also acknowledged the inaugural winners of the Lynne Kosky Scholarship, which honours the legacy of the late Lynne Kosky who created the VCAL qualification. The winners, Aleks Radenovic and Gemma-Mae Stemp, have received funding to undertake VCAL in year 11. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “These awards highlight the opportunities for young people to undertake practical learning in Victoria that will set them up for a whole range of careers.” “VCAL plays a significant role in keeping more young people engaged in education and training and its practical focus builds links between young people, the community, training providers and industry.” Download the Media Release (161 kB)

Fresh Start For CFA: New Leadership To Deliver Reform

A new board of the Country Fire Authority has today been appointed to deliver reforms that the organisation needs to keep Victoria safe. The new board will be chaired by Mr Greg Smith AM, with Ms Michelle McLean to serve as deputy chair. The other board members are Ms Pam White, Dr Gillian Sparkes, and Mr Simon Weir. The board brings together decades of experience in governance, industrial law, public policy, and financial management. Its make-up is in line with the Andrews Labor Government’s policy of appointing women to at least 50 percent of paid board positions. The board’s first priority will be to resolve the long running Enterprise Agreement dispute so that volunteer and career firefighters can focus on fighting fires and keeping their communities safe. The new board will drive cultural change in the CFA, with a focus on lifting morale and ending the deep divide between senior management and firefighters that was identified in the Fire Services Review. It will also improve governance practices within the CFA so that what occurred at the Fiskville Training Facility never happens again. In accordance with the Country Fire Authority Act, the Minister has asked Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria to nominate a further four members to join the board. I thank the previous board for their service to the CFA. Background Chair Greg Smith AM Mr Smith is the principal of G R Smith and Associates, with decades of experience in industrial arbitration and conciliation. Mr Smith was a Commissioner for the Fair Work Commission and its predecessors for almost three decades, under successive Federal Governments, and was made Deputy President in 2012. He has worked extensively for international organisations, including the United Nations, and was an advisor to the South African Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. He is currently a board member of Ambulance Victoria and Life Education Victoria. Deputy Chair Michelle McLean Ms McLean is the CEO and Partner of Cornwall Stodart Lawyers and an expert in finance, governance and people management. She is on the executive council of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Royal Agricultural Society. Ms McLean has previously been a board member of the Mercy Health Foundation, and is a former President of the Australian Legal Practice Management Association. Dr Gillian Sparkes Dr Sparkes is the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability in Victoria and was originally appointed to the position by the previous Coalition Government. She is an expert in public sector management and stakeholder engagement. Dr Sparkes has held senior positions in the private sector with BHP and Brambles, and the public sector with WorkSafe Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment. Dr Sparkes has previously served on the board of South Gippsland Water and as Chair of Sustainability Victoria. Ms Pam White Ms White is the Chairperson of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, and has extensive public service experience. She is a former CEO of the State Services Authority, and served as the State Recovery Coordinator in the Department of Human Services. Ms White was appointed as an adviser to the Victorian Flood Review by the previous Coalition Government and also served as CEO to the Victorian Reconstruction and Recovery Authority after the Black Saturday bushfires. Simon Weir Mr Weir is a barrister with more than thirty years’ experience in workplace law. He has worked as a Partner of Slater and Gordon and was a Senior Legal Counsel for the Victorian Workcover Authority. Mr Weir has consulted for Wisewould Mahony and was a senior associate for Hall and Wilcox. Download the Media Release (337 kB)

Fresh Start For CFA: New Leadership To Deliver Reform

A new board of the Country Fire Authority has today been appointed to deliver reforms that the organisation needs to keep Victoria safe. The new board will be chaired by Mr Greg Smith AM, with Ms Michelle McLean to serve as deputy chair. The other board members are Ms Pam White, Dr Gillian Sparkes, and Mr Simon Weir. The board brings together decades of experience in governance, industrial law, public policy, and financial management. Its make-up is in line with the Andrews Labor Government’s policy of appointing women to at least 50 percent of paid board positions. The board’s first priority will be to resolve the long running Enterprise Agreement dispute so that volunteer and career firefighters can focus on fighting fires and keeping their communities safe. The new board will drive cultural change in the CFA, with a focus on lifting morale and ending the deep divide between senior management and firefighters that was identified in the Fire Services Review. It will also improve governance practices within the CFA so that what occurred at the Fiskville Training Facility never happens again. In accordance with the Country Fire Authority Act, the Minister has asked Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria to nominate a further four members to join the board. I thank the previous board for their service to the CFA. Background Chair Greg Smith AM Mr Smith is the principal of G R Smith and Associates, with decades of experience in industrial arbitration and conciliation. Mr Smith was a Commissioner for the Fair Work Commission and its predecessors for almost three decades, under successive Federal Governments, and was made Deputy President in 2012. He has worked extensively for international organisations, including the United Nations, and was an advisor to the South African Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. He is currently a board member of Ambulance Victoria and Life Education Victoria. Deputy Chair Michelle McLean Ms McLean is the CEO and Partner of Cornwall Stodart Lawyers and an expert in finance, governance and people management. She is on the executive council of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Royal Agricultural Society. Ms McLean has previously been a board member of the Mercy Health Foundation, and is a former President of the Australian Legal Practice Management Association. Dr Gillian Sparkes Dr Sparkes is the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability in Victoria and was originally appointed to the position by the previous Coalition Government. She is an expert in public sector management and stakeholder engagement. Dr Sparkes has held senior positions in the private sector with BHP and Brambles, and the public sector with WorkSafe Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment. Dr Sparkes has previously served on the board of South Gippsland Water and as Chair of Sustainability Victoria. Ms Pam White Ms White is the Chairperson of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, and has extensive public service experience. She is a former CEO of the State Services Authority, and served as the State Recovery Coordinator in the Department of Human Services. Ms White was appointed as an adviser to the Victorian Flood Review by the previous Coalition Government and also served as CEO to the Victorian Reconstruction and Recovery Authority after the Black Saturday bushfires. Simon Weir Mr Weir is a barrister with more than thirty years’ experience in workplace law. He has worked as a Partner of Slater and Gordon and was a Senior Legal Counsel for the Victorian Workcover Authority. Mr Weir has consulted for Wisewould Mahony and was a senior associate for Hall and Wilcox. Download the Media Release (337 kB)

Statement From The Minister For Emergency Services

Ms Lucinda Nolan has advised me of her intention to resign as Chief Executive Officer of the Country Fire Authority. Prior to joining the CFA in November 2015, Ms Nolan served the Victoria Police for more than 30 years, holding positions as Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Organisational Development  and the Deputy Commissioner Regional Operations. On behalf of the Victorian Government, I acknowledge Ms Nolan’s contribution to emergency management in Victoria. I wish her well in her future endeavours. Download the Media Release (125 kB)

Statement From The Minister For Emergency Services

Ms Lucinda Nolan has advised me of her intention to resign as Chief Executive Officer of the Country Fire Authority. Prior to joining the CFA in November 2015, Ms Nolan served the Victoria Police for more than 30 years, holding positions as Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Organisational Development  and the Deputy Commissioner Regional Operations. On behalf of the Victorian Government, I acknowledge Ms Nolan’s contribution to emergency management in Victoria. I wish her well in her future endeavours. Download the Media Release (125 kB)

DANGEROUS SCHOOL CROSSING GETS SAFETY UPGRADE

The Andrews Labor Government is boosting safety for Mount Evelyn Christian School students and Yarra View Nursery staff with new pedestrian operated traffic lights to be built at a notorious school crossing on York Road. Member for Monbulk James Merlino announced $490,000 to upgrade the current crossing on York Road between Karen Court and Hawkins Road – a major safety boost especially during school drop-off and pick-up times. The community have long-held concerns that staff with disabilities from the nursery are at risk crossing the road at times when a school crossing supervisor isn’t present. Yarra View Nursery employs a number of people with disabilities and upgrading the crossing will allow them to get to and from work safely. Works will also include an upgrade to the footpath near the north side bus stop, as well as road surface improvements that will stop the road from flooding during periods of heavy rain. Work on the new crossing will start later this year and it will be operational by mid-2017. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We know the community is concerned about this stretch of road. We’ve listened and we’re taking action.” “York Road has over 25,000 vehicles travelling on it every day and we’re doing the work to look after some of our community’s most vulnerable pedestrians and road users.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Metropolitan Victoria Shaun Leane “The new crossing will boost safety by making it safer and easier for local school kids and the workers at Yarra View Nursery to cross busy York Road.”

DANGEROUS SCHOOL CROSSING GETS SAFETY UPGRADE

The Andrews Labor Government is boosting safety for Mount Evelyn Christian School students and Yarra View Nursery staff with new pedestrian operated traffic lights to be built at a notorious school crossing on York Road. Member for Monbulk James Merlino announced $490,000 to upgrade the current crossing on York Road between Karen Court and Hawkins Road – a major safety boost especially during school drop-off and pick-up times. The community have long-held concerns that staff with disabilities from the nursery are at risk crossing the road at times when a school crossing supervisor isn’t present. Yarra View Nursery employs a number of people with disabilities and upgrading the crossing will allow them to get to and from work safely. Works will also include an upgrade to the footpath near the north side bus stop, as well as road surface improvements that will stop the road from flooding during periods of heavy rain. Work on the new crossing will start later this year and it will be operational by mid-2017. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We know the community is concerned about this stretch of road. We’ve listened and we’re taking action.” “York Road has over 25,000 vehicles travelling on it every day and we’re doing the work to look after some of our community’s most vulnerable pedestrians and road users.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Metropolitan Victoria Shaun Leane “The new crossing will boost safety by making it safer and easier for local school kids and the workers at Yarra View Nursery to cross busy York Road.”

BILLANOOK PRIMARY SCHOOL UPGRADES A STEP CLOSER

Students at Billanook Primary School are another step closer to having a more inclusive school environment, with construction of a sensory trail, garden, outdoor kitchen and new classroom. Member for Monbulk, James Merlino today announced that work is expected to start within weeks. Billanook Primary School received $8,800 under the Andrews Labor Government’s Inclusive Schools Fund for upgrades to support students with disabilities better participate and engage with learning at their school. The upgrades include a sensory trail, garden, outdoor kitchen and new classroom. The Labor Government launched the Inclusive Schools Fund in 2015 to ensure students with disabilities get the same opportunities as other students. The Fund is one of nine initiatives in the Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools and provides funding to improve existing facilities and help achieve best practice for inclusivity at Victorian schools. The Andrews Labor Government is building the Education State so that every Victorian gets the opportunity for a great education and every community has access to a great school. The Labor Government delivered a record $1.1 billion investment to build, upgrade and maintain new and existing schools in the Victorian Budget 2016-17, including a $10 million boost to the Inclusive Schools Fund. Victorian government schools can apply for funding to build more inclusive and equitable facilities under the $20 million Inclusive Schools Fund. Last year 33 schools received funding for upgrades to build a more inclusive campus. Applications to the second round of funding available under the Inclusive School Fund will be held later this year. Quotes attributable to the Member James Merlino   “It is great to see Billanook Primary School move a step closer to getting the upgrades it needs to create a more inclusive school for all students.” “One of the most fundamental ways we can help our kids perform better at school is to improve school infrastructure to give them a better learning environment, which is why we created the Inclusive Schools Fund.” “This means investing the money needed to build the best schools possible for our kids, such as $8,800 for Billanook Primary Schools upgrade to provide a more inclusive environment.”

BILLANOOK PRIMARY SCHOOL UPGRADES A STEP CLOSER

Students at Billanook Primary School are another step closer to having a more inclusive school environment, with construction of a sensory trail, garden, outdoor kitchen and new classroom. Member for Monbulk, James Merlino today announced that work is expected to start within weeks. Billanook Primary School received $8,800 under the Andrews Labor Government’s Inclusive Schools Fund for upgrades to support students with disabilities better participate and engage with learning at their school. The upgrades include a sensory trail, garden, outdoor kitchen and new classroom. The Labor Government launched the Inclusive Schools Fund in 2015 to ensure students with disabilities get the same opportunities as other students. The Fund is one of nine initiatives in the Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools and provides funding to improve existing facilities and help achieve best practice for inclusivity at Victorian schools. The Andrews Labor Government is building the Education State so that every Victorian gets the opportunity for a great education and every community has access to a great school. The Labor Government delivered a record $1.1 billion investment to build, upgrade and maintain new and existing schools in the Victorian Budget 2016-17, including a $10 million boost to the Inclusive Schools Fund. Victorian government schools can apply for funding to build more inclusive and equitable facilities under the $20 million Inclusive Schools Fund. Last year 33 schools received funding for upgrades to build a more inclusive campus. Applications to the second round of funding available under the Inclusive School Fund will be held later this year. Quotes attributable to the Member James Merlino   “It is great to see Billanook Primary School move a step closer to getting the upgrades it needs to create a more inclusive school for all students.” “One of the most fundamental ways we can help our kids perform better at school is to improve school infrastructure to give them a better learning environment, which is why we created the Inclusive Schools Fund.” “This means investing the money needed to build the best schools possible for our kids, such as $8,800 for Billanook Primary Schools upgrade to provide a more inclusive environment.”

Building The Education State In Mildura

Students in Mildura were big winners in the Victorian Budget 2016/17 and will now enjoy the facilities they deserve thanks to an unprecedented investment in Victorian schools. Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes  today visited three local schools to meet staff and students, and discuss plans to improve facilities following a $16 million funding injection. The day began with a visit at Merbein P-10 College, which will receive $2.25 million to upgrade its facilities. Mr Merlino and Ms Symes also met students and teachers at Irymple Secondary College, who will benefit from a $7 million upgrade to facilities at their school. This was followed by a visit to Red Cliffs Secondary College, which will receive a $7 million upgrade to its facilities. This year’s Budget provides a record $1.1 billion in school infrastructure, with more than $16 million going to schools in Mildura. This huge investment in Mildura schools means that planning for significant upgrades can now get underway. The schools will now talk to students, teachers and the local community to decide on how they will use the funding. The three schools also received extra funding as part of the Labor Government’s Education State funding initiative which provides an extra $566 million to help students most in need and break the cycle of disadvantage. Red Cliffs Secondary College received $703,801 in funding under the program, Merbein P-10 received $630,350 and Irymple Secondary College received $459,806. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’ve invested a record $1.1 billion in school infrastructure this Budget, with almost 150 schools being upgraded across the state, including more than $16 million to upgrade schools in Mildura.” “Planning for these school upgrades in Mildura can now get underway and local students can have the facilities they deserve.” Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes “Improving school facilities here in Mildura will help our highly skilled and experienced teachers deliver better outcomes for our students.”  “Our investment of more than $16 million towards the modernisation and upgrade of these Mildura schools will enable the students to learn in a 21st century environment.” Download the Media Release (343 kB)

Building The Education State In Mildura

Students in Mildura were big winners in the Victorian Budget 2016/17 and will now enjoy the facilities they deserve thanks to an unprecedented investment in Victorian schools. Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes  today visited three local schools to meet staff and students, and discuss plans to improve facilities following a $16 million funding injection. The day began with a visit at Merbein P-10 College, which will receive $2.25 million to upgrade its facilities. Mr Merlino and Ms Symes also met students and teachers at Irymple Secondary College, who will benefit from a $7 million upgrade to facilities at their school. This was followed by a visit to Red Cliffs Secondary College, which will receive a $7 million upgrade to its facilities. This year’s Budget provides a record $1.1 billion in school infrastructure, with more than $16 million going to schools in Mildura. This huge investment in Mildura schools means that planning for significant upgrades can now get underway. The schools will now talk to students, teachers and the local community to decide on how they will use the funding. The three schools also received extra funding as part of the Labor Government’s Education State funding initiative which provides an extra $566 million to help students most in need and break the cycle of disadvantage. Red Cliffs Secondary College received $703,801 in funding under the program, Merbein P-10 received $630,350 and Irymple Secondary College received $459,806. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’ve invested a record $1.1 billion in school infrastructure this Budget, with almost 150 schools being upgraded across the state, including more than $16 million to upgrade schools in Mildura.” “Planning for these school upgrades in Mildura can now get underway and local students can have the facilities they deserve.” Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes “Improving school facilities here in Mildura will help our highly skilled and experienced teachers deliver better outcomes for our students.”  “Our investment of more than $16 million towards the modernisation and upgrade of these Mildura schools will enable the students to learn in a 21st century environment.” Download the Media Release (343 kB)

A Better CFA For A Safer Victoria

The Andrews Labor Government will establish a Country Fire Authority Performance and Policy Consultative Committee, uniting career firefighters, volunteers and management to improve the CFA’s performance and culture. The CFA Committee will be modelled on the Ambulance Performance and Policy Consultative Committee established in the wake of the ambulance crisis that worked to produce Victoria’s Ambulance Action Plan to improve services and save lives. The committee will work on an agreed set of priorities to improve its performance and culture, including issues such as: Improving culture and diversity within the organisation Ways to increase recruitment and retention of women firefighters Harnessing innovation and ways to deliver better services Recognising and valuing the work of volunteers and career firefighters Health and wellbeing of firefighters Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley will be a member of the committee, and his work in monitoring the implementation of the Enterprise Agreement and strengthening volunteer firefighting will guide the committee’s work. Quotes attributable to Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “Better fire services mean a safer Victoria – this is ultimately about putting the safety of our career and volunteer firefighters, and our community first.” “It’s clear there needs to be a fundamental culture shift in the CFA – and this is a real opportunity to address those challenges facing our state’s emergency services.” “A new board and new consultative committee will bring together volunteer and career firefighters, management and the Government to build a better culture and ultimately provide safety and certainty for all Victorians.” Download the Media Release (352 kB)

A Better CFA For A Safer Victoria

The Andrews Labor Government will establish a Country Fire Authority Performance and Policy Consultative Committee, uniting career firefighters, volunteers and management to improve the CFA’s performance and culture. The CFA Committee will be modelled on the Ambulance Performance and Policy Consultative Committee established in the wake of the ambulance crisis that worked to produce Victoria’s Ambulance Action Plan to improve services and save lives. The committee will work on an agreed set of priorities to improve its performance and culture, including issues such as: Improving culture and diversity within the organisation Ways to increase recruitment and retention of women firefighters Harnessing innovation and ways to deliver better services Recognising and valuing the work of volunteers and career firefighters Health and wellbeing of firefighters Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley will be a member of the committee, and his work in monitoring the implementation of the Enterprise Agreement and strengthening volunteer firefighting will guide the committee’s work. Quotes attributable to Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “Better fire services mean a safer Victoria – this is ultimately about putting the safety of our career and volunteer firefighters, and our community first.” “It’s clear there needs to be a fundamental culture shift in the CFA – and this is a real opportunity to address those challenges facing our state’s emergency services.” “A new board and new consultative committee will bring together volunteer and career firefighters, management and the Government to build a better culture and ultimately provide safety and certainty for all Victorians.” Download the Media Release (352 kB)