• State Member for Monbulk, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Emergency Services

    As your State Member of Parliament, I am passionate about representing our local community. My office and staff are here to help you and your family. Please feel free to contact my office in Belgrave, or send through an email.

  • Four New Schools For Melbourne’s Inner City Families

    More than 5,000 new student places will be created for Melbourne families, with a further three new primary schools and a high school to be built in the inner city. Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Albert Park Martin Foley today released the Docklands School Provision Review and Stage 2 of the Andrews Labor Government’s Inner City Schools Package in response.

  • Monbulk's own Champion of the Code

    One of Monbulk’s most dedicated grassroots footy volunteers has been declared a Champion of the Code. James Merlino MP, State Member for Monbulk nominated Danny Lamb, Kilsyth Football Club Junior President for an award at a special reception at Government House to pay tribute to the hard-working volunteers who make local footy tick.

  • Valuing our emergency services volunteers

    Emergency services volunteers will be able to get the equipment and facilities they need to keep communities safe, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government’s new volunteer grants program. Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today visited Wattle Glen CFA to launch the new Emergency Services Volunteer Sustainability Grants Program, with $15 million in grants available to volunteers in 2016-17.

  • State Member for Monbulk, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Emergency Services

    As your State Member of Parliament, I am passionate about representing our local community. My office and staff are here to help you and your family. Please feel free to contact my office in Belgrave, or send through an email.

Media Centre

MAJOR MAKEOVER FOR BURRINJA CULTURAL CENTRE

The Andrews Labor Government has delivered a further $2.75 million for community infrastructure projects across the Yarra Ranges Shire through the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF). Member for Monbulk James Merlino visited Upwey today to announce a $1.25 million GSF grant for a redevelopment of the Burrinja Cultural Centre. The centre is a significant community hub in the Dandenong Ranges which uses art to facilitate social bonding and inclusion. The site features multiple gallery spaces and artists’ studios, a significant collection of Indigenous and oceanic art, 400-seat theatre, black box space, kids ‘stay and play’ art activities, and rehearsal and meeting spaces. The $2.5 million project will create a unified indigenous community facility with improved internal layout for better usability, visibility and patron flow. Works include major refurbishments to the building, including the foyer and circulation space, artist studios, social gathering area, a gallery space, alongside the delivery of a new kitchen, café venue and foyer bar and accessible public amenities. Other GSF funded projects in Yarra Ranges under the latest funding round include:        $1 million toward a major upgrade to the Monbulk Community Sports Pavilion, which serves local sporting tenants and 14 local community groups. The upgraded pavilion will provide a multipurpose community space that will attract additional user groups to access the facility and place greater emphasis on supporting female participation in sport.        $500,000 towards the delivery of the Queens Park Healesville District Playspace, designed to deliver a creative, imaginative and educational playspace in Healesville. The Monbulk Community Sports Pavillion project is a $3.4 million project with broader works also including gender equitable change rooms, showers and amenities, first aid and medical rooms, gymnasium, canteen, community and room, commercial kitchen, office and multipurpose space. The GSF aims to improve the amenity, liveability and resilience of communities in Victoria’s 10 interface councils on Melbourne’s fringe. The latest $50 million 2017-19 Growing Suburbs Funding round will deliver 40 projects across Melbourne’s outer suburbs. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “The Burrinja Cultural Centre is a great part of the Upwey community and it’s great to be able support these much-needed restorations.” “This is a place where all members of our diverse, vibrant community can come together and develop long-lasting bonds from a young age.” “The Monbulk Community Sports Pavilion is the culmination of years of hard work from many people in our community and it is great   announce we can complete the project.”

MAJOR MAKEOVER FOR BURRINJA CULTURAL CENTRE

The Andrews Labor Government has delivered a further $2.75 million for community infrastructure projects across the Yarra Ranges Shire through the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF). Member for Monbulk James Merlino visited Upwey today to announce a $1.25 million GSF grant for a redevelopment of the Burrinja Cultural Centre. The centre is a significant community hub in the Dandenong Ranges which uses art to facilitate social bonding and inclusion. The site features multiple gallery spaces and artists’ studios, a significant collection of Indigenous and oceanic art, 400-seat theatre, black box space, kids ‘stay and play’ art activities, and rehearsal and meeting spaces. The $2.5 million project will create a unified indigenous community facility with improved internal layout for better usability, visibility and patron flow. Works include major refurbishments to the building, including the foyer and circulation space, artist studios, social gathering area, a gallery space, alongside the delivery of a new kitchen, café venue and foyer bar and accessible public amenities. Other GSF funded projects in Yarra Ranges under the latest funding round include:        $1 million toward a major upgrade to the Monbulk Community Sports Pavilion, which serves local sporting tenants and 14 local community groups. The upgraded pavilion will provide a multipurpose community space that will attract additional user groups to access the facility and place greater emphasis on supporting female participation in sport.        $500,000 towards the delivery of the Queens Park Healesville District Playspace, designed to deliver a creative, imaginative and educational playspace in Healesville. The Monbulk Community Sports Pavillion project is a $3.4 million project with broader works also including gender equitable change rooms, showers and amenities, first aid and medical rooms, gymnasium, canteen, community and room, commercial kitchen, office and multipurpose space. The GSF aims to improve the amenity, liveability and resilience of communities in Victoria’s 10 interface councils on Melbourne’s fringe. The latest $50 million 2017-19 Growing Suburbs Funding round will deliver 40 projects across Melbourne’s outer suburbs. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “The Burrinja Cultural Centre is a great part of the Upwey community and it’s great to be able support these much-needed restorations.” “This is a place where all members of our diverse, vibrant community can come together and develop long-lasting bonds from a young age.” “The Monbulk Community Sports Pavilion is the culmination of years of hard work from many people in our community and it is great   announce we can complete the project.”

SPORTS CLUBS ENCOURAGED TO APPLY FOR NEW GRANTS

Sports clubs in Monbulk will be looking to get the edge over their rivals, thanks to more funding to buy new equipment and help coaches and officials learn new skills. James Merlino MP today encouraged applications from local clubs for the next round of the $4.6 million Sporting Club Grants Program. The program delivers on the Andrews Labor Government’s work to make it easier for all Victorians, no matter they live, to play the sports they love. The Sporting Club Grants Program gives clubs the chance to secure grants to buy new sports uniforms and equipment, or to expand the skills of coaches and officials. Already, the program has provided over $2.8 million to more than 2,000 sport and active recreation organisations across the state. Grants of up to $1,000 are available to buy new team uniforms or equipment, while grants of up to $2,000 are available to expand the skills of coaches and officials. Clubs can also receive up to $5,000 for initiatives that strengthen their operations and grow their membership. There are also grants to support travel and accommodation costs over a 12 month period for athletes, coaches, officials or teams that are required to travel to train or compete – whether it’s their local competition or an Aboriginal sporting festival. The new Aboriginal Participation category is specifically working to break down barriers and make it easier for Aboriginal Victorians to get involved in grassroots sport. Applications for round six are now open until 24 January 2018. For more information or to apply online, visit sport.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to James Merlino MP We’re making sure our clubs in Monbulk are as strong as possible – that’s what these grants are all about. I encourage clubs to make the most of this support and apply online now for new uniforms, better equipment or training for their coaches. ͟Giving administrators and volunteers opportunities to improve their skills will also give our clubs the edge to make sure that they’re sustainable going forward.

SPORTS CLUBS ENCOURAGED TO APPLY FOR NEW GRANTS

Sports clubs in Monbulk will be looking to get the edge over their rivals, thanks to more funding to buy new equipment and help coaches and officials learn new skills. James Merlino MP today encouraged applications from local clubs for the next round of the $4.6 million Sporting Club Grants Program. The program delivers on the Andrews Labor Government’s work to make it easier for all Victorians, no matter they live, to play the sports they love. The Sporting Club Grants Program gives clubs the chance to secure grants to buy new sports uniforms and equipment, or to expand the skills of coaches and officials. Already, the program has provided over $2.8 million to more than 2,000 sport and active recreation organisations across the state. Grants of up to $1,000 are available to buy new team uniforms or equipment, while grants of up to $2,000 are available to expand the skills of coaches and officials. Clubs can also receive up to $5,000 for initiatives that strengthen their operations and grow their membership. There are also grants to support travel and accommodation costs over a 12 month period for athletes, coaches, officials or teams that are required to travel to train or compete – whether it’s their local competition or an Aboriginal sporting festival. The new Aboriginal Participation category is specifically working to break down barriers and make it easier for Aboriginal Victorians to get involved in grassroots sport. Applications for round six are now open until 24 January 2018. For more information or to apply online, visit sport.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to James Merlino MP We’re making sure our clubs in Monbulk are as strong as possible – that’s what these grants are all about. I encourage clubs to make the most of this support and apply online now for new uniforms, better equipment or training for their coaches. ͟Giving administrators and volunteers opportunities to improve their skills will also give our clubs the edge to make sure that they’re sustainable going forward.

$2 Million For New Classrooms At Marist-Sion College

Students from across the Warragul region will soon be learning in six brand new classrooms, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited Marist Sion College in Warragul to announce $2 million towards a new high quality, permanent building housing six classrooms, as well as additional learning spaces. As part of the $3 million project, five ageing relocatable classrooms will be demolished to make way for the new building. Marist Sion College is contributing $1 million towards the project. This is one of a number of construction projects underway at the school, which is also building a new $5 million learning centre comprised of 10 classrooms, food technology facilities and staff offices. Marist-Sion College is a co-educational Catholic independent school founded in 1975 in Warragul and attracts students from as far afield as Morwell and Pakenham to the Neerimand Ellinbank districts. It is one of the many Victorian schools benefiting from the Labor Government’s $120 million Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. The program has already seen more than 86 projects receive funding to build and upgrade Catholic and independent schools across the state. Thirty-eight schools – including Marist-Sion College – are sharing in $49.5 million in funding to expand and upgrade through the fund’s latest round. The fund is part of a $2.5 billion Labor Government investment over three years to build the Education State, giving every student access to a great local school with a great education. Victoria’s school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This brand new, state-of-the-art building is another example of how we’re making the investments we need to give every child – regardless of where they live, or the school they go to – the very best education.” “We’re getting rid of these old, tired relocatable classrooms and replacing them with brand new classrooms with the very best facilities – because the students at Marist-Sion College deserve nothing less.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing “Every student in Victoria deserves access to a great local school, and here in Warragul we’re making sure that they do.” “We want every student in Victoria to have access to a great local school and that is why we are investing in government and non-government schools right across the state.” Download the Media Release (358 KB)

$2 Million For New Classrooms At Marist-Sion College

Students from across the Warragul region will soon be learning in six brand new classrooms, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited Marist Sion College in Warragul to announce $2 million towards a new high quality, permanent building housing six classrooms, as well as additional learning spaces. As part of the $3 million project, five ageing relocatable classrooms will be demolished to make way for the new building. Marist Sion College is contributing $1 million towards the project. This is one of a number of construction projects underway at the school, which is also building a new $5 million learning centre comprised of 10 classrooms, food technology facilities and staff offices. Marist-Sion College is a co-educational Catholic independent school founded in 1975 in Warragul and attracts students from as far afield as Morwell and Pakenham to the Neerimand Ellinbank districts. It is one of the many Victorian schools benefiting from the Labor Government’s $120 million Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. The program has already seen more than 86 projects receive funding to build and upgrade Catholic and independent schools across the state. Thirty-eight schools – including Marist-Sion College – are sharing in $49.5 million in funding to expand and upgrade through the fund’s latest round. The fund is part of a $2.5 billion Labor Government investment over three years to build the Education State, giving every student access to a great local school with a great education. Victoria’s school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This brand new, state-of-the-art building is another example of how we’re making the investments we need to give every child – regardless of where they live, or the school they go to – the very best education.” “We’re getting rid of these old, tired relocatable classrooms and replacing them with brand new classrooms with the very best facilities – because the students at Marist-Sion College deserve nothing less.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing “Every student in Victoria deserves access to a great local school, and here in Warragul we’re making sure that they do.” “We want every student in Victoria to have access to a great local school and that is why we are investing in government and non-government schools right across the state.” Download the Media Release (358 KB)

Kurnai College $10 Million Upgrade Begins

Students in Morwell will soon have the first-rate classrooms and facilities they deserve, with work beginning on  upgrading Kurnai College thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today turned the first sod to start construction on the $10.1 million upgrade which include replacing old buildings at the College with modern facilities. Blocks A and F and the old Arts Block have been demolished to make way for Stage 1, which includes a new canteen, performing arts and food technology building, Year 9-10 classrooms and a science block. Stage 2 of the project will see the existing Block E and library demolished and replaced with new Years 7-8 classrooms and staff building. Stage 1 of the upgrade and modernisation of Kurnai College’s Morwell campus is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The project is part of a $2.5 billion investment by the Labor Government in the past three Budgets to improve classrooms, upgrade facilities and build new schools across the state. This school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’re getting on with the job of delivering much needed upgrades to Kurnai College’s Morwell campus, so that local students have the facilities and classrooms they need to succeed.” “Every student in Victoria deserves to have access to a great local school with great teachers and that is why we are making the investments we are.” Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing “New and modernised school buildings at Kurnai College’s Morwell campus will make a huge difference to this wonderful school’s pride, and give students, staff, parents and the wider community the facilities they deserve.” Download the Media Release (354 KB)

Kurnai College $10 Million Upgrade Begins

Students in Morwell will soon have the first-rate classrooms and facilities they deserve, with work beginning on  upgrading Kurnai College thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today turned the first sod to start construction on the $10.1 million upgrade which include replacing old buildings at the College with modern facilities. Blocks A and F and the old Arts Block have been demolished to make way for Stage 1, which includes a new canteen, performing arts and food technology building, Year 9-10 classrooms and a science block. Stage 2 of the project will see the existing Block E and library demolished and replaced with new Years 7-8 classrooms and staff building. Stage 1 of the upgrade and modernisation of Kurnai College’s Morwell campus is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The project is part of a $2.5 billion investment by the Labor Government in the past three Budgets to improve classrooms, upgrade facilities and build new schools across the state. This school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’re getting on with the job of delivering much needed upgrades to Kurnai College’s Morwell campus, so that local students have the facilities and classrooms they need to succeed.” “Every student in Victoria deserves to have access to a great local school with great teachers and that is why we are making the investments we are.” Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing “New and modernised school buildings at Kurnai College’s Morwell campus will make a huge difference to this wonderful school’s pride, and give students, staff, parents and the wider community the facilities they deserve.” Download the Media Release (354 KB)

$50 Million To Upgrade Non-Government Schools

Thousands of Victorian students attending 38 Catholic and independent schools across Victoria will benefit from better facilities and new and upgraded classrooms, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited Cornish College in Bangholme, to announce the growing school would receive $2 million to build new classrooms through round three of the Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. The popular Cornish College will use the funding to build new classrooms and study areas for its senior year students, including relocating Year 11 and 12 students to a new dedicated Senior Years centre. Construction is expected to start in April next year, with completion expected early 2019. It is one of the many Victorian schools benefiting from the Labor Government’s $120 million Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. The program has already seen more than 86 projects receive funding to build and upgrade Catholic and independent schools across the state. Thirty-eight schools – including Cornish College – are sharing in $49.5 million in funding to expand and upgrade through the fund’s latest round. The fund is part of a $2.5 billion Labor Government investment over three years to build the Education State, giving every student access to a great local school with a great education. Victoria’s school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This brand new, state-of-the-art building is another example of how we’re making the investments we need to give every child – regardless of where they live, or the school they go to – the very best education.” “We’re getting rid of these old, tired relocatable classrooms and replacing them with brand new classrooms with the very best facilities – because the students at Cornish College deserve nothing less.” Quote attributable to Member for Mordialloc Tim Richardson “This school attracts a large number of local kids and making this investment makes sure they will continue to have access to a great local school.” Download the Media Release (353 KB)

$50 Million To Upgrade Non-Government Schools

Thousands of Victorian students attending 38 Catholic and independent schools across Victoria will benefit from better facilities and new and upgraded classrooms, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited Cornish College in Bangholme, to announce the growing school would receive $2 million to build new classrooms through round three of the Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. The popular Cornish College will use the funding to build new classrooms and study areas for its senior year students, including relocating Year 11 and 12 students to a new dedicated Senior Years centre. Construction is expected to start in April next year, with completion expected early 2019. It is one of the many Victorian schools benefiting from the Labor Government’s $120 million Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. The program has already seen more than 86 projects receive funding to build and upgrade Catholic and independent schools across the state. Thirty-eight schools – including Cornish College – are sharing in $49.5 million in funding to expand and upgrade through the fund’s latest round. The fund is part of a $2.5 billion Labor Government investment over three years to build the Education State, giving every student access to a great local school with a great education. Victoria’s school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This brand new, state-of-the-art building is another example of how we’re making the investments we need to give every child – regardless of where they live, or the school they go to – the very best education.” “We’re getting rid of these old, tired relocatable classrooms and replacing them with brand new classrooms with the very best facilities – because the students at Cornish College deserve nothing less.” Quote attributable to Member for Mordialloc Tim Richardson “This school attracts a large number of local kids and making this investment makes sure they will continue to have access to a great local school.” Download the Media Release (353 KB)

NEW SPORTS PAVILION DELIVERED FOR BELGRAVE

The Andrews Labor Government has landed another election commitment, with the opening of a new sports pavilion in Belgrave. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today announced the completion of the Belgrave South Community Sports pavilion at an official opening. The pavilion will be able to host meetings, social and community events and will include a multi-purpose room, meeting room, kitchen, change rooms, toilets and umpiring facilities. The Labor Government contributed a total of $1 million towards the project, with $500,000 from the Growing Suburbs Fund and $500,000 from Sport and Recreation Victoria’s Community Sports Infrastructure Fund. Eight member groups, representing more than 1000 locals across sporting clubs, the Belgrave South Primary School and community house facilities, combined to raise $150,000 towards the construction of the pavilion. Yarra Ranges Council also contributed $950,000 to the project, in addition to $250,000 from the Commonwealth Government and $100,000 from Bendigo Bank. Sport and Recreation Victoria’s investment is also funding the development of a playground at the reserve, which is anticipated to be completed by mid-2018. The Labor Government has also invested $80,000 towards energy efficient LED lighting of the sports ground. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We promised we would bring new sporting facilities to Belgrave and we have delivered on that.” “What makes this project even more special is the amount of money chipped in by locals to get it off the ground.” Quote attributable to Minister for Local Government Marlene Kairouz “We’re making sure Melbourne’s growing suburbs get the infrastructure they deserve - and this new sports pavilion is another example.” Quote attributable to Minister for Sport John Eren “This brand new facility will encourage more people in Belgrave to get active, enjoy the outdoors and play the sports they love”

NEW SPORTS PAVILION DELIVERED FOR BELGRAVE

The Andrews Labor Government has landed another election commitment, with the opening of a new sports pavilion in Belgrave. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today announced the completion of the Belgrave South Community Sports pavilion at an official opening. The pavilion will be able to host meetings, social and community events and will include a multi-purpose room, meeting room, kitchen, change rooms, toilets and umpiring facilities. The Labor Government contributed a total of $1 million towards the project, with $500,000 from the Growing Suburbs Fund and $500,000 from Sport and Recreation Victoria’s Community Sports Infrastructure Fund. Eight member groups, representing more than 1000 locals across sporting clubs, the Belgrave South Primary School and community house facilities, combined to raise $150,000 towards the construction of the pavilion. Yarra Ranges Council also contributed $950,000 to the project, in addition to $250,000 from the Commonwealth Government and $100,000 from Bendigo Bank. Sport and Recreation Victoria’s investment is also funding the development of a playground at the reserve, which is anticipated to be completed by mid-2018. The Labor Government has also invested $80,000 towards energy efficient LED lighting of the sports ground. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We promised we would bring new sporting facilities to Belgrave and we have delivered on that.” “What makes this project even more special is the amount of money chipped in by locals to get it off the ground.” Quote attributable to Minister for Local Government Marlene Kairouz “We’re making sure Melbourne’s growing suburbs get the infrastructure they deserve - and this new sports pavilion is another example.” Quote attributable to Minister for Sport John Eren “This brand new facility will encourage more people in Belgrave to get active, enjoy the outdoors and play the sports they love”

Making Schools More Inclusive To Support All Students

Schools across Victoria will get a funding boost to build all-access play areas, sensory gardens and outdoor learning areas to support students with disabilities and special needs. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited Mandama Primary School in Grovedale to announce that another 14 schools will receive funding under the $20 million Inclusive Schools Fund. Mandama Primary School will receive $200,000 to create an all-access enclosed inclusive play space, fitted with specialist playing equipment that its 430 students of all abilities can enjoy in any weather condition. The fund is helping government schools better support the social and education needs of young people with a disability. Since it was established in 2015, 74 schools have already received up to $200,000 for their creative projects. The 14 schools announced today will share in $2.6 million in round three funding to build inclusive play spaces, outdoor learning areas, sensory gardens and calm spaces. The Inclusive Schools Fund is one of nine initiatives in the Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools, which is ensuring that students with disabilities get the same opportunities as other students. This includes the annual Accessible Buildings Program, which provides government schools with funding for facilities to support students, parents and teachers with injuries or disabilities. More information about these projects is available at: www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Building the Education State means making sure everyone can access a great education – no matter their circumstances.” “It’s vital that primary schools inspire a lifelong passion for learning among young students and it’s essential disability isn’t a barrier to that.” Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney “Mandama Primary School does an incredible job supporting its students and this project will help them continue to do that regardless of a child’s abilities.”.” “I’m confident students will make great use of their new play space, which will be enjoyed by children of all abilities.” Download the Media Release (350 KB)

Making Schools More Inclusive To Support All Students

Schools across Victoria will get a funding boost to build all-access play areas, sensory gardens and outdoor learning areas to support students with disabilities and special needs. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited Mandama Primary School in Grovedale to announce that another 14 schools will receive funding under the $20 million Inclusive Schools Fund. Mandama Primary School will receive $200,000 to create an all-access enclosed inclusive play space, fitted with specialist playing equipment that its 430 students of all abilities can enjoy in any weather condition. The fund is helping government schools better support the social and education needs of young people with a disability. Since it was established in 2015, 74 schools have already received up to $200,000 for their creative projects. The 14 schools announced today will share in $2.6 million in round three funding to build inclusive play spaces, outdoor learning areas, sensory gardens and calm spaces. The Inclusive Schools Fund is one of nine initiatives in the Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools, which is ensuring that students with disabilities get the same opportunities as other students. This includes the annual Accessible Buildings Program, which provides government schools with funding for facilities to support students, parents and teachers with injuries or disabilities. More information about these projects is available at: www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Building the Education State means making sure everyone can access a great education – no matter their circumstances.” “It’s vital that primary schools inspire a lifelong passion for learning among young students and it’s essential disability isn’t a barrier to that.” Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney “Mandama Primary School does an incredible job supporting its students and this project will help them continue to do that regardless of a child’s abilities.”.” “I’m confident students will make great use of their new play space, which will be enjoyed by children of all abilities.” Download the Media Release (350 KB)

Blue Skies As Historic Yacht Club Sails Towards Future

The historic Royal Geelong Yacht Club will continue to be the focus of the city’s famed Waterfront precinct thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino, Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville, Member for Lara John Eren and Member for Geelong Christine Couzens today visited the Royal Geelong Yacht Club to announce a funding boost of $3.5 million to redevelop the Victorian Sailing Water Safety School into a first-rate training facility. This announcement brings the total state and local investment in the Geelong Safe Harbour Precinct to $13.5 million. Currently occupied by the Victorian Sailing Water Safety School – which is a campus of Newcomb Secondary College – and the Yacht Club’s Off-the-Beach Clubhouse, the site will be rebuilt into a modern facility. This latest investment is from the Labor Government’s $50 million Shared Facilities Fund, which is putting schools at the centre of our neighbourhoods by building cultural and sporting facilities that the entire community can use. It will ensure the school is able to offer life-saving boating and water safety training for the broader Geelong community, as well as for school students from across the region and around the state. The new facility will house meeting rooms and classrooms, accommodation for 30 to 40 students, a digital technology hub and theatrette, demonstration areas, maintenance and storage facilities. Construction is expected to start in September 2018 and take approximately 14 months. Today’s announcement brings the Labor Government’s contribution to the Safe Harbour Precinct Development precinct to $7.5 million. The Royal Geelong Yacht Club and the City of Greater Geelong have each contributed $3 million to the precinct development. Quote attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This development will not only benefit Geelong but the students and adults who will travel from across Victoria to enjoy these facilities.” Quote attributable to Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville “We’re delivering better facilities for school students at the yacht club, and contributing to the overall transformation of the club and the Geelong waterfront.” Quote attributable to Member for Lara John Eren “We’re proud to be building a new home for sailing and water safety in Geelong, which will make a real difference for local students, athletes and families.”  Quote attributable to Member for Geelong Christine Couzens “This investment will foster a stronger sense of community, which can only benefit students.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

Blue Skies As Historic Yacht Club Sails Towards Future

The historic Royal Geelong Yacht Club will continue to be the focus of the city’s famed Waterfront precinct thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino, Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville, Member for Lara John Eren and Member for Geelong Christine Couzens today visited the Royal Geelong Yacht Club to announce a funding boost of $3.5 million to redevelop the Victorian Sailing Water Safety School into a first-rate training facility. This announcement brings the total state and local investment in the Geelong Safe Harbour Precinct to $13.5 million. Currently occupied by the Victorian Sailing Water Safety School – which is a campus of Newcomb Secondary College – and the Yacht Club’s Off-the-Beach Clubhouse, the site will be rebuilt into a modern facility. This latest investment is from the Labor Government’s $50 million Shared Facilities Fund, which is putting schools at the centre of our neighbourhoods by building cultural and sporting facilities that the entire community can use. It will ensure the school is able to offer life-saving boating and water safety training for the broader Geelong community, as well as for school students from across the region and around the state. The new facility will house meeting rooms and classrooms, accommodation for 30 to 40 students, a digital technology hub and theatrette, demonstration areas, maintenance and storage facilities. Construction is expected to start in September 2018 and take approximately 14 months. Today’s announcement brings the Labor Government’s contribution to the Safe Harbour Precinct Development precinct to $7.5 million. The Royal Geelong Yacht Club and the City of Greater Geelong have each contributed $3 million to the precinct development. Quote attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This development will not only benefit Geelong but the students and adults who will travel from across Victoria to enjoy these facilities.” Quote attributable to Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville “We’re delivering better facilities for school students at the yacht club, and contributing to the overall transformation of the club and the Geelong waterfront.” Quote attributable to Member for Lara John Eren “We’re proud to be building a new home for sailing and water safety in Geelong, which will make a real difference for local students, athletes and families.”  Quote attributable to Member for Geelong Christine Couzens “This investment will foster a stronger sense of community, which can only benefit students.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

 

A New Parkland Precinct To Transform Olinda

The Andrews Labor Government is giving Olinda families and visitors the community parkland they deserve, transforming a former golf course into a new public precinct. Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio and Member for Monbulk James Merlino today announced more than $4.72 million for the Olinda Precinct Project. This picturesque site, which sits next to the newly-renamed Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, will return 34 hectares of open space to the community. Project plans have been developed in close consultation with locals and will include a sports oval, nature-based play area, picnic facilities and upgraded parking. Designs for the precinct are expected to be released in early 2018 – with construction to commence by mid-2018. The project will support the growing needs of the Olinda and Hilltop communities while preserving the unique character of the historical township. The National Rhododendron Garden will also be renamed the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden to reflect its position as one of the premier cool-climate gardens in Melbourne. This will boost the profile of this attraction and help foster new partnerships with the city’s other botanic gardens. As part of the Olinda Precinct Project, the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden will be extended by 6.4 hectares. The Garden features a collection of more than 50,000 rare and exotic plants, many of which are endangered. Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio “This park is destined to become the heart of this local community – where people can enjoy the outdoors and bask in the natural environment.” “We are thrilled to be transforming this former golf course into a beautiful space for the Olinda community to enjoy for generations to come.” Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “The community has been advocating for this site to be transformed to a public park for all types of recreation – we’ve listened and we’re getting it done.” “I look forward to bringing my own family here to kick the footy, enjoy a picnic and make the most of this beautiful setting.” Download the Media Release (153 KB)

A New Parkland Precinct To Transform Olinda

The Andrews Labor Government is giving Olinda families and visitors the community parkland they deserve, transforming a former golf course into a new public precinct. Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio and Member for Monbulk James Merlino today announced more than $4.72 million for the Olinda Precinct Project. This picturesque site, which sits next to the newly-renamed Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, will return 34 hectares of open space to the community. Project plans have been developed in close consultation with locals and will include a sports oval, nature-based play area, picnic facilities and upgraded parking. Designs for the precinct are expected to be released in early 2018 – with construction to commence by mid-2018. The project will support the growing needs of the Olinda and Hilltop communities while preserving the unique character of the historical township. The National Rhododendron Garden will also be renamed the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden to reflect its position as one of the premier cool-climate gardens in Melbourne. This will boost the profile of this attraction and help foster new partnerships with the city’s other botanic gardens. As part of the Olinda Precinct Project, the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden will be extended by 6.4 hectares. The Garden features a collection of more than 50,000 rare and exotic plants, many of which are endangered. Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio “This park is destined to become the heart of this local community – where people can enjoy the outdoors and bask in the natural environment.” “We are thrilled to be transforming this former golf course into a beautiful space for the Olinda community to enjoy for generations to come.” Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “The community has been advocating for this site to be transformed to a public park for all types of recreation – we’ve listened and we’re getting it done.” “I look forward to bringing my own family here to kick the footy, enjoy a picnic and make the most of this beautiful setting.” Download the Media Release (153 KB)

$13 Million Boost For Victoria’s Emergency Volunteers

Emergency services volunteers across the state will share in $13 million in grants to help them keep Victorian communities safe, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today visited the Stawell SES unit today to announce the outcome of the 2017-18 Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program, delivering grants to 300 successful applicants. The program funds operational equipment, including vehicles, trucks, tankers, watercraft, trailers and minor facility upgrades. Stawell SES successfully applied for $65,000 to help in the purchase of a new Crew Cab vehicle. The new vehicle will significantly improve the unit’s ability to respond to incidents in areas with steep terrain and limited road access, such as in the Grampians National Park. The grants package assists all our emergency services volunteer organisations, including: $9.55 million for volunteer CFA brigades $2.05 million for SES units More than $750,000 for Life Saving Victoria clubs More than $320,000 for the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association Almost $290,000 for other volunteer organisations Almost $50,000 to cover additional costs incurred by volunteers. The Labor Government is also allocating almost $2.5 million in state-wide initiatives. For more information about the grants and a complete list of successful recipients under this round, visit the Emergency Management Victoria website: https://www.emv.vic.gov.au/vesep Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “Volunteers are there for us in our time of need, responding to thousands of incidents every year across the state.” “This funding boost will give these brigades, units and clubs a helping hand so that they can purchase the equipment they need to get on with the job of keeping Victorians safe.” Quote attributable to Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford “Stawell SES do an incredible job protecting the local community and this new vehicle will make a real difference in rugged areas like the Grampians National Park.” Download the Media Release (311 KB)

$13 Million Boost For Victoria’s Emergency Volunteers

Emergency services volunteers across the state will share in $13 million in grants to help them keep Victorian communities safe, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today visited the Stawell SES unit today to announce the outcome of the 2017-18 Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program, delivering grants to 300 successful applicants. The program funds operational equipment, including vehicles, trucks, tankers, watercraft, trailers and minor facility upgrades. Stawell SES successfully applied for $65,000 to help in the purchase of a new Crew Cab vehicle. The new vehicle will significantly improve the unit’s ability to respond to incidents in areas with steep terrain and limited road access, such as in the Grampians National Park. The grants package assists all our emergency services volunteer organisations, including: $9.55 million for volunteer CFA brigades $2.05 million for SES units More than $750,000 for Life Saving Victoria clubs More than $320,000 for the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association Almost $290,000 for other volunteer organisations Almost $50,000 to cover additional costs incurred by volunteers. The Labor Government is also allocating almost $2.5 million in state-wide initiatives. For more information about the grants and a complete list of successful recipients under this round, visit the Emergency Management Victoria website: https://www.emv.vic.gov.au/vesep Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “Volunteers are there for us in our time of need, responding to thousands of incidents every year across the state.” “This funding boost will give these brigades, units and clubs a helping hand so that they can purchase the equipment they need to get on with the job of keeping Victorians safe.” Quote attributable to Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford “Stawell SES do an incredible job protecting the local community and this new vehicle will make a real difference in rugged areas like the Grampians National Park.” Download the Media Release (311 KB)

Ararat Students To Enjoy Modern New Classrooms

Work will begin to replace classrooms recently damaged in a fire at Ararat West Primary School thanks to a $2.1 million funding boost from the Andrews Labor Government. Visiting the school today, Minister for Education James Merlino announced a new modular building would be constructed to replace Block B which was damaged by the fire. The new building will include classrooms, an art and craft room and staff working areas. Students returned to the school this week following the fire last month which forced them to relocate temporarily to Ararat Secondary College. The school is the latest to receive funding as part of the Labor Government’s $155 million program of asbestos removal and building replacement. Across the state the first 26 schools have  now been announced to receive modular buildings as part of the rollout. These new, innovative buildings reduce planning and building times, meaning students and teachers will get these brand new facilities sooner, with less disruption to learning and teaching programs. Work is expected to begin in March 2018 and be completed in mid-2018 in time for the beginning of Term 3. As part of its emergency response to the fire, the Labor Government also invested $370,000 to furnish and install  relocatable buildings at the site. The Government undertook an extensive, state-wide audit of 1,712 government schools, which found 497 schools contained high-risk asbestos. The high-risk asbestos was removed from all of these schools by March 2016. The Victorian Budget 2017/18 provided $85 million to remove more asbestos from more schools, including funding to install the first 30 of the 100 proposed modular school rooms. A full list of schools already announced as part of the program can be found at: http://www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au/Pages/Permanent-Modular-School-Buildings-Program.aspx Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The fire had a big impact on this school community that is why it is so important that we quickly responded to give these kids the facilities they need.” “Every child deserves to have great facilities, great teachers and get a great education and that is what we are doing right across the state.” Quote attributable to Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford “This incident has demonstrated the strength of the Ararat community and it gives us great pleasure to bring some positive news after such a sad event.” Download the Media Release (354 KB)

Ararat Students To Enjoy Modern New Classrooms

Work will begin to replace classrooms recently damaged in a fire at Ararat West Primary School thanks to a $2.1 million funding boost from the Andrews Labor Government. Visiting the school today, Minister for Education James Merlino announced a new modular building would be constructed to replace Block B which was damaged by the fire. The new building will include classrooms, an art and craft room and staff working areas. Students returned to the school this week following the fire last month which forced them to relocate temporarily to Ararat Secondary College. The school is the latest to receive funding as part of the Labor Government’s $155 million program of asbestos removal and building replacement. Across the state the first 26 schools have  now been announced to receive modular buildings as part of the rollout. These new, innovative buildings reduce planning and building times, meaning students and teachers will get these brand new facilities sooner, with less disruption to learning and teaching programs. Work is expected to begin in March 2018 and be completed in mid-2018 in time for the beginning of Term 3. As part of its emergency response to the fire, the Labor Government also invested $370,000 to furnish and install  relocatable buildings at the site. The Government undertook an extensive, state-wide audit of 1,712 government schools, which found 497 schools contained high-risk asbestos. The high-risk asbestos was removed from all of these schools by March 2016. The Victorian Budget 2017/18 provided $85 million to remove more asbestos from more schools, including funding to install the first 30 of the 100 proposed modular school rooms. A full list of schools already announced as part of the program can be found at: http://www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au/Pages/Permanent-Modular-School-Buildings-Program.aspx Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The fire had a big impact on this school community that is why it is so important that we quickly responded to give these kids the facilities they need.” “Every child deserves to have great facilities, great teachers and get a great education and that is what we are doing right across the state.” Quote attributable to Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford “This incident has demonstrated the strength of the Ararat community and it gives us great pleasure to bring some positive news after such a sad event.” Download the Media Release (354 KB)

Stawell Students To Benefit From New Learning Hub

Students at St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Stawell now have a new senior learning hub, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School to officially open the $1.2 million facility for year three to six students. The Labor Government contributed $500,000 to the project, which consists of four classrooms that can be converted into one large open learning space through the use of sliding divider walls. There is also an additional room that can be used by smaller groups or for one-on-one specialist learning sessions such as the Reading Recovery program. St Patrick’s, a small co-educational school catering for students in prep to year six, is one of many Victorian Schools benefitting from the Government’s $120 million Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. Funds from the program are used to upgrade those schools with the highest infrastructure needs, creating modern and fit-for-purpose facilities for Catholic and independent schools across the state. The Government is investing $2.5 billion in better classrooms, upgraded facilities and new schools across the state. Victoria’s school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Non-government schools are an important part of Victoria’s education system, with more than one third of Victorian students studying in Catholic or independent schools.” “We need to make sure our funding is targeted where it is needed most and these upgrades will make a real difference for students at St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School.” Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford “St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School is a great school full of hardworking teachers and they deserve nothing but the best facilities.” “Stawell families can be proud of this upgrade, which will help teachers get on with the job of helping students achieve their best.” Download the Media Release (353 KB)

Stawell Students To Benefit From New Learning Hub

Students at St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Stawell now have a new senior learning hub, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School to officially open the $1.2 million facility for year three to six students. The Labor Government contributed $500,000 to the project, which consists of four classrooms that can be converted into one large open learning space through the use of sliding divider walls. There is also an additional room that can be used by smaller groups or for one-on-one specialist learning sessions such as the Reading Recovery program. St Patrick’s, a small co-educational school catering for students in prep to year six, is one of many Victorian Schools benefitting from the Government’s $120 million Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools. Funds from the program are used to upgrade those schools with the highest infrastructure needs, creating modern and fit-for-purpose facilities for Catholic and independent schools across the state. The Government is investing $2.5 billion in better classrooms, upgraded facilities and new schools across the state. Victoria’s school building boom has delivered more than 1,000 school upgrades and 56 new school projects across the state, supporting almost 5,000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Non-government schools are an important part of Victoria’s education system, with more than one third of Victorian students studying in Catholic or independent schools.” “We need to make sure our funding is targeted where it is needed most and these upgrades will make a real difference for students at St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School.” Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford “St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School is a great school full of hardworking teachers and they deserve nothing but the best facilities.” “Stawell families can be proud of this upgrade, which will help teachers get on with the job of helping students achieve their best.” Download the Media Release (353 KB)

Brand New Home For Northcote SES

Northcote SES volunteers will swap their flood-prone base for a modern operational hub, thanks to $3 million in funding from the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino joined Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines today to announce the Northcote unit will relocate to the site previously occupied by the Heidelberg West Police. A significant redevelopment of the site will commence shortly. The current and dilapidated building was assessed in 2012 as unfit to be a police station. Uniformed police officers service the Heidelberg West community from the nearby and purpose built Heidelberg Police Station. Northcote SES has 36 volunteer members and responds to incidents across Melbourne’s north, principally in the Darebin, Banyule and Yarra municipalities. The unit responded to 734 requests for assistance in 2016–17, a 70 per cent increase on the 2015–16 financial year. The current site in Alphington has a number of issues, including insufficient space to house all of the unit’s vehicles and limited changing-room facilities. Poor drainage means it is constantly at risk of flooding, while the lack of car parking close to the building impacts on volunteers’ ability to respond quickly to emergencies. The funding is in addition to $34.3 million in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to modernise SES buildings across the state and provide units with new trucks, boats and trailers. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “Northcote SES is one of the busiest units in the state, so it’s important it has a modern, fit-for-purpose base to support its hard-working volunteers.” “The new site in Heidelberg West is centrally located, enabling members to respond quickly to emergencies across Melbourne’s northern suburbs.” Quotes attributable to Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines “Our community welcomes the Northcote SES to West Heidelberg and their new base on the old police station site.” “Northcote SES members do a wonderful job protecting our area. It is important that they have state-of-the–art facilities” Quotes attributable to Victoria State Emergency Service CEO Stephen Griffin “I am delighted and thank the Victorian Government for providing VICSES with $3 million to develop the Heidelberg West Police Station into a new purpose-built facility for our volunteers.” “This improved location will mean better response times for areas that may be affected by storm and flood damage.” Download the Media Release (302 KB)

Brand New Home For Northcote SES

Northcote SES volunteers will swap their flood-prone base for a modern operational hub, thanks to $3 million in funding from the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino joined Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines today to announce the Northcote unit will relocate to the site previously occupied by the Heidelberg West Police. A significant redevelopment of the site will commence shortly. The current and dilapidated building was assessed in 2012 as unfit to be a police station. Uniformed police officers service the Heidelberg West community from the nearby and purpose built Heidelberg Police Station. Northcote SES has 36 volunteer members and responds to incidents across Melbourne’s north, principally in the Darebin, Banyule and Yarra municipalities. The unit responded to 734 requests for assistance in 2016–17, a 70 per cent increase on the 2015–16 financial year. The current site in Alphington has a number of issues, including insufficient space to house all of the unit’s vehicles and limited changing-room facilities. Poor drainage means it is constantly at risk of flooding, while the lack of car parking close to the building impacts on volunteers’ ability to respond quickly to emergencies. The funding is in addition to $34.3 million in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to modernise SES buildings across the state and provide units with new trucks, boats and trailers. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “Northcote SES is one of the busiest units in the state, so it’s important it has a modern, fit-for-purpose base to support its hard-working volunteers.” “The new site in Heidelberg West is centrally located, enabling members to respond quickly to emergencies across Melbourne’s northern suburbs.” Quotes attributable to Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines “Our community welcomes the Northcote SES to West Heidelberg and their new base on the old police station site.” “Northcote SES members do a wonderful job protecting our area. It is important that they have state-of-the–art facilities” Quotes attributable to Victoria State Emergency Service CEO Stephen Griffin “I am delighted and thank the Victorian Government for providing VICSES with $3 million to develop the Heidelberg West Police Station into a new purpose-built facility for our volunteers.” “This improved location will mean better response times for areas that may be affected by storm and flood damage.” Download the Media Release (302 KB)

Full Steam Ahead For Puffing Billy

Victoria’s iconic Puffing Billy will undergo major works to boost visitor numbers and bring more business to the region, thanks to funding from the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren and Member for Monbulk James Merlino have announced $8.2 million to improve facilities at the popular tourist spot. A new Discovery Centre will be built at Lakeside Station, improving services and featuring educational and volunteer facilities, a café, and space to host events and meetings. With the existing network currently at capacity, these works are vital to cater for growing demand. Loved by locals and visitors alike, Puffing Billy continues to attract record numbers of passengers. More than 487,000 people flocked to the railway in 2016-17, with 60 per cent visiting from overseas. This is the highest patronage of any narrow gauge steam heritage railway in the world that is a volunteer-based, not for profit operation. Tourism means serious business in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges – creating around 7,300 jobs and generating close to $560 million for the local economy in 2015-16. Puffing Billy is a major driver of this activity, delivering around $10.2 million to the economy, supporting 101 jobs, and engaging more than 900 volunteers. Today’s announcement will ensure Puffing Billy continues to be a significant drawcard for the region into the future, attracting visitors from all over Victoria, Australia and overseas – creating more business for local traders. The funding will help kick off the first phase of the Puffing Billy Master Plan 2017, which involved extensive community consultation and support from the Emerald Tourist Railway Board. Construction is expected to commence before the end of 2018 and be complete by late 2020. Quotes attributable to Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren  “Puffing Billy is one of Victoria’s greatest tourist attractions, but it needs some extra steam to stay on track.” “These upgrades will give this famous railway the facilities it needs to attract more visitors going forward – and that’s good news for local jobs and businesses.”     Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “For more than 100 years, locals have made lifelong memories here, and we want that to continue well into the future.”  “Puffing Billy is a place that values its volunteers and gives visitors a taste of what our beautiful region has to offer.”      Download the Media Release (337 KB)

Full Steam Ahead For Puffing Billy

Victoria’s iconic Puffing Billy will undergo major works to boost visitor numbers and bring more business to the region, thanks to funding from the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren and Member for Monbulk James Merlino have announced $8.2 million to improve facilities at the popular tourist spot. A new Discovery Centre will be built at Lakeside Station, improving services and featuring educational and volunteer facilities, a café, and space to host events and meetings. With the existing network currently at capacity, these works are vital to cater for growing demand. Loved by locals and visitors alike, Puffing Billy continues to attract record numbers of passengers. More than 487,000 people flocked to the railway in 2016-17, with 60 per cent visiting from overseas. This is the highest patronage of any narrow gauge steam heritage railway in the world that is a volunteer-based, not for profit operation. Tourism means serious business in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges – creating around 7,300 jobs and generating close to $560 million for the local economy in 2015-16. Puffing Billy is a major driver of this activity, delivering around $10.2 million to the economy, supporting 101 jobs, and engaging more than 900 volunteers. Today’s announcement will ensure Puffing Billy continues to be a significant drawcard for the region into the future, attracting visitors from all over Victoria, Australia and overseas – creating more business for local traders. The funding will help kick off the first phase of the Puffing Billy Master Plan 2017, which involved extensive community consultation and support from the Emerald Tourist Railway Board. Construction is expected to commence before the end of 2018 and be complete by late 2020. Quotes attributable to Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren  “Puffing Billy is one of Victoria’s greatest tourist attractions, but it needs some extra steam to stay on track.” “These upgrades will give this famous railway the facilities it needs to attract more visitors going forward – and that’s good news for local jobs and businesses.”     Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “For more than 100 years, locals have made lifelong memories here, and we want that to continue well into the future.”  “Puffing Billy is a place that values its volunteers and gives visitors a taste of what our beautiful region has to offer.”      Download the Media Release (337 KB)

Kicking Goals At Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College

Pascoe Vale students will soon have access to the first-rate sporting facilities they deserve, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Pascoe Vale Lizzie Blandthorn today visited Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College to announce the school will receive $200,000 from the School Pride and Sports Fund to resurface its sports oval. It will also be one of the first schools to take part in a new project to assess the condition of school facilities. The oval has been out of action because of an uneven surface, meaning the school has had to predominantly run its sports program inside. The funding boost will be used to replace the uneven surface with new natural turf, improving the oval drainage and increasing its size. Once complete, the school will be able to introduce a range of new sports, host inter-school sports competitions and allow students to use the oval for general recreation at recess and lunch times. Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College will also have its facilities assessed in 2018 under the new Rolling Facilities Evaluation, which will assess the condition of every Government school’s facilities over the next five years. The assessment will continue on a rolling basis, meaning that after the first five years no school will go for more than five years without a condition assessment. The last condition assessment of Victorian schools was completed in 2012 and the information gathered in the new Rolling Facilities Evaluation, which will begin next year, will be used to prioritise which school facilities need maintenance and upgrades. The $21 million School Pride and Sports Fund helps strengthen community pride in schools and build sporting facilities for students and is part of the Government’s plan to boost physical activity in our schools. This includes meeting the Education State target of raising the proportion of kids doing physical activity five times a week by 20 per cent. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino                                                                      “Projects like this one can make a big difference to the everyday experiences of students who deserve nothing less than first-rate sports facilities.” “Lizzie Blandthorn advocated strongly for this upgrade to the sports oval and I’m sure it will increase community pride in this wonderful school.” Quotes attributable to Member for Pascoe Vale Lizzie Blandthorn “This sports oval will give students the chance to play sports such as athletics, AFL, soccer, hockey, cricket and softball on campus.” “I’m sure many students will take full advantage of this improved sports facility to stay physically active and even try their hand at a new sport.” Download the Media Release (160 KB)

Kicking Goals At Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College

Pascoe Vale students will soon have access to the first-rate sporting facilities they deserve, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Pascoe Vale Lizzie Blandthorn today visited Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College to announce the school will receive $200,000 from the School Pride and Sports Fund to resurface its sports oval. It will also be one of the first schools to take part in a new project to assess the condition of school facilities. The oval has been out of action because of an uneven surface, meaning the school has had to predominantly run its sports program inside. The funding boost will be used to replace the uneven surface with new natural turf, improving the oval drainage and increasing its size. Once complete, the school will be able to introduce a range of new sports, host inter-school sports competitions and allow students to use the oval for general recreation at recess and lunch times. Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College will also have its facilities assessed in 2018 under the new Rolling Facilities Evaluation, which will assess the condition of every Government school’s facilities over the next five years. The assessment will continue on a rolling basis, meaning that after the first five years no school will go for more than five years without a condition assessment. The last condition assessment of Victorian schools was completed in 2012 and the information gathered in the new Rolling Facilities Evaluation, which will begin next year, will be used to prioritise which school facilities need maintenance and upgrades. The $21 million School Pride and Sports Fund helps strengthen community pride in schools and build sporting facilities for students and is part of the Government’s plan to boost physical activity in our schools. This includes meeting the Education State target of raising the proportion of kids doing physical activity five times a week by 20 per cent. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino                                                                      “Projects like this one can make a big difference to the everyday experiences of students who deserve nothing less than first-rate sports facilities.” “Lizzie Blandthorn advocated strongly for this upgrade to the sports oval and I’m sure it will increase community pride in this wonderful school.” Quotes attributable to Member for Pascoe Vale Lizzie Blandthorn “This sports oval will give students the chance to play sports such as athletics, AFL, soccer, hockey, cricket and softball on campus.” “I’m sure many students will take full advantage of this improved sports facility to stay physically active and even try their hand at a new sport.” Download the Media Release (160 KB)

Students Impress With Beacon Of Learning

Year nine students in Melbourne’s east will soon enjoy brand new facilities, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino visited Beaconhills College in Pakenham on Friday to see how its new purpose-built year nine centre was progressing following a Labor Government investment of $2.865 million. Beaconhills College is an independent, co-educational Christian school that now comprises five sub-schools – Little Beacons for students from six months to four years,  to year four, a Middle School for students in years five to eight, year nine, and a Senior School for students in years 10 to 12. In 1997 it was the first school in Victoria to establish a dedicated year nine program on campus with features designed specifically for students of that age. These include having specialist teachers who understand the needs of teenagers, purpose-built facilities, skills-based learning and a supportive environment that increases students’ chances of success. The new year nine centre will include six general-purpose classrooms, breakout spaces, staff offices, drama and music rooms, student and staff amenities as well as car parking and external landscaping. The building works began in April this year and are on track to be completed in April next year in time for term two. Beaconhills is one of 30 non-government schools to receive funding under the Government’s $32.8 million Non-government Schools Capital Fund. Over the last three years, the Labor Government’s capital program has provided more than $100 million to 92 independent and Catholic schools. Quotes attributable to the Minister for Education James Merlino “The year nine students at Beaconhills are part of a tight-knit community where strong friendships are forged, and this centre will help students feel comfortable, accepted and connected.” “It is innovations such as these that deserve the funding support of government and we are only too happy to help.”  Quotes attributable to the Member for Eastern Victoria Daniel Mulino “Beaconhills is a forward-thinking successful school and this year nine centre is something the entire community can be proud of.”   Download the Media Release (159 KB)

Students Impress With Beacon Of Learning

Year nine students in Melbourne’s east will soon enjoy brand new facilities, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino visited Beaconhills College in Pakenham on Friday to see how its new purpose-built year nine centre was progressing following a Labor Government investment of $2.865 million. Beaconhills College is an independent, co-educational Christian school that now comprises five sub-schools – Little Beacons for students from six months to four years,  to year four, a Middle School for students in years five to eight, year nine, and a Senior School for students in years 10 to 12. In 1997 it was the first school in Victoria to establish a dedicated year nine program on campus with features designed specifically for students of that age. These include having specialist teachers who understand the needs of teenagers, purpose-built facilities, skills-based learning and a supportive environment that increases students’ chances of success. The new year nine centre will include six general-purpose classrooms, breakout spaces, staff offices, drama and music rooms, student and staff amenities as well as car parking and external landscaping. The building works began in April this year and are on track to be completed in April next year in time for term two. Beaconhills is one of 30 non-government schools to receive funding under the Government’s $32.8 million Non-government Schools Capital Fund. Over the last three years, the Labor Government’s capital program has provided more than $100 million to 92 independent and Catholic schools. Quotes attributable to the Minister for Education James Merlino “The year nine students at Beaconhills are part of a tight-knit community where strong friendships are forged, and this centre will help students feel comfortable, accepted and connected.” “It is innovations such as these that deserve the funding support of government and we are only too happy to help.”  Quotes attributable to the Member for Eastern Victoria Daniel Mulino “Beaconhills is a forward-thinking successful school and this year nine centre is something the entire community can be proud of.”   Download the Media Release (159 KB)