• 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

Work Begins On New Banyule-Nillumbik Tech School

Construction has begun on the new Tech School in Melbourne’s outer North East, fully funded by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino, Member for Eltham Vicki Ward and Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines  today turned the first sod on the new Banyule-Nillumbik Tech School. The Tech School will give nearly 14,000 students from 18 government and non-government schools access to high-tech, specialised learning in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. It will be a shared hub available free of charge for students from partner schools as part of their regular schooling. Hosted at the Melbourne Polytechnic at its Greensborough campus, the Tech School will focus on growth industries including scientific and technical services, healthcare and social assistance, and entrepreneurial skills. The building will include digital and physical creation spaces, an area dedicated to industry partners, and a space for students to present their ideas and creations. The Tech School is one of 10 being delivered as part of the Labor Government’s $128 million Tech School initiative, and is expected to open in mid-2018. These state-of-the-art facilities will use high-tech equipment, such as 3D printers, audio visual platforms, robotics and virtual reality, to deliver advanced education in STEM. It is part of the Labor Government’s plan to boost performance in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, including a 25 per cent increase in the number of year nine students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths and 33 per cent more 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science by 2025. For more information about Tech Schools visit: techschools.education.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The Banyule-Nillumbik Tech School will provide students from 18 surrounding schools the opportunity to develop the skills they need for the jobs of the future.” “Tech Schools bring together schools, industry, local government, TAFE and universities to allow students to find real-life solutions to real-life problems using the latest technologies.” Quote attributable to Member for Eltham Vicki Ward “Students will have access to leading edge technology and the specialist expertise of staff from Melbourne Polytechnic. They will be given the opportunity to thrive in an exciting and innovative environment.” Quote attributable to Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines “From mid-2018, local students will have a high-tech learning centre on their doorstep that will help them be ready for the jobs of the 21st century.” Download the Media Release (359 KB)

Work Begins On New Banyule-Nillumbik Tech School

Construction has begun on the new Tech School in Melbourne’s outer North East, fully funded by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino, Member for Eltham Vicki Ward and Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines  today turned the first sod on the new Banyule-Nillumbik Tech School. The Tech School will give nearly 14,000 students from 18 government and non-government schools access to high-tech, specialised learning in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. It will be a shared hub available free of charge for students from partner schools as part of their regular schooling. Hosted at the Melbourne Polytechnic at its Greensborough campus, the Tech School will focus on growth industries including scientific and technical services, healthcare and social assistance, and entrepreneurial skills. The building will include digital and physical creation spaces, an area dedicated to industry partners, and a space for students to present their ideas and creations. The Tech School is one of 10 being delivered as part of the Labor Government’s $128 million Tech School initiative, and is expected to open in mid-2018. These state-of-the-art facilities will use high-tech equipment, such as 3D printers, audio visual platforms, robotics and virtual reality, to deliver advanced education in STEM. It is part of the Labor Government’s plan to boost performance in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, including a 25 per cent increase in the number of year nine students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths and 33 per cent more 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science by 2025. For more information about Tech Schools visit: techschools.education.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The Banyule-Nillumbik Tech School will provide students from 18 surrounding schools the opportunity to develop the skills they need for the jobs of the future.” “Tech Schools bring together schools, industry, local government, TAFE and universities to allow students to find real-life solutions to real-life problems using the latest technologies.” Quote attributable to Member for Eltham Vicki Ward “Students will have access to leading edge technology and the specialist expertise of staff from Melbourne Polytechnic. They will be given the opportunity to thrive in an exciting and innovative environment.” Quote attributable to Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines “From mid-2018, local students will have a high-tech learning centre on their doorstep that will help them be ready for the jobs of the 21st century.” Download the Media Release (359 KB)

Government Announces Review Into Coolaroo Fire

The Andrews Labor Government will conduct a review of last month’s fire at the SKM Recycling Plant in Coolaroo. Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino announced the review today, which will be conducted by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM, Tony Pearce). The Coolaroo fire broke out on 13 July and burned for 11 days, sending clouds of smoke across Melbourne. At the height of the blaze, hundreds of nearby residents were urged to evacuate due to concerns about air quality. Since the Coolaroo incident, the Labor Government has worked diligently to introduce a series of improvements to keep Victorian families safe in the event of harmful fires. An independent inquiry was established following the former Liberal Government’s neglectful handling of the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire, which burned for 45 days and sent smoke and ash over Morwell and surrounding areas. Lessons learnt during the Hazelwood Mine Fire played a key role in handling the Coolaroo fire. Emergency workers used health monitoring data to make decisions about how harmful smoke and ash would be for locals, and people in the area had online access to air quality readings via the Environmental Protection Agency website. This latest review is an important opportunity to confirm that the Government is working hard to do everything it can to respond to similar events. IGEM will work closely with relevant agencies and examine key aspects of the fire including the effectiveness of the State Smoke Framework, air quality monitoring, firefighter occupational health and safety, and the Environmental Protection Authority’s processes. The IGEM will also work closely with Emergency Management Victoria, which is undertaking a separate but complementary operational review into the incident. A joint Government taskforce is also auditing recycling facilities to prioritise sites that require action to better protect the community. The IGEM will deliver the report to Government by the end of November 2017. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “The Coolaroo fire had a significant impact on the local community and the review will ensure we know exactly what worked, what didn’t and what can be improved.” “This review is an important opportunity to confirm the lessons identified from the Hazelwood mine fire aren’t being ignored.” “The IGEM review will provide a valuable check to ensure that all the relevant actions items from the inquiry have been implemented and are working effectively.”   Download the Media Release (295 KB)

Government Announces Review Into Coolaroo Fire

The Andrews Labor Government will conduct a review of last month’s fire at the SKM Recycling Plant in Coolaroo. Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino announced the review today, which will be conducted by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM, Tony Pearce). The Coolaroo fire broke out on 13 July and burned for 11 days, sending clouds of smoke across Melbourne. At the height of the blaze, hundreds of nearby residents were urged to evacuate due to concerns about air quality. Since the Coolaroo incident, the Labor Government has worked diligently to introduce a series of improvements to keep Victorian families safe in the event of harmful fires. An independent inquiry was established following the former Liberal Government’s neglectful handling of the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire, which burned for 45 days and sent smoke and ash over Morwell and surrounding areas. Lessons learnt during the Hazelwood Mine Fire played a key role in handling the Coolaroo fire. Emergency workers used health monitoring data to make decisions about how harmful smoke and ash would be for locals, and people in the area had online access to air quality readings via the Environmental Protection Agency website. This latest review is an important opportunity to confirm that the Government is working hard to do everything it can to respond to similar events. IGEM will work closely with relevant agencies and examine key aspects of the fire including the effectiveness of the State Smoke Framework, air quality monitoring, firefighter occupational health and safety, and the Environmental Protection Authority’s processes. The IGEM will also work closely with Emergency Management Victoria, which is undertaking a separate but complementary operational review into the incident. A joint Government taskforce is also auditing recycling facilities to prioritise sites that require action to better protect the community. The IGEM will deliver the report to Government by the end of November 2017. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino “The Coolaroo fire had a significant impact on the local community and the review will ensure we know exactly what worked, what didn’t and what can be improved.” “This review is an important opportunity to confirm the lessons identified from the Hazelwood mine fire aren’t being ignored.” “The IGEM review will provide a valuable check to ensure that all the relevant actions items from the inquiry have been implemented and are working effectively.”   Download the Media Release (295 KB)

Start Of Construction On Victoria’s Next Tech School

Construction has begun on a new Tech School in Melbourne’s south east, fully funded by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino, Parliamentary Secretary for Education Judith Graley, Member for Narre Warren Luke Donnellan, Member for Cranbourne Jude Perera and Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams today turned the first sod on the new Casey Tech School, and announced Ben Jenkinson as its inaugural Director. Mr Jenkinson is an experienced teacher and leader in the education system, who has held senior curriculum and leadership roles in some of Australia’s highest performing schools. The Casey Tech School will give 21,000 secondary school students from 21 schools in the area access to high-tech, specialised learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills. It will be a shared hub available free of charge for students from partner schools as part of their regular schooling. The Casey Tech School will be located at the Berwick campus of the Chisholm Institute and will focus on growth  industries including biomedical technology, health and medical tech, and high-tech manufacturing, production and processing technologies. The new two-storey building will include workshop areas, a biomed lab, a virtual reality lab, video production studio and a digital media studio. The Tech School is one of 10 being delivered as part of Labor Government’s $128 million Tech School initiative, and is expected to open in mid-2018. It is part of the Government’s plan to boost performance in STEM subjects, including a 25 per cent increase in the number of year nine students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths and 33 per cent more 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science by 2025. For more information, visit techschools.education.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Casey Tech School will provide students from 21 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.” “It will mean students won’t have to travel far and wide to get a Tech School education – opening up new opportunities for young people in the south east.” Quotes attributable to Parliamentary Secretary for Education Judith Graley “This Tech School will teach young people in the local area the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century.” “The appointment of Ben Jenkinson is an important step forward as we work towards opening Casey Tech School next year.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

Start Of Construction On Victoria’s Next Tech School

Construction has begun on a new Tech School in Melbourne’s south east, fully funded by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino, Parliamentary Secretary for Education Judith Graley, Member for Narre Warren Luke Donnellan, Member for Cranbourne Jude Perera and Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams today turned the first sod on the new Casey Tech School, and announced Ben Jenkinson as its inaugural Director. Mr Jenkinson is an experienced teacher and leader in the education system, who has held senior curriculum and leadership roles in some of Australia’s highest performing schools. The Casey Tech School will give 21,000 secondary school students from 21 schools in the area access to high-tech, specialised learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills. It will be a shared hub available free of charge for students from partner schools as part of their regular schooling. The Casey Tech School will be located at the Berwick campus of the Chisholm Institute and will focus on growth  industries including biomedical technology, health and medical tech, and high-tech manufacturing, production and processing technologies. The new two-storey building will include workshop areas, a biomed lab, a virtual reality lab, video production studio and a digital media studio. The Tech School is one of 10 being delivered as part of Labor Government’s $128 million Tech School initiative, and is expected to open in mid-2018. It is part of the Government’s plan to boost performance in STEM subjects, including a 25 per cent increase in the number of year nine students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths and 33 per cent more 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science by 2025. For more information, visit techschools.education.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Casey Tech School will provide students from 21 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.” “It will mean students won’t have to travel far and wide to get a Tech School education – opening up new opportunities for young people in the south east.” Quotes attributable to Parliamentary Secretary for Education Judith Graley “This Tech School will teach young people in the local area the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century.” “The appointment of Ben Jenkinson is an important step forward as we work towards opening Casey Tech School next year.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

New STEAM And Sports Facilities For Bentleigh Students

Construction is underway on the Andrews Labor Government’s massive upgrade of Bentleigh Secondary College. Minister for Education James Merlino joined Member for Bentleigh Nick Staikos today to turn the first sod on the  $13.4 million upgrade, which includes a new science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) hub known as the da Vinci Centre. The centre will have facilities for middle and senior students, including purpose-designed visual art studios, specialist food and materials technology, classrooms, courtyards and a gallery. A further $3.8 million from the School Pride and Sports Fund will extend the basketball stadium, the home of the McKinnon Basketball Association, to include two new competition grade courts. The school will also receive a new carpark, landscaping and the current relocatable facilities will be repositioned. The new and upgraded facilities are part of the Government’s $2.5 billion investment in better classrooms, upgraded facilities and 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 5000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The da Vinci Centre will provide students with first-rate facilities to learn science, technology, arts and maths and the extension to the basketball stadium will help keep the kids fit and active.” “We’re giving students in Bentleigh and across Victoria a great education and the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century.” Quote attributable to Member for Bentleigh Nick Staikos “Bentleigh Secondary College is a wonderful school and these new facilities will be something the entire community can be proud of.” Quote attributable to Principal Helene Hiotis “It is going to be a place of amazing experiences for our students and teachers, where they can build their curiosity and knowledge and where lifelong interests will begin.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

New STEAM And Sports Facilities For Bentleigh Students

Construction is underway on the Andrews Labor Government’s massive upgrade of Bentleigh Secondary College. Minister for Education James Merlino joined Member for Bentleigh Nick Staikos today to turn the first sod on the  $13.4 million upgrade, which includes a new science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) hub known as the da Vinci Centre. The centre will have facilities for middle and senior students, including purpose-designed visual art studios, specialist food and materials technology, classrooms, courtyards and a gallery. A further $3.8 million from the School Pride and Sports Fund will extend the basketball stadium, the home of the McKinnon Basketball Association, to include two new competition grade courts. The school will also receive a new carpark, landscaping and the current relocatable facilities will be repositioned. The new and upgraded facilities are part of the Government’s $2.5 billion investment in better classrooms, upgraded facilities and 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 5000 construction jobs for Victorians. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The da Vinci Centre will provide students with first-rate facilities to learn science, technology, arts and maths and the extension to the basketball stadium will help keep the kids fit and active.” “We’re giving students in Bentleigh and across Victoria a great education and the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century.” Quote attributable to Member for Bentleigh Nick Staikos “Bentleigh Secondary College is a wonderful school and these new facilities will be something the entire community can be proud of.” Quote attributable to Principal Helene Hiotis “It is going to be a place of amazing experiences for our students and teachers, where they can build their curiosity and knowledge and where lifelong interests will begin.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

$5.9 Million Program To Keep Kids In School

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting all of the recommendations of the Victorian Ombudsman’s report on government school expulsions to help Victorian principals and teachers keep more kids in school and out of trouble. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced a new $5.9 million program that will assist schools develop and implement strategies to help students with serious behavioural issues avoid expulsion and stay engaged. The Ombudsman’s report exposes the neglect of the former Liberal Government, who made it far too easy for students to be expelled. As a result, many young people were not given the opportunity to turn their lives around and have disengaged from the education system. The Labor Government will implement the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report  through: higher level departmental approval of all prep, year one and year two expulsions more support and oversight of expulsions through Regional Engagement Officers, who will work with principals and teachers to intervene early for those at risk of expulsion an overhaul of the Department of Education Training data collection, analysis, record keeping and reporting, to make sure that expulsions are monitored appropriately a review of the appeals process to ensure it is fair and transparent extra assistance for schools to support students with behavioural challenges, including 17 area-based positive behavioural support coaches and access expert advice from behavioural analysts across the state. This investment is part of the Labor Government’s huge investment in supporting principals and teachers, and keeping young people in school – particularly those showing challenging behaviours and at risk of disengaging. The Government’s $13.2 million Lookout program is helping 6,000 students in out-of-home care to stay in education and the $8.6 million Navigator program is helping 10-18 year olds who are at risk of leaving school. In 2015, the Labor Government provided an $82.2 million funding boost to hire 157 new staff to work with principals and schools and help them improve student outcomes and deal with complex issues such as expulsion. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The former Liberal Government abandoned students in trouble, leaving them to disengage and drop out of school – we won’t do that because you can’t just give up on kids.” “We’re acting decisively to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations, and support principals, teachers and students.” “We have invested more than $100 million to help at risk students stay in school and stay out of trouble.” Download the Media Release (368 KB)

$5.9 Million Program To Keep Kids In School

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting all of the recommendations of the Victorian Ombudsman’s report on government school expulsions to help Victorian principals and teachers keep more kids in school and out of trouble. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced a new $5.9 million program that will assist schools develop and implement strategies to help students with serious behavioural issues avoid expulsion and stay engaged. The Ombudsman’s report exposes the neglect of the former Liberal Government, who made it far too easy for students to be expelled. As a result, many young people were not given the opportunity to turn their lives around and have disengaged from the education system. The Labor Government will implement the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report  through: higher level departmental approval of all prep, year one and year two expulsions more support and oversight of expulsions through Regional Engagement Officers, who will work with principals and teachers to intervene early for those at risk of expulsion an overhaul of the Department of Education Training data collection, analysis, record keeping and reporting, to make sure that expulsions are monitored appropriately a review of the appeals process to ensure it is fair and transparent extra assistance for schools to support students with behavioural challenges, including 17 area-based positive behavioural support coaches and access expert advice from behavioural analysts across the state. This investment is part of the Labor Government’s huge investment in supporting principals and teachers, and keeping young people in school – particularly those showing challenging behaviours and at risk of disengaging. The Government’s $13.2 million Lookout program is helping 6,000 students in out-of-home care to stay in education and the $8.6 million Navigator program is helping 10-18 year olds who are at risk of leaving school. In 2015, the Labor Government provided an $82.2 million funding boost to hire 157 new staff to work with principals and schools and help them improve student outcomes and deal with complex issues such as expulsion. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “The former Liberal Government abandoned students in trouble, leaving them to disengage and drop out of school – we won’t do that because you can’t just give up on kids.” “We’re acting decisively to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations, and support principals, teachers and students.” “We have invested more than $100 million to help at risk students stay in school and stay out of trouble.” Download the Media Release (368 KB)

Improving Health And Wellbeing Support For Principals

Better mental health support will be the first priority in a plan to improve the health and wellbeing of Victoria’s more than 1,500 government school principals. Minister for Education James Merlino today released a discussion paper to engage Victorian principals on a strategy to boost their health and wellbeing, which will support them to be greater school leaders. The strategy will include support mechanisms designed to suit the realities and unique circumstances of their role, and is backed by $4 million from the Andrews Labor Government. The funding will go towards early intervention strategies, specialist advice services for principals, professional learning to develop mental health awareness and literacy, and coaching panels of retired principals trained in psychological health. It will be accompanied by a new dedicated service providing Victorian school principals with confidential health checks that will be rolled out next year. Healthy principals are central to ensuring a positive environment for teachers and students – and boosting student outcomes. More than 100 principals and experts have been consulted as part of the strategy’s development so far, giving feedback on the pressures of their profession and how they could be supported better. Further consultation with Victorian principals will be held over terms three and four for the strategy, including workshops and online engagement on the discussion paper. The strategy aligns to the Labor Government’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter, which launched in March. Making Victoria the Education State means properly supporting our principals so they can get on with doing what matters most – giving our students a great education. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’re putting a new focus on better supporting the health and wellbeing of our hardworking principals, with our first priority to better support their mental health.” “Our principals are at the forefront of the Education State, and making sure they are healthy and happy is central to creating great local schools that give our kids a great education.” Download the Media Release (351 KB)

Improving Health And Wellbeing Support For Principals

Better mental health support will be the first priority in a plan to improve the health and wellbeing of Victoria’s more than 1,500 government school principals. Minister for Education James Merlino today released a discussion paper to engage Victorian principals on a strategy to boost their health and wellbeing, which will support them to be greater school leaders. The strategy will include support mechanisms designed to suit the realities and unique circumstances of their role, and is backed by $4 million from the Andrews Labor Government. The funding will go towards early intervention strategies, specialist advice services for principals, professional learning to develop mental health awareness and literacy, and coaching panels of retired principals trained in psychological health. It will be accompanied by a new dedicated service providing Victorian school principals with confidential health checks that will be rolled out next year. Healthy principals are central to ensuring a positive environment for teachers and students – and boosting student outcomes. More than 100 principals and experts have been consulted as part of the strategy’s development so far, giving feedback on the pressures of their profession and how they could be supported better. Further consultation with Victorian principals will be held over terms three and four for the strategy, including workshops and online engagement on the discussion paper. The strategy aligns to the Labor Government’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter, which launched in March. Making Victoria the Education State means properly supporting our principals so they can get on with doing what matters most – giving our students a great education. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “We’re putting a new focus on better supporting the health and wellbeing of our hardworking principals, with our first priority to better support their mental health.” “Our principals are at the forefront of the Education State, and making sure they are healthy and happy is central to creating great local schools that give our kids a great education.” Download the Media Release (351 KB)

LIGHTS ON AT NEW MT EVELYN PEDESTRIAN CROSSING

The Andrews Labor Government has made crossing York Road in Mt Evelyn safer for school children, parents and local nursery workers. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today joined VicRoads, teachers and students from Mount Evelyn Christian School and staff from the Yarra View Nursery to switch on the new pedestrian crossing on York Road. The Labor Government has invested $490,000 to replace the old flagged crossing with new pedestrian operated traffic lights. The flagged crossing was unmanned outside of the school zone hours, meaning pedestrians would need to pick a safe gap in the traffic to cross the road. As part of the crossing upgrade, the bus shelter on the northern side of York Road, near the nursery, has been relocated and upgraded to improve access to bus services. The footpath, road surface and drainage at the crossing have also been improved. Although the crossing is now at a higher safety standard, it will continue to be manned by a school crossing supervisor during the morning and afternoon school drop off and pick up times. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We’ve built a safer, easier crossing on York Street so that school students, nursery workers and the wider community can now feel safer crossing this busy road.”  “There have been near misses between cars and pedestrians at this crossing in the past – so we listened to what locals had to say and got on with the job of delivering a safer crossing for the community.”

LIGHTS ON AT NEW MT EVELYN PEDESTRIAN CROSSING

The Andrews Labor Government has made crossing York Road in Mt Evelyn safer for school children, parents and local nursery workers. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today joined VicRoads, teachers and students from Mount Evelyn Christian School and staff from the Yarra View Nursery to switch on the new pedestrian crossing on York Road. The Labor Government has invested $490,000 to replace the old flagged crossing with new pedestrian operated traffic lights. The flagged crossing was unmanned outside of the school zone hours, meaning pedestrians would need to pick a safe gap in the traffic to cross the road. As part of the crossing upgrade, the bus shelter on the northern side of York Road, near the nursery, has been relocated and upgraded to improve access to bus services. The footpath, road surface and drainage at the crossing have also been improved. Although the crossing is now at a higher safety standard, it will continue to be manned by a school crossing supervisor during the morning and afternoon school drop off and pick up times. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We’ve built a safer, easier crossing on York Street so that school students, nursery workers and the wider community can now feel safer crossing this busy road.”  “There have been near misses between cars and pedestrians at this crossing in the past – so we listened to what locals had to say and got on with the job of delivering a safer crossing for the community.”

Fairer Model For Cleaning Our Schools

The Andrews Labor Government will establish a fairer schools cleaning contract model that will ensure schools get consistent, high quality services and cleaners are paid properly. It comes after multiple investigations within the past 12 months have found vulnerable staff were being underpaid and mistreated. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced an overhaul of government school cleaner procurement, with a new model to be rolled out across Melbourne next year, prior to its roll out across regional Victoria. Under a new model, eight zones will be created across metropolitan Melbourne and a single cleaning contract will be awarded for all schools in each. In regional Victoria, the new model will strengthen the focus on contractor compliance, with the move to a zoned model to be informed by the roll out in Melbourne. This new model will create consistent, high quality standards for cleaning in government schools and ensure all cleaning staff in our schools receive their legal wages and entitlements. The model will also reduce the workload of Principals by freeing up the time spent managing cleaning contracts. The Department of Education and Training will work with existing cleaning contractors to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements, with support available for small businesses. An open and competitive tender process will be run to appoint cleaning companies to the eight zones. Successful companies will be required to recruit from the current Victorian government school cleaning workforce. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Cleaning staff are valued members of our school communities, and this new model will strengthen their working conditions and make sure they get a fair deal.” “This new model will ensure schools get high quality cleaning services, principals are better supported to look after their schools and cleaners are treated fairly.” Download the Media Release (346 KB)

Fairer Model For Cleaning Our Schools

The Andrews Labor Government will establish a fairer schools cleaning contract model that will ensure schools get consistent, high quality services and cleaners are paid properly. It comes after multiple investigations within the past 12 months have found vulnerable staff were being underpaid and mistreated. Minister for Education James Merlino today announced an overhaul of government school cleaner procurement, with a new model to be rolled out across Melbourne next year, prior to its roll out across regional Victoria. Under a new model, eight zones will be created across metropolitan Melbourne and a single cleaning contract will be awarded for all schools in each. In regional Victoria, the new model will strengthen the focus on contractor compliance, with the move to a zoned model to be informed by the roll out in Melbourne. This new model will create consistent, high quality standards for cleaning in government schools and ensure all cleaning staff in our schools receive their legal wages and entitlements. The model will also reduce the workload of Principals by freeing up the time spent managing cleaning contracts. The Department of Education and Training will work with existing cleaning contractors to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements, with support available for small businesses. An open and competitive tender process will be run to appoint cleaning companies to the eight zones. Successful companies will be required to recruit from the current Victorian government school cleaning workforce. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Cleaning staff are valued members of our school communities, and this new model will strengthen their working conditions and make sure they get a fair deal.” “This new model will ensure schools get high quality cleaning services, principals are better supported to look after their schools and cleaners are treated fairly.” Download the Media Release (346 KB)

 

Funding Boost To Natural Disaster Resilience Across Victoria

Minster for Justice Michael Keenan and Victorian Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today announced $10 million in funding to enhance Victoria’s preparedness for natural disasters. Minister Keenan said the funding is part of the joint Commonwealth-State $52 million National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Natural Disaster Resilience, which is targeted at supporting local communities to build more sustainable and resilient communities “Although many natural disasters are unpredictable, we can all be better prepared, and we cannot act alone. We are working with state and local governments to reduce the potentially destructive impacts of future disasters such as bushfires and floods,” Mr Keenan said. “That is why under the NPA funding is cost-shared, with $3.4 million contributed by the Commonwealth, $2.4 million from the Victorian State Government, and $4.2 million from funding recipients. “I congratulate all successful applicants from across Victorian State Government agencies, local government authorities, and not-for-profit organisations.” Minister Merlino said 36 projects had been selected for funding under the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme to strengthen the state’s resilience to natural disasters. “Through the scheme, projects are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments on a cost share basis with the applicants,” Minister Merlino said. “These are important programs led by state agencies, local councils, non-government organisations, volunteer organisations and researchers that help communities prepare for and respond to natural disasters.” The projects include: Funding for floodplain management Pre-hospital emergency simulation training for ambulance officers Support for Victorian teachers to deliver education on risk awareness and resilience related to natural hazards Strengthening of emergency planning for vulnerable people in rural communities The construction of a levee system to protect the Warracknabeal Township Reconstruction of the levee for the Robinvale Township For more information on the full list of projects and the grants scheme see Emergency Management Victoria website. Download the Media Release (209 KB)

Funding Boost To Natural Disaster Resilience Across Victoria

Minster for Justice Michael Keenan and Victorian Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today announced $10 million in funding to enhance Victoria’s preparedness for natural disasters. Minister Keenan said the funding is part of the joint Commonwealth-State $52 million National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Natural Disaster Resilience, which is targeted at supporting local communities to build more sustainable and resilient communities “Although many natural disasters are unpredictable, we can all be better prepared, and we cannot act alone. We are working with state and local governments to reduce the potentially destructive impacts of future disasters such as bushfires and floods,” Mr Keenan said. “That is why under the NPA funding is cost-shared, with $3.4 million contributed by the Commonwealth, $2.4 million from the Victorian State Government, and $4.2 million from funding recipients. “I congratulate all successful applicants from across Victorian State Government agencies, local government authorities, and not-for-profit organisations.” Minister Merlino said 36 projects had been selected for funding under the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme to strengthen the state’s resilience to natural disasters. “Through the scheme, projects are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments on a cost share basis with the applicants,” Minister Merlino said. “These are important programs led by state agencies, local councils, non-government organisations, volunteer organisations and researchers that help communities prepare for and respond to natural disasters.” The projects include: Funding for floodplain management Pre-hospital emergency simulation training for ambulance officers Support for Victorian teachers to deliver education on risk awareness and resilience related to natural hazards Strengthening of emergency planning for vulnerable people in rural communities The construction of a levee system to protect the Warracknabeal Township Reconstruction of the levee for the Robinvale Township For more information on the full list of projects and the grants scheme see Emergency Management Victoria website. Download the Media Release (209 KB)

Safe Schools Program

The Andrews Labor Government is working towards Victoria becoming the Education State. This is about improving outcomes for every student, in every classroom, in every community. We want Victoria’s children and young people to not only achieve academically but also to be happy, confident, resilient and safe. Students cannot learn effectively if they are being bullied at school. Recently, videos have been circulated via social media that promote false and misleading information about the Safe Schools program. To learn about the facts please visit http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/health/Pages/safe-schools-coalition.aspx In March 2017, the Safe Schools program was moved into the Department of Education and Training. Safe Schools is about creating inclusive places for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students. Safe Schools seeks to prevent, and respond to, discrimination against LGBTI students. The Safe Schools program is not a compulsory part of the Victorian Curriculum, nor is it a sex education program. Safe Schools supports teachers, so they feel equipped to deal with the diverse needs of our student population. Nothing about the Safe Schools program encourages students to question or change their gender or sexuality. The program does not teach sexual practices or provide or encourage the use of props. It’s about providing evidence-based information, age-appropriate resources and professional learning to school staff, for schools to use as they see fit. It is a sad reality that LGBTI young people are more likely to be bullied at school than elsewhere and this has major impact on their educational outcomes. Safe Schools complements broader anti-bullying policies and programs in the Victorian school system, such as the Victorian Government’s anti-bullying program, Bully Stoppers. Safe Schools aims to create a school environment of mutual respect and understanding, where all young people can be safe at school and so are better placed to learn and thrive. If you require further information, please contact the Wellbeing, Health and Engagement Division, Early Childhood and School Education Group, Department of Education and Training, via email: safe.schools@edumail.vic.gov.au. Myth busting: Safe Schools Program Myth: The program is a compulsory part of the school curriculum. Fact: The Safe Schools program is not an element of the Victorian Curriculum. The Safe Schools program provides evidence based information, resources and professional learning to schools to foster school environments that are safe, supportive and inclusive of all students, including students who are same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse. The program supports schools to prevent, and respond to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students. Myth: Schools are forced to join the program and should be able to opt-out of the program. Fact:  The Victorian Government has made a clear commitment to expand the Safe Schools program to all government secondary schools by the end of 2018. All other schools, including primary schools and non-government schools are able to access the program and request support where they need it. This is because the Victorian Government values and celebrates diversity and is committed to removing discrimination from Victorian laws, services and society, including for LGBTI Victorians. Schools that are engaged with the program have demonstrated a commitment to build an environment that is safer and more inclusive for the whole school community. Each school has flexibility in the application of Safe Schools program resources, professional learning and advice, based on the local context and school community needs. It can involve, for example, a review of school policies and practice, professional development for school staff, and establishing a student led group to organise inclusive events. Myth: The program is not preventing bullying. Instead it promotes a dangerous agenda that is based on an extreme sexual ideology. Fact: The Safe Schools program is about making sure all children are safe at school and are provided an environment where they can be happy, confident and resilient. Students cannot learn effectively if they are being bullied, harassed and do not feel safe at school. LGBTI young people experience high rates of bullying and the vast majority of this abuse occurs at school. For example, Writing Themselves in 3, the third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people, found that 61 per cent of LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse 18 per cent report physical homophobic abuse 69 per cent report other types of homophobia, including exclusion and rumours 80 per cent of respondents experienced the reported abuse at school. LGBTI young people are entitled to the same level of safety at school as all other students. Discrimination in Victorian schools has a negative impact on the whole school community, including for teachers, parents and other family members. To provide an environment that is free of discrimination, it is important for all students to understand and be aware of the diversity that exists within the community. This includes gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics. Myth:  The program promotes and teaches children to undertake risky/inappropriate behaviour (e.g. chest binding/cross-dressing) and is a form of abuse. Fact: The program does not promote chest binding or cross-dressing. The program provides information and resources to schools and students to raise understanding and awareness of sexual and gender diversity. Many LGBTI students feel uncomfortable about seeking support or affirming their identity and providing guidance and advice about these processes can reduce fear and anxiety in dealing with this. For many people, the question of their gender or their sexuality is straightforward; however, for some it is more contested as they don’t fit neatly into the ‘norm’. It is important for all children and young people to understand that not everyone is the same and to respect this. Myth: Parents are not given an opportunity to consent to their child’s participation and the program disregards the wishes of parents who do not wish for their children to participate in the program. Fact: The Department of Education and Training encourages parental and school community engagement as part of the Safe Schools program. Schools determine how to implement the Safe Schools program at their school, based on their local context and the needs of their school community. This is often done in consultation with students, school council and the broader school community. The program does not impose specific requirements for student participation but does require all school community members to demonstrate the school’s values. In instances where students are more directly involved, this participation tends to be extra-curricular and voluntary, such as through student groups for LGBTI students and allies or special events such as for International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia or Wear It Purple Day. As with any extra-curricular activity, parents can choose for their children not to participate in those activities after discussion with the school. The Department encourages parents to discuss any concerns regarding their child’s participation in the program directly with the school principal. Within any school community there is always a diversity of views represented and schools take those views into account when working with children and their families. Myth: The government should not be in this space. Parents should be the ones who determine how and when their children are provided with information about LGBTI people and sex education. The program undermines the role of the family. Fact: Making sure our school environments are safe and free from discrimination and harassment is a requirement under Australian and Victorian anti-discrimination laws. ​The role of a school is to equip its students to lead healthy and productive lives, to not only achieve academically but also to be happy, healthy and resilient. Social and emotional learning is a key aspect of development for young people. Myth: There is no evidence to warrant such a program. Fact: Many studies around the world show that LGBTI students experience higher rates of harassment, social exclusion and bullying than their non-LGBTI peers[1]. For example, Writing Themselves in 3, the third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people, found that 61 per cent of LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse 18 per cent report physical homophobic abuse 69 per cent report other types of homophobia, including exclusion and rumours 80 per cent of respondents experienced the reported abuse at school. These experiences significantly affect students’ emotional wellbeing and social health as well as their engagement in learning and school activities. Two studies looking into the impact of homophobia at school found that for LGBTI students: 3 in 10 could not concentrate in school 2 in 10 missed classes or days of school 2 in 10 had lower marks 1 in 10 did not use the toilets 13% dropped out of sport 1 in 10 moved schools 8% dropped out of school altogether[2] In addition to poorer educational outcomes, LGBTI young people are at greater risk of self-harm, suicide, excessive drug use and sexual risk behaviours compared to non-LGBTI young people. Myth: The program diminishes the seriousness of other forms of bullying (e.g. disabilities, racism) and should therefore be wrapped up into a broader anti-bullying program. Fact: Bullying is a serious issue for everyone in a school community. It can happen anywhere, anytime, and can have devastating consequences.  All schools are required to have policies in place which provide students with a safe learning environment where the risk of harm is minimised and they feel physically and emotionally secure. There are a number of programs and resources available to schools to prevent and respond to bullying. Bully Stoppers provides evidence-based anti-bullying advice and resources through a free online toolkit to empower school leaders, teachers, parents and students to tackle bullying. Data shows the severe impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying on young people. This warrants a targeted response. The Safe Schools program supports a school to be a safe environment for all students. Myth: The program content is not age-appropriate and should not be offered to young children or children with a disability. It is inappropriate for special needs schools. Fact: The Safe Schools resources are evidence based and age-appropriate. Teachers have flexibility in which resources they use and how they use them. Teachers use their judgement to determine what is appropriate for their students, based on their age, abilities, level of understanding, local context and other factors. This is something that teachers do every day, in every class and with every interaction with their students. The Safe Schools program provides professional learning to teachers to ensure they are equipped to deliver the program in schools through school policy and practice, student led activities and inclusive teaching and learning activities. Myth: The content takes classroom attention away from what matters – reading, writing, and arithmetic. Fact: Safe Schools is not an element of the curriculum and it does not take time away from key learning areas such as literacy and numeracy. We know that students cannot learn effectively if they are being bullied, harassed and do not feel safe at school. Schools that are engaged with the program have made a commitment to build ‘an environment that is safer and more inclusive for the whole school community’. How this commitment is implemented is at the school’s discretion and therefore looks different for each school. Myth: The program is not an effective use of resources. Fact: In the 2015-16 State Budget, the Victorian Government increased its existing funding to Safe Schools Coalition Victoria by $1.04 million over four years to expand its program into every Victorian government secondary school by 2018. By comparison with other education related spending, this is a small amount of government spending that has a large impact on a vulnerable cohort of young people. Evidence shows that young people that feel safe in their learning environments have better learning outcomes. Myth busting Safe Schools program 161217-SupportingLGBTIStudentsInVictorianSchools 161116-Keeping-Children-Safe-From-Sexual-Abuse [1] Toomey and Russell (2016) ‘The Role of Sexual Orientation in School-Based Victimization: A Meta-Analysis’, Youth and Society, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 176-201; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2011). Review of Homophobic Bullying in Educational Institutions, UNESCO, France, p14. [2] Hillier, L., et al. (2010). Writing themselves in 3: The 3rd national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of SSAGQ young people. Melbourne: ARCSHS: Robinson, KH et al (2013) Growing Up Queer: Issues Facing Young Australian Who Are Gender Variant and Sexuality Diverse, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne.

Safe Schools Program

The Andrews Labor Government is working towards Victoria becoming the Education State. This is about improving outcomes for every student, in every classroom, in every community. We want Victoria’s children and young people to not only achieve academically but also to be happy, confident, resilient and safe. Students cannot learn effectively if they are being bullied at school. Recently, videos have been circulated via social media that promote false and misleading information about the Safe Schools program. To learn about the facts please visit http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/health/Pages/safe-schools-coalition.aspx In March 2017, the Safe Schools program was moved into the Department of Education and Training. Safe Schools is about creating inclusive places for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students. Safe Schools seeks to prevent, and respond to, discrimination against LGBTI students. The Safe Schools program is not a compulsory part of the Victorian Curriculum, nor is it a sex education program. Safe Schools supports teachers, so they feel equipped to deal with the diverse needs of our student population. Nothing about the Safe Schools program encourages students to question or change their gender or sexuality. The program does not teach sexual practices or provide or encourage the use of props. It’s about providing evidence-based information, age-appropriate resources and professional learning to school staff, for schools to use as they see fit. It is a sad reality that LGBTI young people are more likely to be bullied at school than elsewhere and this has major impact on their educational outcomes. Safe Schools complements broader anti-bullying policies and programs in the Victorian school system, such as the Victorian Government’s anti-bullying program, Bully Stoppers. Safe Schools aims to create a school environment of mutual respect and understanding, where all young people can be safe at school and so are better placed to learn and thrive. If you require further information, please contact the Wellbeing, Health and Engagement Division, Early Childhood and School Education Group, Department of Education and Training, via email: safe.schools@edumail.vic.gov.au. Myth busting: Safe Schools Program Myth: The program is a compulsory part of the school curriculum. Fact: The Safe Schools program is not an element of the Victorian Curriculum. The Safe Schools program provides evidence based information, resources and professional learning to schools to foster school environments that are safe, supportive and inclusive of all students, including students who are same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse. The program supports schools to prevent, and respond to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students. Myth: Schools are forced to join the program and should be able to opt-out of the program. Fact:  The Victorian Government has made a clear commitment to expand the Safe Schools program to all government secondary schools by the end of 2018. All other schools, including primary schools and non-government schools are able to access the program and request support where they need it. This is because the Victorian Government values and celebrates diversity and is committed to removing discrimination from Victorian laws, services and society, including for LGBTI Victorians. Schools that are engaged with the program have demonstrated a commitment to build an environment that is safer and more inclusive for the whole school community. Each school has flexibility in the application of Safe Schools program resources, professional learning and advice, based on the local context and school community needs. It can involve, for example, a review of school policies and practice, professional development for school staff, and establishing a student led group to organise inclusive events. Myth: The program is not preventing bullying. Instead it promotes a dangerous agenda that is based on an extreme sexual ideology. Fact: The Safe Schools program is about making sure all children are safe at school and are provided an environment where they can be happy, confident and resilient. Students cannot learn effectively if they are being bullied, harassed and do not feel safe at school. LGBTI young people experience high rates of bullying and the vast majority of this abuse occurs at school. For example, Writing Themselves in 3, the third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people, found that 61 per cent of LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse 18 per cent report physical homophobic abuse 69 per cent report other types of homophobia, including exclusion and rumours 80 per cent of respondents experienced the reported abuse at school. LGBTI young people are entitled to the same level of safety at school as all other students. Discrimination in Victorian schools has a negative impact on the whole school community, including for teachers, parents and other family members. To provide an environment that is free of discrimination, it is important for all students to understand and be aware of the diversity that exists within the community. This includes gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics. Myth:  The program promotes and teaches children to undertake risky/inappropriate behaviour (e.g. chest binding/cross-dressing) and is a form of abuse. Fact: The program does not promote chest binding or cross-dressing. The program provides information and resources to schools and students to raise understanding and awareness of sexual and gender diversity. Many LGBTI students feel uncomfortable about seeking support or affirming their identity and providing guidance and advice about these processes can reduce fear and anxiety in dealing with this. For many people, the question of their gender or their sexuality is straightforward; however, for some it is more contested as they don’t fit neatly into the ‘norm’. It is important for all children and young people to understand that not everyone is the same and to respect this. Myth: Parents are not given an opportunity to consent to their child’s participation and the program disregards the wishes of parents who do not wish for their children to participate in the program. Fact: The Department of Education and Training encourages parental and school community engagement as part of the Safe Schools program. Schools determine how to implement the Safe Schools program at their school, based on their local context and the needs of their school community. This is often done in consultation with students, school council and the broader school community. The program does not impose specific requirements for student participation but does require all school community members to demonstrate the school’s values. In instances where students are more directly involved, this participation tends to be extra-curricular and voluntary, such as through student groups for LGBTI students and allies or special events such as for International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia or Wear It Purple Day. As with any extra-curricular activity, parents can choose for their children not to participate in those activities after discussion with the school. The Department encourages parents to discuss any concerns regarding their child’s participation in the program directly with the school principal. Within any school community there is always a diversity of views represented and schools take those views into account when working with children and their families. Myth: The government should not be in this space. Parents should be the ones who determine how and when their children are provided with information about LGBTI people and sex education. The program undermines the role of the family. Fact: Making sure our school environments are safe and free from discrimination and harassment is a requirement under Australian and Victorian anti-discrimination laws. ​The role of a school is to equip its students to lead healthy and productive lives, to not only achieve academically but also to be happy, healthy and resilient. Social and emotional learning is a key aspect of development for young people. Myth: There is no evidence to warrant such a program. Fact: Many studies around the world show that LGBTI students experience higher rates of harassment, social exclusion and bullying than their non-LGBTI peers[1]. For example, Writing Themselves in 3, the third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people, found that 61 per cent of LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse 18 per cent report physical homophobic abuse 69 per cent report other types of homophobia, including exclusion and rumours 80 per cent of respondents experienced the reported abuse at school. These experiences significantly affect students’ emotional wellbeing and social health as well as their engagement in learning and school activities. Two studies looking into the impact of homophobia at school found that for LGBTI students: 3 in 10 could not concentrate in school 2 in 10 missed classes or days of school 2 in 10 had lower marks 1 in 10 did not use the toilets 13% dropped out of sport 1 in 10 moved schools 8% dropped out of school altogether[2] In addition to poorer educational outcomes, LGBTI young people are at greater risk of self-harm, suicide, excessive drug use and sexual risk behaviours compared to non-LGBTI young people. Myth: The program diminishes the seriousness of other forms of bullying (e.g. disabilities, racism) and should therefore be wrapped up into a broader anti-bullying program. Fact: Bullying is a serious issue for everyone in a school community. It can happen anywhere, anytime, and can have devastating consequences.  All schools are required to have policies in place which provide students with a safe learning environment where the risk of harm is minimised and they feel physically and emotionally secure. There are a number of programs and resources available to schools to prevent and respond to bullying. Bully Stoppers provides evidence-based anti-bullying advice and resources through a free online toolkit to empower school leaders, teachers, parents and students to tackle bullying. Data shows the severe impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying on young people. This warrants a targeted response. The Safe Schools program supports a school to be a safe environment for all students. Myth: The program content is not age-appropriate and should not be offered to young children or children with a disability. It is inappropriate for special needs schools. Fact: The Safe Schools resources are evidence based and age-appropriate. Teachers have flexibility in which resources they use and how they use them. Teachers use their judgement to determine what is appropriate for their students, based on their age, abilities, level of understanding, local context and other factors. This is something that teachers do every day, in every class and with every interaction with their students. The Safe Schools program provides professional learning to teachers to ensure they are equipped to deliver the program in schools through school policy and practice, student led activities and inclusive teaching and learning activities. Myth: The content takes classroom attention away from what matters – reading, writing, and arithmetic. Fact: Safe Schools is not an element of the curriculum and it does not take time away from key learning areas such as literacy and numeracy. We know that students cannot learn effectively if they are being bullied, harassed and do not feel safe at school. Schools that are engaged with the program have made a commitment to build ‘an environment that is safer and more inclusive for the whole school community’. How this commitment is implemented is at the school’s discretion and therefore looks different for each school. Myth: The program is not an effective use of resources. Fact: In the 2015-16 State Budget, the Victorian Government increased its existing funding to Safe Schools Coalition Victoria by $1.04 million over four years to expand its program into every Victorian government secondary school by 2018. By comparison with other education related spending, this is a small amount of government spending that has a large impact on a vulnerable cohort of young people. Evidence shows that young people that feel safe in their learning environments have better learning outcomes. Myth busting Safe Schools program 161217-SupportingLGBTIStudentsInVictorianSchools 161116-Keeping-Children-Safe-From-Sexual-Abuse [1] Toomey and Russell (2016) ‘The Role of Sexual Orientation in School-Based Victimization: A Meta-Analysis’, Youth and Society, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 176-201; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2011). Review of Homophobic Bullying in Educational Institutions, UNESCO, France, p14. [2] Hillier, L., et al. (2010). Writing themselves in 3: The 3rd national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of SSAGQ young people. Melbourne: ARCSHS: Robinson, KH et al (2013) Growing Up Queer: Issues Facing Young Australian Who Are Gender Variant and Sexuality Diverse, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne.

NEW COMMUNITY FACILITIES FOR UPWEY AND TECOMA

Upwey and Tecoma residents will soon enjoy new community and sporting facilities, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today turned the first sod to the mark the start of construction of the Upwey Tecoma Community Recreation and Sporting Hub (UTCRASH). The new hub will provide a modern and multipurpose space for over 20 local community groups, including 2,500 members and 1,150 school students and staff. With over 1,100 square metres of multi-purpose community spaces, a commercial kitchen, a gym, canteen, offices and meeting spaces this facility will be of huge value to many people in the community. The Labor Government is getting on with the job of delivering high quality sport and recreation facilities across the state. The Government contributed $1.5 million towards the project including a $1 million grant from the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF) and $500,000 through the $120 million Community Facilities Funding Program. The Commonwealth Government contributed $500,000 to the project with Bendigo Bank and the UTCRASH community both contributing $250,000. The Yarra Ranges Shire Council contributed $1.1 million towards the project. Over the last two years the council has received more than $5.56 million from the GSF. The Government recently announced another $50 million for the Growing Suburbs Fund, allocated over the next two years as part of the Victorian Budget 2017/18. Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins “The Andrews Labor Government is proud to work together with local councils and communities to deliver important multipurpose facilities like this.” Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We want as many people as possible to be involved in their community and be physically active.” “This facility will be of tremendous benefit to the local community providing a place for community groups to meet, learn and build strong community ties.”

NEW COMMUNITY FACILITIES FOR UPWEY AND TECOMA

Upwey and Tecoma residents will soon enjoy new community and sporting facilities, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Member for Monbulk James Merlino today turned the first sod to the mark the start of construction of the Upwey Tecoma Community Recreation and Sporting Hub (UTCRASH). The new hub will provide a modern and multipurpose space for over 20 local community groups, including 2,500 members and 1,150 school students and staff. With over 1,100 square metres of multi-purpose community spaces, a commercial kitchen, a gym, canteen, offices and meeting spaces this facility will be of huge value to many people in the community. The Labor Government is getting on with the job of delivering high quality sport and recreation facilities across the state. The Government contributed $1.5 million towards the project including a $1 million grant from the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF) and $500,000 through the $120 million Community Facilities Funding Program. The Commonwealth Government contributed $500,000 to the project with Bendigo Bank and the UTCRASH community both contributing $250,000. The Yarra Ranges Shire Council contributed $1.1 million towards the project. Over the last two years the council has received more than $5.56 million from the GSF. The Government recently announced another $50 million for the Growing Suburbs Fund, allocated over the next two years as part of the Victorian Budget 2017/18. Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins “The Andrews Labor Government is proud to work together with local councils and communities to deliver important multipurpose facilities like this.” Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino “We want as many people as possible to be involved in their community and be physically active.” “This facility will be of tremendous benefit to the local community providing a place for community groups to meet, learn and build strong community ties.”

MONBULK SCHOOLS TO PARTICIPATE IN MATH OLYMPIAD

Member for Monbulk James Merlino today met with local students who will participate in the 12th World Cup of World Mathematical Olympiad to be held in Beijing, China in August this year. The students from Billanook and Mooroolbark East Primary School will be challenged to apply creative and integrated methods to solve mathematical problems using creativity, teamwork and intuition. The World Mathematical Olympiad allows students from more than 20 countries and 300 cities to participate in the event, with the vision to permit students to demonstrate their critical thinking and mathematical skills, as well as engaging in a cultural exchange. At the conclusion of the competition, students will participate in a Beijing tour, including visiting the Great Wall of China. The 12 students will depart Australia to compete in the competition on 9 August and return on 16 August. The Andrew Labor Government is working on a range of measures to continue to improve numeracy results at schools right across Victoria. This includes the recently released Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The strategy will help schools reach Education State targets of more students reaching the highest levels in reading and mathematics and breaking the link between disadvantage and education outcomes. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk and Minister for Education James Merlino “It is great to see our local students representing their community internationally at such an important event.” “We want to see more students excelling in areas like Mathematics and science because these are skills that we know employers will be looking for now and into the future.” Media Contact: Matthew Dixon 0438 190 148 | matthew.dixon@minstaff.vic.gov.au

MONBULK SCHOOLS TO PARTICIPATE IN MATH OLYMPIAD

Member for Monbulk James Merlino today met with local students who will participate in the 12th World Cup of World Mathematical Olympiad to be held in Beijing, China in August this year. The students from Billanook and Mooroolbark East Primary School will be challenged to apply creative and integrated methods to solve mathematical problems using creativity, teamwork and intuition. The World Mathematical Olympiad allows students from more than 20 countries and 300 cities to participate in the event, with the vision to permit students to demonstrate their critical thinking and mathematical skills, as well as engaging in a cultural exchange. At the conclusion of the competition, students will participate in a Beijing tour, including visiting the Great Wall of China. The 12 students will depart Australia to compete in the competition on 9 August and return on 16 August. The Andrew Labor Government is working on a range of measures to continue to improve numeracy results at schools right across Victoria. This includes the recently released Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The strategy will help schools reach Education State targets of more students reaching the highest levels in reading and mathematics and breaking the link between disadvantage and education outcomes. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk and Minister for Education James Merlino “It is great to see our local students representing their community internationally at such an important event.” “We want to see more students excelling in areas like Mathematics and science because these are skills that we know employers will be looking for now and into the future.” Media Contact: Matthew Dixon 0438 190 148 | matthew.dixon@minstaff.vic.gov.au

New School Buildings For The Latrobe Valley

The Andrews Labor Government will invest $2.1 million in brand new buildings for Latrobe Valley schools. Minister for Education James Merlino made the announcement today during a visit to Yallourn North Primary School. Yallourn North Primary School will receive $1.5 million and Moe South Street Primary School $600,000 for the demolition of old asbestos-ridden facilities and the construction of new buildings. The building at Yallourn North Primary School, which currently contains staff administration and the general office, staff toilets, sick bay, art room, classrooms and library, will be demolished and replaced. At Moe South Street Primary School the building that will be demolished and replaced is currently being used for staff resources and classrooms. These two schools are the first to benefit from an additional $85 million in funding in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to install modular buildings in 30 schools where asbestos is being removed. As part of the Asbestos Removal Program, poor condition buildings containing asbestos will be demolished and replaced with permanent modular buildings. This will reduce planning and building times, and mean less disruption to students, staff and teaching programs. Today’s announcement builds on the more than $40 million already invested in school infrastructure over the past three state budgets. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This announcement builds on the more than $40 million we have already invested in school upgrades across Latrobe Valley. In contrast, the former Liberal Government didn’t fund a single school upgrade in four years” “We are improving school infrastructure across the Latrobe Valley so every student has the opportunity to get the most out of their education.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing “We are improving the safety and amenity of Latrobe Valley Schools by removing asbestos and making sure our schools are safe and fit for purpose.” “The use of modular buildings allows us to remove dangerous asbestos with less disruption to our schools, a positive outcome for local students, teachers and staff.” Download the Media Release (356 KB)

New School Buildings For The Latrobe Valley

The Andrews Labor Government will invest $2.1 million in brand new buildings for Latrobe Valley schools. Minister for Education James Merlino made the announcement today during a visit to Yallourn North Primary School. Yallourn North Primary School will receive $1.5 million and Moe South Street Primary School $600,000 for the demolition of old asbestos-ridden facilities and the construction of new buildings. The building at Yallourn North Primary School, which currently contains staff administration and the general office, staff toilets, sick bay, art room, classrooms and library, will be demolished and replaced. At Moe South Street Primary School the building that will be demolished and replaced is currently being used for staff resources and classrooms. These two schools are the first to benefit from an additional $85 million in funding in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to install modular buildings in 30 schools where asbestos is being removed. As part of the Asbestos Removal Program, poor condition buildings containing asbestos will be demolished and replaced with permanent modular buildings. This will reduce planning and building times, and mean less disruption to students, staff and teaching programs. Today’s announcement builds on the more than $40 million already invested in school infrastructure over the past three state budgets. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This announcement builds on the more than $40 million we have already invested in school upgrades across Latrobe Valley. In contrast, the former Liberal Government didn’t fund a single school upgrade in four years” “We are improving school infrastructure across the Latrobe Valley so every student has the opportunity to get the most out of their education.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing “We are improving the safety and amenity of Latrobe Valley Schools by removing asbestos and making sure our schools are safe and fit for purpose.” “The use of modular buildings allows us to remove dangerous asbestos with less disruption to our schools, a positive outcome for local students, teachers and staff.” Download the Media Release (356 KB)

A New School For Families In Melbourne’s South East

Families in Melbourne’s South East will soon enjoy a brand new primary school, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited the Sandy Road school site to see how construction is progressing. Gum Scrub Creek’s new $13 million primary school is ahead of schedule and fast nearing completion, ready for student intake in the first term of next year. The school will include flexible classrooms, specialist physical education, arts and music facilities and a full size netball and basketball court. It will also feature integrated sporting facilities including a multi-purpose hall that can be used by the local community. The school is also benefiting from $530,000 from the Shared Facilities Fund for a multi-service centre for Outside School Hours Care, due to open in 2018. Minister Merlino then toured the new $3.5 million Early Learning Centre which is adjoined to the school, a collaboration with Cardinia Shire Council. The Labor Government allocated $1.2 million from the Children Facilities Capital Grant program for the centre, with Cardinia Shire contributing $2.3 million. Minister Merlino also announced that Kerry Coffey will serve as the school’s inaugural principal. Throughout her 28-year career Kerry has held many leadership positions including Leading Teacher for Literacy and Numeracy and Assistant Principal at Fleetwood Primary School. Gum Scrub Creek Primary School and other similar projects around Victoria form part of the Government’s $2.5 billion commitment to new and upgraded school infrastructure, to build the Education State. The Government is building 56 new schools and has more than 1,000 school upgrades in the construction pipeline, creating more than 5,000 construction jobs. For further information about the school construction and refurbishment program visit the Victorian School Building Authority website at: www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “It is excellent to see that construction is ahead of schedule; local families are now one step closer to having a brand new school.” “Congratulations to Kerry Coffey on being appointed as the school’s first principal, I’m sure she will do a wonderful job.” Quote attributable to member for Eastern Victoria Daniel Mulino “This is a growing community and we are delivering on our promise to provide a first-rate school for local families.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

A New School For Families In Melbourne’s South East

Families in Melbourne’s South East will soon enjoy a brand new primary school, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today visited the Sandy Road school site to see how construction is progressing. Gum Scrub Creek’s new $13 million primary school is ahead of schedule and fast nearing completion, ready for student intake in the first term of next year. The school will include flexible classrooms, specialist physical education, arts and music facilities and a full size netball and basketball court. It will also feature integrated sporting facilities including a multi-purpose hall that can be used by the local community. The school is also benefiting from $530,000 from the Shared Facilities Fund for a multi-service centre for Outside School Hours Care, due to open in 2018. Minister Merlino then toured the new $3.5 million Early Learning Centre which is adjoined to the school, a collaboration with Cardinia Shire Council. The Labor Government allocated $1.2 million from the Children Facilities Capital Grant program for the centre, with Cardinia Shire contributing $2.3 million. Minister Merlino also announced that Kerry Coffey will serve as the school’s inaugural principal. Throughout her 28-year career Kerry has held many leadership positions including Leading Teacher for Literacy and Numeracy and Assistant Principal at Fleetwood Primary School. Gum Scrub Creek Primary School and other similar projects around Victoria form part of the Government’s $2.5 billion commitment to new and upgraded school infrastructure, to build the Education State. The Government is building 56 new schools and has more than 1,000 school upgrades in the construction pipeline, creating more than 5,000 construction jobs. For further information about the school construction and refurbishment program visit the Victorian School Building Authority website at: www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “It is excellent to see that construction is ahead of schedule; local families are now one step closer to having a brand new school.” “Congratulations to Kerry Coffey on being appointed as the school’s first principal, I’m sure she will do a wonderful job.” Quote attributable to member for Eastern Victoria Daniel Mulino “This is a growing community and we are delivering on our promise to provide a first-rate school for local families.” Download the Media Release (355 KB)

Labor Government Investment In Schools Getting Results

New NAPLAN data released today shows the Andrews Labor Government’s record investment in the state’s schools is boosting student performance across almost every learning area. The preliminary 2017 NAPLAN results show the proportion of Victorian students in the top bands for numeracy and reading has increased across almost all tested year levels. Victoria’s mean scale score increased in reading (years three, five and seven), spelling (years five and seven), grammar and punctuation (year three, seven and nine) and numeracy (years three, seven and nine). Victoria is now leading the country across many of the test areas including reading, numeracy and writing. The results come after the massive $566 million funding boost to schools that need it most, providing extra resources and expertise to get the best out of students who need more support. Since the funding started flowing last year, more than 2,800 staff have been added to Victorian government schools – including 1,600 teachers and 1,200 support staff like speech pathologists, literacy and numeracy coaches and social workers. This is on top of $456.6 million in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to meet the ongoing needs of students and teachers, including $50.7 million in Turnaround Teams to help lift results in underperforming schools. The Labor Government is ensuring our kids get high quality, motivated teachers in every classroom, with the introduction of a minimum ATAR for Year 12 entry into undergraduate teaching courses to 70 from 2019 – starting at 65 in 2018. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This data shows our huge investment is Victoria’s schools is making a real difference – building better facilities, boosting teachers and support staff, and improving student results.” “The number of kids doing better in numeracy and reading is increasing, and we’ll keep investing to ensure results continue to improve.” “We are supporting programs that help students catch up in literacy and numeracy, and enabling schools to offer electives that keep kids engaged.” Download the Media Release (173 KB)

Labor Government Investment In Schools Getting Results

New NAPLAN data released today shows the Andrews Labor Government’s record investment in the state’s schools is boosting student performance across almost every learning area. The preliminary 2017 NAPLAN results show the proportion of Victorian students in the top bands for numeracy and reading has increased across almost all tested year levels. Victoria’s mean scale score increased in reading (years three, five and seven), spelling (years five and seven), grammar and punctuation (year three, seven and nine) and numeracy (years three, seven and nine). Victoria is now leading the country across many of the test areas including reading, numeracy and writing. The results come after the massive $566 million funding boost to schools that need it most, providing extra resources and expertise to get the best out of students who need more support. Since the funding started flowing last year, more than 2,800 staff have been added to Victorian government schools – including 1,600 teachers and 1,200 support staff like speech pathologists, literacy and numeracy coaches and social workers. This is on top of $456.6 million in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to meet the ongoing needs of students and teachers, including $50.7 million in Turnaround Teams to help lift results in underperforming schools. The Labor Government is ensuring our kids get high quality, motivated teachers in every classroom, with the introduction of a minimum ATAR for Year 12 entry into undergraduate teaching courses to 70 from 2019 – starting at 65 in 2018. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This data shows our huge investment is Victoria’s schools is making a real difference – building better facilities, boosting teachers and support staff, and improving student results.” “The number of kids doing better in numeracy and reading is increasing, and we’ll keep investing to ensure results continue to improve.” “We are supporting programs that help students catch up in literacy and numeracy, and enabling schools to offer electives that keep kids engaged.” Download the Media Release (173 KB)

New Tech School For Geelong One Step Closer

Students in Geelong are a step closer to a brand new Tech School that will give them the skills the need for the jobs of the future. Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Geelong Christine Couzens today turned the first sod to mark the start of construction on the new Geelong Tech School. The Tech School will be hosted on The Gordon Institute of TAFE’s central campus on Fenwick Street, Geelong. It is part of a larger $20 million project at The Gordon including the Tech School, replacement of The Gordon library and internal and external refurbishment works. 18,000 students from 22 Geelong schools will access the Tech School throughout the year and enjoy specialised programs with a focus on industries predicted to experience strong economic and employment growth. This includes professional, scientific and technical services, health and social assistance, transport, defence and construction industries. It will mean students won’t have to travel far and wide to get a Tech School education – opening up new opportunities for young people in the local area. The new Tech School, which is expected to be completed by mid-2018, will give students the skills they need for the jobs of the future.​ They will work on real-life problems that need to be solved using the latest technologies. It is part of the Andrews Labor Government’s plan to boost performance in STEM subjects, including a 25 per cent increase in the number of year nine students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths and a 33 per cent increase 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science. More information on the Geelong Tech School can be found at: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/learningdev/techschools/Pages/geelongtechschool.aspx Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This Tech School is a milestone opportunity for over 18,000 students from 22 local schools.” “From mid-2018 Geelong students will have access to leading edge technologies and the specialist expertise of staff from The Gordon.” Quote attributable to Member for Geelong Christine Couzens “We are delivering  on  our  election promise and building first-rate education facilities that the entire community can be proud of. This Tech School will support more than forty jobs during construction.” Download the Media Release (160 KB)

New Tech School For Geelong One Step Closer

Students in Geelong are a step closer to a brand new Tech School that will give them the skills the need for the jobs of the future. Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Geelong Christine Couzens today turned the first sod to mark the start of construction on the new Geelong Tech School. The Tech School will be hosted on The Gordon Institute of TAFE’s central campus on Fenwick Street, Geelong. It is part of a larger $20 million project at The Gordon including the Tech School, replacement of The Gordon library and internal and external refurbishment works. 18,000 students from 22 Geelong schools will access the Tech School throughout the year and enjoy specialised programs with a focus on industries predicted to experience strong economic and employment growth. This includes professional, scientific and technical services, health and social assistance, transport, defence and construction industries. It will mean students won’t have to travel far and wide to get a Tech School education – opening up new opportunities for young people in the local area. The new Tech School, which is expected to be completed by mid-2018, will give students the skills they need for the jobs of the future.​ They will work on real-life problems that need to be solved using the latest technologies. It is part of the Andrews Labor Government’s plan to boost performance in STEM subjects, including a 25 per cent increase in the number of year nine students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths and a 33 per cent increase 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science. More information on the Geelong Tech School can be found at: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/learningdev/techschools/Pages/geelongtechschool.aspx Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “This Tech School is a milestone opportunity for over 18,000 students from 22 local schools.” “From mid-2018 Geelong students will have access to leading edge technologies and the specialist expertise of staff from The Gordon.” Quote attributable to Member for Geelong Christine Couzens “We are delivering  on  our  election promise and building first-rate education facilities that the entire community can be proud of. This Tech School will support more than forty jobs during construction.” Download the Media Release (160 KB)