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

    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.

  • GETTING RID OF TWO MORE LEVEL CROSSINGS IN MELBOURNE’S EAST

    The Andrews Labor Government will build rail bridges to remove two more dangerous and congested level crossings in Melbourne’s East. Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan joined Member for Monbulk James Merlino to reveal designs for the Manchester Road, Mooroolbark and Maroondah Highway, Lilydale level crossing removals.

  • DELIVERING FOR MONBULK

    The Andrews Labor Government is delivering on its promises and delivering for the people of Monbulk, with major investments in local schools, roads, health and public transport in the Victorian Budget 2019/20.

  • MORE CAR PARKS AT BELGRAVE STATION A STEP CLOSER

    Geotechnical works will take place at Belgrave Station car park from next week, as the Andrews Labor Government gets on with building more spaces for passengers to park.

  • FREE TAFE KICKS OFF IN MONBULK

    Students and job seekers from Monbulk can now take up Free TAFE training under the Andrews Labor Government’s $172 million program to make 30 priority TAFE courses and 20 pre-apprenticeship courses tuition fee free from this year.

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

    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

Rebuilding Mental Health Support For Young Victorians

Young people in Bendigo will get access to the mental health services they deserve with a multi-million dollar refurbishment of the local youth prevention and recovery care thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. The Victorian Budget 21/22 invests $3.8 billion towards decade-long mental health reform, delivering more community based services, more help for those with acute needs, more early intervention and a new dedicated system to support our kids. An estimated $700 million of this landmark package will flow to the regions. The Budget includes $842 million in mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people – including $141 million to deliver five new, and upgrade three existing, Youth Prevention and Recovery Care units (Y-PARCs). The is expected to create approximately 400 jobs, with all projects expected to be completed by 2024. Offering a short‑term ’step up’ from community care or ‘step down’ from hospital, Y-PARCs are staffed 24 hours, with support offered in a home-like setting, with shared kitchen, dining, lounge room and activity spaces. Bendigo is one of three existing Y-PARCs, alongside Dandenong and Frankston, that will share in $18 million in funding to undergo a significant refurbishment. The facilities will be designed to create a welcoming, safe and therapeutic environment with private bedrooms complete with ensuite bathrooms. Communal kitchens, dining and living areas, breakout spaces and an outdoor garden will provide ample space for leisure, recreational activities and family visits. The five new Y-PARCs, totalling 50 beds for young people aged 16 to 25 years, will be located in Melbourne’s North Eastern Metropolitan region, as well as the Barwon South-West, Gippsland, Grampians and Hume regions. Delivering better support for young Victorians is one of the key’s to the Labor Government’s plan to rebuild the state’s mental health system. It’s why the Budget also includes a $200 million School Mental Health Fund, which schools will use to deliver programs, staff and other support specific to their school community’s needs. The Fund will be rolled out to all regional and rural government schools as a priority from Term 3, 2022, with metropolitan schools to follow from 2023. Schools will be able to draw from a range of evidence-based measures proven to work – from the ‘Positive Education’ model to therapy dog programs to mental health first aid training. Quote attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “Our mental health system is failing young Victorians – and their families. This is the case right across the state including right here in Bendigo. All the research tells us it’s critical we give our young people the mental health support they need, early and that is exactly what we are delivering.” Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan “This investment means more young people will be able to receive  treatment and care close to their family, support networks and local community – which we know contributes positively to clinical and personal recovery.” Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards “We know from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System that our system isn’t coping. This is why it’s essential we upgrade existing youth prevention and recovery care units – and build new ones.” Download the media release

Rebuilding Mental Health Support For Young Victorians

Young people in Bendigo will get access to the mental health services they deserve with a multi-million dollar refurbishment of the local youth prevention and recovery care thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. The Victorian Budget 21/22 invests $3.8 billion towards decade-long mental health reform, delivering more community based services, more help for those with acute needs, more early intervention and a new dedicated system to support our kids. An estimated $700 million of this landmark package will flow to the regions. The Budget includes $842 million in mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people – including $141 million to deliver five new, and upgrade three existing, Youth Prevention and Recovery Care units (Y-PARCs). The is expected to create approximately 400 jobs, with all projects expected to be completed by 2024. Offering a short‑term ’step up’ from community care or ‘step down’ from hospital, Y-PARCs are staffed 24 hours, with support offered in a home-like setting, with shared kitchen, dining, lounge room and activity spaces. Bendigo is one of three existing Y-PARCs, alongside Dandenong and Frankston, that will share in $18 million in funding to undergo a significant refurbishment. The facilities will be designed to create a welcoming, safe and therapeutic environment with private bedrooms complete with ensuite bathrooms. Communal kitchens, dining and living areas, breakout spaces and an outdoor garden will provide ample space for leisure, recreational activities and family visits. The five new Y-PARCs, totalling 50 beds for young people aged 16 to 25 years, will be located in Melbourne’s North Eastern Metropolitan region, as well as the Barwon South-West, Gippsland, Grampians and Hume regions. Delivering better support for young Victorians is one of the key’s to the Labor Government’s plan to rebuild the state’s mental health system. It’s why the Budget also includes a $200 million School Mental Health Fund, which schools will use to deliver programs, staff and other support specific to their school community’s needs. The Fund will be rolled out to all regional and rural government schools as a priority from Term 3, 2022, with metropolitan schools to follow from 2023. Schools will be able to draw from a range of evidence-based measures proven to work – from the ‘Positive Education’ model to therapy dog programs to mental health first aid training. Quote attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “Our mental health system is failing young Victorians – and their families. This is the case right across the state including right here in Bendigo. All the research tells us it’s critical we give our young people the mental health support they need, early and that is exactly what we are delivering.” Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan “This investment means more young people will be able to receive  treatment and care close to their family, support networks and local community – which we know contributes positively to clinical and personal recovery.” Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards “We know from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System that our system isn’t coping. This is why it’s essential we upgrade existing youth prevention and recovery care units – and build new ones.” Download the media release

Building A Bright Future For Victorian Kids

More Victorian kids will learn in brand‑new schools and first‑rate classrooms, as the Andrews Labor Government continues to roll out the next phase of our school building boom. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests $1.6 billion to build new schools and improve existing schools – making sure our kids have the bright futures they deserve and building on the $3 billion delivered in last year’s Budget. Not only will this investment ensure great local schools, it will also create 3,500 new jobs in construction and associated industries, including around 2,900 jobs in metropolitan Melbourne and around 600 jobs in regional Victoria. This Budget invests $492 million to build 13 new schools, with 12 schools opening in 2023 and one in 2024. Funding will also be provided to Cranbourne West Secondary College, Elevation Secondary College and Tarneit Senior College – which opened in 2021, 2020 and 2012 respectively – delivering new stages at each school. Land will be acquired in Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Port Phillip and Wyndham for future school sites through a $276.4 million investment. Fifty‑two schools will have better classrooms, libraries and learning spaces with a $340 million boost, upgrading 35 metropolitan schools and 17 regional schools. An additional $188 million will go towards essential maintenance to ensure our schools are modern and properly maintained. The Budget also includes: $105 million for new relocatable buildings to provide additional space for schools experiencing enrolment growth in 2022 $84.9 million to deliver new classrooms to meet growing enrolments at six schools for the 2024 school year $20 million to improve learning spaces as well as the condition and character of schools through the Minor Capital Works Fund $15 million for the Accessible Buildings Program and an additional $10 million for the Inclusive Schools Fund to help make our schools more accessible and inclusive for young people with a disability and additional needs $1 million to plan for Verney Road School in Shepparton, in addition to broader support for specialist education across the Greater Shepparton region. The Labor Government has invested more than $10.9 billion in building new schools and more than 1,700 school upgrades – creating around 13,500 jobs in construction and associated industries. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Victoria’s education construction boom is the biggest of its kind nationally. By investing in our schools, we’re giving our kids the classrooms they deserve – and importantly, creating thousands of new jobs.” “By investing in our schools, we’re investing in our kids – and our state’s recovery. This Budget is, quite literally, building our future.” Download the media release

Building A Bright Future For Victorian Kids

More Victorian kids will learn in brand‑new schools and first‑rate classrooms, as the Andrews Labor Government continues to roll out the next phase of our school building boom. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests $1.6 billion to build new schools and improve existing schools – making sure our kids have the bright futures they deserve and building on the $3 billion delivered in last year’s Budget. Not only will this investment ensure great local schools, it will also create 3,500 new jobs in construction and associated industries, including around 2,900 jobs in metropolitan Melbourne and around 600 jobs in regional Victoria. This Budget invests $492 million to build 13 new schools, with 12 schools opening in 2023 and one in 2024. Funding will also be provided to Cranbourne West Secondary College, Elevation Secondary College and Tarneit Senior College – which opened in 2021, 2020 and 2012 respectively – delivering new stages at each school. Land will be acquired in Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Port Phillip and Wyndham for future school sites through a $276.4 million investment. Fifty‑two schools will have better classrooms, libraries and learning spaces with a $340 million boost, upgrading 35 metropolitan schools and 17 regional schools. An additional $188 million will go towards essential maintenance to ensure our schools are modern and properly maintained. The Budget also includes: $105 million for new relocatable buildings to provide additional space for schools experiencing enrolment growth in 2022 $84.9 million to deliver new classrooms to meet growing enrolments at six schools for the 2024 school year $20 million to improve learning spaces as well as the condition and character of schools through the Minor Capital Works Fund $15 million for the Accessible Buildings Program and an additional $10 million for the Inclusive Schools Fund to help make our schools more accessible and inclusive for young people with a disability and additional needs $1 million to plan for Verney Road School in Shepparton, in addition to broader support for specialist education across the Greater Shepparton region. The Labor Government has invested more than $10.9 billion in building new schools and more than 1,700 school upgrades – creating around 13,500 jobs in construction and associated industries. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Victoria’s education construction boom is the biggest of its kind nationally. By investing in our schools, we’re giving our kids the classrooms they deserve – and importantly, creating thousands of new jobs.” “By investing in our schools, we’re investing in our kids – and our state’s recovery. This Budget is, quite literally, building our future.” Download the media release

Supporting Our Kids To Be Healthy And Happy

Our kids deserve to grow up healthy and happy. And after their family and friends, our schools are one of the biggest supports in a young person’s life. As we build our mental health system from the ground up, we’re putting schools at the centre of our response – helping to make sure they have everything they need to support their students, families and communities. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests a dedicated $277 million in new support for our schools, ensuring mental health and wellbeing is a core part of a student’s experience at school. This includes establishing a new $200 million School Mental Health Fund, which schools will use to deliver programs, staff and other support specific to their school community’s needs. The Fund will be rolled out to all regional and rural government schools as a priority from Term 3, 2022, with metropolitan schools to follow from 2023. Schools will be able to draw from a range of evidence-based measures proven to work – from the ‘Positive Education’ model to therapy dog programs to mental health first aid training. Schools will also be able to use their funding to engage more mental health and wellbeing staff to further support their children and young people. Funding will massively expand the Mental Health in Primary Schools pilot, reaching 100 schools. A partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the pilot enables schools to employ a Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, while also supporting staff to better understand and respond to mental health and wellbeing issues affecting their students. This investment builds on our pledge to fund a mental health practitioner in every government secondary and specialist secondary school by the end of 2021. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “Whenever I visit a school, families and teachers tell me mental and health wellbeing is the single biggest issue affecting our kids.” “This is our opportunity to fundamentally transform the way we support our young people. That means putting schools at the heart of our response – giving them the funding, the staff, the tools and whatever else they might need to be there for our kids.”  Download the media release

Supporting Our Kids To Be Healthy And Happy

Our kids deserve to grow up healthy and happy. And after their family and friends, our schools are one of the biggest supports in a young person’s life. As we build our mental health system from the ground up, we’re putting schools at the centre of our response – helping to make sure they have everything they need to support their students, families and communities. The Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests a dedicated $277 million in new support for our schools, ensuring mental health and wellbeing is a core part of a student’s experience at school. This includes establishing a new $200 million School Mental Health Fund, which schools will use to deliver programs, staff and other support specific to their school community’s needs. The Fund will be rolled out to all regional and rural government schools as a priority from Term 3, 2022, with metropolitan schools to follow from 2023. Schools will be able to draw from a range of evidence-based measures proven to work – from the ‘Positive Education’ model to therapy dog programs to mental health first aid training. Schools will also be able to use their funding to engage more mental health and wellbeing staff to further support their children and young people. Funding will massively expand the Mental Health in Primary Schools pilot, reaching 100 schools. A partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the pilot enables schools to employ a Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, while also supporting staff to better understand and respond to mental health and wellbeing issues affecting their students. This investment builds on our pledge to fund a mental health practitioner in every government secondary and specialist secondary school by the end of 2021. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “Whenever I visit a school, families and teachers tell me mental and health wellbeing is the single biggest issue affecting our kids.” “This is our opportunity to fundamentally transform the way we support our young people. That means putting schools at the heart of our response – giving them the funding, the staff, the tools and whatever else they might need to be there for our kids.”  Download the media release

Experts To Lead Independent Review Of Wildlife Act

Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP is encouraging all Victorians to have their say on an expert review of Victoria’s Wildlife Act 1975. An expert advisory panel appointed by the Andrews Labor Government is embarking on a comprehensive review of the Act to ensure it is up to date with community standards, contemporary issues and policy changes. Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced a full review of the Wildlife Act 1975 – the first since it was enacted 46 years ago. As part of the review, the community is encouraged to offer comment on the Act as it is now and make suggestions to help shape its future. The review will consider Victoria’s Wildlife Act against similar legislation interstate and internationally to ensure it provides a best practice regulatory framework and ensure any future Act includes all the necessary powers to punish and deter wildlife crime and protect Victoria’s wildlife. James Merlino MP said the community and interested stakeholders can contribute to the review online via Engage Victoria by reading the panel’s issues paper and providing comments around specific issues or providing a written submission. The Panel will also work with Traditional Owners on issues related to self-determination, and will seek input from key interest groups, government bodies and relevant experts. Consultation is open via the Engage Victoria website: The Independent Review of Victoria’s Wildlife Act 1975 | Engage Victoria and closes June 9. For further information about the review of the Wildlife Act 1975 go to: Review of the Wildlife Act 1975 Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “The world has changed since the Wildlife Act became law in 1975, and this independent review will help ensure an updated Act reflects community views.” “The four members of the expert advisory panel examining the Wildlife Act 1975 have extensive experience in their fields and are keen to hear a range of views from stakeholders and the community as they consider reform of the Act."

Experts To Lead Independent Review Of Wildlife Act

Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP is encouraging all Victorians to have their say on an expert review of Victoria’s Wildlife Act 1975. An expert advisory panel appointed by the Andrews Labor Government is embarking on a comprehensive review of the Act to ensure it is up to date with community standards, contemporary issues and policy changes. Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced a full review of the Wildlife Act 1975 – the first since it was enacted 46 years ago. As part of the review, the community is encouraged to offer comment on the Act as it is now and make suggestions to help shape its future. The review will consider Victoria’s Wildlife Act against similar legislation interstate and internationally to ensure it provides a best practice regulatory framework and ensure any future Act includes all the necessary powers to punish and deter wildlife crime and protect Victoria’s wildlife. James Merlino MP said the community and interested stakeholders can contribute to the review online via Engage Victoria by reading the panel’s issues paper and providing comments around specific issues or providing a written submission. The Panel will also work with Traditional Owners on issues related to self-determination, and will seek input from key interest groups, government bodies and relevant experts. Consultation is open via the Engage Victoria website: The Independent Review of Victoria’s Wildlife Act 1975 | Engage Victoria and closes June 9. For further information about the review of the Wildlife Act 1975 go to: Review of the Wildlife Act 1975 Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “The world has changed since the Wildlife Act became law in 1975, and this independent review will help ensure an updated Act reflects community views.” “The four members of the expert advisory panel examining the Wildlife Act 1975 have extensive experience in their fields and are keen to hear a range of views from stakeholders and the community as they consider reform of the Act."

Supporting Monbulk Families In Financial Stress

The Andrews Labor Government is helping families experiencing financial stress in Monbulk with the expansion of the Good Money program, which delivers no-interest loans and financial advice – providing a safe alternative to dodgy payday lenders and loan sharks. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced the Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests $14.6 million in the Good Money program, including an expansion into phone-based and digital services, giving the Yarra Ranges improved access to this vital financial wellbeing service. Good Money is delivered through a unique partnership between the Government, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand and National Australia Bank, with retail shopfronts in Collingwood, Geelong, Dandenong and Morwell. The expansion into phone-based and digital services will give Victorians access to this vital financial wellbeing service, no matter where they live. Good Money delivers responsible and sustainable financial services including no-interest and low interest loans, low-cost insurance and budgeting advice for Victorians experiencing significant financial stress. That includes providing an alternative to predatory pay-day lenders who target vulnerable consumers, putting even more pressure on their finances – sometimes permanently. Good Money provides no-interest loans that have no hidden costs – giving clients access to safe, affordable and fair credit – ensuring they can manage unexpected bills while maintaining their financial security. The funding will also continue support for financial wellbeing initiatives in bushfire-affected communities, including Good Money pop-up stores, for a further 12 months. The enhanced Good Money service is expected to deliver 11,500 no-interest loans over four years, helping around 25,000 Victorians with a low-income. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “The financial support offered by Good Money is more important than ever for people in the Yarra Ranges doing it tough, given the challenges presented by COVID-19.” “Now that these support services will be available online and over the phone, residents in the Yarra Ranges who are in financial stress can get the support they need."

Supporting Monbulk Families In Financial Stress

The Andrews Labor Government is helping families experiencing financial stress in Monbulk with the expansion of the Good Money program, which delivers no-interest loans and financial advice – providing a safe alternative to dodgy payday lenders and loan sharks. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced the Victorian Budget 2021/22 invests $14.6 million in the Good Money program, including an expansion into phone-based and digital services, giving the Yarra Ranges improved access to this vital financial wellbeing service. Good Money is delivered through a unique partnership between the Government, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand and National Australia Bank, with retail shopfronts in Collingwood, Geelong, Dandenong and Morwell. The expansion into phone-based and digital services will give Victorians access to this vital financial wellbeing service, no matter where they live. Good Money delivers responsible and sustainable financial services including no-interest and low interest loans, low-cost insurance and budgeting advice for Victorians experiencing significant financial stress. That includes providing an alternative to predatory pay-day lenders who target vulnerable consumers, putting even more pressure on their finances – sometimes permanently. Good Money provides no-interest loans that have no hidden costs – giving clients access to safe, affordable and fair credit – ensuring they can manage unexpected bills while maintaining their financial security. The funding will also continue support for financial wellbeing initiatives in bushfire-affected communities, including Good Money pop-up stores, for a further 12 months. The enhanced Good Money service is expected to deliver 11,500 no-interest loans over four years, helping around 25,000 Victorians with a low-income. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “The financial support offered by Good Money is more important than ever for people in the Yarra Ranges doing it tough, given the challenges presented by COVID-19.” “Now that these support services will be available online and over the phone, residents in the Yarra Ranges who are in financial stress can get the support they need."

Giving More Regional Students Dance And Drama Opportunities

More primary school students in rural and regional Victoria are getting the chance to learn dance and drama skills, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino today announced the first schools taking part in the Blended Arts Education Program (Dance and Drama) in Terms 2 and 3 this year, to be delivered by AusDance Victoria and Drama Victoria. Data shows that dance and drama are under-represented as arts disciplines in rural and regional Victoria. This program will provide virtual lessons as well as onsite incursions to students in Years 3-6 at 30 schools, with 15 schools to take part in dance and 15 to take part in drama. The program pairs rural and regional schools that have an identified need to initiate or support a dance or drama program at their school with industry experts to lift teacher capability in planning, teaching, knowledge and in delivering the dance and drama curriculum. The program will run for three years, with new schools and students getting the chance to experience a high-quality arts program each year. It’s part of the Labor Government’s more than $37 million investment in a range of initiatives to improve educational outcomes for rural and regional students, and address the disparity between regional and metropolitan schools. The Labor Government has been working to deliver on its Education State target of having 20 per cent more Year 10 students achieving excellence in the Arts by 2025. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “We know kids thrive intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically when studying the arts, and that it can also help build confidence, resilience, self-esteem and a sense of belonging in communities and cultures.” “We’re investing in programs like this that our rural and regional schools need, because every child deserves a great education no matter where they live.” Download the media release

Giving More Regional Students Dance And Drama Opportunities

More primary school students in rural and regional Victoria are getting the chance to learn dance and drama skills, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino today announced the first schools taking part in the Blended Arts Education Program (Dance and Drama) in Terms 2 and 3 this year, to be delivered by AusDance Victoria and Drama Victoria. Data shows that dance and drama are under-represented as arts disciplines in rural and regional Victoria. This program will provide virtual lessons as well as onsite incursions to students in Years 3-6 at 30 schools, with 15 schools to take part in dance and 15 to take part in drama. The program pairs rural and regional schools that have an identified need to initiate or support a dance or drama program at their school with industry experts to lift teacher capability in planning, teaching, knowledge and in delivering the dance and drama curriculum. The program will run for three years, with new schools and students getting the chance to experience a high-quality arts program each year. It’s part of the Labor Government’s more than $37 million investment in a range of initiatives to improve educational outcomes for rural and regional students, and address the disparity between regional and metropolitan schools. The Labor Government has been working to deliver on its Education State target of having 20 per cent more Year 10 students achieving excellence in the Arts by 2025. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “We know kids thrive intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically when studying the arts, and that it can also help build confidence, resilience, self-esteem and a sense of belonging in communities and cultures.” “We’re investing in programs like this that our rural and regional schools need, because every child deserves a great education no matter where they live.” Download the media release

Boorndawan William Aboriginal Healing Service & Oonah Belonging Place Given Workforce Boost

The Andrews Labor Government is boosting support for local Aboriginal organisations, creating jobs and ensuring we can all recover strongly from the global pandemic together. Boorndawan William Aboriginal Healing Service and the Oonah Belonging Place have received a boost from the Andrews Labor Government to help it recover from the impacts of the pandemic and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced $335,000 for the Boorndawan William Aboriginal Healing Service and $233,000 for the Oonah Belonging Place today as part of the $40 million Aboriginal Workforce Fund, which has begun rolling out this month to create jobs and boost services when they’re needed the most. The investment will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Lilydale and Healesville lead the way in self-determination by empowering Aboriginal organisations to drive their own recovery priorities with their communities. Boorndawan Wililam Aboriginal Healing Service and the Oonah Belonging Place are two of 44 organisations across Victoria that have already received a total of $11.2 million in funding under the first round of the Aboriginal Workforce Fund. The Aboriginal Workforce Fund supports upskilling, training, worker health and wellbeing, organisational capability building, and extra staff to assist service delivery. The Victorian Aboriginal Social Recovery Advisory Group, consisting of key Aboriginal leaders and CEOs from local and state-wide Aboriginal organisations, was convened to guide the fund design, priorities and approach. The remainder of the fund to strengthen organisational and workforce capability will be allocated in 2021/22. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “The Aboriginal Workforce Fund gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Lilydale and Healesville the chance to lead their own priorities and rebuild after the pandemic.” “We want to ensure the Yarra Ranges can create a stronger workforce, to better serve the local Aboriginal community – and this has never been more important after the year we just had."

Boorndawan William Aboriginal Healing Service & Oonah Belonging Place Given Workforce Boost

The Andrews Labor Government is boosting support for local Aboriginal organisations, creating jobs and ensuring we can all recover strongly from the global pandemic together. Boorndawan William Aboriginal Healing Service and the Oonah Belonging Place have received a boost from the Andrews Labor Government to help it recover from the impacts of the pandemic and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP today announced $335,000 for the Boorndawan William Aboriginal Healing Service and $233,000 for the Oonah Belonging Place today as part of the $40 million Aboriginal Workforce Fund, which has begun rolling out this month to create jobs and boost services when they’re needed the most. The investment will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Lilydale and Healesville lead the way in self-determination by empowering Aboriginal organisations to drive their own recovery priorities with their communities. Boorndawan Wililam Aboriginal Healing Service and the Oonah Belonging Place are two of 44 organisations across Victoria that have already received a total of $11.2 million in funding under the first round of the Aboriginal Workforce Fund. The Aboriginal Workforce Fund supports upskilling, training, worker health and wellbeing, organisational capability building, and extra staff to assist service delivery. The Victorian Aboriginal Social Recovery Advisory Group, consisting of key Aboriginal leaders and CEOs from local and state-wide Aboriginal organisations, was convened to guide the fund design, priorities and approach. The remainder of the fund to strengthen organisational and workforce capability will be allocated in 2021/22. Quotes attributable to Member for Monbulk James Merlino MP “The Aboriginal Workforce Fund gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Lilydale and Healesville the chance to lead their own priorities and rebuild after the pandemic.” “We want to ensure the Yarra Ranges can create a stronger workforce, to better serve the local Aboriginal community – and this has never been more important after the year we just had."

More Support To Make Schools Inclusive For All Students

The Andrews Labor Government is helping more schools build inclusive play areas, sensory gardens and outdoor learning areas to support students with disabilities and additional needs. Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino today announced a further 74 projects across the state will share in over $12.5 million under Round 6 of the Andrews Labor Government’s Inclusive Schools Fund. Schools to benefit from this round include Swan Hill Primary School, which is receiving $200,000 to create an inclusive playground including new play equipment and rubber under surfacing, and Elsternwick Primary School, who is receiving $200,000 for a new indoor inclusive learning space – including new sensory equipment. Castlemaine Secondary College is receiving $72,253 for a new outdoor inclusive learning space, including new play equipment and landscaping. These are some of the many innovative ideas included under the fund, which supports the construction of inclusive playgrounds, as well as indoor and outdoor inclusive learning spaces. This round will fund projects such as accessible wheelchair friendly playground surfaces, quiet musical areas, and sensory zones with a range of tactile surfaces. The Inclusive Schools Fund is helping government schools better cater for the social and educational needs of all young people, including those with a disability or additional needs. This is the sixth round of funding. Since the Fund was established by the Labor Government in 2015, more than 300 creative projects to build inclusive learning spaces and inclusive playgrounds have been announced. The Fund is ensuring that students with disabilities get the same opportunities as other students. Inclusive education is about ensuring that all students, regardless of disabilities or other differences, are able to fully participate, learn, develop and succeed in Victorian government schools. More information about these projects is available at schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “This funding is about giving every child the best chance to meet their potential – regardless of their background or circumstances.” “As we build the Education State, we’re continuing to invest in schools to ensure students of all abilities can access a great education regardless of background or educational needs.” “Disability shouldn’t be a barrier to learning and achieving – these innovative projects are all about giving our primary schools the infrastructure they need to inspire a passion for learning in all students.” Download the media release

More Support To Make Schools Inclusive For All Students

The Andrews Labor Government is helping more schools build inclusive play areas, sensory gardens and outdoor learning areas to support students with disabilities and additional needs. Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino today announced a further 74 projects across the state will share in over $12.5 million under Round 6 of the Andrews Labor Government’s Inclusive Schools Fund. Schools to benefit from this round include Swan Hill Primary School, which is receiving $200,000 to create an inclusive playground including new play equipment and rubber under surfacing, and Elsternwick Primary School, who is receiving $200,000 for a new indoor inclusive learning space – including new sensory equipment. Castlemaine Secondary College is receiving $72,253 for a new outdoor inclusive learning space, including new play equipment and landscaping. These are some of the many innovative ideas included under the fund, which supports the construction of inclusive playgrounds, as well as indoor and outdoor inclusive learning spaces. This round will fund projects such as accessible wheelchair friendly playground surfaces, quiet musical areas, and sensory zones with a range of tactile surfaces. The Inclusive Schools Fund is helping government schools better cater for the social and educational needs of all young people, including those with a disability or additional needs. This is the sixth round of funding. Since the Fund was established by the Labor Government in 2015, more than 300 creative projects to build inclusive learning spaces and inclusive playgrounds have been announced. The Fund is ensuring that students with disabilities get the same opportunities as other students. Inclusive education is about ensuring that all students, regardless of disabilities or other differences, are able to fully participate, learn, develop and succeed in Victorian government schools. More information about these projects is available at schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “This funding is about giving every child the best chance to meet their potential – regardless of their background or circumstances.” “As we build the Education State, we’re continuing to invest in schools to ensure students of all abilities can access a great education regardless of background or educational needs.” “Disability shouldn’t be a barrier to learning and achieving – these innovative projects are all about giving our primary schools the infrastructure they need to inspire a passion for learning in all students.” Download the media release

 

New Laws To Make Schools Safer For Everyone

The Andrews Labor Government is giving Victorian schools the power to ban aggressive and violent parents from entering school grounds, to protect students and staff. Minister for Education James Merlino today introduced the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Protection of School Communities) Bill 2021, delivering on a key recommendation from the 2018 Protective Schools Ministerial Taskforce. The Bill will help empower authorised persons, such as school principals, to issue School Community Safety Orders to parents, carers and other people who engage in harmful, threatening or abusive behaviour. The new laws will also allow schools to ban parents that engage in threatening or abusive communication through social media and other channels. Schools will be able to impose requirements on the way parents, carers or other adult members of the school community interact with the school or school community – including stopping them from entering school grounds or other locations where school events are occurring, if reasonably necessary. Schools must ensure people issued with the new Orders are still able to communicate with the school and be informed about the child's education, and make arrangements to ensure the child's attendance at the school and school activities. The changes build on existing legislation and will provide greater procedural fairness to parents, carers and other adult members of the school community. This includes internal merits review, and external review at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if the person doesn’t agree with the outcome. If a person fails to comply with a School Community Safety Order, an application can be made to the Magistrates' Court for an order requiring compliance, a civil penalty of up to 60 penalty units, or any other order that the Court considers appropriate. The Bill is part of a broader strategy targeting the small minority of parents, carers and other members of school communities who engage in such inappropriate behaviour. It will also include an ongoing school-based communications campaign to address parent and carer aggression, The Government has undertaken targeted consultation with stakeholders including teacher unions, school associations, parent associations, Victoria Legal Aid, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Foundation House, Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “No one should be threatened or intimidated at work or at school – that’s why we’re introducing these new laws to protect staff, students and their families.”    “These vital new measures will empower our senior school leaders to take necessary actions when inappropriate behaviour is being levelled towards people in the school community”.  Download the media release

New Laws To Make Schools Safer For Everyone

The Andrews Labor Government is giving Victorian schools the power to ban aggressive and violent parents from entering school grounds, to protect students and staff. Minister for Education James Merlino today introduced the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Protection of School Communities) Bill 2021, delivering on a key recommendation from the 2018 Protective Schools Ministerial Taskforce. The Bill will help empower authorised persons, such as school principals, to issue School Community Safety Orders to parents, carers and other people who engage in harmful, threatening or abusive behaviour. The new laws will also allow schools to ban parents that engage in threatening or abusive communication through social media and other channels. Schools will be able to impose requirements on the way parents, carers or other adult members of the school community interact with the school or school community – including stopping them from entering school grounds or other locations where school events are occurring, if reasonably necessary. Schools must ensure people issued with the new Orders are still able to communicate with the school and be informed about the child's education, and make arrangements to ensure the child's attendance at the school and school activities. The changes build on existing legislation and will provide greater procedural fairness to parents, carers and other adult members of the school community. This includes internal merits review, and external review at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if the person doesn’t agree with the outcome. If a person fails to comply with a School Community Safety Order, an application can be made to the Magistrates' Court for an order requiring compliance, a civil penalty of up to 60 penalty units, or any other order that the Court considers appropriate. The Bill is part of a broader strategy targeting the small minority of parents, carers and other members of school communities who engage in such inappropriate behaviour. It will also include an ongoing school-based communications campaign to address parent and carer aggression, The Government has undertaken targeted consultation with stakeholders including teacher unions, school associations, parent associations, Victoria Legal Aid, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Foundation House, Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “No one should be threatened or intimidated at work or at school – that’s why we’re introducing these new laws to protect staff, students and their families.”    “These vital new measures will empower our senior school leaders to take necessary actions when inappropriate behaviour is being levelled towards people in the school community”.  Download the media release

Australian-First Academy For Our Best Teachers

Teachers from across our state will benefit from a brand-new multi-site academy of teaching and leadership excellence, as Victoria leads the way in raising the bar on teacher quality. The Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino today announced the Andrews Labor Government will invest $148.2 million in establishing the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, a new statutory authority. The authority will deliver a new Australian-first program of advanced professional learning for high-performing teachers in government, Catholic and independent schools. The Academy will begin operations and the delivery of new programs from January 2022. The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership will be based in a purpose-designed CBD site, as well as across seven regional Academies – ensuring rural and regional teachers are able to access high-quality professional development regardless of their location. These regional centres will be located in Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura, Moe and Shepparton. The CBD location is expected to be open early next year and the Geelong site by mid-2022 – with the rest of the locations operating by the end of 2022. Once established, the new Academy’s programs will provide an unprecedented opportunity for our best teachers to further develop their skills and become recognised as statewide leaders in teaching excellence. These teachers will then share their expertise and knowledge with their own school communities, ensuring every classroom and every child benefits from this investment. The Academy’s flagship offering will be the Teaching Excellence Program, a one-year intensive program for up to 500 teachers per year across all sectors, which will cover core curriculum areas including English, Mathematics, Science and the Arts. Other programs will focus on developing a pipeline of emerging leaders and aspiring principals. Through the Academy, our teachers will also have access to the latest research in the science of learning and discipline based content knowledge, giving them the skills to ensure our kids are growing up as creative and critical-thinkers. Not only will they benefit from emerging research and understanding, the Academy will also enable our best teachers to learn from one another – with a focus on sharing best practice, ideas, experience and resources. The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership aims to build on the existing Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership with a new focus on professional learning for Victoria’s highly skilled teachers. In the past five years, the Labor Government has invested more than $9 billion in building new schools and more than 1,600 school upgrades – creating more than 10,000 construction jobs. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “We want Victorian kids to get the very best education – and we know the most important way to do that is by having the best teachers.” “The new Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership will develop our teachers, giving the very latest in understanding and skills, and enabling them to share that with their colleagues and school communities. Not only is this an investment in our teachers, it’s an investment in our kids – and their futures.” Download the media release 

Australian-First Academy For Our Best Teachers

Teachers from across our state will benefit from a brand-new multi-site academy of teaching and leadership excellence, as Victoria leads the way in raising the bar on teacher quality. The Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino today announced the Andrews Labor Government will invest $148.2 million in establishing the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, a new statutory authority. The authority will deliver a new Australian-first program of advanced professional learning for high-performing teachers in government, Catholic and independent schools. The Academy will begin operations and the delivery of new programs from January 2022. The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership will be based in a purpose-designed CBD site, as well as across seven regional Academies – ensuring rural and regional teachers are able to access high-quality professional development regardless of their location. These regional centres will be located in Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura, Moe and Shepparton. The CBD location is expected to be open early next year and the Geelong site by mid-2022 – with the rest of the locations operating by the end of 2022. Once established, the new Academy’s programs will provide an unprecedented opportunity for our best teachers to further develop their skills and become recognised as statewide leaders in teaching excellence. These teachers will then share their expertise and knowledge with their own school communities, ensuring every classroom and every child benefits from this investment. The Academy’s flagship offering will be the Teaching Excellence Program, a one-year intensive program for up to 500 teachers per year across all sectors, which will cover core curriculum areas including English, Mathematics, Science and the Arts. Other programs will focus on developing a pipeline of emerging leaders and aspiring principals. Through the Academy, our teachers will also have access to the latest research in the science of learning and discipline based content knowledge, giving them the skills to ensure our kids are growing up as creative and critical-thinkers. Not only will they benefit from emerging research and understanding, the Academy will also enable our best teachers to learn from one another – with a focus on sharing best practice, ideas, experience and resources. The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership aims to build on the existing Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership with a new focus on professional learning for Victoria’s highly skilled teachers. In the past five years, the Labor Government has invested more than $9 billion in building new schools and more than 1,600 school upgrades – creating more than 10,000 construction jobs. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “We want Victorian kids to get the very best education – and we know the most important way to do that is by having the best teachers.” “The new Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership will develop our teachers, giving the very latest in understanding and skills, and enabling them to share that with their colleagues and school communities. Not only is this an investment in our teachers, it’s an investment in our kids – and their futures.” Download the media release 

Lilydale School Hub Opens As Koorie Strategy Launches

Lilydale students are learning in world-class facilities as part of a $56.3 million investment in local secondary students through the Lilydale District and Yarra Valley Education Plan, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlinoand Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing today visited Lilydale Heights College to tour the school’s new sustainable learning hub, town square, gym, canteen and staff room completed as part of an $8 million Stage 1 upgrade. Mr Merlino also officially launched a four-year Collaborative Indigenous Strategy, which aims to ensure a culturally inclusive environment for Koorie students across the six schools involved in the Education Plan. Created to align with the Marrung, Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026, the strategy provides a safe and inclusive learning environment for indigenous students, with Aboriginal cultures and histories celebrated across the schools. The strategy also aims to address lower retention rates of Koorie students and support them to complete their Year 12 certificate. It will also provide greater pathway options toward further education, training and employment. Under the strategy, First Nation Advocates have been appointed at each school, along with the running of a Yarning Circle – in which students provided feedback on what they wanted to see at the school and how they would like to connect with Aboriginal culture. The strategy was developed collaboratively by principals at Healesville High School, Lilydale Heights College, Lilydale High School, Mooroolbark College, Upper Yarra Secondary College and Yarra Hills Secondary College and will be implemented across the six schools. The Lilydale District and Yarra Valley Education Plan brings the six schools together to ensure every student has access to high quality secondary education, improved wellbeing and engagement services, and future focused pathway and learning opportunities. The $8 million upgrade at Lilydale Heights College is just one part of a massive investment across Lilydale District and Yarra Valley secondary schools as part of the Education Plan. A further $16.65 million was allocated across 2020 for additional upgrades at the school, while $31.7 million of upgrades are scheduled or underway at Lilydale High School and Upper Yarra Secondary College. In the past five years, the Labor Government has invested more than $9 billion in more than 1,600 school upgrades, creating more than 10,000 construction jobs. Quote attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “These works are providing Lilydale students with the first-rate facilities they deserve to go about their learning. The Indigenous Strategy is about better supporting Koorie students across Lilydale and the Yarra Valley to stay in school and help them to connect with further opportunities for study or work.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing “The students, staff and teachers at Lilydale Heights College have a well-deserved reputation for being diverse, inclusive, innovative and high-achieving.”  “It’s been such a pleasure to see this project come to fruition, and I can’t wait to see students enjoying these facilities and engaging with the Collaborative Indigenous Strategy.” Download the media release

Lilydale School Hub Opens As Koorie Strategy Launches

Lilydale students are learning in world-class facilities as part of a $56.3 million investment in local secondary students through the Lilydale District and Yarra Valley Education Plan, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlinoand Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing today visited Lilydale Heights College to tour the school’s new sustainable learning hub, town square, gym, canteen and staff room completed as part of an $8 million Stage 1 upgrade. Mr Merlino also officially launched a four-year Collaborative Indigenous Strategy, which aims to ensure a culturally inclusive environment for Koorie students across the six schools involved in the Education Plan. Created to align with the Marrung, Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026, the strategy provides a safe and inclusive learning environment for indigenous students, with Aboriginal cultures and histories celebrated across the schools. The strategy also aims to address lower retention rates of Koorie students and support them to complete their Year 12 certificate. It will also provide greater pathway options toward further education, training and employment. Under the strategy, First Nation Advocates have been appointed at each school, along with the running of a Yarning Circle – in which students provided feedback on what they wanted to see at the school and how they would like to connect with Aboriginal culture. The strategy was developed collaboratively by principals at Healesville High School, Lilydale Heights College, Lilydale High School, Mooroolbark College, Upper Yarra Secondary College and Yarra Hills Secondary College and will be implemented across the six schools. The Lilydale District and Yarra Valley Education Plan brings the six schools together to ensure every student has access to high quality secondary education, improved wellbeing and engagement services, and future focused pathway and learning opportunities. The $8 million upgrade at Lilydale Heights College is just one part of a massive investment across Lilydale District and Yarra Valley secondary schools as part of the Education Plan. A further $16.65 million was allocated across 2020 for additional upgrades at the school, while $31.7 million of upgrades are scheduled or underway at Lilydale High School and Upper Yarra Secondary College. In the past five years, the Labor Government has invested more than $9 billion in more than 1,600 school upgrades, creating more than 10,000 construction jobs. Quote attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “These works are providing Lilydale students with the first-rate facilities they deserve to go about their learning. The Indigenous Strategy is about better supporting Koorie students across Lilydale and the Yarra Valley to stay in school and help them to connect with further opportunities for study or work.” Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing “The students, staff and teachers at Lilydale Heights College have a well-deserved reputation for being diverse, inclusive, innovative and high-achieving.”  “It’s been such a pleasure to see this project come to fruition, and I can’t wait to see students enjoying these facilities and engaging with the Collaborative Indigenous Strategy.” Download the media release

Supporting Koorie Kids To Succeed

Koorie kids, families and organisations will lead our efforts to better support Koorie students, under a new co-design initiative announced by the Andrews Labor Government. With funding of almost $3.7 million, we’re starting a state-wide consultation and co-design process that will deliver community-led changes in our schools, ensuring Aboriginal voices are at the heart of reform. Reflecting the Labor Government’s commitment to self-determination, this investment will support community organisations to build capability and preparedness to partner with our schools and see 45 Koorie Education Roundtables held across the state, ensuring Aboriginal Victorians have a voice on what’s working and what’s not working for Koorie students in our schools. The funding will also resource Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and Traditional Owner Groups to host community-led conversations on furthering self-determination in our schools and across our education system. These findings will then be used to help our schools better support Koorie students. Reforms could include schools formally partnering with Koorie communities and organisations, including ACCOs, to overcome barriers to student engagement and learning, in addition to greater inclusion of Koorie culture in our classrooms. Koorie students perform well in NAPLAN across most learning areas and year levels compared to Aboriginal students in other jurisdictions. For example, since 2015, the proportion of Koorie students achieving in the top two NAPLAN bands has improved in reading Year 3 and Year 5, and in numeracy in Year 3. However, within Victoria, mean NAPLAN scores for Koorie students are substantially below those of their non-indigenous peers.  At the same time, consistent community feedback has highlighted the need for schools to change approaches and processes that are at risk of 'mainstreaming' or sidelining Koorie students. That’s why this initiative will use the knowledge and capacity of local Koorie communities to develop best-practice models of support that meet the needs of students, while ensuring the community is a genuine partner in improving outcomes for Koorie kids. This will build on successful existing Labor Government programs that support Koorie students, including the Koorie Literacy and Numeracy program, the Koorie Pre-School Assistants program, the Koorie Families as First Educators program, the Koorie Engagement Support Officer program, and the Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Every Victorian child deserves a great education. While we’ve taken huge steps in improving education outcomes for Koorie students, it’s clear we need to do more.” “There’s no one better to provide advice on how we can improve support for Koorie students, than their families, communities and Koorie kids themselves.” Quote attributable to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams “We want to support our Koorie kids to succeed. That’s why we want to hear from them, their families and communities about what works and what doesn’t work in our schools.” Download the media release

Supporting Koorie Kids To Succeed

Koorie kids, families and organisations will lead our efforts to better support Koorie students, under a new co-design initiative announced by the Andrews Labor Government. With funding of almost $3.7 million, we’re starting a state-wide consultation and co-design process that will deliver community-led changes in our schools, ensuring Aboriginal voices are at the heart of reform. Reflecting the Labor Government’s commitment to self-determination, this investment will support community organisations to build capability and preparedness to partner with our schools and see 45 Koorie Education Roundtables held across the state, ensuring Aboriginal Victorians have a voice on what’s working and what’s not working for Koorie students in our schools. The funding will also resource Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and Traditional Owner Groups to host community-led conversations on furthering self-determination in our schools and across our education system. These findings will then be used to help our schools better support Koorie students. Reforms could include schools formally partnering with Koorie communities and organisations, including ACCOs, to overcome barriers to student engagement and learning, in addition to greater inclusion of Koorie culture in our classrooms. Koorie students perform well in NAPLAN across most learning areas and year levels compared to Aboriginal students in other jurisdictions. For example, since 2015, the proportion of Koorie students achieving in the top two NAPLAN bands has improved in reading Year 3 and Year 5, and in numeracy in Year 3. However, within Victoria, mean NAPLAN scores for Koorie students are substantially below those of their non-indigenous peers.  At the same time, consistent community feedback has highlighted the need for schools to change approaches and processes that are at risk of 'mainstreaming' or sidelining Koorie students. That’s why this initiative will use the knowledge and capacity of local Koorie communities to develop best-practice models of support that meet the needs of students, while ensuring the community is a genuine partner in improving outcomes for Koorie kids. This will build on successful existing Labor Government programs that support Koorie students, including the Koorie Literacy and Numeracy program, the Koorie Pre-School Assistants program, the Koorie Families as First Educators program, the Koorie Engagement Support Officer program, and the Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026. Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino “Every Victorian child deserves a great education. While we’ve taken huge steps in improving education outcomes for Koorie students, it’s clear we need to do more.” “There’s no one better to provide advice on how we can improve support for Koorie students, than their families, communities and Koorie kids themselves.” Quote attributable to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams “We want to support our Koorie kids to succeed. That’s why we want to hear from them, their families and communities about what works and what doesn’t work in our schools.” Download the media release

Smile Squad To Visit Even More Schools From Term Two

Thousands more Victorian school students will get free dental check-ups, with a major expansion of the Andrews Labor Government’s landmarkfree dental program. Acting Premier James Merlino and Minister for Health Martin Foley today announced 161 new primary and secondary schools will be invited to take part in Smile Squad for Term 2, following a temporary pause during the pandemic. From Term 2, Smile Squad vans will be rolling out to schools in 10 new Local Government Areas: Ararat, Banyule, Bass Coast, Darebin, Monash, Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians, Warrnambool, Yarra and Yarra Ranges. In total, more than 500 schools will participate in 2021, offering free dental treatment to more than 200,000 Victorian students. The Smile Squad provides free dental care to children across Victoria, saving families hundreds of dollars a year. The vans provide free check-ups and treatment, including teeth cleaning, fluoride application, fissure sealants, fillings, root canals and any other non-cosmetic treatments to ensure our kids have healthy teeth. Dental conditions are the highest single cause of preventable hospitalisations for kids under 10 in Victoria. Smile Squad encourages all Victorian children and their families to keep looking after their oral health by eating well, drinking tap water, and brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. In March 2020, all non-urgent public dental procedures – including Smile Squad vans – were suspended in response to the global pandemic. This necessary year long pause means the program will now be rolled out to all public schools by the end of 2023. Once fully rolled out, the $321.9 million free dental care program will offer check-ups and dental treatment to more than 630,000 public school kids every year – saving families time and money. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier James Merlino “Smiles Squad gives our kids health smiles and saves parents time and money – so its expansion is great news for families.” “A quarter of children in Victoria have untreated tooth decay – treating it can be expensive. That’s why we’ve brought the dental van back to give kids free, convenient check-ups at schools across the state.” Quote attributable to Minister for Health Martin Foley “Good dental health is critical for good overall health – that’s why we are taking action to prevent tooth decay and keep smiles bright and healthy.” Download the media release

Smile Squad To Visit Even More Schools From Term Two

Thousands more Victorian school students will get free dental check-ups, with a major expansion of the Andrews Labor Government’s landmarkfree dental program. Acting Premier James Merlino and Minister for Health Martin Foley today announced 161 new primary and secondary schools will be invited to take part in Smile Squad for Term 2, following a temporary pause during the pandemic. From Term 2, Smile Squad vans will be rolling out to schools in 10 new Local Government Areas: Ararat, Banyule, Bass Coast, Darebin, Monash, Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians, Warrnambool, Yarra and Yarra Ranges. In total, more than 500 schools will participate in 2021, offering free dental treatment to more than 200,000 Victorian students. The Smile Squad provides free dental care to children across Victoria, saving families hundreds of dollars a year. The vans provide free check-ups and treatment, including teeth cleaning, fluoride application, fissure sealants, fillings, root canals and any other non-cosmetic treatments to ensure our kids have healthy teeth. Dental conditions are the highest single cause of preventable hospitalisations for kids under 10 in Victoria. Smile Squad encourages all Victorian children and their families to keep looking after their oral health by eating well, drinking tap water, and brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. In March 2020, all non-urgent public dental procedures – including Smile Squad vans – were suspended in response to the global pandemic. This necessary year long pause means the program will now be rolled out to all public schools by the end of 2023. Once fully rolled out, the $321.9 million free dental care program will offer check-ups and dental treatment to more than 630,000 public school kids every year – saving families time and money. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier James Merlino “Smiles Squad gives our kids health smiles and saves parents time and money – so its expansion is great news for families.” “A quarter of children in Victoria have untreated tooth decay – treating it can be expensive. That’s why we’ve brought the dental van back to give kids free, convenient check-ups at schools across the state.” Quote attributable to Minister for Health Martin Foley “Good dental health is critical for good overall health – that’s why we are taking action to prevent tooth decay and keep smiles bright and healthy.” Download the media release

Tutor Target Exceeded Across Victorian Schools

More than 5,600 tutors are working across Victorian schools to ensure no student is left behind in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The huge number is 1,500 more than the initial target of 4,100 set for the 2021 school year and includes more than 30 extra tutors in non-government schools – well above the 600 expected. Every school received at least $15,000 to ensure they could participate effectively, with the amount provided to each calculated on the number of enrolments and the number of social disadvantage-funded students in the school. Funding for each school was calculated on an evidence-based model of around 20 per cent of students receiving two or three 45 minute sessions each week, in small groups, for 26 weeks. Schools have employed tutors based on the needs of their students. Some work part-time and offer a range of experience and support levels, and some have deployed existing teaching staff to tutoring roles. Last October the Andrews Labor Government announced a $250 million package and called upon pre-service teachers, teachers on leave, retired teachers and casual relief teachers to sign-up to be tutors – the single biggest boost to individual learning support in Victoria’s history. Tutors are available at every government school and work in small groups, providing extra support for more than 200,000 students across Victoria no matter their circumstances or background. While teachers did a remarkable job last year, having the extra support of onsite tutors in 2021 will ensure these teaching teams can provide dedicated and individualised support for students who need help. Evidence shows students who struggled most with online learning during the pandemic included those with low levels of English, those already at risk of disengaging from school, or those with home environments not conducive to remote learning. To help bring these students up to speed, the $250 million support package includes: $209.6 million for every government school to attract and employ 3,500 tutors across the 2021 school year $30 million to employ 600 tutors at non-government schools to support disadvantaged students. $8.6 million in 2021 for Family Engagement Initiatives to support schools working with families to lift student outcomes and re-engage students with learning. This includes an additional 16 Koorie Engagement Support Officers and 60 additional multilingual and bicultural workers. Schools determine how tutoring support is best implemented in their school. The tutors are providing targeted teaching to students, with a focus on foundational skills of literacy and numeracy. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “2020 was a year like no other and while we know some students thrived during remote learning, we also know some struggled. This year, we’re using our educators’ skills to help students catch up in the classroom.” “Exceeding our initial target shows the dedication of our educators and means every child in every school across Victoria will be given the support they need to succeed at school and ensure no student is left behind.” Download the media release

Tutor Target Exceeded Across Victorian Schools

More than 5,600 tutors are working across Victorian schools to ensure no student is left behind in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The huge number is 1,500 more than the initial target of 4,100 set for the 2021 school year and includes more than 30 extra tutors in non-government schools – well above the 600 expected. Every school received at least $15,000 to ensure they could participate effectively, with the amount provided to each calculated on the number of enrolments and the number of social disadvantage-funded students in the school. Funding for each school was calculated on an evidence-based model of around 20 per cent of students receiving two or three 45 minute sessions each week, in small groups, for 26 weeks. Schools have employed tutors based on the needs of their students. Some work part-time and offer a range of experience and support levels, and some have deployed existing teaching staff to tutoring roles. Last October the Andrews Labor Government announced a $250 million package and called upon pre-service teachers, teachers on leave, retired teachers and casual relief teachers to sign-up to be tutors – the single biggest boost to individual learning support in Victoria’s history. Tutors are available at every government school and work in small groups, providing extra support for more than 200,000 students across Victoria no matter their circumstances or background. While teachers did a remarkable job last year, having the extra support of onsite tutors in 2021 will ensure these teaching teams can provide dedicated and individualised support for students who need help. Evidence shows students who struggled most with online learning during the pandemic included those with low levels of English, those already at risk of disengaging from school, or those with home environments not conducive to remote learning. To help bring these students up to speed, the $250 million support package includes: $209.6 million for every government school to attract and employ 3,500 tutors across the 2021 school year $30 million to employ 600 tutors at non-government schools to support disadvantaged students. $8.6 million in 2021 for Family Engagement Initiatives to support schools working with families to lift student outcomes and re-engage students with learning. This includes an additional 16 Koorie Engagement Support Officers and 60 additional multilingual and bicultural workers. Schools determine how tutoring support is best implemented in their school. The tutors are providing targeted teaching to students, with a focus on foundational skills of literacy and numeracy. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “2020 was a year like no other and while we know some students thrived during remote learning, we also know some struggled. This year, we’re using our educators’ skills to help students catch up in the classroom.” “Exceeding our initial target shows the dedication of our educators and means every child in every school across Victoria will be given the support they need to succeed at school and ensure no student is left behind.” Download the media release

Active Schools Grants To Help Get Kids Moving

Dozens of schools across Victoria will receive a funding boost to help get kids moving as they return to school for term two, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today joined Carlton AFLW star Tayla Harris to announce the 96 schools that will each receive $30,000 under the $24.2 million Active Schools program, which helps introduce a whole-school approach to physical activity. Tayla Harris will be an ambassador for Active Schools, visiting schools around the state and doing other promotional work to further showcase the physical and mental health benefits of an active lifestyle. Schools can use the funding to upskill their Physical Education teachers, purchase sports equipment, or engage local organisations and clubs to deliver sporting programs. Schools will also be able to buy fitness equipment, make classrooms more active, encourage greater active travel to and from school through bicycle education programs, upgrade playgrounds, install sensory play areas and provide opportunities to students to do more recreation activities such as mountain biking and kayaking. Active Schools is designed to provide more opportunities for physical activity, sport and active recreation for Victorian students, helping them develop healthy lifelong habits. As part of the wider package: all schools will have access to a new toolkit with tips and tricks to make their school and kids more active a new team of physical education leaders will provide on-the-ground advice and support to more than 800 schools to improve their approach to sport, physical education and physical activity new approaches to increasing activity will be trialled through several partnerships, including working with the start-up community to explore how technology can get teens moving and adapting Deakin University’s Transform-Us! program for secondary schools to get teenagers moving more and sitting less a state-wide communications campaign will encourage children and their families to be more active and promote the importance of physical activity As part of the program, 300 disadvantaged government schools received an Active Schools PE and Sport Funding Boost in term one this year to support them with the costs of physical education, sport and outdoor education. In addition, 181 disadvantaged government secondary schools also received a funding boost to support the costs of providing extracurricular physical activity opportunities. Further funding boosts will be provided to disadvantaged government schools again in 2022 to continue supporting students to be active. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “Sport and recreation are central to our way of life. These grants will help make sure more young people can get the best start in life with an education linked to active and healthy lifestyles.” “The evidence is clear – active kids are happy, healthy and resilient kids, who are able to focus more in class. That’s why we are investing $24.2 million in the creation of Active Schools.” Download the media release

Active Schools Grants To Help Get Kids Moving

Dozens of schools across Victoria will receive a funding boost to help get kids moving as they return to school for term two, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Education James Merlino today joined Carlton AFLW star Tayla Harris to announce the 96 schools that will each receive $30,000 under the $24.2 million Active Schools program, which helps introduce a whole-school approach to physical activity. Tayla Harris will be an ambassador for Active Schools, visiting schools around the state and doing other promotional work to further showcase the physical and mental health benefits of an active lifestyle. Schools can use the funding to upskill their Physical Education teachers, purchase sports equipment, or engage local organisations and clubs to deliver sporting programs. Schools will also be able to buy fitness equipment, make classrooms more active, encourage greater active travel to and from school through bicycle education programs, upgrade playgrounds, install sensory play areas and provide opportunities to students to do more recreation activities such as mountain biking and kayaking. Active Schools is designed to provide more opportunities for physical activity, sport and active recreation for Victorian students, helping them develop healthy lifelong habits. As part of the wider package: all schools will have access to a new toolkit with tips and tricks to make their school and kids more active a new team of physical education leaders will provide on-the-ground advice and support to more than 800 schools to improve their approach to sport, physical education and physical activity new approaches to increasing activity will be trialled through several partnerships, including working with the start-up community to explore how technology can get teens moving and adapting Deakin University’s Transform-Us! program for secondary schools to get teenagers moving more and sitting less a state-wide communications campaign will encourage children and their families to be more active and promote the importance of physical activity As part of the program, 300 disadvantaged government schools received an Active Schools PE and Sport Funding Boost in term one this year to support them with the costs of physical education, sport and outdoor education. In addition, 181 disadvantaged government secondary schools also received a funding boost to support the costs of providing extracurricular physical activity opportunities. Further funding boosts will be provided to disadvantaged government schools again in 2022 to continue supporting students to be active. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino “Sport and recreation are central to our way of life. These grants will help make sure more young people can get the best start in life with an education linked to active and healthy lifestyles.” “The evidence is clear – active kids are happy, healthy and resilient kids, who are able to focus more in class. That’s why we are investing $24.2 million in the creation of Active Schools.” Download the media release

Funding Helps Grassroots Work On Mental Health

Community groups and key peak bodies will be able to keep the conversation going about Victoria’s mental health reform at a local level, thanks to a $750,000 Andrew Labor Government investment. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino today announced 16 community groups and peak bodies will share in the funding to support targeted engagement with their members and communities. The organisations will use the grants to host forums and events, communicate with their members and the wider community on the key reforms and next steps to deliver all 65 recommendations of the landmark royal commission. This funding is an important and necessary next step to ensure more Victorians have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the redesign of Victorian’s mental health and wellbeing system. VMIAC Tandem Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) Australian Services Union (ASU) Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) Thorne Harbour Health Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria SANE Australians for Mental Health VALID Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria Women’s Mental Health Alliance Victoria Victorian Men’s Shed Association National Centre for Farmer’s Health The landmark final Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System report sets out a vision for a system redesign which requires engagement and collaboration across the system and in the community to ensure the delivery of all recommendations. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “The Royal Commission’s final report puts forward an ambitious and bold agenda, which is why ensuring all Victorians understand these reforms and what’s involved is so important.” “Grassroots conversations are crucial to keeping people connected with the fundamental changes and updates as we embark on this generational rebuild of Victoria’s mental health system.” Download the media release

Funding Helps Grassroots Work On Mental Health

Community groups and key peak bodies will be able to keep the conversation going about Victoria’s mental health reform at a local level, thanks to a $750,000 Andrew Labor Government investment. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino today announced 16 community groups and peak bodies will share in the funding to support targeted engagement with their members and communities. The organisations will use the grants to host forums and events, communicate with their members and the wider community on the key reforms and next steps to deliver all 65 recommendations of the landmark royal commission. This funding is an important and necessary next step to ensure more Victorians have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the redesign of Victorian’s mental health and wellbeing system. VMIAC Tandem Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) Australian Services Union (ASU) Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) Thorne Harbour Health Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria SANE Australians for Mental Health VALID Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria Women’s Mental Health Alliance Victoria Victorian Men’s Shed Association National Centre for Farmer’s Health The landmark final Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System report sets out a vision for a system redesign which requires engagement and collaboration across the system and in the community to ensure the delivery of all recommendations. Quotes attributable to Acting Premier and Minister for Mental Health James Merlino “The Royal Commission’s final report puts forward an ambitious and bold agenda, which is why ensuring all Victorians understand these reforms and what’s involved is so important.” “Grassroots conversations are crucial to keeping people connected with the fundamental changes and updates as we embark on this generational rebuild of Victoria’s mental health system.” Download the media release