$77m budget funding submission put to Treasurer

Media statement

February 10, 2022

Tania Maxwell MP has met with Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas to pitch public investment of $77.45 million in seven key health, education, justice, and infrastructure projects in Northern Victoria.

Major items the Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party put forward for state budget consideration include $35m for a Mildura drug court and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) rehabilitation unit, and $10.75m for the redevelopment and refit of Alpine Health’s Bright hospital to meet the needs of a growing and ageing community.

“A major study shows that re-offending can shrink by one third and offences become less serious in communities where drug courts operate. The impacts of drug use and related crime also drop in communities where rehabilitation services are available,” Ms Maxwell said.

“Drug courts operate in Dandenong, Melbourne, Ballarat and Shepparton, and there has been a trial of the County Court Drug and Alcohol Court.

“Mildura, as a remote but major community with concerning rates of crime and social vulnerability, would benefit from a dedicated drug court and supporting AOD rehabilitation unit to provide a therapeutic-orientated, judicially-supervised intervention for this community. “

The Bright Health Precinct project is forecast to cost $40m and include a redeveloped hospital, new residential high-care aged care centre, education institute, staff and student accommodation and s co-located, privately-run and funded medical clinic.

Ms Maxwell, with Ovens Valley MP Tim McCurdy and Independent federal MP for Indi Helen Haines, have been collaborating with Alpine Health to encourage state and federal government investment since planning was completed last year.

“The Victorian government last year provided Alpine Health with Regional Health Infrastructure Fund money to develop a feasibility study and business case for the precinct project,” Ms Maxwell said.

“Bright hospital and its staff continue to provide outstanding service, but the hospital is no longer fit for purpose when Alpine communities have grown so strongly in recent years, with Myrtleford, Bright, Mount Beauty, Harrietville, Wandiligong, Porepunkah and local villages now home to almost 13,000 people, plus a much bigger seasonal visitor population.

“It’s also the only Victorian community of such a size without high-care aged care services, yet the number of older people has increased more than 18 per cent since 2011.”

Ms Maxwell has also sought a $24.3m commitment from the state government to fund Education First Youth Foyers in Wodonga and Wangaratta so young people between 16 and 24 experiencing or at risk of homelessness can take up education opportunities with a roof over their heads.

“A five-year study has delivered clear evidence of the foyer model’s success from the three that are already helping young people elsewhere in Victoria,” she said.

“It showed 85 per cent of participants had jobs or were continuing education a year after they left the campus and 75pc completed year 12-equivalent or higher learning when they were living there.”

Other North East projects for which Ms Maxwell has sought funding include:

  • $5m to ‘back the track’ – matching committed federal funding for a review of the Murray Basin Rail project and removing 20,000 heavy vehicles from Sunraysia and Mallee roads
  • $2.25m over three years for The Wodonga Project, bringing together the community, local schools and government agencies to help disadvantaged young people
  • $50,000 a year to extend Benalla Rural City Council’s Rural Outreach service supporting people in rural communities to find services and health and wellbeing advice.
  • $100,000 to help Strathbogie Shire Council and the Euroa community develop a business case for reuniting both sides of the town as a key outcome of major works on the federal government’s Inland Rail project.

Read the submission.