The Labor Government must reverse its decision to axe funding for Victoria’s regional community leadership program, The Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Gaelle Broad said today.
“Now, more than ever, regional Victoria needs strong community leaders.
“In the last decade we have experienced drought, bushfires, COVID and, more recently, floods that have devastated local communities across northern Victoria.
“We need training opportunities to equip and encourage people to step up to support the future growth and development of our regional communities.”
Ms Broad said the program aimed to nurture new community leaders, strengthen existing leaders and build community connections.
Program co-ordinators received a letter informing them that funds would be cut and they would need to find their own support.
“It is disappointing that the Premier and member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan has wasted billions of dollars on project cost blowouts on city-based projects and yet is cutting small regional programs proven to deliver strong community benefits,” Ms Broad said.
This year more than 200 people participated in regional community leadership programs across Victoria.
“The Nationals and Liberals started this program in 2011 when we were in government because we understand that strong communities do not just happen; it takes good leadership to build strong communities.”
Formal evaluations found these programs to be an effective use of taxpayers’ money.
The programs also received strong praise from participants – including Caleb Maxwell of Hebron Films in Bendigo, who recently completed the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program and former Loddon Shire Mayor Dan Straub who aims to do the program next year.
“I have been very impressed with the program and it’s fantastic that people in regional Victoria have the chance to do this,” Caleb Maxwell said.
Ms Broad said Labor is now scrambling for money because of the spiralling state debt and is appalled that the Allan Government is cutting quality programs in regional Victoria.
“Under this government Victoria now has the highest state debt of any in Australia,” Ms Broad said.
“The Victorian Auditor-General has just released a report that found the Labor government has no plan for when and how the state will pay down existing and future debt. Within a few years Victoria’s interest payments on this debt are expected to double from $4 billion to $8 billion.
“The Labor State Government should stop wasting billions of taxpayer funds on pie in the sky projects like the Suburban Rail Loop, instead of cutting valuable regional programs,” Ms Broad said.
Premier Jacinta Allan can’t manage money, can’t manage projects, and regional Victorians are paying the price.
Caleb Maxwell – Hebron Films 0459 785 674. Dan Straub – 0429 236 399
Media Contact: Linda Barrow 0484 303 764 firstname.lastname@example.org