Environment Minister visits Lakes and Snowy
Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, this week spent two days in East Gippsland viewing various environmental works and gaining a greater understanding of the region.
He was accompanied by the Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, with the visit co-ordinated by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA).
The group visited Landcare projects in the region, including some terrific work undertaken at the property of David Brownlow, a boat trip from Paynesville to Metung, taking in the Mitchell River Silt Jetties, viewing re-vegetation works on the lower Snowy River and the poplar removal program above Orbost.
“It is no doubt the Minister now has a greater appreciation of the importance of the Gippsland Lakes to the region on a number of fronts, in fact he has said he will be back with his family,” said Mr Bull.
“The trip into the wilderness areas of the Snowy was also an eye opener as it is truly some of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the state.
“I highlighted the need for a local approach to management of the Gippsland Lakes system and the importance of monitoring the Lakes’ condition.
The visit provided the opportunity to discuss the Gippsland Lakes policy initiative of the Victorian Government and options for implementation of the $10 million package of funding announced as part of the election commitment.
The Minister advised government is still discussing implementation options, but will shortly be able to announce their proposal for moving forward on the Gippsland Lakes initiative.
Better disabled access for neighbourhood house
Bendoc Community Centre is one of 27 Neighbourhood Houses to share in $450,000 of funding under the Victorian Government’s ‘Small Inclusion Grants Program’ (SIG) which helps support people with disabilities so they can more easily participate in community activities.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said “the Bendoc Progress Association was successful in receiving $5,000 which will be used to improve disabled access to their Community Centre, leading to better education and employment outcomes for community members with a disability.”
“The Bendoc Progress Association has been actively committed to the sustainability of Bendoc for over 100 years. This includes providing various services that benefit the community such as adult education programs,” said Mr Bull.
Secretary and Co-ordinator of the Bendoc Progress Association, Barbara Philbrick, said “we recognise the fact that more and more people, especially seniors, have difficulties or disabilities and the grant was specifically requested to extend the current ramp so that people in wheel chairs or walkers could more easily access the centre.
“The Bendoc Progress Association has been working for a number of years to gain funding to improve its facilities and especially recognises the region’s ageing population.
“Along with a bus with wheelchair access, we have also installed computers with touch screens and ergonomically designed computer mouses to assist seniors and those with a disability to participate in social and educational activities,” said Ms Philbrick.
Mr Bull said, “there are more than 360 Neighbourhood Houses in Victoria providing social, educational and recreational activities and these centres should be easily accessible places that accommodate the varying needs of all members of the community.
“The funds are part of the Coalition’s promise to improve facilities for people with a disability and will be used for a range of infrastructure and program improvements to increase participation in activities at local Neighbourhood Houses,” he said.
VICSWIM Summer Kidz program
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has welcomed the imminent commencement of the VICSWIM Summer Kidz Program in East Gippsland.
“This was a pre-election commitment from the Coalition of $1.6m to a very worthwhile community program and I am pleased that once again local children will benefit by participating in these classes that at the end of the day could save their lives.
“Children who live in East Gippsland are not only exposed to the potential hazard of drowning in swimming pools or at our beaches, but additional dangers associated with swimming in dams, rivers and our lakes. It is important that they are educated from an early age on how to stay safe in the water.
“It is essential that our children’s lives are not put at unnecessary risk simply because they do not have the economic means to access swimming venues and programs.
Children throughout East Gippsland will be able to take advantage of the half-price lessons at one the following facilities: Bairnsdale Aquatic & Recreation Centre, Lakes Entrance Aquadome, Maffra memorial Pool, Orbost Outdoor Pool and Stratford Pool.
East Gippsland Shire Council is pleased that further funding has been announced for the VICSWIM program.
“The program will continue to be supported by the Council with discounted entry fees for participants at these venues. In addition, the program also operates at outdoor open water locations within the Shire, such as Marlo and Mallacoota,” said the shire’s Manager Recreational Facilities, Tony Brett.
Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, who is a volunteer water safety officer at Gippsland junior surf lifesaving carnivals, has previously raised the need for council-owned pools to be better utilised with subsidised swimming lessons for young children during off-peak times.
“Water safety lessons need to be given a high priority and it shouldn’t be left to schools to introduce children to swimming. As a community, we need to do more at a younger age to make it more affordable for all families to teach young people to swim.
“Every drowning is a tragedy and in almost every case, it is a tragedy that is preventable. Teaching children survival skills in the water from a young age is a critical step to avoid drowning among young people.”
The program which is being managed by Aquatics and Recreation Victoria will offer subsidised swimming lessons, bringing the total cost per participant to less than half the regular cost.
For more information about the program please visit http://www.aquaticsandrecreation.org.au
No parental permission – no grog!
Young people, their peers and parents should be aware of a new law that cracks down on in-appropriate supply of alcohol to people under the age of 18, says Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“It will be launched with an extensive education campaign, which explains this new law could see adults who supply alcohol to minors in a private residence without parental consent slapped with a hefty $7000 fine.
“The campaign, which is an initiative between the Victorian Government, VicHealth and the Australian Drug Foundation, goes to the heart of the issue of why supplying alcohol to young people can cause harm.
“I have been to private functions myself in the past where 15 and 16 year olds are being served large amounts of alcohol and have clearly been affected and it is just crazy. I am extremely supportive of this new law,” he said.
“Previous laws on the supply of alcohol to minors did not apply to private residences, which on occasion resulted in irresponsible adults supplying significant amounts of alcohol to minors without their parents’ knowledge.
“Parents need to think twice if they want to host a party where underage people are attending and serve them alcohol without the consent of those children’s parents. It is quite clear – no permission – no grog.
“Many parents also receive pressure from their children to host underage parties and this gives them the support to say no,” Mr Bull said.
Mental Health Minister, Mary Wooldridge, said the education and awareness campaign will feature advertisements in newspapers, at bus and tram stops and online, as well as a comprehensive new website featuring webinars, podcasts and community forums.
“I am very proud we are combining the introduction of new laws with an education campaign that is significant in terms of getting these messages across and working to change outcomes in relation to young people engaging in risky drinking behaviour,” Ms Wooldridge said
Ms Wooldridge said the new law puts control back into the hands of parents.
“We aren’t seeking to limit decisions parents make in relation to their children, but we are seeking to limit the decisions that other people make in relation to children who are not their own.”
Mr Bull said there are many good reasons to encourage teenagers not to drink alcohol before turning 18.
“Early drinking is related to increased alcohol consumption in adolescence and young adulthood, which can possibly lead to damage to the developing brain and other alcohol-related harms in adulthood,” he said.
Acting CEO of VicHealth, Associate Professor John Fitzgerald, commended the Victorian Government’s decision to take action to reduce risky drinking among Victoria’s young people.
“Alcohol consumption is one of the biggest social issues facing Victoria’s young people,” Associate Professor Fitzgerald said.
Chief Executive of the Australian Drug Foundation, Mr John Rogerson, also welcomed the new laws as a positive preventive health measure that enables parents to have much more influence over their child’s drinking.
One third of all Victorian secondary students are binge drinking each week and that puts them at risk of short term harms, such as injury or sexual assault. This new law will help prevent those harms.
For more information about the new law or to request an education pack on the secondary supply of alcohol, which includes guidance for parents to assist with reducing adolescent alcohol use, visit www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/teendrinkinglaw
New ‘burn mix’ trailers for Gippsland
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, announced the Gippsland region will benefit enormously from the 45 new ‘burn mix’ trailers to be built and distributed by the Victorian Coalition Government for use in planned burning operations across Victoria.
“The trailers will spend more time in Gippsland than any other region in the state. We will have 14 of the 45 here and this underlines the commitment for an extensive fuel reduction burn program in the east.
“The trailers are critical to the planned burning process with each 'burn mix’ trailer consisting of 10 drip torches, two x 200 litre drums, jerry cans, a spill kit, toolbox, bonding cable and a hand pump allowing crews to decant and mix the diesel petrol solution used in planned burning.”
The drip torch is the main tool used for the safe lighting of large areas in the planned burning process – it allows the operator to manage directly how much bush is lit depending on the conditions.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, said the new trailers are worth more than $500,000 and will provide additional assistance to the Victorian Government’s planned burns program.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to implementing the 67 recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, including increasing planned burning across the state.
“In 2010-11 more than 188,000ha of planned burning was completed. This is the largest program completed in more than 20 years. These new trailers will assist us with the planned burns program,” Mr Smith said.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment has already built 15 of the new units and they are now ready for use in planned burning operations across Victoria.
It is anticipated that all 45 ‘burn mix’ trailers will be finished, delivered and ready for use by the end of October.
“The Victorian Coalition Government’s planned burn program helps protect life, property and the environment by reducing fuel levels and maintaining the health of plants and animals,” Mr Bull said.
For more information about upcoming burns and the planned burns program, please visit www.dse.vic.gov.au
Caption: State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, says new ‘burn mix’ trailers will assist in increasing fuel reduction burn levels in the region.
Grants to boost Scouts, Guides membership
Scouts and Guides groups across East Gippsland have the chance to apply for funds to improve the safety, functionality and longevity of their facilities as part of a $4 million Coalition Government Scout and Guides Facilities grant program.
“Our local Scouts and Guides groups have played a significant role in shaping our young people for more than 100 years.
“This funding will help these groups update facilities, which will in turn attract a new generation of Scouts and Guides,” said Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“Like so many small service groups across the community, Scouts and Guides find it challenging to come up with extra funds which can be used to improve facilities.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Scouts and Guides to be rewarded with the funding they so desperately need to make upgrades.”
Minister for Youth Affairs, Ryan Smith, said “with this funding Scouts and Guides Victoria will be able to continue their fantastic work in supporting, training and mentoring young Victorians”.
Girl Guides Victoria’s State Commissioner, Margaret Devlin, said the grants would help meet the challenge of attracting and supporting the next generation of Girl Guides.
“This infrastructure funding will go a long way to upgrade a number of facilities and will allow us to work with local councils and communities to support them as well,” Ms Devlin said.
Chief Commissioner of Scouts Victoria, Bob Taylor, said it was fantastic the Victorian Government had recognised the importance and benefits of Scouting and Guiding in today’s society.
“Our adult leaders put in over half a million volunteer hours a year providing activities to develop the intellectual, social, physical, spiritual and emotional aptitudes of young people,” Mr Taylor said.