Items filtered by date: September 2018
Thursday, 27 September 2018 18:09

Breaking down country student barriers

East Gippslanders choosing to study away from home at the completion of their secondary schooling will be better supported to settle into tertiary education under a Liberal Nationals Government.
 
Moving away from family and friends for university or TAFE study – often in Melbourne or further abroad – is a daunting experience many East Gippslanders face alone.
 
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said an elected Liberal Nationals Government would provide $600,000 over four years to create the Rural Tertiary Network, a program to link new students with other students who have faced the challenge of settling into university of TAFE away from home.
 
“The Rural Tertiary Network will provide vital support at one of the most important times of their lives, helping them settle into new surroundings and life away from family and friends,” Mr Bull said.
 
“We want to see more students choose to study locally, but for those who do have to move away from home, this additional support will make sure our local young people have the confidence to tackle university life.
 
“Only a Liberal Nationals Government will invest in a brighter future for East Gippsland’s next generation of leaders.”
 
A lack of transitional support for regional students who relocate for study was one of the key challenges identified in a 2013 report from the Regional Policy Advisory Committee.
 
Other challenges included isolation from friends and family, experiencing independent living for the first time, culture shock and adjusting to an environment where they are one of many high-achieving students.
 
Shadow Minister for Skills, Training and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said a pop-up hub would also be established as a base for rural students and their families as they start life at university. 
 
“Young people from country Victoria deserve the same opportunities as city kids,” Ms Ryan said.
 
“The Liberal Nationals will help more students from rural and regional Victoria overcome the obstacles barring them from tertiary education, be it university or vocational education and training.
 
“Our Rural Tertiary Network will give them the support they need to tackle a tertiary education.”
 
 
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, speaking with senior Bairnsdale Secondary College students Anna Wilson, Jacob Ellett, Jarrod Stephens and Zoe Lanigan, has announced a Liberal Nationals Government will create the Rural Tertiary Network to better support students who study away from home at the completion of their schooling.
 
 
Thursday, August 27, 2018
Published in Media
Thursday, 27 September 2018 18:05

Labor silent on seismic survey

A request for the State Agriculture Minister to take action to protect the interests of the local fishing industry from the potentially adverse effects of a proposed marine seismic survey in Eastern Bass Strait, has been disregarded.
 
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull recently used State Parliament to ask Minister Jaala Pulford to write to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority in support of concerns raised by the off-shore fishing industry.
 
Lakes Entrance is home to Victoria’s largest off-shore commercial fishing fleet. The Roberts Evaluation in 2014 found the direct output generated from the commercial fishing industry and related industries in East Gippsland to be around $35 million a year.
 
“The proposed 17,000-square kilometre survey makes this one of the largest surveys undertaken in Australia. It is equivalent to eight times the size of Port Phillip Bay,” Mr Bull said.
 
“Given there can be no guarantees the seismic survey will not adversely impact on marine life and in fact latest evidence suggests it does have an impact on marine life, its scale represents inordinate risk for the fishing industry.
 
“To manage this risk, the survey area should be reduced or broken into smaller sections and the survey of those areas conducted over an extended period of two-to-three years so that its effects on fishing operations can be progressively assessed and modified as necessary.
 
“I understand the company behind the project has no authority to extract oil or gas in Australia, but simply intends to undertake the survey with the intention of on-selling the results and I have sought clarification on this.
 
“While I have written to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority about these concerns, I am disappointed the Minister, with all of the resources available to her, has not made a similar case as I requested, to ensure that the interests of the off-shore fishing industry are safeguarded,” Mr Bull said.
 
 
Caption: The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull is disappointed Victoria’s Agriculture Minister has not pushed for safeguards that respond to local concerns about the proposed marine seismic survey in Eastern Bass Strait.
 
 
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Published in Media
Wednesday, 26 September 2018 09:09

Autism package a game changer for families

One of the driving forces for me in making the decision to stand for State Parliament in 2010 was the lack of disability services in East Gippsland.
 
It gave me great pleasure as Shadow Minister for Disability to last week announce a $50 million policy package that will change the lives of many Victorians touched by autism, including East Gippsland families.
 
Since 2010 we have achieved much locally. With State and Federal funding we constructed new modern supported accommodation units at Noweyung; we funded the establishment of Cells Café as a disability social enterprise; we expanded Noweyung’s footprint into the old high school in Dalmahoy Street (now known as The Hub) and built the All Abilities Playground on Davison Oval.
 
That playground, which has not only become an important stop over point for travellers, is a great respite facility. Parents of kids with special needs can take a coffee and paper there to enjoy some peace and quiet while knowing their kids are safe and within sight at all times. Its benefits in this area alone have been significant.
 
Victoria is fortunate to have some fantastic organisations with amazing people that provide incredible support, such as AMAZE, Parents Line and Carers Victoria.
 
But there is more that can be done.
 
AMAZE estimates that around 55,000 Victorians are on the autism spectrum, and around 250,000 Australians have the condition – although possibly undiagnosed.
 
The Liberal Nationals’ seven-point plan covers education, advocacy and general family support and having been through the journey with my own son, I think this addresses several key areas:
 
Helpline:
A Liberal Nationals Government will provide $2.4 million to the peak autism body, AMAZE, to provide a 24-hour Autism Helpline for parents and carers of children with autism.
 
Many families with autism don’t know where to turn for advice immediately after receiving a diagnosis for their child and when times are difficult; for many families this can occur late at night.
 
This helpline will provide targeted, relevant advice and crisis support at all hours, to help families maintain their sanity during difficult times.
 
Support group fund:
We will establish a $500,000 Autism Support Group Fund to provide resourcing and start-up grants for local community support groups for children and families with autism.
 
This will resource grassroots, community-led support groups who help families beginning to navigate the autism journey.
 
School funding:
We will review the current eligibility criteria for Program for Students with Disabilities funding, and push the student funding reappraisal dates back from the end of year 6 to the end of year 7.
 
We will review the criteria used to assess students including scope for more flexibility around criteria for qualification, and eligibility to attend specialist or mainstream schools, with flexibility on the IQ criteria.
 
The commitment to push the student funding reappraisal dates back from the end of Year 6 to the end of Year 7 is one that was pushed with me by East Gippsland principals.
 
These Year 6 appraisals often result in a reduction in funding in the year students transition to secondary school with its new environment, new faces and often lots more students. This will allow them to take the same level of support from primary school into their first year of secondary school.
 
Helping teachers:
We will create a specialist Autism Education Outreach Taskforce within the Department of Education to directly work with government mainstream schools to help them support students with autism or other special needs with best practice education and support, including how best to spend the Program for Students with Disabilities funding.
 
The second element of this is undertaking an Inclusive Education Workforce Capability Strategy to ensure that teachers and teaching staff can better access the necessary professional learning, including evidence-based pedagogy and curriculum, to fully support the participation and achievement of students with disabilities, particularly those with autism.
 
Earlier diagnosis:
We have committed $4 million over four years to re-establish the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre’s Early Diagnostic Clinic for children aged 0-3 who may have an autism spectrum disorder, and to support OTARC’s ongoing research at La Trobe University.
 
The clinic can diagnose children with autism years before they can be assessed by public diagnosis clinics, which means they can access critical early intervention therapies much sooner.
 
Advocacy:
We will ensure families with autism have advocacy at the highest level by creating the Premier’s Autism Advisory Council, to bring together a cross-section of autism stakeholders to discuss issues and offer solutions to problems facing individuals with autism and families with autism.
 
This will provide an ongoing forum for autism-related issues, and an important feedback mechanism for issues relating to the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Victoria.
 
On top of this package and looking locally in East Gippsland, the missing part in the jigsaw is an overnight respite facility. This is something we will continue to work on with a level of optimism.
 
I believe this policy will make a big difference to a lot of families touched not just by autism, but disability generally, and is one that I was delighted to be able to put together with my Shadow Assistant Minister Bernie Finn and have adopted by the Shadow Cabinet as policy.
 
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Published in Comment Columns
Tuesday, 25 September 2018 18:03

Opposition Leader’s drought insight

Drought-hit farmers in East Gippsland have explained their plight to State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
 
Mr Guy was in East Gippsland with local Nationals MP Tim Bull and attended the cattle sale in Bairnsdale before a shearing shed forum in Briagolong.
 
“It’s been good to just sit down and listen. To hear of the hardship and what people are going through is hard and it is clear that while these families are incredibly resilient, they need more support than they are getting,” Mr Guy said.
 
“To put the level of support into perspective, today I drove past wire rope barrier works between Sale and Bairnsdale that are costing $50 million, many of which are adjacent to open paddocks, while the total drought package being offered by Daniel Andrews is $5m.
 
“The Government needs to do more and needs to act now.
 
“Tim Bull and Danny O’Brien have kept me acutely aware of the situation and the issues arising from these dry conditions, but getting out on the ground and seeing it and hearing it first-hand really hits home.
 
"Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh was here a fortnight ago and we discussed this at Parliament last week with Tim and Danny and are looking at some different options of assistance, pending what happens between now and the election.”
 
Mr Guy said one of the areas that could be looked at immediately was in the area of local government rate relief.
 
Mr Bull said while some financial supports were recently made available, more needed to be done and some of the easiest support measures were not necessarily financial.
 
"For a start, one of the things that can be done overnight is to put more resources into processing the applications to control wildlife that are decimating freshly planted crops and destroying what pasture there is,” Mr Bull said.
 
“Just last week in Parliament we raised it again – and I have raised this on countless occasions over the past five weeks – it usually takes 2-4 weeks, but it is taking 10-12 at present and we need to get that down to 1-2 weeks in this situation.”
 
Mr Bull said he was grateful for the many farmers who gave up their time to meet with the Opposition Leader whose visit follows that of Nationals Leader Peter Walsh.
 
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Published in Media
Monday, 24 September 2018 09:05

Bull pushes for new station

With Orbost Police Station in desperate need of replacement, Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull is pushing for the funding required to build a new facility.
 
Mr Bull said he had circled a petition in various local businesses in support of replacing the station, given it had been identified as the number one priority by local police command.
 
“Having toured the station with officers and having had discussions with staff, it is easy to see why this is at the top of the list,” Mr Bull said. 
 
“The station is just too small to cater for the current level of staff, and only limits possible future increases.
 
“And following the recent installation of disabled amenities, police lost a holding cell.
 
“Victoria Police also advised local officers that this station is no longer fit-for-purpose, so it there is a clear need for a larger and more modern station.”
 
Mr Bull said he and local command were bewildered following the announcement in 2016 that a new station would be built in Mallacoota, while upgrades would take place at other stations in the region including Lakes Entrance.
 
“While these improvements are great for those communities, it is hard to comprehend why Orbost missed out, particularly when it was identified as the number one priority by local command.
 
“The Andrews Labor Government has completely ignored the requests from East Gippsland police and the local community.
 
“I am therefore seeking as many signatures as possible on this petition so we can take that back and show there is an overwhelming level of support for this proposal,” Mr Bull said.
 
Caption: Having seen first-hand the poor condition of Orbost Police Station, Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull is seeking a commitment to replace the facility and has circled a petition throughout Orbost in support.
 
Monday, September 24, 2018
Published in Media
Wednesday, 19 September 2018 09:01

Labor stalls on wildlife control

Having failed to expedite the Authority to Control Wildlife permits process to provide relief for drought-stricken East Gippsland farmers, The Nationals have raised the matter again in State Parliament question time yesterday.
 
Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull said the question, asked directly to the Premier, was to simply ask – given Labor’s Minister had not resolved the issue – would he personally intervene to resolve this matter.
 
“The Premier chose not to answer what was a serious and important question, instead reverting to cheap shots,” Mr Bull said.
 
Mr Bull directed a point of order to the Premier: “I raised this issue in here four weeks ago. It is an issue that relates to resourcing so pick up the phone and put some more people on the job. For the Premier to stand there and go on with that waffle, the farmers simply want to know the answer as this can be fixed overnight”.
 
Mr Bull said the Premier failed to understand the needs of East Gippsland farmers.
 
“Unfortunately the Premier did not respond to the question or commit to intervening, rather just accused me of ‘grandstanding’ before going on to say it was a matter of ‘process’ which shows no understanding of the situation at all,” Mr Bull said.
 
“Farmers want to do the right thing, but they are waiting for around or more than two months before being issued the permit to control wildlife on their properties, which is particularly frustrating when additional resources could be appointed at the drop of the hat.
 
“At the various forums I have attended across East Gippsland in the past few weeks, this matter is raised continually.
 
“The Agriculture Minister has also heard it herself, but there has been no action on a problem that could be rectified overnight,” Mr Bull said.
 
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh, who asked the initial question, said: “The Premier for Melbourne’s response was callous and confirmed he is backing his Brunswick-based Environment Minister instead of our drought-stricken farmers in East Gippsland.”
 
“While Labor dithers, livestock are competing with kangaroos and other wildlife for the scarce feed that’s left – it’s so easy to assist, but they refuse to.”
 
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
 
Published in Media
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