Lakes fund needs commitment now
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has asked the Minister for Environment to provide some clarity on the future of the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund beyond this financial year.
“As the Minister would be aware, earlier this year we had a situation where executive staff resigned due to uncertainty, before the announcement was made at the 11th hour it would continue for 12 months.
“Given we now enter the latter stages of 2015, we will soon be entering similar territory and I would encourage the Minister to provide some certainty around its continuation sooner rather than later for the benefit of staff overseeing the fund and also those who are working in the various programs.
“As the Minister would know, the Fund achieved a considerable amount and this is no doubt why she chose to fund it for a further 12 months.”
Mr Bull said while the fund had supported a range of important work being done, there remained more to do, saying he had been contacted in recent months by members of the community, not only wanting the fund to continue, but suggesting areas where more research is required.
“These include monitoring of water bird numbers, but in particular cormorants. As I understand it the most recent study in 1998 showed there were around 3,470 Great Cormorants living on the Gippsland Lakes estimated to have consumed between 261 to 531 tonnes of black bream per annum.
“There is anecdotal evidence waterbird numbers have increased and the request has been made that updated information is required.
“We have also seen the recent discovery of the Pacific Sea Star in the Gippsland Lakes and there have been calls for ongoing programs into their monitoring.
“The third topic that has been raised is the need for more detailed studies into salt tolerant vegetation that can combat erosion at times of low freshwater inflows when salinity increases in the system.
“These are all important projects I would like to see come under consideration under this fund, but we need some certainty as to its future and it would be pleasing if the Minister can provide that certainty,” Mr Bull said.
BreastScreen mobile service to visit East Gippsland
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said BreastScreen Victoria’s mobile service is set to visit East Gippsland and he is encouraging local women in the Omeo, Orbost and Mallacoota districts to take this opportunity to have a mammogram close to home as it could turn out to be a lifesaver.
“This is an invaluable service and provides East Gippsland women who live in some of our remote towns the opportunity to have high quality digital screening without the need to travel.
The service is free for women aged 40 years and over.
“The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman over 50 years of age. With one in nine Victorian women diagnosed with the disease, the free mammogram screening program is the best way of finding cancer early before any symptoms are noticed and when treatment is likely to be most successful.”
BreastScreen Victoria has 39 permanent screening clinics and eight assessment services. The Mobile Screening Service visits 29 locations every two years. Some clinics offer out of hours appointments, including Saturdays and group bookings are available. Women can attend any screening clinic that is convenient.
The service is set to visit the following towns in East Gippsland and is taking appointments at each location:
• Omeo – 20th to 23rd October 2015
• Mallacoota – 27th October to 6th November 2015
• Orbost – 10th to 27th November 2015
Bookings are required so call 13 20 50 or go online to www.breastscreen.org.au to make an appointment today.
Disability Grants Now Available
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, is encouraging disability self-help groups to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to increase the independence and community participation of people with disabilities.
“Grant funding is provided for a variety of practical purposes including general expenses, running costs, and minor works or equipment,” Ms Bull said.
“There are several criteria for funding, and goals for groups can include increasing the capacity of people with a disability to live independently in their own community.
“Also, increasing opportunities for self-help groups to provide information and education on the experiences of people with a disability,” he said.
Mr Bull said the Disability Self Help Grants provide self-help groups with a great opportunity to access funding to support their members’ activities.
“Self-help groups that focus on supporting their members to participate in their own community and make informed decisions about their lives will be given priority for grants,” Mr Bull said.
“The grants are allocated for a two-year period 2015–16 and 2016–17, which means groups don’t have to go through the application process every year,” she said.
In addition, Mr Bull said groups that have previously been successful in obtaining grants of less than $5,000 per annum do not have to itemise their proposed expenditure in their applications.
Applications are now open and close on Wednesday 21 October 2015.
Guidelines and application forms are available on the Department of Health & Human services web site: www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disabilityselfhelp
Groups that require assistance to complete the application form should contact the Community Inclusion Unit on (03) 9096 9747.
NDIS wait list should be dealt with first
The State Government’s roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will leave people on the waiting list in East Gippsland without services until 2019.
Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, said while the NDIS had strong bipartisan support and was great news for Victorians with disabilities and their families, he was concerned the roll-out would miss some people who were in most need in East Gippsland and other areas.
“The former Liberal-Nationals Government signed up to the NDIS and committed to a roll-out where all those on waiting lists, regardless of where they lived, received the benefits first,” he said.
“Under this Government’s changed roll-out, people in the first areas to be transitioned who are already receiving disability services under the current system will be moved to the NDIS, while those on waiting lists in other areas like East Gippsland will continue to wait.
“In the case of East Gippsland, we are the last area to be transitioned in the state in 2019, so it is critically important to our families.
“It is my view that rolling out the NDIS to those on the state-wide waiting list first was the fairest approach and that is what we committed to do. It is what carer groups wanted.
“While there is provision for early roll out of some of the more acute cases on waiting lists, surely everyone who is eligible and stuck on a waiting list not receiving a service at all, should be dealt with first.
“I noted our region’s Labor Upper House member, Harriet Shing, commented this would provide a fairer system with no more waiting lists. Every person would agree, but it would have been pleasing to hear her state those on the current waiting list in her electorate would be dealt with first in the transition,” Mr Bull said.
Shadow Minister for Families and Children, Georgie Crozier, said children, in particular, should have access to early education services under the NDIS as a priority.
“Young children with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable on our waiting lists and it is so important they have access to services as early as possible,” Ms Crozier said.
“While the NDIS is great news for these children and their families, we need to make sure the rollout is done fairly and targets those in most need.”
East Gippsland businesses give Parade holiday the thumbs down
An East Gippsland business survey of the AFL Grand Final Parade public holiday has shown 93% of respondents to date are opposed to its introduction.
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, who conducted the survey which was mailed to all business addresses in the electorate, said it simply asked “Do you support the Grand Final Parade public holiday - yes/no” and asked what impact it would have (positive or negative) on that business.
Mr Bull said that although the survey results were still coming in, already over 200 responses had been received and it was clearly strongly opposed.
“The major reason is that many small businesses are stating they are being forced to close as increased wage costs mean they will be unable to break even on the day. They also make the point that in closing they lose out because of a lost trading day, so can’t win either way.
“Others that will remain open have said they will do so by having only family working to avoid the increased wage costs, but point out their regular employees, who rely on weekly shifts, will lose them that day as a result.
“Many also added notes expressing anger the State’s consultation and regulatory impact statements were undertaken after the announcement the holiday was made and not before.
“The seven per cent that were not opposed were generally accommodation houses, but of interest is that the retail, trade based, manufacturing, distribution and farming sectors have all been strongly opposed.
“Even in the hospitality area where the supposed benefits are to come from, if you believe the government, it has been a 76% no vote.
“The government’s own regulatory impact statement shows this holiday – along with the public holiday on Easter Sunday – will cost Victorians $1.2 billion and 353, 000 casual worker shifts as businesses close for the day.
“Victoria already has more public holidays than any other state or territory, so I don’t believe we needed another one that our business community does not want for a Parade held 350 kilometres away,” said Mr Bull.
Paynesville’s Coalition funded projects opened
Pictured in front of the streetscape improvements in Paynesville today are Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester; Paynesville Business and Tourism Association president, Janet McLeod, State Member, Tim Bull and East Gippsland Mayor, Cr Peter Neal.
Over $2 million in capital works projects were opened in Paynesville today in what State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, described as a “great day for the community”.
Mr Bull said the projects, which included the boat ramp upgrade, Esplanade redevelopment, Gilsenan Reserve upgrade and Progress jetty, received just on $1 million funding from the previous Coalition Government.
“Also, full credit to East Gippsland Shire Council for contributing just over $1million to these important projects as well as the Paynesville and District Community (Bendigo) Bank and other community groups.
“All up the bank has contributed $350,000 to local community initiatives over the past 10 years and that is a significant figure and shows those who bank locally the benefits of doing so. The volunteer committee has every right to be very proud of its achievements.
“It was also great to hear from Ross Gilsenan, who spoke at the ceremony. His family is synonymous with this town and to hear of his historical references was pertinent on this occasion.
“The works that have been carried out not only make the place look a lot smarter, but provides improved facilities for those who are visiting Paynesville. Tourism is so important to the local economy and we need to meet visitors’ expectations. These works certainly assist in that area.”
Mr Bull said that while much had been done in Paynesville there remained more to do and urged the State Government to support a current application for funds to improve public berthing in McMillan Strait.
“I don’t think anyone could argue the previous Government hadn’t made a significant investment in Paynesville and it would be good to see the current government continue this trend and provide the funds for improved boating facilities.”