Young people in regional Victoria have been overlooked by the Andrews Labor Government for far too long and, in May’s State Budget, The Nationals are calling for a fair investment in our community’s education and early childhood programs.
Last budget, only 13 percent of new infrastructure spending was specifically invested in regional towns and cities despite regional Victorians accounting for 25 percent of Victoria’s population. This budget, we demand more.
We want our fair share of spending to keep our schools up to scratch and we need policies that ensure regional families with young children have equitable access to childcare.
In the state’s east, Sale College needs a consolidated campus. In the north, Kilmore has a surging population but no public secondary college, and Yarrawonga P-12 College is being denied funding to complete a much-needed redevelopment.
There is also a crisis in early childhood education with much of regional Victoria defined as a ‘childcare desert’ by the Mitchell Institute.
In the Loddon Elmore region alone, there were almost 34 children for every childcare place in 2022.
Gannawarra Shire has been pleading with the Andrews State Government to help them build a childcare centre in Cohuna – but their calls have gone unheard.
This budget must also invest in long-term solutions for our teaching and early childhood workforces.
In the north of the state, Charlton built a childcare centre 20 months ago but no one can be found to run it – despite huge demand from hardworking families.
Regional children and young people matter and your postcode should not define your opportunities, especially as a young Victorian.
This budget must rectify Labor’s long history of neglecting the communities beyond Melbourne’s tram tracks.
Peter Walsh MP
Leader of The Nationals