A central Victorian training facility for emergency services, closed during Tony Abbott’s time as Prime Minister, will reopen after being purchased by the state government.
Funding for the Australian Emergency Management Institute at Mount Macedon was withdrawn in the 2014-15 federal budget, ending 50 years of operation and leaving 44 employees without work.
But emergency services minister James Merlino announced on Saturday his government would establish a new training facility at the site.
The newly named Victorian Emergency Management Institute will offer leadership training to members of the state’s emergency services, courses which could also be offered to interstate personnel.
Mr Merlino said the decision to close the centre “hit the local community hard”.
“We’re proud to step in and take over the site to boost local jobs and the economy,” he said.
Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters had promised to reopen the AEMI if her party was victorious in July’s federal election.
Renovations to the facility will start this year, with training due to begin in the first half of 2017.
A statement from the minister’s office on Saturday also said the institute will “help fill the gap” left after the closure of the CFA training campus in Fiskville last year.
But emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley, who was in Bendigo on Saturday morning, said the Mount Macedon site was not a hot fire training facility.
“It's a centre to develop people in leaderships skills and what networks we operate in emergency management,” Mr Lapsley said.
“That allows us then to do the true emergency management, from local government, to first respondents, into those agencies that do the recovery.”
He said closing the AEMI in 2014 had left a “small gap” in the training of emergency services personnel.
A golf course located on the 6.5-acre site will also be leased back to the Mount Macedon Golf Club for another 15 years, with an option to extend for a further 15 years.