A $59.9 million new-look TAFE campus in Bendigo’s CBD is one of the key projects to emerge from the Victorian government’s 2018-19 budget in central Victoria.
Other developments and projects to receive government funding in the region include Bendigo’s law courts and Echuca Court House, Mount Macedon CFA, a heart health program and Mitiamo’s water infrastructure.
One of the biggest investments in the Bendigo area from this year's budget is a $59.9 million upgrade of Bendigo TAFE's city campus.
The government has also announced that 30 priority TAFE courses will be free from January 2019, as well as 18 pre-apprenticeship courses.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said it was important to remember that not all pathways to careers were academic, and people had other skills and attributes
Castlemaine Secondary College, Dunolly Primary School, Kerang Primary School, Spring Gully Primary School and the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School's Bullengarook Senior Campus are among 55 regional schools that will benefit from a $135 million planning and upgrades package.
Castlemaine Secondary College alone will receive $11.8 million to upgrade and modernise its facilities.
White Hills Primary School has received $500,000 to begin master planning to improve capacity.
Police, justice and emergency services
The government has not covered the full costs of moving Bendigo's law courts to new, safer premises, but it has set aside funds to purchase land for new courts.
Bendigo and Werribee will share in $20 million for acquiring land for new courts.
Meanwhile, Echuca Court House has attracted $5 million for safety, security and operations upgrades.
Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre will receive an extra 32 beds, as well as a more secure perimeter fence.Victoria Police will receive $25 million for long-arm firearms, with four regional stations to be equipped with these firearms.
The government also plans to expand drug testing on the roads with a $20.1 million investment to allow police officers to conduct an extra 50,000 tests a year.
There is also $25 million for crime prevention initiatives and agencies, such as Crime Stoppers and Neighbourhood Watch.
Meanwhile, Mount Macedon CFA will receive $.16 million for upgrades to its facilities.
The government will put $5 million to delivering the Healthy Heart of Victoria program in the Loddon Campaspe region, in a bid to lower the incidence of preventable heart disease.
The Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership is one of two regional partnerships to share in $5.5 million to deliver health prevention projects.
The Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme, which subsidises travel and accommodation costs for those who have to travel long distances for specialist healthcare, will receive a $2.1 million boost.
There is also a $50 million injection to the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund.
Across the state, $705 million has been earmarked for mental illness treatment, including $232 million for community-based support and to fund 89 acute beds.
Sporting facilities in central Victoria have missed out on specific funding, but the government has pledged $82 million for encouraging women and girls in sport, which includes ensuring facilities meet the needs of female players and officials.
Roads and transport
The government has put $130 million towards track and signalling upgrades on the Maryborough and Ararat lines, which the government says will pave the path for the future return of passenger services to Dunolly.
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said regional and rural rail served not only commuters and those needing to access offerings in larger centres, but regional communities held a deep emotional connection to rail.
Junortoun will receive more buses and services as part of an investment in the state’s regional bus network.
Last week, the government revealed its $941 million package for regional roads, which includes $3.5 million to plan capacity and safety upgrades on the McIvor Highway at Junortoun, $19 million to upgrade the Calder Highway, and another $3.5 million to plan safety upgrades on the Bendigo-Redesdale Road.
The government has also confirmed it has secured Commonwealth funding for the $91 million upgrade of the Bendigo and Echuca rail line.
A ‘one-stop shop’ for council services and state government agencies is one step closer to fruition with a $16 million investment from the state government.
The Gov Hub will replace the City of Greater Bendigo’s main office on Lyttleton Terrace, and will house 1000 workers including council staff and public sector workers from various state government departments.
The development, which has been estimated to cost up to $100 million, is expected to create 100 new jobs.
Construction is scheduled to start next year and be completed by late 2021.
The development will form a cornerstone of a plan to revitalise the northern end of Bendigo’s CBD, alongside a redeveloped TAFE campus.
Meanwhile, a grant program of $20 million will be opened to rural councils for funding to set up collaborative procurement and improve financial management strategies.
Business and employment
The government will establish a new government procurement office in Bendigo, which the it says will give regional businesses more opportunity to score government contracts.
The government has announced that from July 1, the regional payroll tax will be reduced from 3.65 per cent to 2.425 per cent.
A grant program of $20 million will also be opened to rural councils for funding to set up collaborative procurement and improve financial management strategies.
Regional payroll tax will be half of the metro rate at 2.425 per cent, down from 3.75 per cent.
The tax cut will apply to businesses based outside Melbourne who pay at least 85 per cent of their payroll tax to regional employees will be eligible for the lower rates.
Treasury forecasts about 4000 existing businesses in regional will benefit from the cut.
Water and environment
A reticulated water supply will be constructed for 75,000 hectares surrounding Mitiamo under a $10.2 million package.
It is aimed that the project will secure water supply and improve irrigation.
Loddon Shire Council will also receive funding to assess and ensure the safety of an old dam at Inglewood.
Greater Bendigo National Park will share in $2.05 million with Kalimna Park for land and natural resource management – including recruitment for traditional owner ranger positions – to improve biodiversity and attract visitors.