THE Victorian Coalition Government has officially launched its $1 billion Regional Growth Fund for country Victoria to be rolled-out to communities over the next eight years.
Speaking at the launch event in Ballarat, Acting Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan said the Regional Growth Fund would spearhead a new era of prosperity, more opportunities and a better quality of life for regional Victorians.
“The Regional Growth Fund will be administered by the Coalition Government through partnerships with the five Victorian non-metropolitan Regional Development Australia Committees and local government,” Mr Ryan said.
“As of 1 July, 48 regional and rural councils, business and community groups can have input into how $1 billion should be invested in their regions during the next eight years.”
The fund was designed so that 60 per cent of funding would support strategic initiatives and economic infrastructure to develop and build stronger regions.
“The remaining 40 per cent will be made available to encourage local government infrastructure and local projects,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said regional cities and country communities were major contributors to the State’s economy and home to 25 per cent of Victoria’s population.
“The Coalition Government believes regional cities and country communities should be better supported and the specific purpose of the Regional Growth Fund is to assist local communities and strengthen infrastructure initiatives in regional Victoria, in a separate capacity to other existing government programs,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan also announced key programs that would be administered under the fund, including: $100 million to extend natural gas supplies across Victoria; a $20 million Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund which will contribute to increasing the rate of higher education participation and attainment in regional Victoria; and $5 million to develop an achievable plan for new industry and employment in the Latrobe Valley (in addition to the previously announced Latrobe Valley Advantage Fund).
Mr Ryan said the Regional Growth Fund would boost investment in community and lifestyle infrastructure, facilities and services, such as community halls, theatres, libraries and sporting grounds.
“Improved energy supplies and better transport links will benefit local business and industry, so they can compete more effectively in national and global markets,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said he expected more jobs would be created as a result of the Regional Growth Fund and the number of career options in regional towns and cities would improve.
“The Coalition Government has reconfirmed commitments made by the previous government through Regional Development Victoria (RDV) and combined with the new $1 billion Regional Growth Fund will provide the largest ever budget for RDV, creating exciting opportunities for regional cities and country communities,” Mr Ryan said.
For more details about the seven major programs and eligibility criteria under the Regional Growth Fund go to: www.rdv.vic.gov.au.