Baw Baw Shire Council responds to 2024/25 State Government budget

Baw Baw Shire Council will continue its efforts to advocate to the State and Federal governments for further support and investment, following the 2024/25 Victorian State Budget handed down on Tuesday.

Despite strong, sustained advocacy campaigns regarding pressing needs for support in health and in new roads, the latest Victorian State Government’s budget offered little assistance for Baw Baw Shire.

On a positive note, however, was an announcement for $250,000 to go towards a new pavilion at Dowton Park in Yarragon and more funding to continue planning for a new hospital in West Gippsland. The Dowton Park Pavilion Upgrade project totals more than $3.5 million and will make a huge difference to the Yarragon Football Netball Club – it includes upgraded change rooms for players and umpires, new function and game day facilities and new all-accessibility amenities.

Baw Baw Shire Mayor Cr Annemarie McCabe said that she understood that this year’s budget was delivered within a financially constrained environment, and it was pleasing to see a budget aimed at helping families to alleviate the current financial pressures.

Despite this, Council was disappointed that a few big-ticket items for Baw Baw had not been acknowledged.

“In the lead up to the State Budget, Baw Baw Shire Council made a pre-budget submission which outlined a series of projects and initiatives that Council is seeking support to help fund and manage,” she said.

“Part of this was our ongoing request to see $3 million in funding allocated to Regional Roads Victoria to design a modern, fit-for purpose arterial road network that can handle the amount of traffic we’re seeing now and will see in the future.

“This $3 million would support the Department of Transport to understand which roads, or consider how new roads, would best unlock and support moving vehicles around Drouin and Warragul, rather than drivers being forced to drive through and create major congestion in our towns.”

Council also called on the State Government to fund and support additional resources for the early years sector, following reforms introduced in 2022. The Best Start, Best Life reforms, which despite guaranteeing additional hours of kinder for local children, will place significant pressure on the local early years workforce and financial pressure on Council to construct large amounts of new infrastructure to support increased demand on sessional kindergarten.

“Council can absolutely see the value in these reforms, but we need support to implement them due the pace and scale of growth in our region. Baw Baw Shire is attracting large numbers of young families, with disproportionately high growth in the 0-4 year old cohort,” Cr McCabe said.

“Given the cost and challenges associated with rolling out this program the $129 million allocated across the state in this budget is welcomed but it will be questionable if this will be enough funding to deliver the admirable goals of this scheme.”

Cr McCabe added that despite some of Council’s top priorities not being funded, it was pleasing to see the Victorian Government commit to continued planning for a new hospital for West Gippsland through the Health Infrastructure Delivery Fund.

“Drouin-Warragul has been recognised as the fastest growing urban area in Australia, and Baw Baw Shire one of the fastest growing peri-urban regions in Victoria; health care infrastructure is sorely needed in our region,” she said.

“Delays in progressing this project could cost lives and negatively impact health outcomes for locals, so we thank the state government for committing to keep this project on track.”

The Mayor added that overall, the latest budget is a disappointment, and continued conversations must be had with State Government.

“Our advocacy must be community led and our residents should not underestimate the impact their voice has in calling on the State Government for more funding and support in Baw Baw,” Cr McCabe said.

“I urge you to join Council in its bid for more local investment and encourage you to download our advocacy toolkit to see how you can make a difference.”

Baw Baw Shire Council encourages its residents to get involved, with more information about Council’s advocacy asks available here:

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