INTERFACE COUNCILS WELCOMES GROWING SUBURBS FUND SPEND BUT KEY LOCAL OPPORTUNITIES REMAIN
Thursday 20 May 2021
The Interface Councils group is pleased to see the restoration of the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF), with $50 million promised for the year 2021/22 in the State Budget today.
“The Growing Suburbs Fund helps our residents by delivering local youth centres, community hubs, playgrounds and informal support networks quicker than Councils can deliver on their own.
“But with the six Peri Urban Councils also eligible for the funding pool, Interface Councils can still only receive a maximum of $2.5 million each. This doesn’t go far,” said current chair of Interface Councils and Mayor of Mitchell Shire Council Cr Rhonda Sanderson.
The Growing Suburbs Fund was diluted with the inclusion of the Peri-Urban Councils, who are experiencing a growth rate of 2.5% per annum (or a projection of 42,000 people,) compared with Interface Councils’ 4% growth rate (or projection of 233,000 people) until 2031.
Interface Councils welcomes people-centric measures in the budget including strong support for mental health and consideration for roads and public transport networks in outer Melbourne.
“The combination of these investments will make a difference to the daily lives of people living in the Interface Councils Region who have borne the brunt of COVID-19.”
However, targetted local stimulus measures remain a missed opportunity.
“We’re glad to see mental health and wellbeing as a priority, however Interface Councils would have welcomed a greater partnership approach for the delivery of services and infrastructure to increase efficiencies. That’s not what we’ve seen today.”
Local unemployment, housing pressure, a surge in family violence and psychological stress were exacerbated for residents in the outer Melbourne region over the past year and a half.
“Now more than ever, longer term certainty for funding commitments in services and infrastructure are needed to make sure individuals, families, businesses and workers get through to the other side intact,” said Cr Sanderson.
Nevertheless, some new investments announced today will go some way to address these challenges.
Interface Councils are pleased to see key investments in:
1. Health and human services:
$1.5 billion in community-based ‘front door’ mental health support
$18.4 million (until 2023) to strengthen engagement and support for at-risk young people with projects delivered across the suburbs (e.g. African and Pasifika)
$18 million to trial whole-of-family/interdisciplinary support model for families with complex needs at two locations including Brimbank-Melton
$23.8 million for CALD Communities Taskforce and enhanced engagement approach
$4.4 million to help CALD communities navigate government services
$67.5 million for 10 new community hospitals (including Melton)
2. Family violence prevention:
$78 million to expand network of specialist family violence courts, including site in Hume
$14 million for the justice system’s response to family violence including Orange Door
$18.4 million (until 2023) to strengthen engagement and support for at-risk young people with projects delivered across Melbourne suburbs
3. Local stimulus and capacity building:
$14 million (up to 2023) for the Streamlining for Growth program
$1 billion for the Western Treatment Plant Project in Wyndham
4. Roads and public transport:
$94 million on Melton and Wyndham Vale corridors for higher capacity trains
$74 million for bus network (more frequent buses, extended routes and more reliable services) including Clyde, Clyde North in Casey and Tarneit North in Wyndham
$22 million Transport infrastructure capacity improvements to Wyndham Vale and Melton
$14.9 million for Mickleham Road Upgrade Stage 1 in Hume
$9.6 million Urban Congestion Package for Yarra Ranges
$113.7 million Urban Congestion Package for Whittlesea
$386 million in Road Safety Strategy – road utilisation through technology
5. Local employment:
$20 million for five suburban government hubs (including Williams Landing in Wyndham)
$4.3 million for community organisations to support migrant and refugee women into employment
Historically, the group has not received a proportional amount of State Government funding to tackle persistent service and infrastructure challenges, even though these communities are among the fastest growing in Australia and home to some 1.6 million residents.
Interface Councils is the group of ten municipalities that form a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, comprising Cardinia Shire Council, City of Casey, Hume City Council, Melton City Council, Mitchell Shire Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Nillumbik Shire Council, City of Whittlesea, Wyndham City Council and Yarra Ranges Shire Council.