Ranges wins in state budget

Mary-Anne Thomas MP with Minister for Veterans, Shaun Leane.

A Mount Macedon Memorial Cross upgrade, youth mental health boost and transport improvements are among the wins for Macedon Ranges in the Victorian Budget 2022/23.

The budget allocates $810,000 to upgrade Mount Macedon Memorial Cross site to improve accessibility via pathways, gateways and interpretive signage.

The 21-metre high cross at the site commemorates those who have served in all wars and conflicts Australia has been involved with and is considered the second most significant war memorial in Victoria after the Shrine of Remembrance.

The landmark hosts an ANZAC Day dawn service and is an increasingly popular tourism destination, with the number of visitors in 2019 exceeding 266,500, with visitor numbers expected to grow significantly in the years to come.

The state budget allows work to begin work on improvements to Woodend’s notorious High/Urquhart Street intersection with $500,000 for planning and development.

Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said the budget was exciting news for the region, with transport and health also big focus areas.

Woodend Station will see a $1.6 million upgrade with CCTV, toilets, a PA system, a new heated waiting area and other safety and accessibility improvements. The station supports one of highest public transport uses in the Macedon Ranges.

Two new town bus routes are on the way for Gisborne and a new school town bus service for local students.

“We’re making it easier for locals to get around across Macedon, investing in new bus services for Gisborne and improving safety and comfort on locals’ daily commute,” Ms Thomas said.

The budget allocates $900 million to build a new hospital at Melton, less than 30 minutes from Gisborne. It will include 24-hour emergency department, more than 100 medical and surgical beds, an intensive care unit, maternity and neonatal services, mental health services, ambulatory care and a range of clinical supports.

Macedon Ranges’ youth mental health and suicide prevention initiative Live4Life will also gain $340,000 in state funds to be expanded across five local government areas.

The evidence-based model builds both young people, and the local rural community’s capacity to recognise mental health concerns and seek and offer help.

State-wide, the budget will invest more than $12 billion into healthcare with a ‘Pandemic Repair Plan’. The plan includes funding to train and hire up to 7000 new new healthcare workers, including 5000 nurses.

Another 90 paramedics will also be added to the workforce and $333M will add nearly 400 new staff to increase Triple Zero call-taking and dispatch capacity.

It also includes $300M to upgrade regional hospitals and healthcare facilities, $9M for regional women’s health services and $11.5M for group parenting sessions to support families with children struggling with their mental health.