When the Andrews Labor Government was elected, we promised to put people first. As our state begins its recovery from the global pandemic, people will continue to be our priority.

The Victorian Budget 2020/21 delivers on the investments that will see our community recover – and come back even stronger.

As kids get back into the classroom, this Budget delivers the single biggest investment ever in our schools – making sure students have the classrooms, libraries and learning spaces they deserve. This includes $6.6 million for Southern Autistic School, with students to benefit from a new library and canteen and upgraded areas for the Early Education Program.

Continuing the biggest investment in inclusive education in our state’s history, Bayside Special Developmental School will receive $3.45 million to deliver the the final stage of the school’s master plan, supporting students and the wider school community.

The Labor Government is also providing $500,000 to undertake a planning study for Katandra School and Berendale School.

Even with kids back at school, the balancing act that many families know all too well isn’t easy. That’s why this Budget will make kinder free in 2021 and deliver outside school hours care at up to 400 extra schools, saving parents money and giving them greater flexibility when it comes to work and care.

This year we’ve also come to appreciate our local parks and playgrounds more than ever. As Victorians spend more time outdoors with the people they love, this Budget invests in our community spaces, including upgrades at Karkarook Park to ensure safe and equitable access, and to facilitate community exercise and wellbeing.

And because Victorians have well and truly earned a holiday, the Labor Government is offering up to 120,000 $200 vouchers to encourage families to take a break in regional Victoria. The scheme is expected to be up and running by December, supporting local economies and local jobs into summer and beyond.

Roads connect us to work, school and family, and the Labor Government is committed to getting Victorians to where they need to be sooner, and safer. That’s why the Budget invests in a local roads blitz, improving our metropolitan road network, and creating jobs.

In addition to our commitment to upgrading South Road – a vital project that will get underway in coming months – we’re also upgrading the intersection at Bignell Road and Centre Road, East Bentleigh, and installing traffic signals at the intersection of Brewer Rd and Jasper Road in Bentleigh.

To help get more Victorians back into work, the Labor Government is setting itself an ambitious target – creating 400,000 new jobs by 2025, half of them by 2022.

Our new Jobs for Victoria initiative will help locals find a new job – and with it, security, stability and certainty. This includes $250 million to partner with employers to cover the wages of at least 10,000 new workers.

These positions will be for Victorians hardest hit by this pandemic, including women, young people, retrenched workers and people who have been long-term unemployed. This investment will also deliver targeted and tailored support for those who need it – such as mentoring, career counselling or more intensive support.

This year’s Budget will help nearly one million local families save hundreds on their power bill. Concession card holders, such as Victorians receiving JobSeeker payments, will be eligible for a one-off $250 payment to help cover the cost of their energy bills.

The Labor Government’s Solar Homes will also be expanded to an extra 42,000 rooftop solar rebates plus 14,500 solar batteries, cutting power bills for local families. And for the very first time, small businesses will also be eligible.

2020 has also reminded us of what matters most in life – the health and wellbeing of the people we love. As we begin our state’s recovery, that will continue to be our focus.

This Budget will ensure Victorians have the mental health support they need as we get on with fixing a broken system.  That includes nearly $870 million for mental health, including to implement the Royal Commission into Mental Health’s interim report findings and recommendations and deliver care for local families.

The new Danny Frawley Centre for Health and Wellbeing will be established at Moorabbin Reserve, honouring the AFL legend by offering a range of mental health services and education programs for the local community.

A further $235 million will build our Recovery Workforce, creating 500 new jobs across mental health, family violence, health and child protection with hundreds more new training opportunities, so Victorians have the support they need as we recover from this pandemic.

This Budget will invest $121 million for ‘Better at Home’, increasing the delivery of hospital services in patients’ homes – ensuring these Victorians can recuperate in the comfort of their own home. We’ll also strengthen and expand virtual care technology, making it easier for busy families to access support.

And to make sure local families have the confidence their parents and grandparents are being looked after, this Budget includes up to $135 million to support a new public sector residential aged care facility at the Monash Health Kingston Centre, Cheltenham, catering for 150 residents.

This is a Budget to repair, recover and make us stronger than before. This is a Budget, and a Government, that puts people first.

Quotes attributable to Member for Bentleigh Nick Staikos

“We want to recover – and recover stronger and fairer. It’s why we’re delivering new facilities at Southern Autistic School and Bayside Special Developmental School, making sure students have the great learning spaces they deserve.”

“This year has reminded us of what matters most. It’s why this Budget invests in the safety and security of our family, our friends and our community.”