FOSTER, Fish Creek and the CFA state-wide were the beneficiaries when the Deputy Premier swept into the district last Friday with a swag of announcements.
Wearing many hats, including Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response, as well as Member for Gippsland South, Peter Ryan announced $163,000 in flood recovery funding for South Gippsland and $56,526 for an engineering training program at South Gippsland Secondary College. He also opened the refurbished Foster War Memorial Arts Centre and the new $84,000 Corner Inlet Lookout Development Project, and launched a package of online learning tools that will improve the availability and delivery of training for Victoria’s CFA firefighters.
Mr Ryan began at Fish Creek’s Terrill Park, where he announced that $163,000 from the Flood Recovery Community Infrastructure Fund would be provided to the South Gippsland Shire Council for repairs to community infrastructure at Fish Creek, Poowong and Mossvale Park.
A large gathering of members of the recreation reserve committee and the football and netball clubs, as well as local schoolchildren and shire officers, was at the netball/tennis courts for the announcement.
Parts of Fish Creek, including the courts, were devastated by floods in March last year. The water got in underneath the courts, making them unsafe. Some emergency concreting work had to be done before the courts could be used for netball. The club managed to get through the season, but the courts have continued to deteriorate and repairs are urgently required.
Mr Ryan announced that the government would contribute $60,000 for flood repair work to match the $20,000 contributed by the local community and $40,000 from South Gippsland Shire Council. The full $120,000 will be spent on repairing the courts, with work expected to start this week and be completed – depending on the weather – in time for the start of the netball season.
Mr Ryan announced a further $80,000 for restoration works at Mossvale Park. Located between Leongatha and Mirboo North, the popular venue for outdoor music festivals was also severely damaged by floods last year.
His final announcement at Fish Creek was a grant of $23,000 to support the Poowong Recreation Ground resurfacing and improvement works project, which will ensure the grounds are ready in time for the 2012 football season.
“I’m delighted to be able to make these announcements in South Gippsland,” said Mr Ryan. “It is, in my unbiased opinion, the best of the 88 seats in the State Parliament of Victoria!”
From Fish Creek, the deputy premier headed to Foster.
Speaking at the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre, Mr Ryan said the hall’s $220,000 refurbishment, carried out over four months last year, would ensure the building would serve the needs of the community for many years to come.
“The Foster War Memorial Arts Centre is a popular meeting point for local community groups, including the Foster Amateur Music and Drama Association and local farmers’ markets,” Mr Ryan said. “It now boasts significantly improved kitchen facilities, upgraded interiors and heating and air conditioning.”
South Gippsland Shire Council contributed $40,000 towards the refurbishment, and the hall committee $15,000, with the balance ($165,000) of the $220,000 project contributed by the Victorian Government.
“I am pleased and proud to be able to deliver for your community,” Mr Ryan told the assembled throng, who included members of the hall committee as well as representatives of the various groups who use the hall – FAMDA, Probus, Senior Citizens, Foster Community Association and Prom Country Farmers’ Market.
The secretary of the hall committee, Robert Fulton, thanked the deputy premier and the shire council, represented by CEO Tim Tamlin and Mayor Warren Raabe, for the funding which had allowed the refurbishment work to take place. He said that the heating and air conditioning would greatly enhance the comfort of patrons of the hall, which has recently acquired two more user groups –University of the Third Age classes and a Youth Health Clinic.
Mr Ryan had only a brief chance to mingle with constituents and enjoy a sandwich and a slice of quiche prepared in the newly painted hall’s renovated kitchen, before he was off again. This time it was up the hill to the lookout at Foster North – near the corner of the highway and O’Grady’s Ridge Road.
There, in the shelter of the newly constructed rotunda, the president of the Foster Community Association, Larry Giddy, welcomed Mr Ryan, community members and shire representatives to “what we consider a momentous occasion”. He paid tribute to the dedicated members of the Corner Inlet community who had lobbied for many years for a facility of which the community could be proud.
Funding of $84,000, including a grant of $30,000 from Regional Development Victoria, has paid for the construction of a viewing platform, rotunda, seating, information bay and landscaping.
“This will help showcase and promote the beauty and diversity of the Corner Inlet region,” said Mr Ryan. “I would defy anyone to nominate a more magnificent landscape in which to place a lookout.”
Mr Giddy said he was hopeful that the lookout and its information board with map and details of local attractions would encourage people to stay longer in the Foster district and use the many services the community has to offer. He said the lookout development was a vast improvement on the broken down tables and chairs that used to greet visitors to the hilltop site.
“It’s a job well done and on behalf of the community I thank the government and the shire for their support,” he said.
From the lookout development, Mr Ryan went to Foster Fire Station, where as Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response he launched an exciting new training package for Victoria’s fire fighters.
Mr Ryan’s final appointment in Corner Inlet was South Gippsland Secondary College. The college has received a grant worth $56,526 for an engineering training program delivered though the government’s $5 million Local Solutions Year 12 Retention Fund.
“South Gippsland Secondary College will provide an engineering training program for years 9 and 10 students who are at risk of disengaging from learning,” Mr Ryan said. “The program will provide an introduction to hands-on activities and will become a curriculum assessed vocational unit for automotive and metal engineering. The program aims to link to other areas of the curriculum, such as maths and science, to enhance the outcomes of students.”
College principal Cheryl Glowrey welcomed the funding announcement.
“We are very excited to receive the grant. We haven’t had these courses available to our students on site before,” she said. “We are using it to introduce automotive and engineering skills to the curriculum to support some of our students towards a VET program and a career working in industry.”
While he was at the school, Mr Ryan gave a brief address to the year 7 students. He spoke about the political system in Victoria and outlined some of his duties as a local member and a minister – such as announcing funding for district projects, as he had been doing that day. He implored the students to be careful on the roads and urged them to hang onto their dreams, whether it be travelling to Africa (as he did as a youth) or pursuing higher education for a distinguished career – or both.