Premier of Victoria » Media ReleasePremier of Victoria Daniel Andrews Tue, 24 May 2016 06:46:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Improving Transparency For Victorians Tue, 24 May 2016 06:46:02 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government will merge the Office of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner and Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection into a single office, streamlining Victoria’s information and data oversight bodies.

A newly created Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) will look after freedom of information, privacy and data protection issues, matching similar New South Wales, Queensland and Commonwealth bodies.

This ensures the Victorian community has a single regulator to oversee Victoria’s FOI, public sector privacy and data protection laws, and provide independent advice to government across those closely-related fields.  The  new body will also help improve the way government manages information.

It will be led by an Information Commissioner, and will be supported by a Public Access Deputy Commissioner, who will improve FOI decision-making, and a Privacy and Data Protection Deputy Commissioner.

Legislation to establish the Office of the Information Commissioner will be introduced into Parliament shortly, delivering on the Labor Government’s election commitment to overhaul freedom of information, including:

  • the ability to review Ministerial and Departmental decisions including under Cabinet exemptions
  • reducing the time to respond to an FOI request from 45 days to 30 days
  • reducing the time that agencies have to seek VCAT’s review from 60 days to 14 days

These reforms are only the first stage in improving transparency and access to information for Victorians. The Labor Government will shortly announce details of a comprehensive review of Victoria’s FOI legislation.

The Labor Government’s action on transparency contrasts with the former Liberal government who refused to release ambulance and CFA response data. The Labor Government immediately moved to release this information and is legislating to stop future governments from hiding it from the community.

Under existing structures, the FOI Commissioner handles complaints about government decisions and monitors legislative compliance. The Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection provides guidance to the public sector in dealing with personal information and provides a recourse for complaints from the community.

The current Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection, David Watts, and the current acting Freedom of Information Commissioner, Michael Ison, will both continue in their roles until OVIC is established.

Quotes attributable to the Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings

“We said that we’d overhaul Victoria’s freedom of information system to give Victorians better access to government information and we’re doing just that.”

“The Liberals hid damning evidence about the ambulance crisis and we’ve put an end to that. These changes will ensure that future governments can no longer keep Victorians in the dark about the issues that matter.”

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Labor Welcomes Final Report Into Fiskville Tue, 24 May 2016 06:16:01 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government has welcomed the final report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the CFA Training College at Fiskville, tabled in the Victorian Parliament today.

The comprehensive report includes 125 findings and makes 31 recommendations relating to Fiskville. The Government will consider the content of the final report and form a response to the recommendations.

Announced by the Government in December 2014, the landmark inquiry examined the health concerns at Fiskville, including the pollution, contamination, and unsafe activities from 1970 until its closure in 2015.

The inquiry also studied the site’s effects on employees’ health, residents and visitors during that time, and the roles and responsibilities of past and present executive management.

The findings in the report vindicate the Government’s decision to act quickly to close Fiskville in March last year on advice from the CFA Board because the site posed a health and safety risk to firefighters.

The Government refused to jeopardise the safety of the CFA workers and volunteers who used the Fiskville site.

Since the facility’s closure, the Government has been working to ensure firefighters have a safe environment to work and train.

As part of the Victorian Budget 2016-17, the Government announced a $46.2 million investment to establish a new firefighting training centre in the Central Highlands and upgrade the training facility at Huntly.

An additional $80.7 million was allocated over four years to decommission and remediate the site of the former Fiskville training ground and upgrade six other training centres located across regional Victoria.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett

“The Parliamentary Inquiry into the CFA Fiskville Training College has undertaken a tremendous amount of work in delivering its final report and we will consider its findings carefully.”

“We understand this landmark inquiry has been difficult for all involved and I want to thank our firefighters, their families and the Fiskville community for their significant contributions.”

“This is a significant day for our emergency service workers who deserve a safe environment to work and train.”

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Honouring Victoria’s Child Protection Workers Tue, 24 May 2016 04:01:55 +0000 Nominations honouring Victoria’s dedicated individuals and teams who work to improve the lives of the state’s most vulnerable children are now open.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos today called for nominations for the Robin Clark Protecting Children Awards, which recognise excellence in service across the child protection and community sectors and celebrate the work done in child, youth and family services.

Dedicated individuals and teams provide a range of vital expert services, offering their homes as foster and kinship carers, providing education support to kids and providing leadership in child protection policy.

For the first time, the awards will include a Minister’s Award for Innovative Care, recognising a carer who has found new ways to improve the lives of children or young people.

The award categories are:

  • Robin Clark Leadership Award
  • Robin Clark Making a Difference Award
  • Carer Award
  • Education Initiative Award
  • Excellence in Child Protection Award (DHHS staff)
  • Minister’s Award for Innovative Care
  • Chief Practitioner’s Award (DHHS staff)
  • CREATE Award
  • NAPCAN Play Your Part Award – Victoria
  • The Modelling a Generous Community Award
  • The Walda Blow Award

Nominations close on Wednesday, 29 June 2016 and winners will be announced at the Robin Clark Protecting Children Awards ceremony held on 6 September as part of Child Protection Week in Victoria.

The awards are named in honour of the memory of the visionary Robin Dennis Clark (1936-2001) who greatly influenced child and family related policy and practice in Victoria.

In the past year more than 200 new child protection workers have been hired as part of the Andrews Labor Government investment in our state’s child protection system.

For further information or to nominate visit:

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“As we reform our child protection system to keep Victoria’s children safe and families stronger, our dedicated workforce and selfless carers need to be recognised for the critical work that they do.”

“Every child and young person has a fundamental right to grow up feeling safe and loved. The Robin Clark Memorial Awards recognise those who work tirelessly to uphold this right for all Victorian kids.”

“If you know an individual or team who is passionate about keeping children safe from harm and neglect, nominate them so their excellent work can be recognised.”

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Victoria First In Nation To Right The Wrong Tue, 24 May 2016 04:00:06 +0000 Leading the nation in combating stigma and discrimination, the Andrews Labor Government will today deliver a formal State Apology in Parliament to Victorians convicted under homophobic laws that should have never existed.

Before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1980, men could be sentenced for up to 15 years in prison for having consensual sex with other men.

These laws included buggery, gross indecency and indecent assault on a male and loitering or soliciting for homosexual purposes.

Those convicted were publicly shamed in newspapers.  As a result, they lost jobs, were forced to withdraw from study, and were ostracised by family and friends.

The burden of a criminal conviction affected their full participation in the workforce and community, and inhibited their freedom to travel.

While there is no accurate data about the number of arrests and prosecutions, police reports suggest there were several hundred reported offences per year in the decades leading to the repeal of the laws in 1981.

The apology will be live streamed at 2pm on the Victorian Parliament website

It follows the introduction of significant reforms in September 2015 of an expungement scheme, administered by the Department of Justice and Regulation.

The expungement scheme enables those who were convicted under the past laws to apply to have those convictions expunged from their criminal records.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“We apologise for the laws we passed, the standards we set and the lives we ruined.”

“These unjust laws amounted to nothing less than state-sanctioned homophobia.”

“This Parliament is to be formally held to account for designing a cult of hatred. And those who faced its sanction are to be formally recognised for their relentless pursuit of freedom.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Equality Martin Foley

“Today we say sorry to those Victorians who were wrongfully arrested, locked up and humiliated – whose very love was made punishable by law.”

“We will remember the painful history which has made this apology necessary in the first place – and ensure we continue to foster a community that accepts, tolerates and provides a place for all.”

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Administrators Appointed To Geelong Tue, 24 May 2016 02:30:06 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government has appointed three administrators to run the City of Greater Geelong in place of the council, which was dismissed in April.

The council was dismissed following a three-month investigation by an independent Commission of Inquiry into its governance, administration and culture.

The Commission of Inquiry concluded that the council was dysfunctional, unable to provide long-term vision for the city and riddled with internal conflict and a culture of bullying.

The administrators are:

  • Dr Kathy Alexander (Chair): an experienced CEO, board director and consultant and former City of Melbourne CEO for more than six years. Dr Alexander was CEO of Women’s and Children’s Health, which governed the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and the Royal Women’s Hospital (RWH). Dr Alexander is a former South Australian Telstra Businesswoman of the Year and chair of not-for-profit organisations. As Chair she will fulfil the role of Mayor.
  • Peter Dorling: business manager at Avalon Airport, a director of the Victorian Regional Panels Authority, a member of the Geelong Performing Arts Centre Trust and the former executive director of the Committee for Geelong. He has considerable experience providing strategic planning and leadership for the Geelong community. He will cease to be the chair of the Geelong Authority.
  • Laurinda Gardner: former senior government executive and experienced member of not-for-profit, state and local government boards. Ms Gardner is currently the Deputy Chair of the Metropolitan Planning Authority and also works as a leadership and change management consultant.

The panel takes over from interim administrator Yehudi Blacher, who has been working with the CEO and staff since the council was dismissed.

The administrators will now work to implement the full range of recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry into Greater Geelong City Council that are required to remedy longstanding cultural, governance and structural problems.

They will remain in place until the next council elections are held in October 2017.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins

“The appointment of the administrators is about returning good governance to the people of Geelong and a safe working environment to council staff.”

“Geelong deserves to have a competent and productive elected council, but first the administrators must get in and fix the serious problems the Commission of Inquiry uncovered.”

“I thank the interim administrator Mr Yehudi Blacher for stepping in and supporting the Geelong community during this critical time.”

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Government And Industry Unite For Dairy Farmers Tue, 24 May 2016 01:30:09 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government and the Victorian dairy industry have united to deliver an $11.4 million support package for dairy farmers affected by the global fall in milk prices and decisions by some processors to cut the prices paid to their suppliers.

The support package put together in consultation with the Dairy Industry Taskforce will ensure dairy farmers and their families experiencing financial and emotional stress get the support they need.

This package includes a $5.2 million industry contribution, comprising $1.4 million from the Gardiner Foundation, $2.8 million from Dairy Australia and up to $1 million from Murray Goulburn. The government and industry support package includes:

  • A major expansion of Dairy Australia’s Tactics for Tight Times and Taking Stock programs, providing specialised on farm business support to enable dairy farmers make the best decisions
  • $240,000 boost towards the Rural Financial Counselling Service, ensuring dairy farmers can get independent and confidential financial counselling
  • $220,000 for two FTE support workers at the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) to assist farmers.

As part of the dairy support package, the Labor Government has set aside $4.5 million to support affected farming communities and will consult on how these funds are best spent.

Last week the Labor Government announced a $1.5 million mental health wellbeing package for dairy farmers. This included extra counselling services, mental health first aid training, support for community events and a $100,000 boost towards the Look Over the Farm Gate program.

Information about support that is available for dairy farmers can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website: or by calling 136 186.

For dairy farmers and their families seeking help, they can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Quotes attributable  to Premier Daniel Andrews

“We’re putting dairy farmers and their families first by providing them with the support they need to look after themselves – and each other. “

“The Labor Government stands behind our rural communities, and we won’t let any farmer or community member go it alone.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

“We know that this is a tough time for Victorian dairy farmers, and now more than ever it’s crucial that the industry comes together.”

“With this assistance package we are ensuring that dairy farmers have access to needed support, be it financial counselling or on farm business support to make sure they can make the best decisions for their farm.”   

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New Anti-Family Violence Trial: An Australian First Mon, 23 May 2016 22:28:38 +0000 In an Australian first, the Caring Dads program which helps dads realise the impact of family violence is set to begin in Melbourne.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos announced $575,000 for the Children’s Protection Society to begin the prevention and early intervention trial.

Around 60 fathers from across Melbourne who are at risk of engaging in violent behaviour, or may have alcohol or other drug issues, will be invited to participate.

The men will attend voluntary group sessions over 17 weeks, learning to understand the impact of trauma on their children and how to be more respectful towards their children’s mothers.

The Caring Dads program was first developed in Canada and will combine the expertise of the Children’s Protection Society, UnitingCare ReGen, the University of Toronto and Melbourne University.

It is currently run in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States.

Results from the British trial found mothers and children felt happier and safer because of the program and reported a meaningful improvement in the behaviour of the father.

The program addresses the cycle of family violence by placing children at the centre of the response, and builds on the Andrews Labor Government’s work to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

This funding is in addition to the Labor Government’s $168 million Roadmap for Reform, an overhaul of the child protection system that is shifting the focus from crisis response to early intervention.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“We want men to engage in respectful, non-abusive co-parenting with their partners. Where they have exposed their children to violence in the past, they need to realise the impact of their actions on their children.”

“By intervening early, women and children are kept safe. There is an urgent need to trial new family-focused strategies.”

 “The Andrews Labor Government is working to stop the scourge of family violence and the Caring Dads trial aligns with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.”

Quotes attributable to Children’s Protection Society CEO Aileen Ashford

“Programs like Caring Dads play such a crucial role in supporting children who experience violence, abuse and neglect.”

“We applaud the Victorian Government’s commitment to the Caring Dads program, and look forward to seeing the positive impact this program will have on Victorian children and families in the future.” 

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Victorian Export Awards Now Open Mon, 23 May 2016 11:23:28 +0000 Victoria is celebrating the enormous contribution exporters make to the state with applications opening today for the prestigious Governor of Victoria Export Awards.

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis announced the opening of applications at Parliament House tonight, addressing commissioners from Victoria’s global network of trade and investment offices and representatives from some of the state’s best export companies.

This will be the 37th year of the Governor of Victoria Export Awards, which celebrate the innovation and hard work of exporters across a range of sectors – providing a great opportunity for companies to raise their domestic and international profile.

They open to Victorian exporters across a range of nationally recognised categories including: agribusiness, business services, creative industries, digital technologies, eCommerce, education and training, environment, health and biotechnology, manufacturing, minerals, energy and regional development.

There are a further three Victorian-specific categories made up of the Victorian Exporter of the Year, Victorian Export Award for Innovation Excellence and the Victorian Women in International Business Award.

Winners of the national categories are automatically entered into the 54th Australian Export Awards as national finalists with the opportunity to grow their international footprint even further.

For the last three years running, a GOVEA winner has gone on to win the Australian Exporter of the Year award cementing Victoria’s reputation as the country’s leading exporter.

Victorian exports make a crucial contribution to the economy with total exports of goods and services in 2014-15 rising 4.8 per cent to a record $39.4 billion.

Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency, the Honourable Linda Dessau AM is the patron of the Awards.

The application period for the Governor of Victoria Export Awards runs from the 23rd May through to the 31st of July, for more information visit

Quotes attributable to Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis

“These awards are a great way to recognise the hard work of our exporting businesses across a range of different industries throughout greater Melbourne and regional Victoria.”

“We’re leading the country in small business growth and exports and these awards give us to opportunity to provide these businesses with the recognition they deserve for taking the very best of Victoria to the world.”

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New Laws For Short Stay Apartments Mon, 23 May 2016 04:27:04 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government will introduce new laws to help stamp out bad behaviour when it comes to short stay accommodation in Victoria.

Under the reforms, for the first time apartment owners could be liable for any damage, noise or loss of amenity caused by their guests.

VCAT would also be given new powers to award compensation of up to $2000 to neighbours, and ban short stay apartments which are repeatedly used for unruly parties.

Guests could face fines of up to $1100 for a range of conduct breaches, including:

  • creating unreasonable noise or behaving badly
  • causing a health, safety or security hazard
  • damaging common property
  • obstructing a resident from the using their property.

Short stay apartment owners may be ordered to pay neighbours’ compensation and any damage caused by their guests to common property.

The government acknowledges that the majority of short stay accommodation is used responsibly in Victoria and these reforms are designed to reduce the number of isolated incidents of bad behaviour.

The new laws will encourage short stay apartment owners to take more steps, such as bonds and screening practices, to ensure their apartments are not used for unruly parties.

In addition, Consumer Affairs Victoria will help conciliate in short stay disputes that cannot be resolved through the owners corporations dispute resolution processes.

The changes are part of the Andrews Labor Government’s election commitment to protect apartment residents from disruption and damage to their properties caused by rouge short stay visitors.

The announcement follows months of consultation with stakeholders and industry on recommendations made by an independent panel into short stay accommodation in Victoria.

The panel’s report estimated short stay accommodation generates around $792 million in revenue and more than $160 million in wages in Victoria. It represents a multi-billion dollar industry and supports more than 64,000 jobs.

There are an estimated 170,000 short stay properties in Victoria representing 27 per cent of the national total.

Nationally, the panel found the industry supported $31.3 billion in economic activity and 238,000 jobs.

Amendments to the Owners Corporations Act 2006 will be introduced to Parliament on Tuesday, 24 May.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett

“Our short stay industry is a major tourism drawcard and helps to support thousands of jobs. We want to make sure we are supporting this important industry while protecting the rights of residents.” 

“These reforms will help residents to enjoy their homes by reducing disruption caused by some rogue short stay visitors.”

“This is a common sense approach which protects residents’ rights and supports our booming shared economy which attracts tourists from all over the world.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne  

“Through the work of the independent panel and further consultation, we are pleased to introduce a suite of reforms that will make a positive impact on the lives of residents across Victoria.”

These changes will make sure our policy and legislation keeps pace with the changing ways people live and use their homes.”

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New Ministry Strengthens Focus On Jobs, Major Projects And Law And Order Mon, 23 May 2016 00:15:45 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government has strengthened its focus on jobs, major projects and law and order with Premier Daniel Andrews today announcing changes to the Ministry.

Returning from a leave of absence, Wade Noonan will drive the Labor Government’s jobs agenda, taking on the portfolios of Industry and Employment, and Resources. Mr Noonan’s priorities will include overseeing the transition of the automotive sector and securing new jobs through investment facilitation.

Lisa Neville will take on the Police portfolio to ensure law and order remains front and centre of the Government’s agenda. Ms Neville will support Victoria Police in their work responding to gang-related crime, gun crime, terrorist threats, and family violence.

Ms Neville will also retain the Water portfolio to ensure continuity in drought response and the delivery of the Government’s water projects.

Victoria’s ambitious infrastructure agenda will be further strengthened with Jacinta Allan taking on Major Projects in addition to Public Transport.

Along with the Metro Tunnel, the Level Crossing Removal Project and other major transport projects, the new portfolio will be responsible for coordinating projects including Flinders Street Station, Fed Square East, the Arden-Macaulay precinct, the Ballarat West Employment Zone and Fishermans Bend.

Lily D’Ambrosio will take on the new portfolio of Energy, Environment and Climate Change, with a focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency and combatting the effects of climate change.

To ensure our fastest growing suburbs remain great places to live and work, Ms D’Ambrosio will also be appointed Minister for Suburban Development.

Ms D’Ambrosio will work to develop 5-year plans for jobs, services and infrastructure and to identify where state and federal governments should focus investment.

In addition to his work turning around the TAFE system, Steve Herbert will take on the Corrections portfolio. Reflecting the importance of education as our number one export, he will add International Education to his existing responsibilities for Training and Skills.

Quotes attributable to Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews

“These changes strengthen the Government’s focus on the issues that matter to the Victorian people – jobs, major projects and law and order.”

“It’s wonderful to welcome Wade Noonan back to Cabinet and into such an important role helping to create and secure Victorian jobs.”

“Lisa Neville will drive the Government’s ongoing law and order agenda, in partnership with Victoria Police, to keep our state safe.”

Details of the New Ministry can be found here.


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