The Nationals have unveiled a plan to give young people in Benalla a brighter future, with an $80million fund dedicated to lift educational outcomes in country Victoria.
State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan, who announced the policy, said the Brighter Futures Fund would be targeted to rural communities experiencing a high level of disadvantage, including Benalla.
‘‘I firmly believe that where you grow up shouldn’t determine your future,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘Our plan will invest in integrated education hubs that better support parents and give kids an opportunity to reach their full potential — regardless of where they live.’’
The Victorian Auditor General recently found ‘‘there is no sign that the gap in performance is likely to narrow. Indeed, in some areas of performance, the gap is getting wider’’.
Ms Ryan said the Tomorrow Today Foundation and the wider Benalla community had done wonderful work to address that gap.
‘‘The dedicated effort Benalla has put into improving educational outcomes is evident in the results of the Australian Early Childhood Development index, which measures the wellbeing of children when they start school,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘While we still have a very high level of disadvantage, between 2012 and 2015 when the census was most recently conducted, that disadvantage did not worsen like it did in most other rural communities.
‘‘It takes time, but the investment Tomorrow Today and the entire community have made over the past decade is having results and I am hopeful that we will be able to implement the Brighter Futures Fund to complement that work.’’
Ms Ryan said the fund would accept applications from rural communities experiencing a high level of disadvantage to build integrated education hubs.
‘‘These hubs will help communities provide a one-stop shop for allied health, early childhood, maternal and child health services, primary, secondary and even tertiary education,’’ she said.
‘‘A short-term plan won’t secure real change.
‘‘We know real change will only happen if government remains dedicated to this work for years.
‘‘It takes a village to raise a child and we want to build that village to give children in rural and regional Victoria a brighter future.’’