MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (11:30): 2020 was a year like no other. Bushfires devastated many regional communities, only to be followed by the COVID pandemic. The communities of the Alpine and surrounding regions rallied together, where strength, courage and compassion came to the fore.
In Bright today I am so pleased to see the community embrace this regional sitting and welcome us to this beautiful town. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to visit the King Valley and Myrtleford neighbourhood centres. To see and hear firsthand how they have supported their communities is absolutely inspiring. Neighbourhood centres represent the heart of regional communities, and this is profound in times of crisis, as we have seen in the last 18 months. A deep sense of connectedness underpins all that they do, and that is why they are the ideal place for adult and community education.
The government introduced a bushfire recovery grant program, and the Alpine shire’s Learn Locals in the Mount Beauty and Myrtleford neighbourhood centres, plus another five regional Learn Locals, received $25 000 each. Great opportunities have since been created. Myrtleford Learn Local is partnering with the Dumu Balcony Cafe here in Bright. Together they are working to build a sustainable workforce by delivering programs in hospitality, agriculture, wine and the ski industries—great skills and opportunities for the local community.
Our community service funding supported regional students affected by the bushfires, with scholarships, referral pathways, and wellbeing and trauma recovery programs. Combined, Wodonga TAFE and GOTAFE received $175 000, and they have supported over 900 students. The Andrews Labor government is committed to a positive recovery and building opportunities in this region and throughout Victoria by providing access to skills and training and creating jobs for the future.