My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Victorian Communities in the other place. Regional Victoria, and the western region in particular, has experienced decades of government neglect in the provision of public transport, and this has led to economic stagnation, social isolation and reduced life expectancies due to the difficulty in accessing services. The Bracks government set about rectifying this appalling imbalance in services from the moment it took office. The $18.3 million Transport Connections program is one of many aspects of this commitment to improving local transport in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas. The program is an initiative under the $3 billion A Fairer Victoria social policy action plan.
Recently the minister announced two funding boosts under these plans for projects in my electorate.
Funding of $244 874 has been announced for the Golden Connections project and another $300 000 for the Building Bellarine Connections project. The Golden Connections project has run since 2003, and in that time it has set up a community transport system that has transported more than 6000 people to a variety of locations. This has been accomplished using volunteers and community buses. There is a regular route service from Rokewood to Ballarat every Thursday that allows users to spend 3 hours in Ballarat for medical appointments or shopping. Young people are also taken to a number of social events. Door-to-door ferrying of older residents to medical appointments and other specialist activities is also part of the project. All in all this has been a massive boost for people in my electorate, and I am glad to see the government’s continued commitment to such an effective project.
The new Building Bellarine Connections will use existing infrastructure such as taxis, school and community buses and volunteers to fill the gaps in existing services. This will improve the peninsula’s access to services in Geelong, and older residents will be able to participate in community activities, attend appointments and enjoy some mobility.
I call on the minister to keep statistics on how many people take advantage of the Golden Connections project and to measure whether its use is growing with the public’s understanding of the government’s ongoing commitment to public transport. I also ask the minister to keep statistics on the Building Bellarine Connections project, especially as it is a start-up project, and I ask in particular that the demographics be collected so that Victoria can continue to benefit from an integrated transport policy.