Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas, left, with Gisborne Secondary College acting principal Sarah Rose, year seven student Elias and year 12 students Emma and Jarrod. The college received nearly $13 million in last week's state budget.

By Colin MacGillivray

Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas has hailed the announcement of $12.93 million for Gisborne Secondary College in last week’s state budget as a win for the entire region.

The school will use the money to transform its administration building, as well as building new basketball and netball facilities. It will liaise with the Victorian School Building Authority to create plans for the new administration building.

Ms Thomas said the school was, along with Kyneton High School, one of the main government secondary colleges in the Macedon Ranges region and serviced families from many areas.

“Gisborne Secondary College is a great school for so many kids from across the Macedon Ranges, including Romsey and Riddells Creek, so I’m delighted to see the money that has been invested in the school,” she said.

“[The school administration building] is a first port of call for parents and families when they engage with the school and also hosts a number of small meeting spaces. It’s currently very cramped.

“From my point of view the most important thing was securing the investment for the largest school within the electorate. It’s a great comprehensive government public high school.”

Ms Thomas said a $3.8 billion dollar overhaul of Victoria’s mental health system, including provisions for better mental health support in schools, would benefit Macedon Ranges residents.

“The shire has really led the way with community-led interventions including the Live4Life program, which continues to be funded in the budget,” she said.

“The rebuild of the mental health system in its entirety will have a benefit for everyone in our community.”

State opposition leader Michael O’Brien criticised the budget for introducing new tax measures, including a mental health support levy for businesses with a national payroll of more than $10 million.

Ms Thomas said the levy was necessary in order to overhaul the state’s flagging mental health system.

“I would be asking the opposition what services they intend to cut in order to deliver mental health reform,” she said.

Ms Thomas said other budget initiatives such as support for free three-year-old kindergarten would also benefit the Macedon Ranges.

“Funded kindergarten is particularly important for communities like Romsey, Lancefield and Riddells Creek so that every child can access three-year-old kinder, not just those whose parents can afford it,” she said.

“The budget continues its focus on job creation across the length and breadth of Victoria as well.

“As Minister for Regional Development it’s something I’ve been keenly focused on in my own electorate, but now have responsibility for across the state, and there are some terrific announcements there to continue to encourage the private sector to invest in rural and regional Victoria and create jobs for people close to where they live.”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council chief executive Bernie O’Sullivan said council welcomed the announcement of funding for Gisborne Secondary College.

“The investment in Gisborne Secondary supports a growing school and Gisborne community, by upgrading learning facilities and delivering new basketball and netball facilities. Any opportunities for community use of these sporting facilities outside of school hours would be beneficial,” he said.

“Council also welcomes funding into mental health across the state, and the investments in health and hospitals in regional Victoria.

“It’s also pleasing to see continued investment in the agricultural sector, and the recognition of the value in Victoria’s paddock-to-plate produce.”

Another Macedon Ranges winner in the Budget was Edgar’s Mission, in Lancefield, who will receive $60,000.

It is the first time in its 18 year history the animal sanctuary will receive government funding.

Edgar’s Mission’s founder and director Pam Ahern thanked to the efforts of Andy Meddick, an Animal Justice Party MP, who lobbied the government to recognise rescued farm animals.

“In our 18 years we have relied solely on generous members of the public who believe in our work to continue our mission of kindness,” Ms Ahern said.

“This announcement is a huge step towards bringing farmed animals out of the dark unknown and into public view.”

Ms Aherm said the grant would deliver much-needed infrastructure support for Edgar’s Mission’s 153-acre sanctuary including a tractor, animal handling equipment and yarding.