Last minute lifeline for regional leadership program

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has congratulated the Gippsland Community Leadership Program (GCLP) for achieving a 12-month funding lifeline.

After months of uncertainty and no line item in Labor’s recent state budget, Ms Bath used state parliament to call on the Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes to end the funding uncertainty for Victoria’s nine regional leadership programs.

This week all Victorian Regional Community Leadership Programs (VRCLP) finally received confirmation that Regional Development Victoria would fund the programs for further 12 months.

Without the last-minute funding, many programs would not have been able to operate in 2021.

Ms Bath said it was both disappointing and frustrating that Minister Symes was drip feeding funding to the programs.

“The VRCLP’s are an important platform which actively develops future regional leaders,” said Ms Bath.

“The programs facilitate diversity, empower, educate, mentor and provide opportunity for individuals to become leaders within their local community.

“Importantly they connect people and build diverse professional support networks which help communities to flourish.”

Locally the GCLP alumni is over 600.  Graduates include prominent individuals including Mr Ken Lay, former Chief Commissioner of Police, The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie and multiple current, former local government councillors and business leaders.

For a number of years, the VRCLP has requested $11 million over four years in funding, which equates to $250,000 annually for each regional Victorian program to remain operational.

Ms Bath said the investment requested is relatively small and said she would continue to advocate for secure ongoing funding for the regional leadership programs.

“Gippsland and other Victorian regional communities need long term funding for the valued program.

“Minister Symes should not be forcing regional develop programs to live year to year in a state of constant uncertainty.

“Gippsland’s program been operational for 21 years and is the longest running regional leadership program in Australia, it would be devastating to see it go unfunded.”