Healthcare and Commonwealth Games investment welcome, but transport and housing need urgent attention
G21 – Geelong Region Alliance welcomes the Victorian Budget’s focus on regional investment, particularly in healthcare jobs and services, and $2.6 billion for planning and infrastructure ahead of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
“The healthcare sector requires deep investment to keep pace with the rapidly growing population in the G21 region,” said Giulia Baggio, CEO of the G21 – Geelong Region Alliance.
“Geelong is now the fastest growing city in Australia and we know the majority of new residents are young people and families, so the $500 million investment in the Barwon Women’s and Children’s Hospital is very timely. We also welcome the statewide commitment to add an extra 7000 health workers, including 5000 nurses, to meet this extra demand,” she said.
The healthcare sector is G21’s biggest employer (more than 20,000 workers) and contributes $2.7 billion dollars to Gross Regional Product.
2026 Commonwealth Games
“We look forward to hearing more detail on how the state government is planning to allocate $2.6 billion across Geelong and other regional centres to prepare for the regional Commonwealth Games in 2026,” said Ms Baggio.
A significant cultural and events calendar will be created to complement the sporting program.
Transport Infrastructure for G21
Major transport infrastructure projects identified by G21 to better connect the region were not addressed in the Budget papers.
“Major road and public transport improvements will need to be addressed well ahead of the Commonwealth Games, with congestion already choking major routes around Geelong,” said Ms Baggio.
However G21 welcomes the following improvements:
- Rail: G21 will benefit from the introduction of 12 new Vlocity trains, a number of which will replace older rolling stock on the Geelong-Warrnambool line.
- Road maintenance and upgrades: Lara, Six Ways intersection upgrade; Barwon Heads, Black Rock and Stacey’s Rd intersection roundabout construction; Bellarine Hwy upgrade at Moolap Station Rd; roundabout construction at Timboon–Colac Rd, Princes Highway West.
- Buses: improved services between Torquay and Armstrong Creek to Geelong.
- Geelong laneways: $2.3 million committed to the Geelong revitalization strategy, including further investment in the CBD’s laneway project to improve connection between medical and retail precincts.
Tourism and hospitality
The focus on pandemic repair also needs to extend to tourism and hospitality.
“There was scant detail and few clear funding commitments to help tourism operators to get back on their feet. In particular, the severe staff and skills shortages in the industry need to be addressed to revive the G21 region’s hospitality outlook,” said Ms Baggio.
G21’s worker shortage is connected to an ongoing lack of social and affordable housing. While the government has allocated $6 million to speed up precinct plans and approvals for 44,000 lots in regional cities and towns, faster and deeper measures at a regional scale are urgently needed to address this crisis. G21 acknowledges the Commonwealth Games are likely to bring investment in key worker housing in the regional hubs, however this will be some years away.
G21 also notes the following investment in the region:
Great Ocean Road
- $7 million allocated to protect the Great Ocean Road from further erosion and $3 million to support the fledgling Great Ocean Road and Parks Authority.
- Preservation of Cape Otway lighthouse.
- $30 million for regional tourism projects across Victoria.
Schools and education
- Students in hardship will be eligible for free public transport with a 30 day pass.
- Upgrades to Hamlyn Views School, Nelson Park School, Grasmere Primary School, Hampden Specialist School.
- 1900 new teachers across Victoria.
$56 million to secure water supplies including potential expansion of Melbourne-Geelong pipeline and funding for preliminary works to improve the health of the Moorabool River.
$400 million across Victoria to support First Nations self-determination and preparation for introduction of a Treaty; includes $350,000 to strengthen relationships between local government and Aboriginal communities.
$20 million allocated to a low carbon manufacturing grant program pilot and Digital Jobs for Manufacturing program.