Ali Cupper

AN UNPRECEDENTED investment of at least $40 million into public housing in the Mildura electorate has been labelled a true “game-changer” by Member for Mildura Ali Cupper.

Ms Cupper said she had been lobbying the Victorian Government to invest in the region as part of the 2020-21 Budget to be announced next week and was thrilled with the commitment.

“Even last week I outlined in Parliament the harsh impacts of COVID-19 on our electorate, highlighting job loss figures and the low socio-economic indicators of our region,” she said.

“The Government injecting $40 million into public housing in the Mildura electorate as part of its $5 billion Big Housing Build program will be life-changing for so many families.

“When I was elected to Parliament, I outlined my goal to change the game and get the government to listen to our needs. Not only are they listening, they’re responding.”

Ms Cupper said investing in public housing was the best example of a government giving a “hand up” to some of its most vulnerable people.

“I am so excited for these families, many who are struggling and having been on housing waiting lists for so long,” she said.

“What we know is that people can be struggling for so many reasons and they find it hard to get an education, or get a job, so the easiest way to pull yourself up out of that situation is having secure accommodation.

“The added bonus of this funding will be the investment in construction jobs for our region over the medium term, which we know is crucial given the COVID-19 impact.”

Ms Cupper said the finer details of the package were to be announced but she was hopeful air-conditioning would be a feature for both new housing stock and for installation in existing public housing.

“I have raised the issue of air-conditioning in public housing as a matter of urgency and I’m hopeful it will be negotiated into this package,” she said.

“The impacts of climate change on our region are well documented, with more severe and longer heatwaves, so the need for air-conditioning in public housing is a matter of necessity, not comfort.”

The Government has committed almost $25 million into the Mildura electorate this year including $5.5 million for Mildura riverfront; $4.4 million for SuniTAFE infrastructure upgrades and $4 million for Buloke Shire streetscapes.

“With the budget to be handed down on Tuesday, I am still hopeful we will see more investment with $10 million for Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct and school infrastructure spending among my priorities,” Ms Cupper said.

Haven; Home, Safe has applauded the Government’s $5.3 billion commitment to build more than 12,000 new social housing homes over the next four years, including Mildura where the agency has a strong presence.

CEO Ken Marchingo said the investment in both public and community housing for people on low incomes was a game-changer for the state and the nation, giving thousands of people the security and stability of a home as well as creating thousands of jobs.

“We can’t wait to get cracking on this in partnership with the State Government and Homes Victoria,” he said.