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Sea Lake's state government spending splurge

Forget for a moment the COVID-19 pandemic which is currently costing Victoria’s economy over 700 million dollars a week.

The Buloke Shire town of Sea Lake has suffered slow growth apparently not due to prolonged lockdowns which have caused so many hardships across the state.

Rather, the town located on the Calder Highway has been trapped by a devastating housing crisis, according to the Victorian Government as it made a major announcement on Thursday.

The Victorian Government’s Regional Recovery Fund pledged $300,000 to help resolve accommodation shortages in Sea Lake in a bid to increase tourism in the town and capitalise on Sea Lake’s natural beauties.

It is also hoped the initiative will facilitate job creation in the region.

Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas visited the town last Thursday to officially open the new Sea Lake Visitor Information Centre and said that she:

“...understands that housing related workforce shortages are a real issue in our regional towns right now – that’s why we’re investing in projects to address these issues and support regional businesses across the state.”

The recent cash injection into Sea Lake is connected to a $5 million dollar investment by the Victorian Government known as the Regional Workforce Pilots scheme; a coordinated strategy to assist rural communities with securing vital workers to facilitate growth.

Local MP Ali Cupper, Minister Thomas and Buloke Mayor Daryl Warren

The Swan Hill Worker Housing from the Building Works program is another initiative by the government to assist with solving the Mallee district’s housing crisis.

The main aim in establishing the project, a $500,000 investment, is to build four houses for workers after the subdivision of vacant land.

To complement this, a further emphasis on resolving accommodation shortages is being formulated by the government in the town of Mildura.

$800,000 has been secured for the Ramsay Court Worker Accommodation project, which will fund the refurbishment of 25 rooms to create purpose-built housing for seasonal workers.

Local and state representatives at the related announcement for a new Visitor Information Centre

With the housing crisis in the regions now under the spotlight and with scrutiny on Victoria’s roadmap for lockdown recovery intensifying, community members from the relevant local government areas must question how local, State and Federal Governments can continue to turn existing regional town land into new vibrant housing.

Otherwise, with a strong population movement out of metropolitan Melbourne to near-urban and country Victoria, regional accommodation issues could persist in regional Victoria for years to come.