Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (12:40): My constituency question is directed to the Minister for Local Government, Minister for Suburban Development and Minister for Veterans, the Honourable Shaun Leane.
My question relates to the portfolio responsibilities for local government. The Living Libraries Infrastructure program is an important opportunity, expanded by the Andrews Labor government, to enable public libraries to continue to support communities to rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A funding round of $10 million is currently open for councils and regional library corporations to apply for.
My question to the minister is: can the minister update me on how the Living Libraries initiative continues to benefit residents of the Western Metropolitan Region?
Libraries have been a herculean support throughout the pandemic. An astounding 20,000 new members joined their local library during the first lockdown.
The Andrews Labor government commitment ensures that this project will deliver lifelong learning, health and wellbeing to meet the needs of expanding and growing communities while being a boost to the state’s infrastructure development.
Mr LEANE (Eastern Metropolitan—Minister for Local Government, Minister for Suburban Development, Minister for Veterans) (18 March 2021):
This Victorian Government has invested more than $22.5 million dollars over the last five years into library infrastructure projects, with a total project cost $170 million. The Government recognises the role of public libraries in fostering lifelong learning, facilitating access to information—both print and digital—and providing a safe, supported community space for local people to engage in a wide range of activities.
Libraries provide free public access to information and technology, literacy support, and training and skills development that engage communities and enrich community life.
In the recent State Budget, it was announced that an additional $11.1 million over two years will be available for the Living Libraries infrastructure Program.
Over the last five years, the Living Libraries Infrastructure Program has supported a number of projects in the Western Metropolitan Region, including the Point Cook, St Albans, Newport and Sydenham libraries, as well as the Seaworks project in Williamstown.
The current funding round for the Living Libraries Infrastructure Program is open to applications and will close on 10 March 2021.