Andrews government vows $235m to fund hundreds of ‘recovery workforce’ jobs

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The Andrews government will spend $235 million on a "recovery workforce" that will add a thousand jobs and internships across mental health, family violence, health and child protection services.

The government said the investment, which would be included in the November 24 budget, would support 500 new jobs and 875 training pathways and internships and create a pipeline of workers for the community sector.

Deputy Premier and Family Violence Minister James Merlino addresses the media on Tuesday.Credit:Joe Armao

About 250 sexual assault and family violence worker traineeships would be created, the Andrews government vowed. The government said both family violence and sexual assault reports had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Premier and Family Violence Minister James Merlino said the jobs and training package was "very big". He said the pandemic crystallised the importance of the cohort of carers to the cohesive functioning of society.

"This has been the most extraordinarily challenging year. Staying home, staying apart from young ones. It has been really difficult for a lot of people," he said.

"But there has been a group of people who have been there when we have needed them most.

"These are the workforces that care for us when we are most at need … they have made such a powerful difference."

The budget for the program would include about $106 million over four years for recruiting 239 child protection practitioners. Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said there had not been a rise in demand for child protection services during the pandemic. About $22 million would fund 48 staff to reduce the administrative burden on child protection workers.

Part of the funding would go towards 130 mental health jobs, including additional child and youth psychiatry registrars and positions for people with a personal experience of mental ill-health. About $4 million would be spent on increasing the number of mental health nurse graduate positions. Nurses will be trained in dealing with mental health matters and nurses with specific mental health training will be hired.

About $40 million will be spent on a service delivery fund for Indigenous community organisations.

Meanwhile, Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien has called on former health minister Jenny Mikakos to be called to clarify evidence she previously gave a parliamentary inquiry regarding the contact tracing process during the Cedar Meats abattoir outbreak in April.

The Age reported on Wednesday that Ms Mikakos' evidence was described as "factually incorrect" by the owners of the meatworks. Ms Mikakos told a parliamentary inquiry in May that Cedar Meats was slow to hand over contact details which hampered the contact tracing effort.

A parliamentary inquiry examining Victoria's contact tracing system will begin hearings next week.

"My view is when you've got two witnesses with conflicting evidence, they should be recalled and the committee should find the truth," Mr O’Brien said.

"We need to find out who has been telling the truth."

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