2024-25 Federal Budget Submission – Ensuring Victoria receives adequate investment


Regional Cities Victoria (RCV) is the peak body for regional Victoria, comprising of the 10 largest cities of Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, and Wodonga. Collectively, these cities are home to more than 800,000 Victorians, and contribute to approximately 10 per cent of Victoria’s economy.

RCV is committed to strengthening our regional economies, encouraging sustainable growth, and maximising regional liveability. We want to help build a prosperous regional Victoria through investment in infrastructure and services that facilitate economic and social development.

Regional Victoria needs considered investment to underpin long-term economic prosperity and improve liveability in the regions. Challenges such as a lack of housing supply and workforce shortages need to be addressed in the short term to support regional Victoria’s growth.

RCV thanks the Albanese Government for recognising the need to strengthen its commitment to road safety with the announcement of a significant increase in the Roads to Recovery funding. We welcome the Albanese Government’s continued support of regional Australia and acknowledge the $1 billion investment made through the new Growing Regions Program and regional Precincts and Partnerships Program.

However, RCV feels regional Victoria is disadvantaged in its ability to access Federal funding due to the inability to obtain co-contributions through the Victorian Government, and the restrictive guidelines and competitive nature of these programs.

RCV will continue to work with and advocate to the Federal Government to ensure regional Victorians are not left behind – showcasing everything our regions have to offer and capitalising on people’s interest to live, work, and visit our cities.


Local infrastructure projects are a vital part of any regional community. They not only improve the liveability of regional cities and towns but also contribute to the local economy and create local jobs.

RCV was extremely disappointed by the Victorian Government’s decision to discontinue the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF) as part of the 2023-24 Budget. Without this funding stream there is no Victorian Government support available for local civic infrastructure projects in our growing regional cities, at a time when it is needed most.

In addition to this, a lack of Victorian Government grants makes accessing and leveraging the available Commonwealth funding for quality projects near impossible, due to long-standing cocontribution requirements. Regional Victorians will continue to miss out on their fair share of Commonwealth funding.

Councils are already facing budget constraints, having to operate in a tight fiscal environment and grapple with escalating costs and supply issues. Due to a lack of government support many local projects have been, or will be, put on hold.

Following the release of the Independent Review of the National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects, RCV was disappointed to see funding removed for a series of projects in regional Victoria including the Geelong Fast Rail, stage 1 of the Shepparton Bypass and the Hume Freeway intersection upgrade in Wodonga.

The cancellation of projects in regional Victoria is disappointing for our cities and towns who are experiencing significant population growth. Without increased investment in roads and community infrastructure our regions risk falling behind, unable to provide adequate services to current residents and future generations.

RCV is calling on the Federal Government to provide a guarantee that 25% of all Commonwealth infrastructure funding allocated to Victoria is spent on initiatives and projects in the regions. Thus, providing the regions with a long-term funding guarantee and ensuring they can strategically manage the pipeline of future community infrastructure projects.


RCV is home to many Victorian Basin communities, and we support the protection of the MurrayDarling Basin for future generations and a return of water to the environment.

However, Victoria has already delivered more water savings than any other state towards the Murray Darling Basin Plan, with a significant impact on our communities. RCV supports the Victorian Government’s position that any additional water recovery must not create further adverse socioeconomic impacts for Victorian farmers, communities, and consumers.

RCV believes further water recovery from Victorian irrigators – in the form of buybacks or on-farm projects – would result in greater adverse socio-economic impacts on regional Victorian communities who have already contributed more than 1,000 GL/yr in savings.

RCV calls on the Federal Government to increase investment in water efficiency projects specifically in regional Victoria, prioritising future investment into recycled water and stormwater infrastructure.


Demand for workers in regional areas is at an all-time high. RCV acknowledges the recent announcement from the Albanese Government to invest $12.6 billion to expand and transform access to the VET sector, support quality training and implement reforms to address critical skills needs.

The Victorian Skills Plan for 2023 into 2024 highlights that more than 75,000 new workers are expected in regional Victoria by 2026 – on top of the 60,000 jobs created across regional Victoria in the past 12 months.

Regional businesses and public sector organisations alike are suffering from skills and labour shortages across a range of sectors, including: hospitals and health services, aged care, early childhood education, food production, advanced manufacturing, statutory planners, and the hospitality sector (seasonal workforce).

Attracting and retaining skilled workers is a key challenge for businesses and organisations in regional Victoria, exacerbated by a shortage of housing and accommodation options.

RCV is seeking the Federal Government to streamline the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme to enable it to be less complex and less expensive for the local government sector. The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme plays an important role in attracting skilled workers to regional and rural areas. However, the process of sponsoring an employee is often a deterrent for Councils due to the complex, and often costly, nature of the process.

Furthermore, regional Victoria is specifically experiencing extreme challenges due to a state-wide shortage of planning staff. While all local governments are struggling to recruit and retain planners, regionally based Councils face additional barriers such as struggling to match the salaries offered in metropolitan roles or the private sector and the need to attract staff not only to the role, but to the region, when seeking to source staff from outside the area.

To address immediate shortages, RCV calls for the Federal Government to leverage skilled migration and establish a campaign to attract more planners to work in the regions. A 12-month international advertising campaign targeting planners will help to play an important role in addressing the current skill gap and workforce shortage.


RCV continues to provide strategic guidance to government on policy and investment decisions that impact regional Victoria. We thank the Federal Government for its continued support.

We urge the Government to increase its investment in key projects across regional Victoria and provide local government with the financial support necessary to ensure sustainable growth and development for our communities. This is specifically important given the pace of growth across regional Victoria.

We do not want to see the liveability of our regional cities falter. Regional Victorians, existing residents and new, deserve adequate access to affordable housing, open spaces and parklands, and cultural and community infrastructure. Should you require further information please contact the RCV Secretariat at rcv@cprcomm.com.au.


Regional Cities Victoria proudly acknowledges Victorian Aboriginal people as the first peoples and Traditional Owners and custodians of the land and water on which we rely. We acknowledge and respect that Aboriginal communities are steeped in traditions and customs built on an incredibly disciplined social and cultural order. This social and cultural order has sustained up to 50,000 years of existence.

Regional Cities Victoria recognises the barriers in striving for gender equality and the need to address these issues to ensure all Victorians live in a safe and equal society. We are committed to ensuring we seek to provide equal opportunities for women with sustained, enduring, and measurable action.