Funds sought for key project

THE Federal Government will soon be asked to help fund a new $6.7 million Latrobe Valley University Training Clinic in Churchill, as one of two key local projects to have secured support from the region’s transition committee.

Last week the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee met with Federal Regional Services Minister Catherine King in an effort to convince her of the merits of the training clinic proposal as well as the Moe railway revitalisation project.

After meeting with local stakeholders Ms King, the Federal Government’s new representative on a joint taskforce overseeing the Valley’s transition to a low carbon economy, said understanding the Valley’s priorities was “the government’s prime concern.”

On Friday, Latrobe Community Health Service announced its plan to attract about $5 million in federal funds for a project it said would become “a key centre for the export of knowledge-based services as well as the manufacture of dental prosthetics”.

LCHS chief executive Ben Leigh said the project, if funded, would involve the expansion and refurbishment of the LCHS Churchill site, creating around 80 construction jobs during the building work.

He said it was also anticipated a new prosthetics manufacturing facility would create 20 permanent jobs.

“Many new permanent jobs will also be created in the training and research arm of the facility, exactly how many will depend on the final participation of the teaching institutions involved,” Mr Leigh said.

“This project will see an expanded health industry attracting professionals, specialists and trainees committed to regional practice.

“Essentially this facility will produce world class research on health issues and techniques, include a major prosthetics laboratory and will be a working public health clinic with a significant training role for a variety of professions.”

He said the project offered a “terrific opportunity to broaden the industrial base of the Latrobe Valley” and the proposal had attracted the support of Monash University with other universities expected to participate.

Mr Leigh said it was expected the facility would “quickly be earning $1.2 million annually supplying dental prosthetics across Victoria, $0.5 million in exporting new training and research developments, and $1.5 million in additional health services for the region”.

“There will be a substantial return on investment for the local and national economy compared to the initial cost of the facility,” he said.

Mr Leigh said LCHS had “commitments for $1.6 million towards the cost of the facility required the balance from the Federal Government”.