ARARAT - The Ararat community is well protected by its police and emergency services, which play a key role in regional Victoria's emergency response, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells said on Friday.
Mr Wells toured the Ararat region to meet with hardworking personnel from Victoria Police, CFA and SES.
Mr Wells said each organisation performed critical work as part of regional Victoria's emergency response, with the Ararat CFA brigade involved in fighting the serious Northern Grampians Complex fire and the Black Range fire during the recent fire season.
"The Victorian Coalition Government has a strong commitment to supporting Victoria's police and emergency services workers," Mr Wells said.
"All are dedicated to keeping their community safe as well as to providing support to their colleagues in other regions, and they are a credit to their town and their state."
Mr Wells was joined by Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty and Liberal Candidate for Ripon Louise Staley on visits to the Ararat police and CFA stations, and local SES unit.
Mr Wells said that since the Coalition Government came to office, there are 17 additional police officers now working in the Northern Grampians and Horsham Police Service Area, which includes Ararat and Stawell.
"Under the Victorian Coalition Government there are now more than 1,500 extra frontline police, and more frontline taskforce police targeting family violence, organised crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs and illicit drug manufacture and distribution, and road safety," Mr Wells said.
"The Coalition Government also recently committed $13.5 million for the rollout of tasers to all 24 hour police stations across regional Victoria, including Ararat.
"This is a major investment in community safety for rural and regional Victoria and will provide police officers with modern equipment, and an alternative option to firearms, helping them to manage complex situations and minimise the risk of serious injury and fatalities."
Mr Wells said the Coalition Government had also strengthened volunteer emergency services organisations by delivering a further $12.23 million for the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP), as part of the 2014-15 Budget. VESEP provides grants to volunteer organisations for additional equipment and resources.
"Over the past two years Ararat SES has received $37,113 towards a second rescue vehicle and this financial year Ararat CFA received $41,493 to assist with the purchase of a field command vehicle," Mr Wells said.
"Both these vehicles have boosted emergency response capabilities for Ararat and surrounding areas."
Mr Wells said since coming to office, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion. This financial year the CFA Budget is $457 million, $58 million more than under the last Labor budget.
"This record investment in the CFA highlights the Coalition Government's strong commitment to the CFA and recognises the critical role our career and volunteer firefighters play in keeping Victorians safe," Mr Wells said.
"Victoria has more than 90,000 emergency services volunteers who work tirelessly for CFA, SES, Life Saving Victoria and many other organisations.
"The Coalition Government is committed to providing our emergency services in regional Victoria with the resources they need to do their job."