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Victorian budget focuses on health spending


No major new university support in Australian state’s election-year budget

The Victorian state budget has committed A$12 billion to health services and research, including for a new hospital in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

The money, announced in the budget on 3 May, will go to day-to-day services as well as to infrastructure and undergraduate training programmes. The new hospital will be built in Melton, to the west of Melbourne.

There was little new funding for university activities, but the budget reconfirmed the state’s focus on establishing medical research and manufacturing centres.

A previously announced mRNA manufacturing plant—the first in Australia—was confirmed, with a commitment of A$50 million. As part of the mRNA push, Victoria is already distributing A$46m in research grants through the government body mRNA Victoria.

Mental health services received a A$1.3bn commitment. A Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, which will house researchers alongside practitioners, came a step closer to fruition, with A$5m committed for planning work.

Higher education and defence

Health was the main focus of the budget, with only smaller initiatives for higher education. La Trobe University’s AgriBio research centre will receive A$1.5m to investigate co-location of some of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s agrifood research.

The budget also included A$1.5m for Victorian defence research through the Defence Science Institute. The institute acts as a clearing house for training, collaboration and employment in defence research across Victoria and Tasmania.

The 2020 budget allocated A$350m to Victoria’s universities in a Higher Education State Investment Fund. This has flowed into multiple projects, including water management research, marine science, campus redevelopments and a genomics research centre.

A Victorian state election is scheduled to be held in November, following the federal election this month.