It has been so pleasing to see long overdue investment begin to flow into the Shepparton district during the term of this Parliament, but I must say it is also disappointing to realise that as each hurdle is tackled another glaring lack or example of historic neglect in my region arises.
Shepparton district has a strong culture of sporting participation and plays host to an increasing number of elite, highly patronised sporting events across the breadth of sporting activity. However, the Hume region in which we are situated is the only region not serviced by the Victorian Institute of Sport and the state-funded regional academies of sport structure. This means a lack of development pathways for athletes across all sporting codes, a lack of support for female athletes, reduced access for athletes with a disability or those from disadvantaged backgrounds and minimal opportunities for coaching and administrator development.
We all know the benefits of sport to communities — it promotes social cohesion; teaches teamwork, perseverance and goal setting; improves mental health; and reduces the likelihood of obesity. Two organisations in the north-east, Valley Sport in Shepparton and Sport North East in Wangaratta, have a proposal to establish a Hume regional academy of sport and are seeking the support of this government to rectify the lack of appropriate service to almost 300 000 Victorians. I would hope that given this government’s focus on equal opportunity in the sporting domain this proposal will be considered a priority, and I look forward to working with the government to ensure its timely delivery for my community and the broader Hume region.