Secretary's foreword

Despite the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, in 2021–22 the Department of Transport (DoT) made significant achievements. We were unswayed from our vison for an integrated, sustainable transport system that contributes to an inclusive, prosperous and environmentally responsible state.

Following a significant review into all parts of our operations, and considerable staff consultation, we’ve continued to refine the Department’s structure. This important step towards strengthening DoT as a single, integrated department helped us to complete this year’s significant works program, managing a $15 billion annual capital works program and a $9 billion operating budget.

May’s state budget delivered significant investment in road upgrades and rail projects across Victoria, ongoing investment in our piers and jetties and improved freight movement. Highlights included:

  • an additional $229.9 million for maintenance and renewal of Victoria’s arterial road network, taking the total expenditure on road asset management to $780 million for the 2022-23 financial year
  • $364.8 million to further improve state-wide public transport, including 12 new VLocity trains, new stabling facilities at Bairnsdale, Flemington stabling upgrades and Comeng disposal
  • $263.1 million to support the continued delivery of the Victorian Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 and the first three-year Road Safety Action Plan
  • $247.6 million for the regional rail network, including $181 million capital to maintain rail freight lines and $43.7 million to support the reliability and efficiency of V/Line’s operations
  • $213.3 million for Stage 1 of the Mickleham Road Upgrade in Greenvale
  • $157.8 million to upgrade Victoria’s train stations, bus stops, and tram stops.

This reporting period saw many achievements worth highlighting and acknowledging:

Victoria’s rolling stock manufacturing industry employs up to 10,000 Victorians. Our updated Made in Victoria for Victoria: Victorian Rolling Stock Strategy, places Victoria as the premier state for train, tram and bus manufacturing and underlines the significant ongoing investments in rolling stock, emissions reduction commitments and improved accessibility.

Our ongoing rolling stock program includes 70 High Capacity Metro Trains being built at Newport and maintained at Pakenham in a state-of-the-art maintenance and stabling facility. It also includes continued VLocity regional train deliveries, and our upcoming X’Trapolis 2.0 metropolitan trains.

Our E-Class tram rollout is complete, with our Next Generation (G-Class) trams coming, all built in Victoria with supply chains across the state. Electric buses are being built in Dandenong.

We are rolling out the $340 million Smarter Roads program, which is transforming how we manage our arterial road network and keep people and goods moving. The program brings together all our transport modes and integrates all our information into our traffic management centre to fill in network black spots, reduce congestion and improve network efficiency.

On top of our significant emergency and pandemic responses, DoT’s comprehensive program of maintenance and essential upgrades continues. The clean-up from catastrophic storms across the Dandenong Ranges, Central West Victoria and Gippsland in June 2021 has continued well beyond the actual events. It was very important to keep our roads open and safe for the communities affected.

We’ve also been undertaking a lot of work to deliver the Big Build, including level crossing removals and the valuable new public spaces they’ve created. Having Development Victoria in our fold has helped us think about the places and precincts the transport network creates. This thinking is particularly evident in our level crossing removals, the Suburban Rail Loop and the business cases for Melbourne Airport Rail Link (including the Sunshine precinct) and the North East Link.

They’re all transformational projects but just as importantly, and the Suburban Rail Loop is a great example, is the requirement that 14 per cent of the work hours on the initial and early works are provided to cadets, traineeships, and apprentices. We’re quarantining elements of those contracts to ensure we’re providing not just a transport solution, but a social, environmental and economic solution.

We’ve refreshed our strategic plan, Simple, Safe, Connected Journeys 2021–25, ensuring our ongoing priorities align to the Victorian Government's agenda and are responsive to Victoria’s evolving transport environment.

Improving the system’s accessibility is a key element of our strategic focus of ‘Safe journeys for all’. In a department first, DoT appointed a new transport Chief Accessibility Advocate, Tricia Malowney, in December 2021. Tricia will work with government to improve accessibility.

The Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy was developed as a key response to the Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System. This significant step delivers on the actions outlined in Victoria’s Freight Plan and provides a robust future strategy for Victoria’s ports sector.

This year we turned the first sod at the Port of Melbourne on-dock rail. This will get more freight onto trains and take trucks off local roads. Efficiently transferring freight from the port to our rail system will also improve supply chains and reduce costs to the community.

The Principal Freight Network (PFN) will give certainty to industry and communities on the preferred routes for freight movements and significant freight places, now and in the future. It will also support land-use planning and decision making.

The VicRoads Modernisation Project is a ground-breaking agreement between DoT and a joint venture between Aware Super, Australian Retirement Trust and Macquarie Asset Management to deliver modernised VicRoads Registration and Licensing and Custom Plates services from mid-August 2022.

This is a landmark moment in the history of VicRoads and our integration journey. VicRoads staff have played an important role in the lives of nearly every Victorian for more than a century.

Another significant reform was bringing together Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria and Transport Safety Victoria to form Safe Transport Victoria. It will pursue the highest bus and marine safety standards and regulate, improve and promote the provision of commercial passenger vehicle services.

The Transport Portfolio Aboriginal Self-Determination Plan 2020–2023 outlines DoT’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all Aboriginal Victorians. Our Aboriginal Self-Determination and Reform branch was established in November 2021 with Wotjobaluk man Tim McCartney appointed Director, Aboriginal Self-Determination and Reform.

Excitingly, in May we held the first Transport Portfolio Aboriginal Staff Conference. The conference and DoT’s Aboriginal Staff Network are integral to our commitment to Aboriginal self-determination in being informed by our First Peoples employees and their experiences and priorities.

DoT is actively integrating Aboriginal self-determination across the transport portfolio. As part of the Victorian Government, we’re also committed to Treaty and truth-telling.

I’m particularly proud of our Women in Transport Program, which focuses on improving gender equity in our transport sector. Since its March 2017 launch, we have seen a 12 per cent increase of women in our transport workforce.

Launched in September 2021, the Women in Transport Strategy 2021–24 targets sector barriers to gender diversity. It aims to improve outcomes such as participation, salaries and our business performance. The strategy includes establishing the Women in Transport Steering Committee chaired by Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Vicki Ward MP, with support from senior leaders across the industry.

I’m also proud of our LGBTIQ+ Inclusion Action Plan 2022–25, launched to coincide with IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia). The plan builds on existing progress, integrates with DoT’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2020–23 and aligns with the Victorian Government’s LGBTIQ+ Strategy.

We have also developed a Gender Equality Action Plan outlining our plans over the next four years to improve DoT’s gender equality.

Finally, I’d like to thank all DoT staff for their incredible resilience and commitment in delivering for Victorians in another very challenging year.