Multicultural grants went to Labor’s marginals. Multicultural communities in inner-Melbourne Labor electorates were given the biggest building grants in the lead-up to last year’s state election, according to the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s annual report.

The largest grant – $15,000 – was made to COASIT Italian Assistance Association, a group for Italians and Australians of Italian origin, in the marginal seat of Melbourne, the report reveals.

The former safe Labor seat has become increasingly marginal and was targeted by the Greens in last year’s state election. Former Education Minister Bronwyn Pike held it in a hard-fought campaign swung by the Liberal Party’s recommendation that voters preference the Greens last. — Zhou Yao (read the full story here)

Criticism of cuts to water advocacy centre. The head of a Victorian consumer organisation which fights for a fair go for energy and water consumers believes Victoria needs an organisation solely devoted to giving a voice to water users.

The call came as the organisation, the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre, cut the amount it spent on energy and water-related community grants in the past financial year by almost $50,000 to just $27,500.

That compared to more than $2 million spent by the Consumer Advocacy Panel, which represents energy and natural gas issues. So the centre, which receives funding support from Consumer Affairs Victoria, is shifting its focus to small grants for water-related issues and to developing a strong in-house research capability. — Sally Galvin (read the full story here)

Call for child capsules in Victorian taxis. Victoria’s Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary has warned the inquiry into the taxi industry that children in taxis are at risk because they lack safety restraints and booster seats.

The Victorian Department of Transport exempts taxis from road safety regulations governing restraints for children. Geary wants the inquiry to take up the issue, warning the exemption posed a threat to child safety.

In his annual report, tabled in state parliament last month, Geary said: “For some time we have been concerned about the safety of children travelling in taxis … This exemption is very concerning given children’s risk of injury. It also contradicts public education messages about the importance of using child restraints in motor vehicles.” — Stephen Cuff (read the full story here)

Terminally ill miss out on beds in Gippsland. A lack of palliative care beds in Gippsland means terminally ill patients may be missing out on vital early care, a palliative care co-ordinator has warned.

“We should be picking them up a lot earlier, rather than in just the end stages of care,” Megan Daley, palliative care co-ordinator at Kooweerup Regional Health Service, said.

The Kooweerup service has only one bed dedicated to palliative care, with the rest of the beds used for that purpose actually aged care beds. — Cassandra White (read the full story here)