LOCAL heroes who fought devastating bushfires in Victoria and who continue to work at the frontline during the COVID pandemic will have free access to Phillip Island’s attractions for a month.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio and Bass MP Jordan Crugnale on Saturday joined Phillip Island Nature Parks chair Liz Stinson and chief executive officer Catherine Basterfield to announce the initiative, which will run until Sunday, June 6.

One of the many attractions first responders and medical staff will have access to is the new Joan Kirner Education Wing, which was also launched on Saturday.

“Phillip Island is a world-class tourist destination and this gesture will enable our first responders to enjoy these popular attractions for free over the next four weeks,” Ms Crugnale said.

The wing recognises the instrumental role Mrs Kirner played in protecting Phillip Island’s penguins.

In 1985, Mrs Kirner, as Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands in 1985, initiated the scheme which saw the state government buy back 774 housing and other lots that made up the Summerland Residential Estate, protecting the penguin colony from extinction.

The wing is one highlight of the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre, which opened in July 2019 thanks to $48.2 million from the state government and $10 million from Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Students will learn about penguin lifecycles at the wing through digital technologies and hands-on activities and tour groups will get briefings from rangers.

Police officers, firefighters, SES members and medical and health workers can visit penguins.org.au and use the promo code First Responders, or email bookings@penguins.org.au to book their free ticket.

ID must be shown on arrival.