Thousands gather to contribute at 2017 Regional Assemblies23/10/2017
The 2017 Regional Assemblies were held over the last few months, with more than 2,000 people attending and contributing to their communities in the nine partnership regions around the state.
Now in its second year, the initiative of holding annual Regional Assemblies offers people living and working in rural and regional Victoria the chance to share the priorities and aspirations they have for their region directly with government.
This year, Regional Assemblies took place in Sale, Horsham, Swan Hill, Wodonga, Portland, Geelong, Bendigo, Creswick and Seymour, along with pre-assembly events in towns including Alexandra, Nagambie, Shepparton, Broadford, Colac, Ballarat, Leongatha, Lakes Entrance, Echuca and Castlemaine. Locals came together in all sorts of different venues, including a school hall in Sale, Cardinia Park in Geelong, Horsham Town Hall, the football club in Seymour and the Wodonga Cube. Each venue offered its own distinct atmosphere, adding to the enthusiasm of attendees who included Victorian Government Ministers. Community discussions were diverse and beneficial, and ministers listened intently to local views.
The Regional Assemblies are the cornerstone of the Victorian Government’s Regional Partnership model, launched by the Premier in 2015. The role of the nine Regional Partnerships set up in 2016 is to consult with their communities to identify regional priorities and develop collaborative solutions to local problems.
Each assembly is an opportunity for this consultation to take place on a large scale.
Now the 2017 assemblies are over, each partnership will spend the next few months reporting back to community participants on the topics discussed. Local influences and requirements mean that the details of these topics varied considerably, although key themes included transport, digital connectivity, education and training, health outcomes, tourism and the economy.
Once each Regional Partnership has finished its community reporting process, respective priorities will be presented to the Rural and Regional Ministerial Committee and considered in the Government’s budget process.
The effectiveness of the Regional Partnerships model was demonstrated in the 2017/18 Budget that funded a number of Regional Partnership priorities. These ranged from $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program to bring better broadband, mobile coverage and Wi-Fi hubs to regional Victoria, and $12 million North East Victoria Cycling Optimisation Project to projects such as $1 million to continue Beyond the Bell – an educational attainment program in the Great South Coast, and investment for the Robinvale Community Hub.
The Mallee Regional Partnership and the Wimmera Southern Mallee Partnership have already publicly reported on their 2017 Regional Assemblies. This information is available at engage.vic.gov.au/mallee and engage.vic.gov.au/wimmera-southern-mallee. We look forward to making more reports available shortly.