Regional Development VictoriaRegional Development Victoria

State Government of Victoria

Central Highlands Regional Partnership

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Our region
Our Regional Partnership: bringing you up to date
Our Regional Partnership: latest news
Our Regional Partnership members
Have your say
Our Regional Partnership Priorities
Budget 2018/19 outcomes

Our region 

Our region spans the east-west transport corridor connecting Melbourne to western Victoria. The region’s bustling major centre, Ballarat, has the fastest growing population of any regional city in Victoria, while our region also takes in the Rural City of Ararat in the west, the mineral springs at Daylesford, Bacchus Marsh in the east and Bannockburn in the south. 

Our region includes:

Map of the Central Highlands partnership region

Our Regional Partnership: bringing you up to date

The Central Highlands Regional Partnership is one of nine Partnerships across the state, established by the Victorian Government, recognising that local communities are in the best position to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by their region.

We started work in 2016 and held our first public Assembly in Ballarat in November 2016.  Following this, we presented the priorities which came from our first Assembly to Government.

Our priorities covered areas including community health and wellbeing, education, transport and digital connectivity, agriculture and environment and social welfare and community.

The 2017/ 18 Victorian Budget brought outcomes for the Central Highlands region including:

  • $39 million for stage 2 of the Ballarat Line Upgrade. This is on top of the $518 million allocated in the 2016/17 Victorian State Budget to the Ballarat Line Upgrade already underway;
  • The $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program which will bring better broadband, mobile coverage and WiFi hubs to regional Victoria;
  • $1.7 million to re-establish the Victorian Rural Women’s Network (RWN) to promote women’s economic participation and professional development;
  • $150,000 to develop a business case for a “Prevention Lab” to improve the long-term health outcomes of those living in the region. 

Find out more about the Victorian Budget 2017/18 outcomes for Victoria's regions

We held our second Regional Assembly in Creswick in August 2017.


The Partnership has since taken the learnings from our 2017 Assembly and distilled these into priorities to present to Government.

Our 2017 Regional Priorities can be found here.

Partnership newsletter

Central Highlands Regional Partnership newsletter - April 2018

Who are the Central Highlands Regional Partnership members?

George Fong

George Fong – Chair

George Fong is the Deputy Chancellor of Federation University Australia, Chair of Internet Australia, and a member of Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Community Consultative Forum, Maximising Ehealth Technology Working Group and Ballarat Health Services Foundation. In his private capacity, he is Executive Director of internet company Lateral Plains, based in Ballarat.

Jennifer Ganske

Jennifer Ganske – Deputy Chair

Jennifer Ganske is the Marketing Director of the Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Director of Crossroads Farm Inc. and is a graduate of Leadership Ballarat and Western Region, Leadership Graduate Program 2015.

Susan Honeyman

Susan Honeyman

Susan Honeyman is the Human Resources Manager at the FMP Group (manufacturing).   Susan is a Victorian Branch Councillor at the Australian Industries (AI) Group and the President of the Ballarat and Wimmera Regional Committee at AI Group. Susan is interested in making connections between Government, industry and research organisations to develop relationships and to promote innovation.

Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews has experience in the international pharmaceutical and communications industry and is currently a local business owner and Managing Director of The Forge Pizzeria.  Tim is the Deputy Chair of the Ballarat Business Centre. Tim‘s focus is building businesses in the area, assisting the regions local food and wine producers and also growing the high quality hospitality and tourism industry throughout the region.

Janelle Ryan

Janelle Ryan

Janelle Ryan is a communications and marketing specialist and is the owner of The Little PR Company. Janelle is also a Foundation Trustee at Art Gallery of Ballarat Foundation and a Learning Partner for Leadership Ballarat and Western Region.

Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp is an affiliate with Collaboration for Impact Australia, working across the region to encourage and facilitate better collaborations and strategies to address the most pressing and complex issues and problems facing our communities. He also works as the Managing Director of Volunteering Victoria, is on the Board of Karden Disabillity Support foundation, sits on the Central Highlands Children and Youth Area Partnership, is an advisor to the Ministerial Advisory Council on Volunteers and represents the community on the Ballarat High School Council.

Mitchel Watson

Mitchel Watson

Mitchel Watson is the Director of the Daylesford and Hepburn Mineral Springs Co. and Hepburn Wind.  Mitchel specialises in social enterprise and is currently completing a Masters Business Administration.

Regional Development Australia representative

David MillerDavid Miller
David Miller has extensive experience in both local and state government with roles specialising in regional economic policy and cultural and community development. David is currently a member of the Regional Development Australian Grampians Committee and is on the boards of both Ballarat Health Services and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.

Victorian Government representative:Portrait of Christine Wyatt

Christine Wyatt - Deputy Secretary, Planning - Department of Environment Land Water and Planning



Local Government CEOs

Justine Linley

Justine Linley – CEO, City of Ballarat

Justine Linley was appointed Chief Executive Officer with the City of Ballarat in May 2016. Prior to this appointment Justine has held senior roles in higher education and local government, starting her career in local government with the City of Melbourne in the mid-1980s. Justine has served as CEO for Northern Grampians Shire Council and before that was the Regional Director for the Grampians Region, Regional Development Victoria, a position which saw her working with 11 councils, businesses and organisations from Bacchus Marsh to the South Australian border.
Justine has a commitment to regional co-operation and planning.

Allan Bawden

Allan Bawden – CEO, Ararat Rural City Council

Mr Bawden comes to the role with extensive experience as a CEO and non-executive director in both the local government and not for profit sectors.

His local government career has spanned four decades involving senior executive appointments in some of Victoria's most dynamic regions including inner metropolitan Melbourne, the Latrobe Valley and Bass Coast.

Eric Braslis
Eric Braslis – CEO, Golden Plains Shire Council

Prior to taking on this role in December 2017, Eric was CEO at Gannawarra Shire Council. He has previously held a number of senior executive roles including General Manager City Infrastructure and Director of Growth and Development at Ballarat City Council, General Manager of Planning and Development at Stonnington City Council and Director Planning and Environment and Director of Community Services at Hobsons Bay City Council.

Portrait of Bruce Lucas

Bruce Lucas – Acting CEO, Hepburn Shire Council

Bruce joined Council in February 2012, having previously held the position of Manager Infrastructure with the Mount Alexander Shire Council, where he worked for 15 years. As General Manager Infrastructure, Bruce overseas infrastructure maintenance including all capital works undertaken in the Shire. He is also responsible for Council’s assets and engineering services including waste management, maintenance of Council buildings and assets, special projects, fleet management and technical services. In addition, Bruce is responsible for Natural Resources and Council’s compliance team, which encompasses emergency management responsibilities.

Rob Croxford

Rob Croxford – CEO, Moorabool Shire Council

Rob Croxford has more than 35 years’ experience in local government, and has a strong background in financial management, community engagement, government advocacy, staff development and continuous improvement in service delivery. He commenced as CEO of Moorabool Shire Council in 2010. Rob has a Bachelor of Business (Local Government) and a Grad Cert (Marketing) and has completed the Fairley Leadership and Local Government Professionals Leadership programs. Rob has also received a medal for services during the Black Saturday 2009 fires.

Jim Nolan
Jim Nolan – CEO, Pyrenees Shire Council

Jim Nolan was appointed CEO of Pyrenees Shire Council in December 2014. He has 25 years’ experience in local government at Glenelg, Southern Grampians and Northern Grampians. Jim has experience across infrastructure, project delivery, community and economic development. As CEO, Jim is responsible for the day to day operations of Council, the delivery of the Council Plan and the implementation of Council decisions.  Jim also has direct responsibility for economic development and communications.

Have your say

Our Central Highlands Regional Partnership engage page is the place to go to let us hear your views or to contact the Partnership.

Central Highlands Regional Partnership 2017 Priorities

Advanced Manufacturing

Develop a globally recognised advance manufacturing sector through the creation and expansion of an advanced manufacturing cluster in the Central Highlands comprising research and development, industry and education.


Implement a place-based approach to strengthening prevention to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes of the communities of the Central Highlands.

Digital Connectivity

Develop and implement an agreed plan with government, community and industry that defines 'digital success' for our region and provides the roadmap to realise the social and economic potential of the Central Highlands.

Transport Connectivity

Connect our communities locally, regionally and globally through improvement to transport infrastructure and services that promote health, well-being and economic sustainability.


Position the Grampians Region as the 'Centre of the New Energy Future' to ensure energy security and affordability that generates economic growth and community benefit to the region.

Social Welfare and Community

Collaborate with government, service providers, sector agencies and local communities to accurately understand the size, scale and future trends of homelessness in order to develop a Central Highlands place based response.

Visitor Economy

Activate Regional Victoria's Visitor Economy through increased private and government investment that triggers growth in visitor numbers and yield, creating new jobs for the region in the visitor economy.

Jobs Growth for Our Region

Attain jobs growth for the Central Highlands through the provision of advocacy, planning and support for projects that address challenges including the retention, renewal, recruitment, training and attraction to regional areas and regional jobs.

Agriculture and Environment

Maximise opportunities for our diverse food and fibre enterprises to participate and prosper delivering improved employment opportunities and liveability across our regional and rural communities.

Central Highlands Partnership priorities supported in the Victorian Government Budget 2018/19 include:

  • $0.5 million to build and activate the Prevention Lab brand, a community-based project to encourage healthy eating and exercise
  • $0.3 million for a Housing First Response pilot feasibility study to identify locally-appropriate responses to homelessness in the Central Highlands
  • $130 million for rail infrastructure upgrades from Maryborough and Ararat to Ballarat
  • $0.55 million for a workforce planning project to address skill development, housing and transport connections currently impacting the Ararat, Pyrenees and Northern Grampians Shires
  • $32 million for the water security for East Grampians project, building 1600km of pipeline to provide a secure water supply to 530,000 hectares of unserviced land
  • $0.05 million towards developing a hub for premium produce in the region.

Click here to download the Central Highlands Regional Partnership 2018/19 Budget Fact Sheet for more information. (PDF 478.4 KB)

Find out more about the Victorian Budget 2018/19 outcomes for Victoria's regions


Regional Matters Spotlight

Last Updated: 26 June 2018