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State Government of Victoria

Wimmera Southern Mallee 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 in central western Victoria encompasses one of the world’s great grain growing areas. It is home to many small, vibrant communities and is served by the major regional centres of Horsham and Stawell. The region has relatively low levels of unemployment and provides residents and visitors with recreational and outdoor pursuits in vast and open landscapes.

Home to some of Victoria’s iconic natural attractions, including the Grampians National Park, the Wimmera River, major deserts, wetlands and lakes, our region includes:

Map of the Wimmera-Southern Mallee partnership region

Our Regional Partnership: bringing you up to date

The Wimmera Southern Mallee 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 Horsham in October 2016. Following this, we presented the priorities which came from our first Assembly to Government.

Our priorities covered areas including improving early childhood development, securing vital community infrastructure (focussing on Local Government sustainability), creating a Networked Grains Centre of Excellence, supporting a vibrant tourism industry and improving mobile and digital connectivity.

The 2017/ 18 Victorian Budget brought outcomes for the Wimmera Southern Mallee region including:

  • Funding to develop a business model for a Networked Grains Centre of Excellence to advance the WSM region’s competitive advantage in agri-science;
  • Funding for future planning to develop a thriving tourism industry in Wimmera Southern Mallee;
  • More than $500 million to improve regional roads including the Western Highway from Stawell to the South Australian border;
  • The $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program which will bring better broadband, mobile coverage and WiFi hubs to regional Victoria.

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

We held our second Regional Assembly, also in Horsham, in August 2017 where the Premier announced the region would be home to innovative early years service delivery trials.

Partnership newsletter

Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership newsletter - February 2018

Regional Assembly snapshot


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.

Who are the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership members?

David Jochinke

David Jochinke – Chair

David Jochinke is a third generation grain and livestock farmer living in north west Victoria.  David holds numerous positions of responsibility, at a regional, State and National level.  He is currently, President of the Victorian Farmers Federation, a Board Member of Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water and Board Member of the National Farmers Federation.

David is a past recipient of the Nuffield Australian Farming Scholarship, completed his Diploma in Applied Science (Ag Services) and is an active contributor to his local community including membership of the Wimmera Machinery Field Days Committee, the Wallup Ag Group, the Northern Wimmera CFA Brigade and Committees for Birchip Cropping Group and Wimmera Farming Systems.

Emma Vogel

Emma Vogel – Deputy Chair

Emma is a partner in her family's farming operation in north west Victoria and director of SPS Consulting, which provides advice to the private sector on investment and development in regional Victoria. Emma has previously held senior and executive positions in several ASX listed and multinational resources companies including roles in operations, business improvement, mergers and acquisitions and project finance. An active member of her local community, Emma provides pro bono professional services to community groups and is a member of the Grampians Renewable Energy Taskforce.

Robyn Gulline

Robyn Gulline

Ms Robyn Gulline is a Director of Gulline Farms, she is a member of the Regional Development Australia Grampians Committee, a board member of Wimmera Development Association, Victorian Farmers Federation Wimmera Branch Vice-President and Grains Industry Representative and is Vice Chair of Partners in Grain Victoria/Tasmania. Robyn is passionate to see Wimmera Southern Mallee become a bright and vibrant region, with a diverse and growing population, a prosperous economy, strong employment, numerous TAFE and tertiary educational course opportunities and quality health services.

Ralph Kenyon

Ralph Kenyon

Ralph Kenyon is the Executive Director of the Wimmera Development Association.  Ralph is also a Director of Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program, holds a Masters of Business Administration and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ralph is passionate about the sustainable development of the Wimmera balancing economic, social and environmental issues and working closely with the community to build resilience and strength.

Catherine Morley

Catherine Morley

Catherine joined Wimmera Health Care Group, a subregional base hospital in the Wimmera region as the Chief Executive Officer in September 2017. Catherine provides operational oversight of the health service and supports the Board of Management in their governance, policy, risk and strategic objectives.

In 2017, Catherine was recognised as one of the Top 50 Public Sector Women in Victoria for her inspirational leadership at Rural Northwest Health. Catherine was celebrated as an exceptional female leader building high performing teams and transforming communities.

John Richmond

John Richmond

John Richmond is the principal of Birchip P-12 School and is highly regarded among educators across our region. Apart from a stint at Ballarat Grammar as a graduate, Mr Richmond has spent the past 41 years serving the Birchip P-12 School community. His commitment to education was formally recognised in 2017 when he was awarded the prestigious peer-nominated John Laing Award by the Principals of Australia Institute.

John is committed to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for students and their families in the Wimmera and Southern Mallee.  

Wendy Sturgess

Wendy Sturgess

Wendy Sturgess is Chief Executive Officer of Wimmera Uniting Care, a not-for-profit community service organisation. Wendy has a strong background in community and the social services sectors. Wendy is committed to working with the region to create effective strategies aimed at lowering suicide rates and preventing  violence against women and children.

Emelia Sudholz

Emelia Sudholz

Emelia has a strong background in water management having been a Wimmera CMA Board member since 2011, Deputy Chair since 2013 and is on the board of the Wimmera Development Association (WDA).

Emelia is an agricultural scientist, teacher and partner with her husband in a cropping and sheep farm business at Rupanyup South.

Emelia brings experience in natural resource management, stakeholder engagement, governance and a strong farming background and involvement to the committee.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams

Mark Williams is the Managing Director of GWMWater and has worked with GWMWater and the former Grampians Water since 1996. In this time Mark has been responsible for overseeing the commercial implementation of water reforms in the region that include the delivery of water quality upgrades, investments that have improved water security and the introduction of independent service and price regulation by the Essential Services Commission.

Mark brings a wealth of experience to the role beyond his water industry experience which includes roles in the power industry, health and public service where he started his career in 1985.

Regional Development Australia representative

John AcklandJohn Ackland
John Ackland is Chief Executive Officer of Skillinvest Ltd (incorporating Longerenong College). John is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Group Training Association of Victoria. John is currently the Chair of the Wimmera Settlement Committee and a member of the Regional Development Australia Grampians Committee. John is committed to assist young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and migrants into employment.

Victorian Government representative

Terry Garwood - Deputy Secretary, Local Infrastructure - Department of Environment Land Water and Planning

Local Government CEOs

Greg Wood

Greg Wood - CEO, Hindmarsh Shire Council

Mr Greg Wood has more than 13 years’ executive and management experience in local government. Prior to being appointed CEO at Hindmarsh Shire in 2016, he was Director of Community Services and Emergency Management at the City of Casey. Greg has also held the position of Manager of Community Services at Port Phillip City Council.  Greg has a strong reputation for delivery of quality services to the community, and had previously been responsible for budgets and managing large numbers of staff. Greg’s aim is to build on the considerable strengths of Hindmarsh Shire Council by supporting the needs and aspirations of the people of Hindmarsh.

Michael Bailey

Michael Bailey - CEO, Northern Grampians Shire Council

Michael Bailey is the Chief Executive Officer of Northern Grampians Shire. Michael returned to the region in 2015 after 4 years in Bendigo as CEO of Bendigo Regional YMCA. Michael has a long history in community development and has worked in the recovery roles after bush fire (2006) and drought. Michael is committed to working with the community to grow and develop in all forms from financial, social and environmental. Michael is passionate about the region and all it has to offer.

David Leahy

David Leahy - CEO, West Wimmera Shire Council

Mr David Leahy joined West Wimmera Shire Council as its CEO on 1 February 2016. He previously spent seven years as Infrastructure Director with Swan Hill Rural City Council. During that time he was acting CEO on a number of occasions Previously David has worked at Naracoorte-Lucindale Council in infrastructure roles, including two as Operations and Technical Services Director. David started his career at Whyalla City Council, followed by sixteen years with the SA State Road Authority, where he oversaw multiple construction sites within the State.

Sunil Bhalla

Sunil Bhalla - CEO, Horsham Rural City Council

Mr Sunil Bhalla commenced as Horsham Rural City Council CEO in April 2018. Sunil started his career in the private sector and has worked in Local Government for over 25 years, including 13 years in senior executive roles delivering significant projects. He was previously Director Infrastructure Services at the City of Maribyrnong, where he had finance and operational responsibility for a large team and the delivery of services and programs to a rapidly growing community. Prior to this, Sunil worked at the Surf Coast Shire Council for more than 14 years in a range of management positions including General Manager Governance and Infrastructure, Director Corporate Services, Director Infrastructure and Infrastructure manager. He was also with the Hume City Council for six years and the Shire of Bulla for over two years.

Have your say

Our Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership engage page is the place to go to let us hear your views or to contact the Partnership.

Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership 2017 Priorities

Theme Regional Partnership Priority
Investment in Early Years 1. Support WSM children aged 0-6 to flourish
Regional Capability Development   2. Ensure Local Government can operate sustainably  
Diversified Economy   3. Activate prosperity through Economic Diversification, with a focus on Agriculture and Tourism
Enabling Infrastructure -Digital Connectivity 4. Increased access to high quality mobile and Internet connectivity.
Integrated Regional Planning 5. Facilitate Integrated and publicly available Regional Planning across the whole WSM region
Regional Service Delivery 6. Enable Co-ordinated Regional Service Delivery
Enabling Infrastructure- Roads & Public Transport 7. Increase connectivity & prosperity through improved transport infrastructure,  including roads and public transport

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

  • More than $941 million for better regional roads across the state, including:
    • $333 million for regional road restoration
    • $261 million for road upgrades in regional Victoria
    • $229 million for Continuing Towards Zero, providing safety upgrades to our regional road network
    • $100 million for grants to rural councils to undertake local road remediation projects
    • $17.4 million to establish Regional Roads Victoria
  • $1.3 million for five additional family violence crisis properties across the region
  • $20 million for rural council transformation, a grants program to help rural councils across Victoria improve their financial viability
  • A share of $11 million for the Victorian Mobile Project Round 4, building on the Government’s existing commitment to remove mobile black spots in regional Victoria
  • $0.5 million for priority projects identified in the 10-year strategy for cycling infrastructure across the Grampians region
  • A share of $33.9 million to build, expand and improve early years infrastructure across Victoria

Click here to download the Wimmera Southern Mallee 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: 06 June 2018