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Supporting workers to make a move to Victoria's Grampians region

08/07/2021

The Victorian Government is backing businesses and industries in the Grampians to attract critical workers through new investments to tackle housing shortages and other barriers to regional workforce attraction.

The Government today announced a $5 million investment in new Regional Workforce Pilots strategically located across the state to help regional and rural communities attract the workers they need to grow.

The pilots will include funding for initiatives designed to open up housing investments and will explore opportunities to better target existing programs and policies to help solve the problem.

The Grampians region is one of four sites to benefit from the pilots, developed in response to challenges facing rural and regional communities deal with significant workforce shortages threatening economic recovery and growth.

This includes parts of the Grampians region where strong industry growth is increasing the demand for workers but limited availability of affordable housing is impacting the ability for industry to attract workers.

The pilots will include a range of solutions to attract and support new workers within the broader region surrounding Ararat, where job advertisements were the highest on record in May 2021 and are 74 per cent above the long term average.

In the first half of this year, Ararat and Stawell have had rental vacancy rates below one per cent and both towns are in the top 20 places in regional Victoria experiencing high house price growth. Stawell experienced growth of 22.8 per cent in the 12 months to April 2021, while Ararat experienced 18.3 per cent over the same period.

The pilots will establish a worker resettlement program at Ararat to support new migrants recently arrived in the town. The Government is investing $650,000 in the initiative, which will operate as a partnership between Ararat Rural City Council and the Wyndham Community and Education Centre.

The Council will work with the Centre to engage directly with local employers and workers to provide pre-employment education and training relevant to local industry’s needs.

The Grampians pilot will also include a $950,000 investment in the Ararat East Development Zone to prepare the site for a future housing development to meet increased demand, enabling the creation of homes for an additional 317 people, creating 134 full time equivalent jobs during construction.

The pilots will build on new Victorian Government investments for housing projects in Robinvale designed to create more jobs and attract more workers to the region. This includes a $300,000 investment in the Ararat East Development Zone through the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF). The Fund is also supporting a future housing estate at Stawell, with a $500,000 investment to provide essential infrastructure to unlock critical residential development.

The Fund has supported the development of 900 projects and led to the creation and retention of more than 11,000 jobs since 2015. The fund helps businesses create jobs in regional Victoria, supports community projects and backs councils to build the infrastructure that locals and visitors need.

The pilots will also build on other existing Victorian Government investments designed to create more jobs and attract more workers to the region, including, the Opportunities Pyrenees, Ararat and Northern Grampians (OPAN) project which is directly addressing the existing and future shortage of skilled and unskilled workers.

The Government has already invested $550,000 to support the Central Highlands Regional Partnership to deliver the project which involves detailed mapping of existing and future housing and skills shortages to support the needs of fast-growing businesses, particularly in manufacturing.

The project will also investigate what jobs are required for proposed infrastructure investments including the duplication of the Western Highway and investments in renewable energy. OPAN will also develop recommendations on transport solutions to support worker movements.

The pilot is also supporting the project through a new $280,000 investment to enable the Ararat Rural City Council to connect OPAN’s work to other pilot interventions.

The Victorian Government is also investing in solutions to housing and workforce supply through the $10 million Regional Recovery Fund, with a $500,000 investment in the Implementing Affordable Housing Solutions Project in the Wimmera Southern Mallee area of the Grampians. This is designed to address community needs and help businesses thrive.

The project will establish the Wimmera Southern Mallee Registered Housing Association in partnership with local councils and developers in a bid to increase housing developments within the region, facilitating both commercial and affordable housing activity.

The Association will also focus on ensuring local supply chains are used for projects and that skilling and attracting the local workforce are a priority in collaboration with local contemporary Aboriginal organisations.

This project aligns closely with the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership priority to establish a Grampians region housing development incentive fund to drive local housing investment and attract workers to the region.

Responses to the pilot will be monitored and evaluated to ensure the Victorian Government can best support regional business and industry access the workforce they need to grow, now and into the future.

Other pilots will be located within Victoria’s Great South Coast in the south west, the Alpine Shire in the north east, and at Robinvale in northern Victoria, with local solutions to be developed to meet local needs.

The Regional Workforce Pilots are part of the Government’s almost $30 billion investment in regional and rural Victoria since 2015, supporting thousands of jobs and contributing to the lowest regional unemployment rate in the nation.

Quote attributable to Central Highlands Regional Partnership Chair Tim Matthews

“This announcement sits across two of the Central Highlands Regional Partnership’s major priorities - housing and jobs. Ararat East Development Zone is a great project with lots of jobs to be created through the build and then providing accommodation for a skilled workforce going forward. The jobs are here and now we’ll have the housing too.”



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