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Reflections from the Chair, George Fong – May 2019


This message forms part of a Central Highlands Regional Partnership newsletter published in May 2019. See the whole newsletter.

It is hard to know where to begin in relation to encapsulating all of the activity and development in the region. Our Partnership, and the teams working with it, have been well exercised in this last quarter.

A good starting point is to welcome the new Victorian Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes, who has now engaged with us on a comprehensive level.  And we’d like to thank Jaala Pulford, her predecessor, for her leadership and drive in creating and embracing Regional Partnerships and being so involved with us.

Over two and half years, Jaala was a great advocate for Partnerships, for our work in listening to what our communities want and need, and then in helping us work with Governments to make things happen in our region.

We look forward to working with the new Minister moving forward.

Our Outcomes Roadmap:

Since our inception in 2016, this Partnership has heard from thousands of people in our region. You’ve told us what is needed and what should change; and each year we’ve taken your input and presented priorities to the Victorian Government.

Thanks to your contributions, the Partnership now has a good idea of what this region’s priorities currently are.

Today, I am pleased to publish our Outcomes Roadmap, which is a summary of the key outcomes this Partnership is currently striving to achieve, as well as a description of the actions and key projects the Partnership is focusing on, and what success will look like for the region.

The roadmap is a living document. It will evolve over time. New priorities will inevitably present themselves and we will continue to develop new initiatives and vision to address current and future issues.

But this document sets out the major outcomes the Partnership is currently focused on and will continue to be a forward-looking document that will keep our teams and the Government constantly evaluating and measuring the needs and aspirations of our communities.

This document is meaningless without input, review and ownership by our communities, please let us know what you think.

An update:

This newsletter also provides me an opportunity to update you on several of the numerous major initiatives we are involved in and where they are at.

The Partnership has agreed to a few key areas of focus over the coming period, which include workforce development, manufacturing precincts, vital local industry infrastructure and support for local agricultural businesses.

However, in addition to this, there is a plethora of work that has been underway across a number of local initiatives, including:

The Prevention Lab – Can we get a five per cent reduction in obesity levels, a five per cent increase in healthy activity and a five per cent increase in healthy eating across the region? This massive long-term project has been funded to the tune of $500,000 and is now entering its second operational phase with the engagement of a team to work with communities and organisations to chase these aspirations.

Digital Connectivity – We have taken a leading role in the development of the $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program, and from that we have led the development of a pilot knowledge base which has started gathering information and data about all of the digital and communications infrastructure and assets in Victoria. We have developed a pilot proposal for six multifunction state-of-the-art digital hubs to be located in areas where no state-of-the-art digital facilities can be accessed.

Homelessness – Last year we secured $50,000 from the Victorian Government to lead research to better understand who is experiencing homelessness in our region. This work is close to completion and will provide important evidence for our next step in addressing homelessness in the Central Highlands: a feasibility study and pilot to introduce a Housing First approach in the region.

Grampians New Energy Taskforce (GNET) – GNET is now well-established in the region and takes a leadership role in bringing together multiple organisations from across the region to focus collectively on the region’s new energy future.

Our Partnership:

Lastly, I want to thank again my colleagues on the Regional Partnership who really put in a huge amount of time and effort to ensure what you tell us leads to real change for our region.

As you can imagine, after nearly three years, we are expecting some change around on the Partnership.

I particularly want to thank Mitchel Watson, who has stepped down from our Partnership to take up a role with Regional Development Victoria. We have farewelled several local government CEOs who have been integral members of the Partnership:

Rob Croxford – Moorabool Shire Council
Aaron van Egmond – Hepburn Shire Council
Rod Nichols – Golden Plains Shire
Alan Bawden – Ararat Rural City

And we welcome a new generation of CEOs into the Partnership:

Derek Maddern – Moorabool Shire Council
Evan King – Hepburn Shire Council
Eric Braslis – Golden Plains Shire
Dr Tim Harrison – Ararat Rural City.

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