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Thought about shaping your region?

10/09/2020

The following is a feature article on Maree McPherson, Chair of the Gippsland Regional Partnership, published in Gippslandia, a quarterly newspaper for Gippsland and beyond.

Maree McPhersonThere are many ways to create inspiration within our regions.

My passion has been to always portray a united region with a single voice on the big issues. When I joined the Regional Partnership program, Gippsland had a reputation for being many voices, no single view, and with a number of parties vying for authority. To be frank, that didn’t get us very far.

An important part of creating increased unity has been the Regional Partnership – along with the partner organisations, like the Committee for Gippsland. We will always have different views and diverse opinions across the region, especially on localised issues. That’s important. Yet, when we want to be seen and heard, we stand together. I’m proud of the reputation we now have.

Undoubtedly, securing major projects from multiple Victorian State Budgets is something most people will point to as a success. The Regional Partnership isn’t solely responsible for those investments – our partners have assisted in making them possible – however, the budget outcomes have been a testament to the conversations contributed by our Regional Assemblies, online portals and meetings occurring since 2016. The strengthening voice of the regional community in Cabinet is one of our biggest achievements. You don’t have to
make lots of noise to be highly regarded and influential.

Also, we have commissioned important pieces of research around our key priorities and supported projects that will help transform the region for years to come. Examples include Towards 2030 – Gippsland Destination Management Plan; the Gippsland Regional Digital Plan; Accelerating Growth in the Gippsland Food and Fibre Industry; and the Higher Education in Gippsland, How We Are Faring report.

What’s been most fascinating for me during my time with the Regional Partnership is watching people’s reactions change when they get new opportunities for consultation. These opportunities can take many forms; for example, a conversation with Ministers at a Regional Assembly. When people get access to new information and facts, you can see the penny drop. It doesn’t mean everyone will agree with what they hear – often they won’t – yet you observe that when people are able to be heard, have their say, and get responses they can make sense of, it changes the regional debate markedly.

Gippslandians are sensible and robust people. We are used to change, isolation, hard work, disaster management and coping with infrastructure challenges. We look for common sense practical approaches to change.

With the first terms of Regional Partnerships coming to a close, the Victorian Government is now recruiting for members of the Regional Partnerships across the state, including Gippsland. This also sees the positions of Chair and Deputy Chair available. I hope to see a wide range of people express interest in the changing face of our region, and helping create the new Gippsland of the future. For more information, head to the Get On Board website.



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