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Great South Coast Assembly report back


The Great South Coast Regional Partnership Chair reports back following the 2017 Assembly:

Thank you for your ongoing interest in the Great South Coast Regional Partnership and in our 2017 Regional Assembly which took place in Portland on 12 October 2017.

At that meeting, which was attended by more than 340 people from across the region and beyond, I pledged to keep all in the room, and those who had expressed interest in the Partnership and our community engagement, up to date with developments and abreast of time lines.

With that in mind, I am taking this opportunity to write to you as Chair of the Great South Coast Regional Partnership.

The 2017 Assembly in summary

The 2017 Great South Coast Regional Assembly was the Partnership’s second major opportunity to consult with the Great South Coast community following our inaugural Assembly in 2016 where we explored priorities for the region including growing local jobs, further developing our agriculture and tourism, improving our roads and rail, raising educational attainment of our young people, celebrating our renowned environment and investing in our region’s health and culture.

In the 12 months leading up this year’s Assembly, we undertook extensive engagement including analysis of available data provided by State Government Departments and the five participating local government authorities; face to face interviews with people representing key projects and programs addressing current regional priorities; and an online survey. The information gathered throughout the year, informed development of the 2017 Great South Coast Environmental Scan, which assisted the Partnership members to identify the key five themes and initiatives to be considered by the 2017 Assembly.

On the night of the 2017 Assembly, we welcomed a wealth of local residents and businesses – representing the region’s diverse interests, age groups, gender and regional geographic distribution, as well as a number of Victorian Government Ministers: the Premier , the Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and Ports, Minister for Families and Children, Minister for Training and Skills, and Corrections and the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria. Also present were Denis Napthine, former Premier of Victoria and local MPs. Minister for Regional Development reinforced that she and other Ministers were in Portland to listen to regional voices and to hear about our vision for the future of our region.

The Assembly gave us a chance to hear more from our community and to explore issues in more detail. Mixed table groups engaged in two discussion sessions around five key themes – Our Education and Training; Our Health and Community Wellbeing; Our Economy; Our Environment and Culture and Our Transport Networks and Infrastructure. Priorities were discussed and those which would make the biggest difference to the region’s future, identified.

Also, in the lead up to, and as part of the 2017 Assembly program, young people from across the region developed and presented their thoughts and ideas on the preferred future for the Great South Coast region around the question ‘What is needed to Unleash Our Potential?’. I would like to thank Portland, Monivae, Emmanuel and Camperdown Colleges’ students who worked on envisioning the Great South Coast region in the future, as well as tertiary students and young leaders from Deakin University Warrnambool, South West TAFE Portland, Hamilton and Warrnambool, Corangamite Youth Council, Portland Young Business and Professionals Network and Moyne Shire Youth Survey participants. Each group responded in different ways but their preferred future had much in common. 30 young people presented their thoughts and ideas to the Assembly. Some of their creative presentations also formed part of an Exhibition at the Assembly.

The evening was full of conversation and interesting discussion, and generated many ideas which our Partnership has been filtering and reviewing.

Graphical snapshot of the 2017 Great South Coast Assembly (PDF ) 

Moving forward

As a Partnership, our role is now to take the messages and learnings from our 2017 Assembly and all other pre-Assembly engagement and to distil them down into a handful of tangible messages from the Great South Coast region, and to then present them to the Rural and Regional Ministerial Committee.

Last year, I spoke to that committee about our region and the need to grow a strong and diverse economy with more local jobs that leverages the natural strength of our region in agriculture and tourism; about citizens of the Great South Coast wanting to live in communities that are safe, well connected, well serviced with a vibrant and healthy lifestyle; about the importance of accessible, quality education and training; and about a pressing and urgent need for the Great South Coast to improve the state of our roads, rail and digital connectivity.

I am pleased to say that this year, the following funding was announced:

  • $1 million to continue Beyond the Bell, a program to boost educational attainment;
  • $0.5 million for the delivery of key initiatives in the region’s Food and Fibre Action Plan;
  • $5 million to commence implementation of Shipwreck Coast Master Plan;
  • $114 million for Warrnambool Rail Line upgrade as part of the Regional Revival Package;
  • $7.5 million for the design for Stage 2 redevelopment of South West Healthcare;
  • Various funding for road upgrades in the region including those servicing the Port of Portland, and the Princes and Henty highways;
  • The region will also share in the $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program to support digital initiatives.

As you can see, our Partnership is already having an impact when joining our efforts with the efforts of others in our community, and with the collective voice of our region being heard.

Ongoing consultation

Though our 2017 Assembly is now behind us, the Partnership is very keen to continue the consultation process and the ongoing engagement with the community.

With that in mind, our Engage page will be open for further comment and we would encourage you to get on the page and let us know your thoughts and ideas for the region, or email us directly at

Over the course of the next few months, we may also look to hold additional focus groups to further particular ideas, or to hear from groups we feel have been absent from our engagement to date. We will let you know about such additional consultation either by direct email, or through the Engage page.

We will of course also keep you abreast of announcements relevant to our region, including on our Partnership Facebook page.

I want to take this opportunity to again thank you for giving of your time whether by attending the Assembly, pre-Assembly engagement activities or being active on our Engage page. Each of your views is incredibly valuable in this process and means our region is heard right at the heart of Government.

I look forward to keeping the conversation going,


Emily Lee-Ack
Great South Coast Regional Partnership

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