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Reflections from the Chair, David Jochinke – May 2019


This message forms part of a Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership newsletter published in May 2019. See the whole newsletter.

Introducing our Outcomes Roadmap

Since our inception in 2016, the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional 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 long-term priorities currently are.

Therefore 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 might present themselves and we will have new initiatives to address current and future issues.

But this document sets out the major outcomes the Partnership is currently focused on.

An update

Over the past few months, the Partnership has been working hard on a number of initiatives, including the Outcomes Roadmap, as well as taking your priorities to Government.

This newsletter provides me an opportunity to update you on several of our major initiatives and where they are at, as well as Partnership news more generally, and to also give you a taster of what’s going on in other Partnership regions.

As you may be aware, we have a new Victorian Minister for Regional Development. We would like to welcome Jaclyn Symes to the role and thank her predecessor, Jaala Pulford, who created and embraced Regional Partnerships. We look forward to working with the new Minister across our regional priorities.

Closer to home, my former deputy Chair Emma Vogel stepped down from her Partnership role earlier this year, having relocated to Ballarat. Emma has been a real driving force behind our Partnership and I want to thank her for her commitment, drive and hard work since inception in 2016. Emma’s passion for the Wimmera Southern Mallee has helped guide the outcomes we have achieved as well as shape our future priorities direction. Emma will still maintain a key independent role in the ‘BY FIVE’ WSM Early Year Project.

As for Partnership projects, you can read about the Partnership’s continued work on ‘BY FIVE’, as well as around family violence.

Other news:


Over the past two years, the WSM RP has been advocating for an Agri-Tech project called AgTIDE (AgTech Innovation, Development and Education).

The purpose of this project is to take advantage of the opportunity for significant growth and benefit to farmers by increasing productivity and reducing input costs, making growers more competitive in an era of climate variability and increased globalisation. Australia will never realise the benefits of technological disruption unless it is adopted on mass, and technology is integrated on-farm.

There are limited opportunities to trial, integrate, adapt, and communicate AgTech products on a commercial scale in Australia. Farmers need to see technology working in large-scale situations to be confident to make the significant capital and time investment in digital products. AgTIDE has been designed to address these issues.

The AgTIDE proposal comprises four projects to support and enable digital technologies to be taken up in the grains industry. These are

  1. Deliver mobile connectivity infrastructure;
  2. The DATA farm;
  3. Data Co-operative;
  4. Education and training.

The AGTIDE Project will see the establishment of a 1,000 hectare digitally-enabled AgTech demonstration farm at Longerenong College, near Horsham. The farm – which received $2.5 million in funding from the Victorian Government in October 2018 – will incorporate a network of sensors and devices allowing a broad spectrum of detailed data to be collected, collated and analysed. The farm will apply agriculture technology in a real-life operating environment to enhance research and development. Both Telstra and Case IH have been partners in this project. Project funding will include farm equipment, digital technology including sensors, probes, weather stations, drones, hardware, software and a project manager.

The DATA farm will provide students, farmers, corporates and research bodies with the ability to “test and try” Ag Technology in a live working environment.

The Data Farm is to be complemented by the establishment of a farmer data co-operative, yet to be funded, and education and training initiatives. The Education and Training package will deliver locally available and formal curriculum to educate students, growers, agronomists and others about the use and benefits of AgTech. Partners in this project include Birchip Cropping Group (lead agency), Skillinvest (curriculum development), Federation University (consultant and agronomist training) and the University of Melbourne (cross sector collaboration).

A full DTF compliant Business Case for AgTIDE has been completed. Various components of the project have been funded including:

  • 6 out of 17 priority Black Spot towers as part of Round 4 of the Federal Government’s MBS program,
  • $2.546 million (as mentioned above) for the DATA farm at Longerenong Agricultural College,
  • $578,000 for the Education and training package, through the Victorian Government’s Regional Skills Fund.

Grampians 10 Year Cycling Strategy

The Grampians 10 Year Cycling Strategy is gaining momentum with the Federal Government committing $600,000 through the Building Better Regions Fund towards the Wimmera River Discovery Trail. These funds, combined with $400,000 from the State Government and $200,000 committed from Hindmarsh Shire Council, will see the establishment of a multi-use trail from Dimboola to Lake Hindmarsh.

Wimmera Southern Mallee Digital Plan

Working with Government agencies and the community, we are developing a plan to improve access and connectivity and stimulate innovation through the Connecting Regional Communities Program. These plans will be released soon.

Wimmera Mallee Tourism Governance & Destination Management Plan

The project is progressing well and has explored the best governance model for Wimmera Mallee Tourism’s move towards a sustainable Regional Tourism Office. The destination management plan has been finalised with implementation works to commence soon.

Finally, as mentioned by the Minister, in 2019, our Partnership will run several very targeted engagement sessions to further investigate regional issues and scope out possible solutions. These are currently in development and we will use our Facebook page to keep you updated on engagement opportunities going forward.

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