Forum focuses on growth
Education and skills were at the heart of community discussions at a round-table focusing on population growth in Benalla last week.
Community and business leaders came together to have their say on the issues and challenges Benalla faces when it comes to growing its population and how government policy can assist.
Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan hosted the forum along with Victorian Population Taskforce deputy chair Danny O’Brien to seek input from Benalla residents into the Liberal and Nationals population policy in the lead-up to the 2018 state election.
Ms Ryan said attendees, including Benalla Rural City Mayor Don Firth, were focused on the need to ensure quality education and jobs in the town.
‘‘The need to improve aspiration levels in Benalla’s young people was a major focus of discussion,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘Our young people can’t be expected to excel unless they are provided with the opportunities and resources that will allow them to.’’
Ms Ryan said, unsurprisingly, public transport and a lack of connectivity between other regional centres was another major topic of discussion.
‘‘The need to connect Benalla with other major towns, such as Shepparton, Mansfield and Bendigo was also discussed,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘Local transport providers say they are getting phone calls every week from people needing to get to work and school.’’
Other points of discussion included the need to develop infrastructure, local industry and build employment opportunities so that Benalla becomes a desirable destination for people of all ages.
Ms Ryan said The Nationals and Liberals had established the Population Policy Taskforce to encourage economic growth in the regions.
‘‘Victoria’s population is growing at an unprecedented rate and one of the biggest challenges of any state government is to deal with this growth in a constructive and sustainable way,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘It is important that if we’re attracting people to an area that we have the employment, as well as the facilities and resources needed to support them.’’
Our young people can’t be expected to excel unless they are provided with the opportunities and resources that will allow them to.
The Victorian Population Policy Taskforce’s interim report was released in July and can be accessed at www.vicpopulation.com.au/ documents