Fo­rum fo­cuses on growth

Benalla Ensign - - News -

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

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