Teamwork key to gathering
Northern Grampians mayor Tony Driscoll has used the scheduling of a major gathering of community, business, bureaucratic and political leaders in Stawell next month to stress the importance of regional teamwork.
Cr Driscoll said a Wimmera-southern Mallee Regional Assembly on May 30 represented another opportunity for the region to identify, consolidate and exploit the benefits of regional partnerships.
“The critical point to emphasise about these gatherings is that they allow us to put regional parochialism to the side and open the door for a collaborative approach,” he said.
“We need to think more as a region, where we can tap into our collective strength and help each other, explore new ground or build on something.
“It’s about having initiative, sharing ideas and being aware that everyone sees things through a different lens.
“Hopefully what we can do then is crystallise some of these visions into reality.”
The State Government launched its Regional Assemblies through nine Regional Partnership groups it forged across the state in 2016.
In 2017, more than 2000 people attended the assemblies to help identify and refine regional priorities and to establish a direct link to State Government decision-makers.
The past two Wimmera-southern Mallee assemblies, involving Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera, Yarriambiack and Horsham municipalities, have been in Horsham.
Interpretations of discussions identified in 2017 prioritise a need to: Support children in the region aged up to six to flourish; ensure local government can operate sustainably; activate prosperity through economic diversification with a focus on agriculture and tourism; increased access to high-quality mobile phone and internet connectivity; facilitate integrated and publicly available regional planning across the region; enable co-ordinated regional service delivery; and increase connectivity and prosperity through improved transport infrastructure including roads and public transport.
From the assemblies, the State Government, as part of its 2017-18 budget specifically provided funding to develop a business model for a Networked Grains Centre of Excellence in the region and money for future planning to develop the region’s tourism industry.
Cr Driscoll said having this year’s Wimmera-southern Mallee assembly in Stawell Town Hall provided a subtle change in dynamics and helped emphasise the collective approach to development.
“From our point of view it perhaps gives us a chance to provide further insight into the projects we have in our shire, such as the Bulgana Green Power Hub and how ideas can come together,” he said.
“But it is really about maintaining momentum and making sure it’s not just a talk fest.
“We must continue to generate enthusiasm from getting together and that means getting some action and something tangible out of it all.
“This might involve a bit of a journey but it is important for our best concepts to get to a point of becoming realities.”
Ararat, meanwhile, is part of a Central Highlands Regional Partnership, which also includes the City of Ballarat as well as Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool and Pyrenees shires. Its Regional Assembly is in Ballarat on June 14.
Regional Partnership budget wins for 2017-18 were a $47.8-million government hub project in Ballarat and a $39-million second-stage Ballarat passenger rail upgrade to establish better services to Ararat.