Working together for the region
A STRONG love for the North East, its communities, and its potential motivates the members of the Ovens and Murray Regional Partnership ( OMRP), established just a few years ago.
Local women Susan Benedyka and Irene Grant have both been involved with the assembly since its inception, helping to consult with and advocate for local communities to see them grow and evolve.
Susan has a particular passion for improving digital access and infrastructure for the North East in order to make it more competitive on a state, national and even global scale.
“It’s all about where we are going to take the region in the future,” she said, noting the assembly has secured funding to develop a “digital plan” for the region, which a number of people are currently working on.
Susan said some of the main issues she is focused on as part of the partnership is funding and helping address gaps in digital infrastructure, as well as increasing opportunities in the rapidly advancing digital field, where technology can help change the face of health consultation and diagnosis, tourism, and even the nature of workplaces.
She said some of the proudest moments so far was helping secure funds for the forthcoming local digital hub at Wangaratta Library, as well as money for a digital innovation centre in Wodonga.
Having built a long standing career in consulting, as well as co- owning Wangaratta Central serviced offices, Susan said she relished being able to put her expertise and passions to work as part of the OMRP.
“We’ve got so much happening,” she said, adding that the digital and technological realm is “the job creators of the future,” and “we want to be ahead of the pack.”
Susan said that the North East is already embracing the changing role of technology, with the high profile efforts of local school robotics teams, people telecommuting and much more, and added that the region needs to capitalise on that.
“There’s a wave of excitement building as to what’s possible,” she said.
Susan said she felt compelled to help local communities reach their full potential and being a part of the OMRP helped her do that.
“It gives me the ability to connect with other people making a difference in the region, and take nebulous ideas and make them real,” she said.
“I absolutely adore living here and want to build things up for future generations.”
Irene Grant, an experienced public servant and community member of many years’ standing, is the chair of the partnership and said she became involved because she “liked the idea of what partnerships could do”.
She said the OMRP gives the North East broad regional representation across a number of areas, including tourism, health, education, agriculture, transport, digital connection, business and more.
On the eve of the OMRP’s third regional assembly being held this month, Irene said a lot of progress has been made since the group’s inception, and members of local communities had embraced the chance to have their say and put their ideas forward.
“I’ve always been passionate about local leadership,” she said.
“That’s where communities can make a difference.
“It is important for regions to work actively together, there’s collective strength in that.
“And it’s important, as communities change, that we move with these changes.”
Irene said as a proud North East resident, she wanted to help communities make the most of our natural resources and landscapes.
“If you want things to happen, you’ve got to step up,” she said, urging people to register to attend the upcoming assembly and have their say.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to have a voice.”
The OMRP is holding its third annual Regional Assembly on Wednesday, June 27 in Wangaratta.
More information on the Ovens Murray Regional Partnership, and the upcoming assembly ( including a link for registration), is available at engage. vic. gov. au/ ovens- murray.
DRIVING INNOVATION: Susan Benedyka is driven to improving digital opportunities for people in the North East.
COMMUNITY LEADER: Irene Grant is applying her years of experience in community leadership as part of the OMRP.