Part­ner­ship puts re­gion for­ward

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Wimmera South­ern Mallee Regional Part­ner­ship chair­man DAVID JOCHINKE has used the ap­proach of the new year to re­flect on what for­ma­tion of the part­ner­ship has led to and what it prom­ises in the fu­ture. Mr Jochinke, also Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent, is con­fi­dent the part­ner­ship and the two regional as­sem­blies that have oc­curred as part of the State Gov­ern­ment-driven con­cept, has po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate growth in the re­gion. He has pro­vided his thoughts in an opin­ion piece. n just over a year since its for­ma­tion, the im­pact of the Wimmera South­ern Mallee Regional Part­ner­ship is start­ing to gain pace.

All credit must go to peo­ple who gave up their time to attend the an­nual regional as­sem­blies.

It is the ex­per­tise and in­sight of the 140 and 200 in­di­vid­u­als who at­tended in 2016 and 2017 re­spec­tively that has made the dif­fer­ence.

These peo­ple came to the ta­ble to dis­cuss the re­gion’s big­gest chal­lenges openly and hon­estly, and share their ideas and so­lu­tions.

From these dis­cus­sions, the part­ner­ship has been able to get in­no­va­tive projects started and funded through the State Gov­ern­ment.

It’s im­por­tant to keep ev­ery­one in the re­gion up to date on what has been achieved.

Last year, fol­low­ing our assem­bly, I spoke to the gov­ern­ment about the need to se­cure vi­tal com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture, eco­nom­i­cally di­ver­sify through the cre­ation of a net­worked grains cen­tre of excellence and a vi­brant tourism industry, im­prove mo­bile and dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity and re­form early child­hood de­vel­op­ment in our re­gion.

The 2017-18 bud­get de­liv­ered for us on sev­eral fronts with, for ex­am­ple, $250,000 to de­velop a busi­ness case for a Net­worked Grains Cen­tre of Excellence in Hor­sham and $500,000 to de­velop a tourism plan to boost vis­i­tors and di­ver­sify the econ­omy.

On top of that, there was $45-mil­lion to­wards im­prov­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and in­fra­struc­ture across regional Vic­to­ria through the Con­nect­ing Regional Com­mu­ni­ties pro­gram and $556-mil­lion for ru­ral roads across Vic­to­ria, in­clud­ing $260-mil­lion for repair and main­te­nance and $25-mil­lion for the Lo­cal Roads to Mar­ket Pro­gram to im­prove roads for agri­cul­ture.

There was also $39-mil­lion for stage-two up­grades of the Bal­larat pas­sen­ger rail as part of the Regional Rail Re­vival pack­age, which will see an ad­di­tional nine ser­vices a week be­tween Ararat and Bal­larat; and $1-mil­lion across the state to de­velop a lo­cal gov­ern­ment pro­gram to help in a re­sponse to ex­ter­nal fi­nan­cial pres­sures and struc­tural is­sues.

IThe part­ner­ship has helped se­cure fund­ing, but it has done more than that.

The part­ner­ship in our re­gion is bring­ing peo­ple to­gether. We are build­ing re­la­tion­ships across gov­ern­ment and hav­ing an im­pact on how gov­ern­ment op­er­ates, de­liv­ers ser­vices and pro­grams in our re­gion.

For ex­am­ple, thanks to our ef­forts last year, the Premier an­nounced dur­ing an ad­dress at this year’s assem­bly that the Wimmera-south­ern Mallee would be a site for tri­als of bet­ter ways to de­liver ‘early-years’ pro­grams in regional and ru­ral ar­eas; and we are get­ting on with de­liv­er­ing this and other pro­grams.

Since Au­gust, we have re­fined what we’ve learnt from this year’s assem­bly into tan­gi­ble key pri­or­i­ties for the Wimmera-south­ern Mallee, which we pre­sented to the gov­ern­ment’s Ru­ral and Regional Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee in Oc­to­ber.

The peo­ple who live in the Wimmera-south­ern Mallee know the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges fac­ing their com­mu­ni­ties bet­ter than any­one.

Based on what you told us this year, we have again pre­sented our case to the gov­ern­ment for the fol­low­ing:

• Fur­ther fund­ing to up­grade and main­tain roads to an ap­pro­pri­ate stan­dard.

• Bet­ter telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ac­cess for ru­ral ar­eas. Im­proved pub­lic trans­port in­clud­ing re­turn of pas­sen­ger rail to Western Vic­to­ria.

• Changes to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment fund­ing struc­ture to main­tain qual­ity op­er­a­tions, in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices with­out in­creas­ing the bur­den on ratepay­ers.

• In­te­grated regional plan­ning to se­cure the re­gion’s sustainabi­lity, pro­mote eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and set a long-term plan for a vi­brant fu­ture.

• Regional ser­vice de­liv­ery plan­ning to en­sure key gov­ern­ment ser­vices are ef­fec­tive, tar­geted and meet the needs of com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing health and fam­ily vi­o­lence.

The Wimmera South­ern Mallee Part­ner­ship gives us ac­cess to the State Gov­ern­ment and a com­mit­ment from them to pro­vide re­sources and re­duce red tape, where pos­si­ble, to ad­dress our most press­ing con­cerns.

The Wimmera-south­ern Mallee is mak­ing the most of this op­por­tu­nity to have our voice heard in the heart of gov­ern­ment and en­sure our re­gion thrives in the fu­ture.

Speak­ing of the fu­ture, at the regional assem­bly we heard from the young peo­ple of our re­gion in a short an­i­ma­tion.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it re­ally is worth a look on­line at en­gage.vic.gov.au/wimmera-south­ern-mallee.

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