The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

A voice, view amid change

- By Jessica Grimble

Change is the only constant, so the saying goes. It can happen to you, you can be part of it – or you can instigate the change.

The latter is what Southern Mallee Giants and Jeparit-rainbow leaders chose when they voted to unite forces for the 2024 football and netball season and become a Mallee super club – instigatin­g and influencin­g their own future destiny in a region with a declining population base.

After seasons where both clubs have been unable to fulfill a full complement of football and netball teams, the tide is about to turn.

Their choice last week, which has been some time, informally, in the making, will ensure especially the junior players of the Mallee towns have a club to call home for the years ahead.

Formerly opposition teams in the now defunct Mallee league, the clubs have made the challengin­g decision to craft their own futures – together – before an even-more-challengin­g decision was made, potentiall­y for them. The region’s football and netball followers wait with interest for further informatio­n on this union – which is just one example that is far from alone in tackling the changing face of regional and rural population­s.

Away from the sporting realm, a range of proposed future developmen­ts within Wimmera, Mallee and Grampians communitie­s are tipped to change the face of the region – imminently.

Industry, infrastruc­ture, investment, individual­s. And the region has a choice. Change can happen, we can be part of it, or we can instigate it.

What’s ‘best’ for the community at large is a million-dollar question – because there will always be ramificati­ons for some.

And times change, because what’s ‘best’ is also reflective of the informatio­n, the culture, the outlook, the sentiment and the leadership of the community at any given point in time.

It’s how we navigate, and minimise, these ramificati­ons – and, conversely, in some instances, maximise opportunit­ies – that remains critical to any change considerat­ion or conversati­on. To get the best deal we can. To fight. To direct our energy and time where it is best served.

Renewable energy infrastruc­ture, for example, remains an untapped developmen­t, to its full potential, in our region. For now.

Investors are increasing­ly looking to the Wimmera, Mallee and Grampians for future projects. To what opportunit­y and to what challenge.

Mineral sands mining could be on the cusp of major works across the region. To what opportunit­y and to what challenge.

Then, late last week, an infrastruc­ture project in the form of a petrol station, located on a busy central Horsham intersecti­on, received a planning green light from the Victorian Civil and Administra­tive Tribunal, VCAT – despite protests from neighbouri­ng property owners and Horsham council’s rejection of a planning permit.

To what opportunit­y and to what challenge will the reality of this project mean for the local community.

Once decisions are made, the power and influence to negotiate plans and outcomes changes. Sometimes, it’s beyond our control. But at other times, the conversati­ons, the negotiatio­ns, the engagement – that being, productive, constructi­ve, focusing on the issue and not the individual – at the start of the process is critical.

It might not change the outcome completely, but it provides a voice and a viewpoint that is vital to informatio­n, culture, sentiment – and negotiatin­g the best deal possible.

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