Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan addressed a number of issues affecting Ararat people during his visit to the region last Thursday.
Speaking at the Putting Locals First Forum at Gum San, Mr Ryan took questions from a crowd of more that 20 community members ranging from the performance of the Victorian Government's Regional Growth Fund in Ararat to the future of jobs growth across the region which coincided with the announcement of the Stawell abattoir expansion on the same day.
One question which dominated discussion was the issue surrounding the future of the Central Grampians LLEN following serious funding cuts by the Federal Government.
Mr Ryan said the State Government was continuing to work through ways it can assist the Local Learning and Employment Networks.
"That rather frustrating stage of things continues," he said.
"We fund the LLENS across Victoria to the extent of $2.3 millions a year, the Federal Government has been putting in $12.9 million, but they have now said they don't want to contribute any more, so we are involved in shall we say intense discussions with them about that."
Mr Ryan emphasised at the Ararat forum that the Victorian Government recognised the vital importance of the organisations.
"I was on the board of the Gippsland LLEN for three or four years when it was first established and they make those vital linkages between students who are at school but don't want to go off and do a course at university with various employers who are interested in obtaining their services," he said.
"Those linkages are vitally important in our regional communities and we need to see this system retained and enhanced."
The Leader of The Nationals was also full of praise for Ararat's efforts in improving its health and wellbeing over the last 12 months.
Mr Ryan said the outcomes as a result of The Biggest Loser were to be commended and that Ararat could now potentially set the example for the rest of the state to follow.
"I think on that topic that there is an opportunity for us, from a Victoria-wide perspective, to have a good look at what Ararat was able to achieve through the community effort that was mounted," he said.
"It brought about great outcomes for the individuals concerned, but I think also for the whole of the community.
"I have said to Angela (Hunt) and the Council that I am going to take that away and we will have a think about what can be done across the State from that perspective."
Mr Ryan also spoke at a Putting Locals First Forum in Stawell during his visit to the region.