Central Highlands Regional Partnership: talks determine priorities

PARTNERED: Central Highlands Regional Partnership chair George Fong, deputy chair Jennifer Ganske and social and community strategy Geoff Sharp. Picture: Dylan Burns

PARTNERED: Central Highlands Regional Partnership chair George Fong, deputy chair Jennifer Ganske and social and community strategy Geoff Sharp. Picture: Dylan Burns

State government representatives, businesses and community leaders met to discuss the biggest priorities for six municipalities in the Central Highlands region on Friday.

Ballarat hosted the event to ensure the region’s plans matched the government’s so they had the best chance of receiving support.

The Deep Dive Workshop allowed the attendees to review priorities with government staff.

Ararat Rural City was part of the group, which also includes Moorabool Shire, Golden Plains Shire, Ballarat City, Hepburn Shire and Pyrenees Shire councils.

Partnership chair George Fong said the meeting was about closing the gap between state and local government.

“We are engaging with as many government departments as we can and they have a mandate to talk with us,” he said.

“Today is about testing in detail the veracity of our priorities.”

Mr Fong said the Central Highlands region was facing challenges in its advanced manufacturing, farming and renewable energy sectors.

“Manufacturing has evolved very quickly, so how do we maintain an advanced manufacturing base with new and disruptive technology,” he said.

“The primary index is low in this region, so how do we coordinate better to address that?”

There were two state government department secretaries at the meeting, one deputy secretary and two regional directors.

Partnership social and community strategy coordinator Geoff Sharp said the meeting would provide a plan to present to the Central Highlands community for feedback.

“Today is about finding out, what are the needs of the community?” he said. “The next stage is to take this information into our community.

“Let’s go talk to the community, to the people running a little organisation on the smell of an oily rag, and see what they say.”

More than 70 people from the community, businesses and government departments attended the meeting at the Morshead Park function rooms.

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