The faces of Ballarat’s future

MEET 40 of Ballarat’s up-and-coming community leaders.

PICTURES: Ballarat's 40 Under 40

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These 40 – 20 men and 20 women –  will be among those who will be guiding Ballarat into the future.

These 40 – all under the age of 40 – will be some of those who will be making decisions that affect Ballarat and its surrounds for generations to come.

These are the people who, in the next 20 years or so, will be responsible for directing the areas of community development, infrastructure, health, education, attracting business to the city and religion.

This eclectic group includes young businessmen and women, budding and present politicians, sporting identities, those involved in helping and shaping the youth of Ballarat, even those in emergency services.

Today’s is the first in a four-part series profiling Ballarat’s leaders of the future.

Despite their age – ranging from the very early 20s to almost 40 –  this group of young and proud Ballarat residents share a passion for the city, have defined hopes for the region and the enthusiasm to see their dreams come to fruition.

It is the collaboration of these 40 people – and many, many more in the community – who will have the insight to deal with the ever-increasing population of Ballarat and the demands and problems this may incur in the future.

The Ballarat region currently has a population growth of 2.3 per cent above the state average. Improved rail and road services means that the city is steadily becoming the region of choice for those who work in Melbourne but prefer the regional/rural lifestyle that Ballarat has to offer.

Ballarat is faced with the prospect of its population growing by more than 50,000 people in the next 25 years. Projections show that the city’s population will increase from the current figure of just under 100,000 to 144,730 by 2036.

While the Ballarat City Council says it is well-positioned to meet the demands of a booming population, with Ballarat West identified as the growth precinct for new homes and retail, and the airport precinct as the base for a booming industrial area, issues such as health, education and infrastructure also need to be addressed.

It will be up to a group of community leaders – including these 40 chosen by The Courier – to help strike the balance between coping with population growth and encouraging more people to move here, while still protecting the characteristics of Ballarat.

Making Ballarat welcoming for families and migrants, while also maintaining the characteristics of a country town, were just some of the hopes for the city outlined by participants in the 40 Under 40 feature.

“I hope Ballarat’s growth doesn’t affect the small town feel that it has,” said local real estate consultant Sam Borner.

New Ballarat City councillor Joshua Morris agrees: “I want Ballarat to be a leading regional city; a city that recognises and celebrates its history and is a place that we are all proud to call home.”

However, Cr Morris stressed his vision for Ballarat was for the city to be self-sustained and one that delivered progressive education, health and employment opportunities.

Nurturing the city’s youth was also a concern.

Youth project officer Rebecca Stewart said keeping young people interested in staying in Ballarat was important. “If we don’t keep our youth interest in our town, they’ll leave. I believe it is important for our young people to stay in Ballarat to ensure the continued growth and development of the region,” she said.

AFL footballers Brad Sewell and Drew Petrie believe Ballarat should enhance its stance as the regional hub of Victoria, adding improved rail services to Melbourne would be an important factor for enticing new business and residents.

“Ballarat must work to keep the big industry in town ... who all employ large numbers of the local residents,” Petrie said.

Real estate agent Allister Morrison agreed, stating Ballarat had the potential to become one of the greatest regional cities in Australia. “The focus of all levels of government, both current and future, should be on fostering the growth of Ballarat through supporting decentralisation .... and enterprise, including manufacturing and technology – both large and small – within our city,” he said.

While the growth and development of Ballarat is important, some participants in this series believe maintaining the city’s history is also important.

Hotelier Simon Coghlan said the history of Eureka and the gold rush and the architecture that this period afforded, combined with improved infrastructure of schools, health and public facilities, was vital for Ballarat to be the envy of other regional centres in Australia.

Communications and marketing director Janelle Ryan wants to see a culture develop in Ballarat which pays homage to the city’s tradition and history, while still allowing for progression, change, innovation and diversity.

 kim.quinlan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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