Over four issues last week, The Courier published the results of a question posed to 40 of the city’s young leaders: “What are your hopes for the future of Ballarat?”
The answers – from teachers, politicians, artists, community workers, sportsmen and -women and others – held a few common themes.
Some of them were practical, such as maintaining jobs and encouraging large employers to set up business in Ballarat, as well as making sure that the city is prepared to support the health needs of an ageing population.
Another common priority was faster train times between Ballarat and Melbourne.
However, just as important as jobs and physical infrastructure to the city’s next generation of leaders was Ballarat’s sense of self.
Many acknowledged the need to protect the region’s heritage while also determining a clear identity for the future, one which encourages traditional values like community spirit with new ideas such as innovation and environmental sustainability; an identity strong enough to keep young talent from leaving the city after school and shoppers from going into Melbourne on weekends.
It’s interesting to reflect on these ideas as we celebrate the end of another year and look forward to the one ahead, a year in which a new council will unveil its vision for the city’s future, while the city’s past looks set to take centre stage with preparations for a prime time TV miniseries based on Peter FitzSimons’ latest book Eureka.
Another recurring theme in our survey of leaders under 40 was a hope for the well being of Ballarat’s residents, and as readers prepare to raise a toast to 2012 tonight The Courier would also like to wish them a safe passage into the new year.