What Ballarat needs: the major priorities for our future

BALLARAT'S major priorities include the relocation of a government department, a plan for more jobs and increased funding for family violence support services.

The Courier spoke to dozens of key figures in the Ballarat community to compile a list of what our city needs for the future.

Business groups, community organisations and everyday voters on the street were all consulted about what they think are key priorities for the region.

The final list also includes redevelopment of the Ballarat Railway Station and Ballarat sports and entertainment precincts, more funding for the Ballarat West Employment Zone and improved services on the Ballarat train line.

Commerce Ballarat suggested a revitalised central business district, as well as activation of both the Civic Hall site and the Ballarat Railway Station precinct. 

"A vibrant CBD supports retail and hospitality which in turn supports our tourism sector," said Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett.

Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Region chair Damien Butler proposed more funding for the Ballarat West Employment Zone and wi-fi on trains.

"Commitment to provide free public wi-fi on V/Line trains would enable travel to be more productive particularly for business and tourism travellers," he said.

WHAT BALLARAT NEEDS

Twenty priorities for our city's future

Transport

Wi-fi and phone coverage on trains

Improved daily train services

Late night transport from Melbourne

Infrastructure

Emergency services hub in Ballarat's west

Next stage of Western Link Road

Ballarat West Employment Zone

More funds to fix local roads in disrepair

Community

More funds for family violence services

More funds for alcohol and drug services

More funds for mental health services

Reduction in poker machine cap

Business and entertainment

Government department in Ballarat

New business convention centre

New major entertainment centre

Capital works

A position on the Civic Hall site

Upgrade to Eureka Stadium

Upgrade to Ballarat Showgrounds

Upgrade to Wendouree sports centre

Upgrade to Ballarat railway precinct

Upgrade to Her Majesty's Theatre

Legislation to reduce the number of poker machines in Ballarat was one submission put forward by Ballarat Community Health Centre CEO Robyn Reeves.

Child & Family Services Ballarat CEO Allan Joy nominated family violence as a major issue that needed addressing.

"CAFS as a White Ribbon Accredited Workplace is keen to do more particularly in schools as part of an early intervention, preventative program," he said.

Country Women's Association Ballarat group president Marilyn Watts suggested that Ballarat needed a large venue which could host major conferences.

Ballarat East Community Men's Shed president Doug Jenkins said the government needed to increase funding for mental health issues. 

"Programs to help with depression and suicide prevention need to be enhanced and supported," he said.

The Courier editor Andrew Eales proposed support for core services to improve community safety and capacity.

"Targeted programs to reduce drug and alcohol harm, night-time violence and improve literacy levels and multicultural understanding," he said.

Ballarat Tech Park director Mal Vallance believed both parties needed to commit to bringing a government department to Ballarat.

"You only need to look at the positive economic impacts that the State Revenue Office, ESTA and the like have generated in the region," he said.

The Committee for Ballarat recently published its Advancing Ballarat and Western Region - Preparing for Growth plan, nominating a Ballarat freight hub as necessary to boosting the Ballarat West Employment Zone.

Last year, the City of Ballarat released its Ballarat Regional Capital Plan which identified a vibrant central business district and a major exhibition facility as key priorities for the city's future.

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