Activating potential in Ballarat

CONNECT: Newcomer Christine Peacock and LBWR alumuna Sheree Collins each find Activate Ballarat is a great way to meet new like-minded people. Picture: Lachlan Bence
CONNECT: Newcomer Christine Peacock and LBWR alumuna Sheree Collins each find Activate Ballarat is a great way to meet new like-minded people. Picture: Lachlan Bence

MOVING to Ballarat was a big change for law lecturer Christine Peacock.

Ms Peacock had been based in Melbourne, Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur before arriving to take up a job with Federation University. She liked the lifestyle a regional city offered, but one of her biggest challenges was meeting like-minded people.

“It was a big change coming to Ballarat and quite different. I sometimes feel like everyone here knows everyone else and is already connected, but they’re all extremely nice,” Ms Peacock said.

Ms Peacock searched online for events in Ballarat and stumbled on Activate Ballarat – a meeting point for newcomers and established community members.

She said it quickly changed her perspective.

Committee for Ballarat and Leadership Ballarat and Western Region, teamed with Ballarat Clarendon College to create the network in a bid to develop and support new employees often internationals or from interstate. They were finding young professionals were keen to move to a vibrant regional city, but often found it hard to make new friends.

Sessions feature guest speakers, including volunteers organisations, which Ms Peacock said offered a broader look at her new community and inspired new ways to get involved.

Activate Ballarat has also surprised LBWR alumna Sheree Collins, who said the group helped offer her a new take on her hometown.

“It’s a good professional networking arena and it’s good talking to new people and learning about their backgrounds and what they are doing in Ballarat,” the Gforce business development manager said. 

Ballarat Clarendon College special projects manager Tony Godfrey said the school recognised a corporate and social responsibility to help new employees establish meaningful social connections outside work. Mr Godfrey said the individual benefits, employees retain more settled employees for longer and Ballarat could benefit from new people offering their energy and skills to the community.

LBWR executive officer Jennie Courtney invites young professionals to the next Activate Ballarat gathering at Art Gallery of Ballarat Annexe on Wednesday night, from 5-7pm, to connect whether it be for one drink or the development of on-going partnerships. Details: lbwr.org/activate-ballarat or Active Ballarat on Facebook.