Regional development assembly set for November 15

Central Highlands Regional Development chair George Fong.

Central Highlands Regional Development chair George Fong.

A fundamentally important consultation forum to establish future needs in the Central Highlands region will take place in Ballarat on November 15.

Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford announced the date for the first Central Highlands Regional Partnership assembly on Thursday, with the new regional partnership initiative to transform the way rural and regional Victorians engage with government.

Ideas and priorities collated at the forum will be presented back to the community before being put to a board featuring seven cabinet members and chaired by Ms Pulford.

The regional assembly will be preceded by an online forum to help establish priority areas through the website.

The Central Highlands Regional Partnership includes the shires of Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool and Pyrenees, as well as the City of Ballarat and Ararat Rural City.

Central Highlands Regional Development chair George Fong said the assembly will be comprised of around 100 various community members, with the process to help outline a clear set of future needs and streamline them to the government.

“There’s an extraordinary amount of energy to come out of this,” Mr Fong said.

“Our job is to listen and refine what the messages are to community and then take it to cabinet.

“We are in no way replacing councils, in fact councils now have an additional resource to them and we have been given a very big file of existing council projects.

“The idea will be flesh out what they think are important to the region and the department (staff) will take all the information away and it will then go back out to the community.

“In December we will present a report from this area on our current needs.

“The focus on our government agendas will be for the next year. There’s a four year term, this is the first cycle.”

Tourism opportunities, ideas and actions and increasing jobs and economic growth are likely to be priorities addressed by the Central Highlands Regional Partnership.

Infrastructure needs will also likely be a major priority.

Leaders in education, health and commerce will play a part in identifying the needs, while the nine regional partnership chairs, including Mr Fong, will also discuss cross-regional issues and opportunities as part of the Regional Development Advisory Committee.