For Janet Dore, leading the city has been driven by a desire to see regional areas valued and respected, while pushing toward the future.
Ms Dore stepped down from her role as chair of Committee for Ballarat on August 8. She has been succeded in the role by Nick Beale, a champion of Ballarat’s push to see a 59-minute commuter service to Melbourne.
After three years at the organisation’s helm, it was the government investments in Ballarat’s rail infrastructure to the tune of $518 million – and promise of more to come with the Sunshine airport Link – which she regards as the committee’s shining achievements.
But Ms Dore said there was much to be done to counter the fact “things are so metro-centric, and they have been for a long time”.
“If we don’t want our capital cities in states to continue their domination in terms of work and living, the work of committees like Committee for Ballarat has to keep in the face of metropolitan decision makers to show them there’s an alternative,” she said.
“For instance, there’s bipartisan support for the Sunshine hub, all levels of government are talking about regionalisation and the differences that can be made … The problem is we’ve got such a long backlog to catch up on in terms of hard rail infrastructure.”
Ms Dore said that Ballarat’s connectivity “will remain the major issue” as people take advantage of the city’s lifestyle and affordable housing, but unless more work was generated here, residents would continue to commute.
She told The Courier last year that if not open to major job-creating developments such as the Civic Hall GovHub, Ballarat’s reputation was at stake, with fears we “may not be regarded as sufficiently progressive and forward thinking” as desired.
To best take advantage of the city’s unprecedented growth, she said higher density living and alternative forms of development are necessary, to ensure Ballarat’s doesn’t repeat the under-planned and infrastructure-starved problems of Melbourne’s urban sprawl.
“We need better internal connectivity, with an eye to new technologies being tested around the world,” Ms Dore said, noting driverless shuttles to the train station would reduce parking pain.
“People said Australians wouldn’t use public transport ten years ago, and look at the trains now. It’s the same sort of cultural shift,” she said. “People drove everywhere, and particularly to work. They don’t now. The next wave is a different sort of convenience for getting around.”
As the former Transport Accident Commission chief executive, she conceded the organisation’s shift from Melbourne to Geelong back in 2016 was difficult but had provided valuable learning opportunities.
She told The Courier last year while the TAC “lost of a lot of people” over the three year transition, the whole new workforce recruited in a temporary office “started to generate a new culture”.
Across varied leadership roles during her 40-plus year career – from Ballarat City Council CEO to helping lead the Commercial Passenger Vehicles Commission (CPVC) – the lessons have been hard won.
“The thing is that the more people you listen to, the better results you get,” Ms Dore said. “It took me a long time to learn that diverse opinions need to be worked through and discussed, but patience has never been one of my attributes I’m afraid.
“When I see other leaders in action, I see that patience and inclusivity, which is a really great leadership trait.”
Still involved with the CPVC and on the Central Highlands Water board, Ms Dore intends to remain on the forefront of technological advancement.
She is currently undertaking an online course on what she calls the “fifth stage of the digital revolution” - blockchain – through the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.
Blockchain is an online method of knowledge storage which has found itself as the basis of digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Many people can write entries into a record of information called a ‘block’, and a community of users can control how the record of information is amended and updated.
Of the unorthodox field of study, Ms Dore said ultimately “the worst thing you can do is get left behind”, a mindset ensuring she remains one of Ballarat’s most influential leaders.