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Agriculture, education, roads and nature-based tourism have been singled out as the Great South Coast region's top priorities in the lead-up to the 2014 State Government election.
The region's peak advocacy body, the Great South Coast Group, met in Camperdown on Friday to collectively decide upon its top advocacy projects.
• The Great South Coast Food and Fibre Strategy
• The Great South Coast Education Attainment Project
• Additional funding to maintain and improve our regional roads
• Funding for regional nature-based tourism – specifically, the Apostles Trail and Grampians Peaks Trail.
Chair Cr Chris O'Connor said the Board had been unanimous in its views that these four projects were clear priorities for the region in the lead-up to the State election next year.
He said the Board had also identified the need to continue to apply pressure to the Federal Government to improve telecommunications across the region.
"The Great South Coast Group has an important role to play in terms of ensuring issues that are important to us are recognised by State and Federal Governments," Cr O'Connor said.
"These are all issues or projects that we believe will have a lasting impact upon us as a region, and we'll be doing all we can to ensure our voice is heard."
Cr O'Connor said the Food and Fibre Strategy would help producers and processors boost productivity and profitability and take advantage of emerging export opportunities.
The strategy itself would provide a long-term blueprint to ensure the region could position itself as one of the world's most important producers of quality food.
Corangamite Shire Mayor Cr Chris O'Connor has been re-elected as Chair of the region's peak body, the Great South Coast Group.
Cr O'Connor was re-elected unopposed at the Group's bi-monthly Board meeting in Camperdown on Friday.
Newly elected Moyne Shire Mayor Cr James Purcell joins Cr O'Connor as Deputy Chair.
The Great South Coast Board also reappointed Warrnambool-based consultancy, o2 Media, as Executive Officer for another two-year term.
o2 Media Director Karen Foster has been acting in this position since the organisation's inception three years ago.
During that time, Ms Foster has has overseen the formation of an independent Company whose chief purpose is to collectively decide upon regional priorities and advocate to State and Federal governments.
The Great South Coast Board is comprised of the Mayors and CEOs of member councils – the Shires of Glenelg, Southern Grampians, Moyne, Corangamite, Colac Otway and the City of Warrnambool – and four independent Directors.
Through its four Pillars – Position for Economic Growth; Improve our Connections; Strengthen our Communities; Sustain our Natural Assets – the Great South Coast Group engages a number of industry and community groups.
More detail is available at www.greatsouthcoast.com.au.
Great South Coast Executive Officer Karen Foster,
telephone 0407 312 836
The Glenelg River Restoration Project was announced the winner in Australia's biggest environmental award last night at a gala awards presentation in Brisbane.
Glenelg Hopkins CEO Kevin Wood accepted the Australian Riverprize award and the $200,000 prize money, at the 16th international Riversymposium on Tuesday night, from Senator Simon Birmingham.
Riverprize, presented by the International RiverFoundation, is the world's most prestigious environmental award, giving recognition, reward and support to those who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river management.
The Glenelg River project won the award from the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners' Lake Condah and Darlots Creek project, also in the Glenelg Hopkins region, and Tweed River, a third time finalist; in front of a crowd of Australian and international delegates attending the conference and gala dinner.
Senator Birmingham, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, said that "farming families in the Glenelg River Basin, had worked with conservation groups and industry to carry out what has become the biggest river fencing and protection program in Victoria's history".
Mr Wood said the award was an extraordinary achievement for the Glenelg Hopkins CMA, and the many organisations and people who have worked so hard for more than 10 years to restore the Glenelg River back to health.
"In particular, this award is owned by the 628 landholder families along the Glenelg River who have partnered with the CMA and other agencies to care for our iconic waterway," he said
"This is a significant acknowledgement of all the work which has been involved in restoring health to a river which was at the point of ecological collapse during the mid-2000s due to low flows, poor water quality, loss of habitat, and weed and carp invasion," Mr Wood said.
"Some courageous decisions have been made in the past decade in restoring health to the river, which were not always supported when they were initiated. The project has pushed the boundaries of conventional river management and original and innovative approaches have been used from planning works to flood fencing to tracking and eliminating carp."
During the Glenelg River project, more than half a million trees were planted and direct seeded along 770km of waterway frontage. "And just recently we celebrated the achievement of 1600km of fencing along the Glenelg River, which is the equivalent of laying a fence between Melbourne and Brisbane."
Other achievements of the restoration program include 2000 ha of cross-tenure weed control, re-instatement of 870 pieces of large wood, opening 270km of the Glenelg River to fish movement and the establishment and delivery of an environmental flows entitlement.
The resulting river health improvements can be demonstrated by the recovery of native fish populations which have increased by over 150% in restored river reaches.
Mr Wood congratulated the other finalists, in particular the Lake Condah Project which received a highly commended award, noting that this Riverprize award was the first ever with two projects in the finals, from the same region.
"It is significant, and a reflection of the strong community support for natural resource management in Glenelg Hopkins, that community participation and support was the strength of both the Glenelg River and Lake Condah projects," he said.
"In many ways, it is south west Victoria which is tonight's winner. This certainly puts the national spotlight on south west Victoria, and the outstanding work which has gone into protecting our waterways," Mr Wood said.
The Australian Riverprize consists of $150,000 in cash and a $50,000 grant for the winner to establish a twinning project within Australia. The objectives of the twinning activities are to share resources and experience, transfer relevant technologies and tools, rehabilitate degraded catchments and improve socio-economic standards within the river system.
The Victorian Government contributed the funding to the Glenelg River Restoration Project.
Australian Riverprize: Awarded annually by the International RiverFoundation, Riverprize is the world's most prestigious environmental award, giving recognition, reward and support to those who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river management. In recognition of the high quality of Australian applications in the International Riverprize category, the Australian Riverprize was established in 2001.
Funded by the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative, through the Water Smart Australia program, the Australian Riverprize's $200,000 makes it the largest prize for environmental achievement in the country.
Media contact: Deb Howcroft, Glenelg Hopkins CMA, 0427 517 025
For further information on Riverprize please contact:
CEO International RiverFoundation
07 3123 7767
The region's peak advocacy body has called on the Australian Government to match the Coalition's $10m cancer centre funding commitment made in Warrnambool today.
Great South Coast Group Chair Chris O'Connor welcomed today's pre-election commitment by Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton to provide $10 million for the Peter's Project campaign to build an integrated cancer centre in Warrnambool.
"This project is the Great South Coast Group's number one priority for our region," Cr O'Connor said.
"We're thrilled with the Opposition's promise to kick in $10 million towards this critical project and we now call on the Federal Government to do likewise."
The $30 million Integrated Cancer Centre project will see radiation therapy services integrated with South West Healthcare's existing chemotherapy and palliative care services for patients.
Cr O'Connor said this would mean cancer patients would no longer be forced to travel to Geelong or Ballarat for treatment at a time in their lives when they needed their family and support networks around them.
"We know that cancer rates in our region are 20 per cent higher than the state average and with our ageing population, the situation isn't likely to get any better," he said.
"The Opposition's $10 million commitment will make sure the Warrnambool Integrated Cancer Centre becomes a reality."
Peter's Project – a local volunteer action group – has committed to raise $5 million from the regional community over the coming year, while the State Government has already pledged $15 million.
Great South Coast Executive Officer
Phone: 0407 312 836
A cancer centre for Warrnambool, better roads, tourism and passenger rail have all been singled out as the Great South Coast region’s top priorities.
The Great South Coast Board met in Hamilton on Friday to collectively decide which issues it would take to the Federal and State Governments in the lead-up to elections later this year and in 2014.
Chair Chris O’Connor said there had been universal agreement that Warrnambool’s integrated cancer centre was this region’s highest need.
“This centre will mean people living in the Great South Coast region can access specialist cancer treatment close to home,” Cr O’Connor said.
“At the moment, they’re forced to travel long distances to get the care they need, and that often means long spells away from their family and other supports.”
Second on the group’s priority list was roads – specifically, the lack of government funds to maintain and repair regional roads.
“Those of us who travel across our region on a regular basis know that our roads are the worst in the state,” Cr O’Connor said.
“Our aim is to position this region as the region of highest need so that we can get the resources we need to fix our roads.”
The Great South Coast Group’s third highest priority was tourism.
In particular, the group will focus on attracting funds to develop two iconic tourists walk – the 12 Apostles Walk and the Grampians Wild Walk.
Cr O’Connor said the region, with its plethora of natural assets, had enormous untapped potential for nature-based tourism.
“We’ve got the Grampians in the north and this incredible coastline as well as some of this country’s most significant cultural heritage sites.
“It’s time we started telling the world about those things.”
Lobbying for extra passenger rail services on the Geelong to Warrnambool line and exploring the potential for passenger services from Ararat to Portland via Hamilton are also high on the Group’s priority list.
Cr O’Connor said this priority was around boosting the connectivity of the Great South Coast’s towns.
“It’s about making sure we have regular, reliable connections to Geelong and Melbourne, but it’s also about seeing whether it’s feasible to introduce
Beyond the top four priorities, Cr O’Connor said the Great South Coast Group would also work on a range of other issues in the coming year.
Great South Coast Executive Officer
Phone: 0407 312 836
The Great South Coast Group has set its sights on this region’s “unacceptable” Year 12 attainment rates, vowing to work for cultural change.
At its Board meeting in Port Fairy on Friday, the region’s peak body formally endorsed Year 12 or equivalent attainment as a priority area of focus and action.
Great South Coast Chair Cr Chris O’Connor said a recently released Auditor General’s report on student completion rates revealed that Year 12 completion rates for this region were among Victoria’s lowest.
“In some parts of our region, less than 50 per cent of our young people are achieving Year 12 or equivalent,” Cr O’Connor said.
“That’s simply unacceptable.”
Cr O’Connor said completion of Year 12 or equivalent was arguably a young person’s the best opportunity to secure a solid foundation for a healthy and happy future.
“There is sound research that shows that young people who leave school before they finish Year 12 are more likely to be socially and economically disadvantaged later in life,” he said.
“So we know that education is the key to lifting people’s health and wellbeing.
Cr O’Connor said the Great South Coast Group had formed a working party to explore a whole-of-community approach to boosting Year 12 attainment rates.
He said the working group acknowledged the importance of addressing the issue of Year 12 attainment across the entire life cycle, beginning at birth.
“This is not just a problem for our secondary schools – this is an issue for our entire community.
“And while there might be some short-term measures we can put in place, this is likely to be a long-term thing.
“It’s likely to involve a real shift in our culture and our attitudes to learning and education.”
Cr O’Connor said the Board’s decision to make Year 12 attainment a priority was in step with government policy, with the Victorian and Federal Governments also recently announcing measures to address school retention rates.
He said the working group would now seek the views of a broad range of stakeholders, including education providers and community groups and agencies, to explore next steps.
“This is a big job and we don’t expect overnight results, but the Great South Coast Group is intent on bringing together all the people who can make a difference to our young people’s educational outcomes,” Cr O’Connor said.
Great South Coast Executive Officer
Phone: 0407 312 836
The Great South Coast highlighted the importance of governments becoming more “regionally literate” at last week’s VECCI Regional Business Convention.
The Great South was one of seven regions represented at the two-day conference in Geelong, which was attended by Premier Ted Baillieu and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews.
A delegation of five business and community leaders explained to other delegates the important role the Great South Coast and its agricultural powerhouse would contribute to the Victorian economy in the coming decade.
Speakers Great South Coast Executive Officer and local business owner Karen Foster and Mike Weise, of Mike Weise Consulting, highlighted this region’s ‘clean, green’ environment and the opportunities to significantly build upon agriculture.
Importantly, the delegation introduced the notion of “regional literacy”.
“What we find is that there is a high level of ‘regional literacy’ – a genuine understanding of the issues, opportunities and challenges the regions face – here among our communities,” Ms Foster said.
“Our sense is that regional businesses and economies could benefit from a higher degree of ‘regional literacy’ in Spring Street.”
Other issues the Great South Coast raised during its presentation to the VECCI convention included the need for a regional education strategy to address this region’s poor Year 12 attainment rates and the need for investment in vocational training.
The Great South Coast delegation also impressed upon the delegates the need to build stronger connections, relationships and regional alliances and called for much stronger investment in regional infrastructure.
VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone said regional growth was putting pressure on infrastructure.
"Roads, bridges, airports, public transport systems, hospitals and educational facilities, arts and cultural facilities, and more basic community services, are all beginning to feel the strain of our expanding regions,” Mr Stone said.
The Convention, held every two years, commenced with workshops held in each Victorian region.
Around 70 people from the Great South Coast region attended the Warrnambool workshop, with delegates Karen Foster and Mike Weise joined by Kylie Gaston, Greg Walcott and Richard Zerbe to represent the Great South Coast in Geelong last week.
“The Great South Coast region can contribute many things to Victoria’s competitiveness and sustainable growth over the next decade,” Ms. Foster said.
“It was important for us to have opportunity to put this region squarely on the Government’s radar.”
Great South Coast Executive Officer
Phone: 0407 312 836
A support process for developing a preventative health strategy for the Great South Coast will be outlined during a meeting at Hamilton on Friday.
Deakin University and South West Primary Care Partnership (PCP) and Southern Grampians Glenelg PCP leaders will meet to discuss the identification of priority health issues in support of the Great South Coast Group.
Local Governments, PCP member agencies and Deakin will work on identifying health issues that will be addressed in local government municipal health plans in a partnership approach.
The Department of Health has funded a municipal preventative health and well being planning support strategy to prepare for the development of new local government health plans.
Vicky Mason, Director of Community Development and GSC Group Pillar leader, said the strategy would focus on the major health issues affecting the whole region.
“We are looking to identify major issues that are of concern to all local government areas in our region,” she said.
The support strategy complements the Great South Coast strengthening our community pillar and is designed to help municipalities produce better health plans.
The Deakin and PCP alliance will support the priority research.
The initiative follows the formation of an Australian-first partnership between Deakin and South West PCP to address local health workforce issues and grow the health and wellbeing capacity and health promotion expertise of the region.
The PCP is now based at the Warrnambool Campus and it is expected the partnership will help Deakin health students to gain practical experience in the field and improve research.
|Venue:||Dariwell Farm in Hamilton|
|Date:||Friday, 24 August 2012|
To arrange interviews or photos please contact Rick Bayne on 0418 140 489.
Issued by: Rick Bayne, Deakin University, 0418 140 489.
Great South Coast councils have been dealt a surprise $1.5 million blow after a technical correction to the Australian Government financial assistance grants.
Great South Coast Group Chair Matt Makin said the six regional councils would have to find a collective $1.54 million to maintain their current service levels after a funding ‘redirection’.
“Basically, the Federal Government is clawing back this money at a time when councils have already set their 2012-13 budgets,” Cr Makin said.
“This means we will either be forced to cut promised services or or add to our debt levels.”
Cr Makin said the basis for the funding redistribution was largely in response to a technical correction to Victoria’s population figures in the wake of the 2011 Census.
He said this formula was based on consumer price movements that did not in any way reflect the increasing costs associated with local government.
“Our biggest cost is around people – paying the salaries of the people who deliver services like child care and kindergartens, home care, libraries, maternal and child health visits.
“These costs are simply not reflected in CPI movements.”
Cr Makin said the Great South Coast Group would be writing to Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean to express its frustration at the funding redistribution.
“This is a huge blow for Great South Coast Councils and it comes at a time when we are already grappling with the fallout of the defined benefits superannuation issue.”
Estimated impact of the Australian Government’s financial assistance grants redistribution per Great South Coast council
|Colac Otway Shire||$180,000|
|Southern Grampians Shire||$146,000|
Great South Coast Chair and Corangamite Shire Mayor
Phone: 0427 322 282
0.5 EFT, Warrnambool
The Great South Coast Group is the region's peak regional advocacy and strategic planning body. It takes in an area bounded by the Shires of Colac Otway, Corangamite, Moyne, Southern Grampians, Glenelg and the City of Warrnambool.
A highly organised and efficient person is sought to take on the position of Secretariat Support Officer.
Working with the Executive Officer and supporting the organisation's four Pillar Groups, you'll be responsible for planning meeting schedules and business calendars, taking and distributing minutes of meetings and general research and administration. This is a diverse role in which your exceptional communication and organisational skills will be paramount.
The position is fixed-term (until June 30, 2013) and is based in Warrnambool with a requirement to travel across the Great South Coast region.
Applications close Friday 3 August.
Agriculture, education, roads and nature-based tourism have been singled out as the Great South Coast region's top priorities in the lead-up to the 2014 State…