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April 2018
Regional Partnerships – giving regional Victorians a real say

Regional Partnerships are helping to transform the way communities work with Government and how Government delivers services in regional Victoria.”
                                                                           Jaala Pulford, Minister for Regional Development

The Central Highlands Regional Partnership, one of nine across the state, gives regional Victorians a real say about issues that matter to them.

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Central Highlands streetscape
Reflections from the Chair
George Fong

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2018 – a year of turning opportunity into action.

Your Central Highlands Regional Partnership remains committed to “listening to, and delivering for, our community” and, as you will see from the update, we have been very active since our last Assembly in October 2017.

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The Prevention Lab Project – promoting better health in the Central Highlands
The Prevention Lab Project

Following the Central Highlands’ first Assembly in 2016, health, and improving the long-term health outcomes of those living in the region, became a top priority for the Partnership.

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Victoria’s Rural Women’s Network – a Partnership Priority brought to life

“Everyone is very excited it’s back, they want to be involved,” explains Jasmine Glover, co-ordinator of the newly re-established Victorian Rural Women’s Network.

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Central Highlands Regional Partnership Highlights and Updates

Over the past 18 months, much has been initiated and achieved by the Partnership in areas including health, community and social welfare, and new energy. Take a look at our story so far.

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Connecting the regions, connecting Victorians
Digital Connectivity

Digital connectivity is fundamental to people’s lives, equity and to economic and social development of communities, and it creates opportunities and reduces costs created by geographic and other barriers.

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Keeping Victoria moving

Improving regional roads and rail was front of mind for many attending Assemblies in 2016 (and 2017) and a priority for many Partnerships in their first year.

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Push to improve early years outcomes in rural and regional Victoria

In Wimmera Southern Mallee, the Partnership identified the need for reform to early years provision. Trials now underway in that region may lead to changes throughout rural and regional Victoria, including the Central Highlands.

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We still want to hear from you // Our 2018 Assembly

The Central Highlands Regional Partnership wants to hear your views.

We look forward to seeing you at our 2018 Assembly in Ballarat on Thursday 14 June.

Go to our Engage page to tell the Partnership what the Central Highlands region needs, and to find contact details.

There's also more information on the Partnership at and you can keep up to date on Facebook.

Minister Pulford on Partnerships
Minister Jaala Pulford

Jaala Pulford is the Victorian Government Minister responsible for Regional Development. It was under her that Regional Partnerships were introduced. So, have they met her expectations?

Whose idea were Regional Partnerships?
After the 2014 election, we asked former Premier John Brumby to conduct a review into how we can work more effectively with the diverse communities that make up regional Victoria. Following his report, we released a Regional Statement in late 2015, and Regional Partnerships and Assemblies were among the outcomes. We saw it as a way to improve decision making and better target investment dollars in line with what communities want.

Are they working?
Absolutely, and they will only grow in influence and importance. Whether it’s digital connectivity ($45 million new investment), major new investments in regional roads and rail, or the idea of a Cross-Border Commissioner, we are already beginning to enact a raft of policies that have been shaped by Regional Partnerships and what we’ve heard at the Assemblies.

What’s not working?
There’s only so much we can achieve in one or two years. While we backed many Partnership priorities with significant new investments – take the $12 million for a cycling optimisation project in northeast Victoria – there is much more to do. This isn’t simply about budget line items. It’s transforming the way we interact with the diverse communities that make up regional Victoria. It’s making us more responsive and collaborative.

What’s the best thing to come out of Partnerships?
Smart, targeted policy innovation. Take the example of the Wimmera Southern Mallee. The Premier and ministerial colleagues were told at the Regional Assembly in 2016 that early years’ service delivery was an urgent priority. As a result, the Government is facilitating a trial to find a better way of making things better for at-risk kids. It isn’t a big ticket item but it’s a great example of how Partnerships are driving productive new collaborations and innovative policy ideas.

Do big Assemblies work?
Assemblies are really useful, but they form only part of the work undertaken by Regional Partnerships. Ministers, MPs, councils and Partnership members relish the chance to hear from a diverse range of regional voices, but listening without action doesn’t add up to much. The key is to follow up priorities identified through the Assemblies and find a practical policy or budget solution.

Where to now?
Partnerships presented their priorities to Government at the end of last year and we are working hard to see what can be realised. In some cases, this may form part of a Budget announcement later this year but, in some cases, it’s not a question of new money, but of changing how things are delivered on the ground. Partnerships – as we speak – are working with different Government departments (in relationships that may not have previously existed) to see how things can be better aligned to local needs. We’re also very keen to keep up the consultation and will be heading into a third year of Assemblies soon.



This email was distributed by Regional Development Victoria on behalf of the Central Highlands Regional Partnership.

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