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February 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 Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership, one of nine across the state, gives regional Victorians a real say about issues that matter to them.

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Grain silos in Horsham
Reflections from the Chair
David Jochinke

In the 18 months since its formation, the impact of the Regional Partnership in this region has really started to gain pace. 

All credit must go to those people who gave up their time to attend the annual Regional Assemblies. It is the expertise and insight of the 140 and 200 individuals, who attended in 2016 and 2017 respectively, that has made the difference.

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Partnership drives initiative to improve early years outcomes in rural and regional Victoria
Emma Vogel

“Early Years models that work in metropolitan areas often don’t work in rural and regional areas,” explains Emma Vogel, Deputy Chair of the Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) Regional Partnership, and herself a mum to four children.

“It’s a huge issue,” she explains. “Regional areas have small, dispersed populations which effects demand for providers to run viable services. They have trouble getting qualified staff and often the staff have to travel long distances.

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WSM Regional Partnership Highlights and Update:
Grain silo in Horsham

Over the past 18 months, much has been achieved by the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership.

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

“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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Connecting the regions, connecting Victorians

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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We still want to hear from you

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership wants to hear your views.

Go to our Engage page to tell the Partnership what the WSM 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 Pulford at the 2017 Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Assembly

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 Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership.

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