Round Table Dinners

Round Table Dinners

These dinners are a benefit of membership and are for members and their guests. They have become a must-attend event on the Ballarat calendar.

We are proud of the high-calibre speakers that we have been able to attract for our members. Drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, they are experts in their respective fields who deliver engaging and thought-provoking addresses.

These dinners also provide a great opportunity for members to network with peers, gain and exchange ideas, extend their lateral thinking and generate business interactions.

Recent Dinners

March 2019 – Sir Bob Geldof, Global Philanthropist and Activist

Committee for Ballarat held its first Round Table Dinner for 2019 on Friday 15 March with Sir Bob Geldof as the guest speaker.

By far and away our biggest and grandest RTD to date, the dinner was attended by just under 400 guests who were inspired by the charismatic Sir Bob, who gave a stirring address and was very generous with his time in the newly refurbished Civic Hall, which looked resplendent.

Sir Bob’s visit to our great city commenced with a walk along iconic Lydiard Street, the “Boomtown” precinct of The Rat! The original Boomtown Rat was accompanied by Committee for Ballarat Chair Nick Beale, CEO Melanie Robertson, and Visit Ballarat CEO Noel Dempsey.

His first stop was to meet the Pitcha Makin Fellas, a group of Aboriginal artists, at their studio in Lydiard Street, where he chatted to them about their work, and then continued his visit to renowned Australian artist David Bromley at The Pub with Two Names, the hip Ballarat establishment David owns with his wife, Yuge.

The Pitcha Makin Fellas and David and Yuge Bromley are featured as part of the Made of Ballarat campaign, which sponsored our Round Table Dinner. This campaign showcases the city’s makers, creators and rebels, enticing people to visit Ballarat and experience a getaway filled with culture, enrichment, indulgence and adventure.

To view photos of the walk, click here.

After the walk, The Stables at The Pub with Two Names was the perfect venue for our Meet and Greet with Sir Bob Geldof, which was presented by Nicholson Construction.

Fifty guests, consisting of representatives from Nicholson Construction, Committee for Ballarat Executive member organisations and Visit Ballarat had the opportunity to meet Sir Bob on a more personal level. These unique and intimate conversations formed the base of the address for the evening. One of the guests was Laura Thomson – from JK  Personnel – who is Irish, and was delighted to meet the man who was such a major influence in her youth.

Much to Sir Bob's delight, he was presented with a portrait of himself painted by David Bromley at this function.

Thank you to all who attended for representing the Ballarat business community so authentically and proudly.

To view photos of the Meet and Greet function, click here.

From the Meet and Greet session, it was on to the Civic Hall for the dinner!

From the moment guests entered the iconic Civic Hall, the atmosphere was electric; a true mix of excitement and anticipation.

To commence the evening, a beautiful and heartfelt Welcome to Country was given by The Wang Murrup (meaning "crow spirit") made up of Traditional Owners of the Wadawurrung clan – Deanne Gilson, Tammy Gilson and Barry Gilson. The welcome included Barry singing Kirett Barrett in language, which was very powerful and moving.

Myf Warhurst hosted the evening and delighted guests with her warmth, fun, energy and memories of former Ballarat night spot Hot Gossip, which seemed to resonate a little too well with the audience!

In the lead-up to Sir Bob's address, Chair Nick Beale presented new membership certificates to Hocking Stuart Ballarat (Corporate), Mercy Place Ballarat (Corporate), The Ballarat Foundation (Small Business), and A Leader's Impact (Small Business) as well as to seven new Community members – Nicole Ashby, Daryl Clifton, Sheree Collins, Kate Davis, Mark Hemetsberger, Rochelle Kirkham and Sarah Myers.

Following a delicious main course from Peter Ford catering, and for just shy of 90 minutes, Sir Bob transfixed the audience with his wisdom, truth, knowledge, incredible social conscience and his deep, astute understanding of humanity.

Feedback from guests was overwhelmingly positive. It seems everyone felt a sense of great pride and privilege to hear Sir Bob and be part of the night.

We are incredibly proud to have delivered this event on behalf of members. Our work is only possible through the support and the financial and personal contributions of our members. The success belongs to you, our strong and proud membership, who provide the vision and always dream big.

To view photos of the Round Table Dinner,  click here.

Following Sir Bob’s visit to their gallery earlier in the evening, The Pitcha Makin Fellas – Ted Laxton (visual artist), Adrian Rigney (visual artist), Peter-Shane Rotumah (visual artist) and Peter Widmer (group coordinator/assistant) – showcased a piece of their artwork at the dinner.

The Pitcha Makin Fellas is an award-winning art collective of Koori men whose ancestors come from a number of language groups in the south -eastern part of Australia. The Fellas create vibrant expressions of their personal histories and stories as Aboriginal men. Humour is an important part of making art, inviting the viewer to open their eyes to the history of this nation.

The artwork, titled Harrow Cricket, was inspired by Adrian (Louie), who has been playing cricket in the Horsham Cricket Association for almost 20 years. There, he also captained a team of Aboriginal cricketers for several seasons. Louie has played in commemorative cricket matches in Harrow, representing the team of Johnny Mullagh, one of the most famous players in the Aboriginal team that toured England in 1868. Cricket has featured strongly in Louie’s life, and he continues to play competitive cricket in Victoria.

Creating the border of the piece in their unique style during the night while guests looked on, the sensational piece was completed by Sir Bob placing his hand print on the border.

The piece was sold during a silent auction at the dinner, with the winning bid going to Jim and Jacqui Nolan. The Nolans were attracted to the piece because "at first glance, it’s a cricket match. Look deeper and it speaks to so many things that connect us all – sport , history, art, the earth, spirituality and our mortality. The colours are bright and beautiful, and the story it tells evokes connections and reconciliation. It’s a credit to the Pitcha Makin Fellas."

To view the photo gallery of the Fellas' artwork, click here.

To finish with words from Sir Bob, he said, “You must make the world the way that you want to see it. You can’t just be complacent. Go out and create new things by making your world; you change the world. Don’t just sit behind a desk.”

Sir Bob said that the greatest threat to the planet is the belief that someone else will save it, and to paraphrase his words in a regional context, the greatest threat to our region is to believe that someone else is going to provide the necessary leadership and vision; however, that leadership sits within our community, it sits with us.

Once again, thank you all so very much for making the evening so truly memorable.


November 2018 – Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian of the Year


Our final Round Table Dinner for the year was held on Thursday 22 November 2018 at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre. Over 220 members and guests came to hear Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian of the Year, speak on the topic of "Reluctant Leadership: Effecting Change".  This dinner was also the first for Nick Beale as Chair of Committee and it incorporated the graduation of the participants from the 2018 Leadership Ballarat and Western Region program as well.

 The room looked superb with the stunning backdrop of the multi-coloured balloons across the stage and the canopy of festoon lights. Each table had an impressive balloon centrepiece and guests had their own personalised menus at their seats. As members entered the room, there were loud exclamations of delight at the extraordinary balloon-themed decor and soon there was a buzz of excitement in anticipation of the events that were to unfold that night.

In his first address as Chair, Nick outlined Committee's activities and priorities in the lead-up to the state election and presented a number of slides that detailed the major parties' positions on the issues that were priorities for Ballarat and the region. He also presented former Chair Janet Dore with a gift for her work over the previous three years and Committee's newest member, CHS Broadbent Pty Ltd, with its membership certificate.

Rosie Batty was then invited to the stage to give her address to the audience. She gave a very poignant account of how the tragedy of her son Luke's death in horrific circumstances led to her assuming the reluctant mantle of being a campaigner in the crusade against family violence. Her heartfelt story, where she was willing to expose her vulnerability to an unknown audience, left many members and guests emotionally moved.

Brett Macdonald, Community member and CEO of the Royal South Street Society, also did an excellent job as the MC for the evening and ensured that proceedings progressed smoothly.

In addition, the dinner incorporated the 2018 LBWR graduation ceremony. Committee for Ballarat is immensely proud of this flagship program as it continues to foster emerging leaders. Members celebrated and congratulated the 30 graduates. We wish them every success in their ongoing leadership journey.

Click here to see the photos from the night.

 August 2018 – Matthew Guy, Leader of the State Opposition

Our second Round Table Dinner for 2018 was held on Thursday 2 August at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre.  The guest speaker was Matthew Guy, Leader of the State Opposition, and Janet Dore gave her final address as Chair of Committee before she was to step down.

The room looked magnificent bathed in soft shades of lilac, with the three long tables beautifully decorated and each of the 140 guests having their own personalised menu at their seat. As members entered the room, they expressed their delight at the impressive decor and soon there was much animated discussion as members caught up with each other.

John Fitzgibbon was the MC and did an exceptional job in ensuring that the events for the evening proceeded along smoothly. He encouraged members to participate in the More than Gold campaign and to tell their stories of why they live in Ballarat.

John then paid tribute to Janet and introduced a photo presentation of Janet's time as Chair of Committee. Janet then came to the lectern and gave a heartfelt speech that indicated she had never lost her passion over the past three years for the work of Committee. She outlined the important strategies in the updated Strategic Plan that will drive the work of Committee to 2020 and articulated its priority projects in the lead-up to the state election. In the final part of her address, Janet thanked the members for their support and stated that it had been a privilege to represent them and she wished Nick Beale well in the new role. To view the photo presentation, click here.

Janet also, for her final time, presented membership certificates to Committee's newest members. They are Ballarat Cemeteries (Corporate), represented by Annie De Jong; and St Patrick's College (Corporate), represented by Andrew Ballesty.

Matthew Guy then gave an interesting address on the priorities of the State Opposition for the upcoming election that were relevant to Ballarat. He placed particular emphasis on population growth and the need for decentralisation and that Ballarat had to prepare itself for the challenge of accepting a greater influx of people over the next 20 years. He also said it was his wish that V/Line relocate its office to Ballarat.

Following Matthew Guy's speech, John Fitzgibbon then conducted a question and answer session with the Opposition Leader where they delved further into the issues raised by Matthew in his speech.

To view some of the photos from the dinner, please click here.

Please note in your calendars that the next Round Table Dinner will be held on Thursday 22 November 2018.

March 2018 – Elizabeth Proust, Chairman, Australian Institute of Company Directors

Our first Round Table Dinner for 2018 was held on Thursday 15 March at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre. The Australian Institute of Company Directors, an Associate member of Committee, provided the opportunity for its chairman, Elizabeth Proust, to be the guest speaker. To an audience of 130 guests, Elizabeth delivered the keynote address on the topic of "Diversity at the Table – Is It Time for Quotas?"

The room looked spectacular with its canopy of gold and silver lanterns and the dazzling light displays on the tables. As guests entered the room, expressions of delight could be heard as they appreciated the impressive decor and soon there was much laughter and conviviality as members caught up with each other.

In Elizabeth's thought-provoking address, she said that it had been proven that diversity at the boardroom table in terms of the gender, ethnicity and life experience of directors had led to better performances by the companies they represented. She also mentioned that for women to have an effective voice at the table, they needed to constitute 30 per cent of the board's membership, and that this was the target that had been set for companies to achieve by the end of 2018.

To read the AICD Gender Diversity Quarterly Report, please click here.

With Chair Janet Dore away, the Deputy Chair, Rodney Walton, presented membership certificates to Committee's newest members. They are Peter Stevens Motorworld (Corporate Gold), represented by Shane Fell; Beveridge Williams & Co Pty Ltd (Corporate), represented by Jackson Zaal; and Loreto College (Corporate), represented by Judith Potter. Radio Ballarat was also presented with its new Corporate Gold certificate after upgrading its previous Corporate membership.

Gerard FitzGerald also did an excellent job as the MC for the evening and ensured that proceedings progressed smoothly, and CEO Melanie Robertson gave an informative summary of Committee's activities over the past six months.

To view some of the photos from the dinner, please click here.

Please note in your calendars that the next Round Table Dinner will be held on Thursday 2 August 2018.


 November 2017 – Leadership at the Table with Annabel Crabb

The Round Table Dinner that was held on Thursday 16 November 2017 was an exciting and entertaining event. Over 200 members and guests were entertained and informed by the effervescent Bryce Ives, the MC for the night, and the sprightly, yet down-to-earth, Annabel Crabb. The insights, the stories, and the little bits of gold that Annabel has collected over the 20 years of her journalism career provided us with a great opportunity to learn how best to influence and embark on advocacy.


Annabel was also a most gracious speaker, staying on well after her keynote address to meet and chat with members and guests and pose with the many "Annabel fans" in attendance!

In addition, the dinner incorporated the 2017 LBWR graduation ceremony. Committee for Ballarat is immensely proud of this flagship program as it continues to foster emerging leaders. Members celebrated and congratulated the 27 graduates. We wish them every success in their ongoing leadership journey.

Click here to see the photos from the night, including the "non-round table" room setting!

July 2017 – Chris Riddell, Global Futurist

Our second Round Table Dinner for 2017 was held on Thursday 20 July at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre. UFS WorkHealth sponsored the evening and 170 members and guests heard an engaging keynote address from the guest speaker, the global futurist Chris Riddell. The main function room in the convention centre was lit up dramatically with blue and purple uplights and the tables’ centrepieces were glass globes with flashing lights inside that created a stunning effect that reflected the night’s theme.

As guests entered the room, they expressed their delight at the impressive setting, and when everyone was seated, the CfB's new Achievements video was launched to members. It was well received and set the tone for the rest of the evening, with members soon engaged in animated discussions with their fellow colleagues. Chris’s thought-provoking address covered the future trends and patterns that are beginning to emerge that will fundamentally transform our relationship with technology and the way we live in this new world of digital disruption.

To view the video, click here.

To see the photo gallery from the evening, click here.

March 2017 – Craig James, Chief Economist, CommSec

Our first Round Table Dinner for 2017 was held on Thursday 23 March at the RACV Goldfields Resort in Creswick. The Commonwealth Bank sponsored the evening and 120 members and guests heard an engaging keynote address from the guest speaker for the dinner, the chief economist of CommSec, Craig James, whose topic was "The Australian Economy in the Trump Era".

The grand ballroom was lit up with orange uplights and the tables were decorated in dramatic orange, yellow and black. As guests entered the ballroom, it was soon humming with laughter and the lively conversations of members as they caught up with each other.

Craig's speech covered the state of the global economy and its predicted future and he concluded that Australia is faring reasonably well in these times and that should continue. He also believes that Ballarat's economic future is reasonably secure as well.

To view a copy of Craig's presentation, please click here.

It was also our great pleasure to announce our new and reappointed Community members for 2017–18. They are Lisa Anderson, Daryl Clifton, Sheree Collins, Brett Macdonald, Tony Chew and Peta Clark. Fittingly, we also welcomed new Corporate member RACV Goldfields Resort, who was an excellent host for the night, and the culmination of the presentations was to award Selkirk Pty Ltd with its Executive membership certificate.

To see the photo gallery from the evening, click here.

November 2016 – Craig Lapsley, Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner

Our third Round Table Dinner for 2016 was held on Thursday 24 November at the Mercure Hotel Ballarat and incorporated the graduation of the participants of the 2016 Leaders Forum.  The 175 members and guests were entertained by a most interesting session where Commissioner Lapsley was interviewed by LBWR Chair Scott Williams and graduate Keren Day. He emphasised that leaders needed to be calm in stressful situations as well as possess personal qualities that kept people engaged and willing to participate in community life.

The room looked amazing with its decorations of orange, blue, green and black, and the atmosphere was electric with the excitement of the LBWR participants graduating from their course, the anticipation of the interview with Craig Lapsley, and the liveliness of members' conversations as they caught up with each other.

As well as enjoying the presentation of the certificates to the graduates, members also welcomed new Corporate members the Commonwealth Bank, represented by Brett Chappell, and IBM Australia, represented by Sofia Fiusco, and new Small Business member Mees Partners, represented by Peter Mees.

To see the photo gallery from the evening, click here.

To view the video of the interview with Craig Lapsley, click on the play button in the centre of the screen.



August 2016 – Her Excellency The Hon Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria

Our second Round Table Dinner for 2016 was held on Thursday 11 August at the Mercure Hotel Ballarat, where 140 members and guests heard a most interesting keynote address from the guest speaker for the evening, The Hon Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria, where she reflected on a number of topics relevant to Ballarat and Victoria. 

The room looked stunning decorated in orange and black, and the atmosphere was abuzz with the animated conversations of members as they caught up with each other.

The Governor's engaging speech covered the importance of both sport and the arts to regional communities, the changing face of the Victorian economy, Ballarat's leadership in the health sector, the need for diversity and social harmony in our communities, and the vital role volunteering has in providing services.

It was also our great pleasure to announce and welcome new Corporate member J B Cameron (Vic) Pty Ltd, represented by Steve Griffin, and new Small Business members: Her Majesty's Theatre Ballarat, represented by Graeme Russell; Hstudios, represented by Heath Worsley; and Leader Property Practice, represented by Adrian Doyle.

To read a copy of the Governor's speech, click here.

To see the photo gallery from the evening, click here.

 April 2016 – The Hon John Fahey AC

Our first Round Table Dinner for 2016 was held on Thursday 7 April at Sovereign Hill. where 140 members and guests heard guest speaker The Hon John Fahey AC address business in regional communities.

The night was highly convivial and the numbers made it easy for networking, judging by the noise of the conversation!
John was amiable and knowledgeable across a range of topics but his most telling point was the loss of moral compass so frequently demonstrated in all sectors. He provided an important reminder of the values applied in organisations, are they just words or are they really applied and demonstrated by leaders? We can all take heed of that.

It was our great pleasure to announce and welcome new Corporate Gold member H Troon Pty Ltd, represented by Steve Troon and new Corporate member Pipecon Pty Ltd represented by Alex Gibson.

Thank you to our dinner sponsor, ACU. Without such support the ongoing success of our Round Table Dinners could not be guaranteed.

There are some great photos of members enjoying the evening – see the photo gallery here.

 December 2015 – Dr Susan Carland & LBWR Graduation

Our Round Table Dinner on Friday 4 December was a great success. The evening was one of great celebration as our 2015 Leaders Forum participants graduated.

Dr Susan Carland delivered a stirring keynote address, encouraging current and emerging community leaders to lead by example in their everyday lives. She was an inspiring speaker who personalised her journey and experiences through challenging social media insults to remain poised and a true example of leadership for the generations. Susan held the room entranced with articulate examples of leadership and the social challenges that leaders face in today’s society. She reached everyone on a personal level, and many members and guests walked away with a valuable piece of leadership wisdom.

We also celebrated the exemplary leadership of the former chair, Judy Verlin AM, with a "this is your life" presentation from member, Phillip Lee, with personalised quotes from Denis Napthine, Julie Stafford and Michael Ronaldson. Judy was also made an honorary member in recognition of her service to Committee for Ballarat. We were also pleased to welcome six new members to Committee as our chair, Janet Dore, provided a valuable address on the direction of Committee, the key projects and aspirations for our region.

Graduation of the leadership participants for 2015 concluded the evening with reflections from three participants, who moved the audience with an overwhelming feeling of achievement and accomplishment from a year of learning and growing.

Click here to see photos from the dinner

 March 2015 – Corporal Mark Donaldson VC

In recognition of the anniversary of 100 years since the Gallipoli landings on Anzac Day 2015, Committee for Ballarat was proud to commemorate and acknowledge those who served not only in WW1 but also in conflicts and operations throughout the last century.

As part of the commemoration, we invited Corporal Mark Donaldson VC to visit Ballarat for our March Round Table Dinner.

Corporal Donaldson enlisted in the Australian Army in 2002. As part of the special Air Service Regiment, he was deployed on operations to East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. An incident in Afghanistan led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest military honour for acts of bravery in wartime.

The evening also included formalities in recognition of the anniversary of 100 years of Anzacs, with local cadets providing a "flag party", Padre announcing the ODE, and the Federation Pipe and Drum Band setting the atmosphere. It was a large turn out, with over 180 members and guests attending the Ballarat Lodge Convention Centre on 26 March 2015.

Round Table Dinner Gallery

 November 2014 – The Payne Family

C4B Turf Club-132

The November Round Table Dinner celebrated the region’s increasingly important equine industry, which contributes more than $59 million annually to the local economy and employs more than 2100 people.

Miners Rest is the centre of the region’s equine industry and has been the home of iconic local racing family, the Paynes.  A backyard success story with their beginnings in Miners Rest, the family has had considerable success over many years, with well over 2000 wins and eight out of 10 children involved in the industry as jockeys, trainers and strappers. Michelle has been dubbed the leading female rider in Victoria and is currently in career-best form.

The family is now spread far and wide including overseas. In the lead-up to the Ballarat Cup, this was a rare opportunity to hear from members of the family who have helped make racing what it is in our region.

Round Table Dinner Gallery

 June 2014 – The Hon Daniel Andrews, State Opposition Leader


Committee for Ballarat held its June Round Table Dinner  at the Novotel Forest Resort in Creswick for members and guests.

The dinner featured guest speaker, the Hon Daniel Andrews, State Opposition Leader, who shared his vision for regional Victoria.

Committee for Ballarat CEO John Kilgour said: “We are actively engaging with both sides of politics in the lead-up to the state election and are very pleased to welcome the Opposition Leader to speak to members and guests about the critical issues and challenges facing our region.

“Members recently heard from the Premier, at a State Budget briefing breakfast held last month, and it is important that we now hear from the Opposition Leader on what an alternate Labor Government would deliver should it win office in November."

Committee for Ballarat chair Judy Verlin emphasised the importance of Committee’s role leading up to the state election. “Key projects that are vital ‘game changers’ are outlined in our election strategy document, Ballarat & Western Region: Preparing for Growth.

“Over the next five years we need to seize opportunities that will stimulate investment, future-proof jobs and build a dynamic, vibrant community,” Verlin said.

Round Table Dinner Gallery

 March 2014 – "From the farm gate to your plate"

Pictured: Guests mingling on the streets of Sovereign Hill

A fresh Round Table Dinner format featuring a progressive-style dinner against a backdrop of Sovereign Hill streetscapes was a wonderful celebration of our region and a big hit with the crowd of 150 members and guests. The weather gods smiled on us as we enjoyed a selection of beautiful regional produce on a stunning March evening.

Emcee Stuart Benjamin entertained guests throughout the evening with his light-hearted banter and was kept in check only by the skill of the Sovereign Hill actors who kept guests moving in a timely manner between venues. The evening featured a gold pour and a chance to hear from selected local producers who shared their stories while guests enjoyed the product of their labour

Guest speaker Andrew Prior of Queenie's Food Tours spoke about his passion for quality produce and told guests about his plans to start a regional food tour in the Ballarat region.

Thank you to our sponsor for the evening, Sovereign Hill. Thank you also to our featured regional producers Sher Wagyu, Meredith Dairy, Tuki (Trout Farm), Springhill Farm, Mount Prospect Produce, and Michael Unwin Wines.

Round Table Dinner Gallery

 December 2013 – Janet Dore


Janet Dore is all about making bold decisions to stimulate business investment and employment opportunities.

 As CEO of the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), in 2008 Janet Dore was responsible for organising its relocation to Geelong where it now employs over 750 people.

This Round Table Dinner was sponsored by the Victorian Government through the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation.

“It’s fantastic to have a guest speaker such as Janet who understands Ballarat, the Ballarat community and the impact transitioning a state government department, such as the TAC, can have on the local economy and in revitalising the CBD,” Kilgour said.

Janet Dore has held an array of senior positions within the public sector. She started her career in Australia in local government as an urban planner, working at several Melbourne councils. In 1994, Janet was appointed as the first CEO of the newly amalgamated City of Ballarat and in 1999 she was appointed General Manager (CEO) of Newcastle City Council.

Janet has held directorship positions on the NIB Health Fund and the Newcastle Airport Ltd boards. She is currently a director at the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR), is a member of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Board and is deputy chair of Committee for Geelong. She is also a member of the expert advisory panel for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Committee chair Judy Verlin stated: “With the release of the state government’s Plan Melbourne strategy in October supporting Ballarat’s anticipated population growth to 200,000 by 2050, Janet is well placed to share her experiences on what benefits the decentralisation of the TAC has meant to Geelong and the lessons we can draw from this to support the projected population growth here in Ballarat."

December Round Table Dinner Gallery

 September 2013 – David Smorgon

Round Table 186

David is a highly successful and respected businessman whose skills have seen him rise to the heights of the business and sports management world, both as a director with Smorgon Consolidated Industries and as a former chairman of the Western Bulldogs Football Club.

“It was fantastic to have both David Smorgon and David Haymes share their own personal journey and also key learnings with our members in transitioning their respective family businesses during periods of accelerated change,” John Kilgour, Committee for Ballarat CEO, said.

The event also included the launch of Committee’s strategic action plan, which will provide a focus for Committee’s work over the next five-year period. Committee chair Judy Verlin stated: “Committee boasts a proud history of championing social and economic growth in our region, and the legacy we leave for future generations is in our hands by the actions and decisions we make today.”

September 2013 gallery

 May 2013 – Tim Costello

Invite Image

An inspiring keynote address by World Vision CEO Tim Costello set the tone for a wonderful evening. Tim's simple message was about how all of us can contribute to social capital in our own way, and how we all win if we build a strong community. This was the perfect introduction to a celebration of the success of our YAE (Young Adult Empowerment) program, with three YAE graduates – Jessica Tilley, Ruby Firns and Tim Corrigan – sharing their stories with the audience of Committee members.

Click here to see photos from the dinner

 December 2012 On the Couch with General Peter Cosgrove


Guests were treated to an up close and personal look at General Peter Cosgrove at our recent Round Table Dinner. In the interview conducted by Committee chair Judy Verlin, General Cosgrove was relaxed, comfortable and provided generous responses, which clearly demonstrated why he is one of Australia's most admired and humble leaders.

Click here to hear a recording of the interview

Click here to see photos from the dinner

 September 2012 – 'Imagine Ballarat 2030'


In a change to the regular RTD format, the September dinner featured an interactive forum "Imagine Ballarat 2030'. Facilitated by special guest presenter Jenny Brockie, members and their guests were asked to imagine what Ballarat and the region would look like in 2030.

Representatives from the education, community, business, health, connectivity and sustainability sectors helped generate discussion.

Opportunities for youth and education were key areas of discussion throughout the night. Prof David Battersby provided some enlightening, and perhaps alarming, education statistics for Ballarat, and made us ask if 84% of young people in Melbourne complete year 12, why only 62% of young in Ballarat?

Other topics considered included Inequity in trade wages from state to state, Incentives for apprentices, connectivity and a tech savvy generation that will change the way we do business, serious skills shortage in health (by 2015, Australia will need 30,000 nurses), what is the incentive to work and live in regional Victoria, perception of youth and how we support our greatest asset for the future – our young people.

Committee for Ballarat is pleased to provide a vehicle for civic leaders to come together and flesh out these important issues. Finding solutions is the challenge for us all.

Thank you to our event sponsor, the Department of Business and Innovation.

If you are interested in obtaining a DVD of the forum, please contact Adele Nairn Ph: 5332 1240

Click here to view photo gallery

 March 2012 – Ita Buttrose

Ita Buttrose1

At the largest Round Table Dinner in Committee’s history, 230 members and their guests were treated to an outstanding evening with Ita Buttrose.

Ita gave a truly inspirational address, encouraging people to follow their passion and embrace change as an opportunity. Her humorous anecdotes of her days with “Sir Frank” and Kerry Packer delighted everyone in the audience. Ita also shares a special connection to Ballarat, having been baptised at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

It was a privilege to hear the story of this exceptional Australian who began her career as a copy girl (making 40 coffees twice a day) and went on to become the youngest-ever editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly and a publishing icon.

Ita was also very generous during question time and showed her trademark good grace by obliging guests with autographs and photo opportunities well after the official part of the evening.

Emcee Bruce Roberts contributed to the warmth of the evening with his good humour and wonderful professionalism.

We are proud to give our members opportunities to have access to people such as Ita.

 December 2011


Nearly 150 members came to what proved to be a very entertaining evening at Committee for Ballarat’s Christmas Round Table Dinner on Thursday 8 December 2011 at Novotel Forest Resort in Creswick.

Crowds were entertained by who they thought was an internationally renowned sports psychologist, Dr Bruno Pagano, who in the end turned out to be the Great Pretender, Homer Papantonio. Homer was most entertaining, providing a light-hearted humorous presentation to finish off what was a successful year for our members. The dinner saw a number of changes within Committee’s staff and board, welcoming Lynne McLennan as deputy chair and farewelling chief executive officer Doug Lloyd.

The dinner was also an opportunity to acknowledge the 2011 graduates of the Leadership and Ballarat and Western Region’s program and the announcement of the recipient of the Peter Davies Scholarship for 2012, Janelle Yates.

 October 2011

Ted Baillieu edit

On Wednesday 5 October 2011 at the Mercure Ballarat Convention Centre, 200 members and guests welcomed Ted Baillieu, Premier of Victoria, as the guest speaker at the Spring Round Table Dinner.

Mr Baillieu’s address reinforced that Ballarat and the region is in a great position for the future and has potential to be at the forefront, with growing manufacturing and agricultural industries, leading to a sound economy.

He was also only too happy to answer questions on his beloved Geelong Cats Grand Final triumph.

Committee for Ballarat chair Tony Chew provided a "wish list" for the state government, which our task teams and Board members will continue to drive into the future. The dinner was also an opportunity to welcome a number of new members.

Thank you to all members and guests for contributing to a wonderful evening and to BRACE Education Training & Employment Limited for its sponsorship.

  December 2010

Brian Cook

More than 170 members gathered at the last Round Table Dinner for 2010 on Thursday 9 December to hear Geelong Football Club CEO Brian Cook provide insight into the evolution of the Geelong Football Club through community involvement.

 Brian gave an insightful address that encouraged Ballarat to continue its bid to have a community sporting complex built that would put the city on the national map. He outlined the financial and social benefits to the community that would be the result of such a facility.Doug Lloyd provided members with updates on current projects and what the recent state election result means for Committee.

The 2010 graduates from the Leadership and Western Region program were recognised by LBWR EO, Roger Bade. The inaugural Peter Davies scholarship recipient, Igor Zovko, was presented by Peter’s daughter, Samantha Davies. Committee for Ballarat thanks all members and guests for their support and attendance, with particular thanks to the Round Table Dinner sponsor, the North Ballarat Football Club, and the City of Ballarat.

 September 2010

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Consideration of how to manage Ballarat’s growth while maintaining livability, employment and investment options was brought into sharp focus at the September 2010 Round Table dinner. Jane-Frances Kelly, the Cities Program Director at the Grattan Institute, an independent public policy think tank, told the members and guests present about the significant challenges of growth in cities. Importantly, she commended the close working relationship between the Committee and the City of Ballarat. She said a comparison of a range of cities across the world had shown that, those who had managed growth well, were those with constructive relationships between equivalent corporate groups and the relevant regional government bodies. She encouraged the Committee, through all its members, to maintain focus attracting the investment which will deliver jobs for an expanding population.

 April 2010

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Water, and its security and sustainability, remains the key concern of members of Committee for Ballarat if discussion at the April Round Table Dinner is any indication.

The dinner, held at the Novotel Forest Resort at Creswick, attracted around 170 people to hear ABC broadcaster Jon Faine lead a panel discussion on a range of issues confronting the city and region. The panel was UFS Dispensaries CEO Lynne McLennan; former Olympian Steve Moneghetti; General Manager – Manufacturing at Maxitrans Australia, Glen Walker; CEO of Sovereign Hill Jeremy Johnson; editor of The Courier, Angela Carey; General Manager of 3BA John Fitzgibbon, and ABC regional radio presenter, Prue Bentley.

Click here to view the full report from the dinner

 December 2009

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Leadership, respect, passion, capacity, commitment – all of these together, plus much more, were on display in the person of keynote speaker at December’s Round Table Dinner, Christine Nixon.  Ms Nixon, the former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, is now the chair of the Victorian Bushfire Recovery and Reconstruction Authority. Ms Nixon confronted issues surrounding the ongoing hearings of the Bushfires Royal Commission, the performance at the time of the fires of those in authority and the progress of the huge task of rebuilding the ravaged communities, both in physical and emotional terms. Ms Nixon challenged the graduates of the Leadership Ballarat and Western Region program to go out into their own communities and lead.  Praising the commitment of the graduates, she also commended the great support they had received through the LBWR program and told the graduates, “You owe”.

 September 2009

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Head of Access Economics, the macroeconomist group, Chris Richardson expounded his views on the current economic situation.Chris gave a colourful address on the local economy, which he claimed was not all doom and gloom; in fact, Ballarat is in a strong position for the future. Chris provided an insight into the economy and what lies ahead not only for Ballarat but also for Australia as we overcome the global financial crisis. Although Ballarat is demographically a regional town, it has the resources and industries to become a leader in not only Victoria but also Australia. Committee for Ballarat chair Tony Chew also had guests reflecting on many of the projects on which Committee for Ballarat has already been a prime motivator and the beneficial consequences of these projects.

  June 2009

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IBM Australia’s global investment executive, Dr John Harvey AM, discussed the strong ties he has with Ballarat and his involvement in the construction of the IBM IT plant at Mt Helen, which is now a representation of a true success story for Ballarat and IBM. Insight into regional developments and the importance of "shopping locally" was passed on through a passionate delivery by a man that had and still does have strong ties with Ballarat. He highlighted that Ballarat has the skills and potential to become a leading industry community in regional Victoria. The night also saw Prof David James step down from the position of chairman, a role that he has professionally filled for the past  three years.

Tony Chew will now follow on from David’s success and take on the responsibility as chairman for Committee for Ballarat.

 February 2009


Prof Ross Garnaut, one of Australia’s leading experts in the debate on climate change, discussed the merits and complexities of an emissions trading scheme as well as Ballarat’s role and impact within the current economic and environmental climate. He emphasised that Ballarat could soon become a major player in Australia’s battle against climate change as our city has the infrastructure and resources required to develop new industries for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


 November 2008

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The overwhelming theme of the address by Janet Holmes à Court AC was that in life people needed to be participants, not spectators. Mrs Holmes à Court, head of one of Australia’s largest private companies, covered a range of topics including her passion for the arts, children’s programs, water, workplace safety and her successful resurrection of Heytesbury Pty Ltd – her late husband’s debt-ridden company.


 September 2008

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Mr Rob Gell, an active environmental campaigner with strong ties to scientific and conservation communities and a deep-seated commitment to sustainable development, addressed the topic "Securing Our Water Future’. Mr Gell highlighted the challenges faced by business and communities in the light of ongoing climate change and shifting weather patterns.



  June 2008

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IBISWorld Founder and Chairman and business strategist Mr Phil Ruthven heralded Ballarat's approach to the "magic" population figure of 100,000 at which time it would become a truly self-generating economy. Mr Ruthven presented a detailed breakdown on Ballarat's economic base, living standards and growth – all of which will strongly impact on our future.



 February 2008


We tackled the challenge of energy and sustainability issues with Dr Ziggy Switkowski (former Telstra CEO and chairman of former prime minister John Howard’s Review of Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy committee.) Dr Switkowski delivered an insightful presentation on Australia’s energy and climate change strategy.



 December 2007


Ms Avril Henry of AH Revelations addressed the RTD at which the 26 participants in the 2007 Leadership Ballarat & Western Region (LBWR) program officially graduated. Ms Henry emphasised the need to nurture and strengthen young leaders – a theme which strongly supports LBWR’s vision of equipping emerging leaders to guide our region into the future.



 October 2007


Nobel Laureate Prof Peter Doherty spoke about global health issues and associated challenges. The depth of Prof Doherty’s knowledge and sensitivity about the topic of global health was inspiring and his message was delivered in a highly engaging manner.




 June 2007
David Kirk (MBE) chief of Fairfax newspapers. 

February 2007
Phil Burgess, managing director for corporate affairs, Telstra Group

November 2006
Diana Williams, co-founder, Fernwood Fitness Club

July 2006
Ted Baillieu, state opposition leader

May 2006
Simon McKeon, executive chairman, Macquarie Bank

February 2006
Mr Richard Bluck, Executive Director, Leadership Victoria

December 2005
Launa Inman, managing director, Target Australia Pty Ltd

September 2005
Andrew Hagger, managing partner Melbourne, PricewaterhouseCoopers

June 2005
Jennifer Russell, chair, Telstra Country Wide Advisory Board