Time for Ballarat to be a positive magnet

Time for Ballarat to be a positive magnet

Published 10 October 2015, The Courier, Ballarat

I am very clear about what leadership looks like for me and why our region needs the Committee for Ballarat now more than ever. With a focus that goes well beyond political cycles, the committee has a critical role to play in leading long-term thinking needed to address the region’s big social, economic and environmental issues.

We’re not in the business of delivering projects. Our role is to stimulate debate, envision innovative solutions and advocate essential long-term planning and commitment by all government levels. We have an equally critical role to play in making sure those responsible for outcomes are supported and held accountable. We will continue to work collaboratively with government and others to encourage a positive culture in our region and build confidence about what can be achieved together.

We need to make the most of a number of opportunities that are time critical now. The newly created Federal Department of Cities and the Built Environment sends a strong message about the federal government’s willingness to consider funding for public transport and road infrastructure. Secondly, with Melbourne’s growth having reached critical capacity, there is a real opportunity for regional cities like Ballarat to attract people to relocate. Thirdly, we have a fantastic opportunity to attract entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers to our region including highly capable migrants.

The main challenges ahead for our growing regional community are about infrastructure and connectivity. Rail, water and technology need our immediate attention together with job creation, education and health. I believe that our future prosperity should come from within. We can achieve this by encouraging innovation, and this includes things we don’t even know about yet. Think driverless cars, robotic pharmacies and future enterprises envisioned by young people that will be more agile and more mobile.

We have a big responsibility to support our local youth in reaching their full potential through targeted education and collaborative pathways to future generational jobs. Equally we need to create a future the millennial generation sees as an attractive alternative to large cities. The Ballarat West Employment Zone is a great start with its focus on opportunities that will generate future jobs. But we also need to stretch ourselves to think outside our traditional mindsets and be brave enough to pursue different directions. Ballarat’s vision needs to be clear and our message needs to be simple to attract people to live and work in our region – “Look what’s happening in Ballarat. Come and be part of it.” New families bring demand for services and opportunities for diversification.

My vision is for our regional culture to be defined not by the negatives but by the positives. To achieve this we need to engage our community and build pride. That is how the world’s best organisations achieve great outcomes and create their success. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if organisations and businesses across our region were to become a magnet for innovative business minds, entrepreneurs and creative spirits to help continue to build a new and emerging culture for the future?

Janet Dore - Committee for Ballarat Chair, October 2015