I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all our members and stakeholders for your on-going support through 2023. Committee for Ballarat continues to help shape the future of our region and it is only through great collaboration and a steadfast focus on our Purpose and Vision that we can do this effectively and with impact.
For Ballarat and the region, we can reflect on a remarkable journey through 2023.
We started the year with great expectations for the Commonwealth Games and the enormous opportunities we all thought they would deliver for our region and regional Victoria generally. The State Government’s decision to pull out of the Games came as a shock. Despite the decision, Minister for the Commonwealth Games Legacy, the Hon. Harriet Shing kept her commitment to speak at our Round Table Dinner just two days after the Games announcement and confirmed the Government’s legacy projects for our region.
Corporate Citizenship has been a strong focus of our work with a full day event in March featuring Bea Boccalandro, an international expert in this field. The workshop was followed by smaller insights sessions and many conversations with Committee exploring how a stronger focus on Corporate Citizenship initiatives can attract, retain and engage staff and help build more purposeful and positive workplace cultures.
Housing continues to be a key issue for our growing region and the City of Ballarat released its long-awaited Draft Housing Strategy (2023 – 2041) for public consultation. Once it is approved, the strategy will help define how our city grows. Committee submitted its response to the Draft which can be viewed here. Whilst the focus of our submission was on the City of Ballarat’s strategy, it is clear that housing availability is a critical issue across the region, impacting the LGA’s of Pyrenees, Golden Plains, Hepburn and Moorabool.
Whilst government funding for Community Leadership will not continue beyond 2023, our flagship Future Shapers program will run in 2024 without state government support. We are delighted to have received the support of many members who have fully funded participants or contributed to our scholarship funds that have enabled us to offer a full program again in 2024.
In June, Committee formally launched our Ballarat Energy Network (BEN) project. BEN is a multi-stakeholder approach to our region’s renewable energy future with a vision to power the entire region with 100% locally generated renewable energy. In simple terms the BEN will orchestrate the generation, distribution, storage and sharing of locally generated renewable energy with the region and then arbitrage and trade it on the National Energy Market. It will be a community energy project at scale, with an ownership and governance model that fully reflects the regional community.
This year has also been one of the most productive in terms of meeting with ministers and advisors from all three levels of government, always resulting in insightful and sometimes robust conversations. We have met on key issues such as regional development, energy, housing, planning, transport, infrastructure and the Commonwealth Games.
2023 has seen Committee release its new Strategic Plan 2023-2026. The Strategy affirms our purpose, sets our vision and identifies our key focus areas as we continue to strive for a liveable, sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future. Whilst it is a roadmap for Committee’s work until the end of 2026, each year we will develop an Action Plan to direct our work.
As it has for all of us, 2023 has been a big year. Through it we have continued to strive for greater collaboration as a way of achieving success and in doing so, we value greatly our relationships with government, the media, our community and most importantly, our members. Our 140+ members are our backbone and our life-blood. They support our work providing inspiration, insights and influence. Members are the reason we exist.
I take this opportunity to wish you, your family and friends a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in 2024.
Our Annual Report can be found here