Pilot project brings students to Stawell

STAWELL - A pilot program aimed at attracting young people to work and live in rural Victoria Commenced this week with 20 Monash University students living and working in Stawell for five weeks.

They will be working on a unique architectural and engineering project with world-renowned Japanese architect, Hiroshi Nakao.

 The project, which involves the university’s architecture students, is part of Rural Council Victoria’s (RCV) Population Attraction and Retention pilot program.

RCV Chair, Cr Ken Gale said the pilot program is working with the Northern Grampians Shire Council and the Wimmera Development Association to trial two distinct approaches to attracting young people to live and work in rural areas.

 “RCV is funding these two organisations to work with local universities to place final year students in practical work experience with the council, businesses or industries in their area. The aim being that they experience the benefits of country life and may consider it for their career and  lifestyle futures,” Cr Gale said.

“The Northern Grampians Shire Council’s approach links a number of funding sources to produce a flood mitigation solution in Stawell which will see the students living in the community for five weeks. 

“As well as the Monash Steps/Stawell Steps project being very interesting, we will be monitoring the students to see what they thought of rural life,” he said.

Northern Grampians CEO, Justine Linley said the students were welcomed to the town at a barbecue on Monday at Cato Park, on the edge of Cato Lake where they will be constructing their project.

The evening was supported by the council, Fisher’s IGA Stawell, the State Government and the Stawell Apex Club who cooked the barbecue.

“Northern Grampians has been a member of RCV since its inception and sees the real benefit of working collaboratively to come up with innovative ways of attracting and keeping people in rural Victoria.

“The great thing about RCV programs are that they have real outcomes and the Monash Steps/ Stawell Steps will not only provide our community with a physical asset, but will also establish relationships that we are sure will continue beyond the life of the project,” Ms Linley said.

Rural Councils Victoria is a network of the state’s 38 rural councils which acts as the liaison between the rural councils and State and Commonwealth Governments, industry and community groups and regional advisory bodies and planning committees.

“Attracting and keeping people in our rural communities is one of RCV’s main focuses,” Cr Gale said.

“Once this and the Wimmera Development Association’s program have been evaluated, the learnings will be offered to all our member councils wanting to develop similar population attraction programs.”

RCV is funded by the Victorian government under the Networked Rural Councils program.

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