MORE than 200 people from across various sectors in the Wimmera have defined the region’s priorities and challenges.
The 2017 Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Assembly allowed people to highlight issues and ideas with state government representatives including Premier Daniel Andrews.
The event aimed to further explore the issues raised at an inaugural assembly last year.
The assembly in Horsham Town Hall on Wednesday night featured a range of presentations and seven discussion sessions focusing on infrastructure; transport; health; education; social welfare and community; economic development; and energy and environment.
Murra Warra’s David Jochinke chairs the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership, which runs the assembly.
He said the event was about developing game-changing ideas that would allow the region to realise its potential.
“The end game of this is, though it’s great to get a project up and it’s great to get a facility built, it’s about creating jobs and opportunities,” he said.
“Everyone’s ideas are recorded, even though they might not become a priority.”
Mr Jochinke said people were also able to participate in the assembly, or by filling out postcards distributed in the lead-up to the event.
The postcards asked people to highlight what they would change to make a better future and a ‘big idea’ for the region.
“We would love to have some initial feedback collated within two to three weeks for the website, as that will be one of our main vehicles for getting the results out there, but the full report from tonight will take a little longer than that,” Mr Jochinke said.
“We also have to sit back and look at who didn’t come tonight and why, and ensure their voices are heard.
“There were a lot of service providers here, but we also want service consumers too.
“I did tell the premier that if he doesn’t come up with the goods out of this – if we don’t see actions with the community’s priorities – people will quickly become disillusioned.”
Mr Andrews said the assembly was about the government listening to concerns and helping find solutions.
“The difference between a challenge and an opportunity is local knowledge and input,” he said.
“If you can just find a framework to not be talking at people or assuming that because you’re at the centre of government, you’re at the centre of all wisdom, you can get great things done.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.