REVIEW: Looking forward to 2014

IT’S SET to be a busy 12 months for local organisations.

The Bendigo Advertiser asked several Bendigo groups what 2014 would entail.

City of Greater Bendigo chief executive Craig Niemann said this year had been busy for the council with major projects in the works along with the Independent Review and several strategies.

He said next year would be just as busy with decisions that would shape the future of Bendigo.

“There will be some significant decisions council makes over the next year,” Mr Niemann said.  

“They’re around our major strategies underway at the moment.

“There’s the residential strategy, the Integrated Transport Land Use Strategy, and the Waste and Resource Management Strategy.

“They’re really important for planning our future and the future of Bendigo.

“We’re at a point where there will be pretty big decisions for councillors about how they want Bendigo to grow and develop.”

The library, art gallery and jail redevelopments have been underway this year, along with the construction of the new hospital.

Mr Niemann said the library and art gallery works would be finished early 2014 with the jail threatre likely to be operational early in 2015.

“There will be a lot of construction at the jail site,” he said.

“But certainly the library and art gallery we anticipate to open in the next quarter of next year.

“They’re both very exciting projects that will add a lot of liveability to the city.

“And of course the big project in town is the hospital.

“We’ll see that to see that come out of the ground next year, which is really exciting.

“We’re seeing the delivery of some pretty significant projects for our community.

“They’re local projects but they’re also regional projects in that they’ll be used by people right across central and northern Victoria.

“We will also be chasing some funds for the aquatic centre, botanic gardens and the airport.

“They’re three major projects identified by the council as being important for the future of the region.”

The change of federal government had presented some challenged to the council in 2013, Mr Niemann said, along with having new councillors.

Bendigo Community Health has also faced challenges this year.

Chief executive Kim Sykes said there had been a slow economy which forced more people to seek support, with less money for organisations to provide that support.

Small changes, like a company laying off staff, could have a far reaching impact next year, she said. 

“There’s capacity for it to really hurt a number of people,” Ms Sykes said.

“There are people in our community who are really doing it tough.

“Some are just surviving, just making it.

“And it won’t take a lot for those people to need help.”

Ms Sykes said there would be changes to the way the organisation supported clients in the next 12 months.

“We look forward to working even more closely with the community in 2014 as we continue to deliver much-needed services and strengthen our focus on families,” she said.  

“We will see a changed model for the delivery of our alcohol and other drugs services.

“We plan to deliver that with partners across the Loddon Mallee region.

“And in 2014 we will also build on our great children’s service to deliver Kidz Space, which will be a centre at Kangaroo Flat from which we will deliver services around children and their families.”

Ms Sykes said families would be more involved in drug and alcohol recovery services.

“Those services are being recommissioned to ensure a stronger family focus, a stronger recovery focus and more distribution of services across the region,” she said.  

“Part of the change is that services across the region will be delivered by a network of services providers.

“To date we’ve been fairly independent.

“We have community health services across the region

“We would be planning stronger collaboration.”

Bendigo for Homeless Youth will undergo a major change as Luke Owens steps down as head of the group. 

A spokesman for St Luke’s said the community services sector was undergoing “significant reform”.

He said as part of those changes, St Luke’s would have a greater focus on the Aboriginal community and the response to family violence causes.

The group also aims to promote social inclusion and make resources available to have lasting change in people's lives. 

Change has also been a feature of the Bendigo and District RSL as veterans age and younger veterans are created through modern conflicts.

President Cliff Richards told the Bendigo Advertiser last month the RSL hoped to have greater involvement from Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor veterans.

He said while many of them were quite young, they still needed support.

“With the changing nature of our aging veterans we’re also caring for younger veterans,” he said.

“They’re the ones who have been to Iraq, East Timor and Afghanistan.

“They’re younger veterans but they’re still, some of them, in need of assistance because of injuries from those conflicts.”

Younger veterans will lead the Anzac Day march in 2014, taking the place of Vietnam and World War II soldiers.

“It’s something we’ve given a bit of thought about,” Mr Richards said in September.

“We think that group of men and women deserve to be up front.

“It’s those that have been to Bougainville, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As a Vietnam vet I call them younger vets.

“At one stage you’d see younger vets on the side of the road, wearing their medals, not taking part in the parade.

“They were probably reluctant to take part.

“But they’re stepping forward."

Next year will also be busy for Haven Home Safe, as an affordable housing project comes to fruition.

Spokesman Sue Masters said the state government had raised several changes which may affect the organisation, which helped more than 5000 people last year.

“We expect to see similar numbers in 2014, sadly,” she said.  

“There are a lot of initiatives being mooted by the state government for how they might fund projects in the future.

“We’ll wait and see what the government may in fact come forward with.

“Sadly, the need for services is growing.” 

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