THE public has been promised a direct say in the Loddon Campaspe region’s future as part of a new program designed to provide access to state government ministers.
The Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership, comprising nine of the region’s leaders in health, business and education, is accepting ideas from the public – and everything is on the table.
The ideas will be discussed at an assembly of more than 100 community representatives in Bendigo on October 19, where the region’s priorities for the future will be decided.
But even if some ideas are not included this year, they could be put forward over the coming four years as the assembly continues to meet.
Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership chair Nigel McGuckian said the program was designed to help all sectors work towards common goals for the benefit of the wider region.
“This is an opportunity to think big picture: What’s the most important thing for the Loddon-Campaspe region?” he said.
“The state government was keen to have a forum where local community people can have a direct line to the state government.
“It’s not about what we as a group believe, it’s what the community wants us to turn into priorities.”
Ideas have already started to flow in on the partnership’s website, with the majority highlighting access to health services as the main issue.
The Loddon Campaspe region includes six councils – Loddon, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Mount Alexander, Macedon Ranges and the City of Greater Bendigo.
Mr McGuckian, who serves on the board of the Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises and Otis Foundation, is one of eight who will compile the ideas into priorities.
They will then be given directly to all government ministers.
The regional partnership members also include Bendigo Bank chief customer officer Marnie Baker, Anglicare Victoria Loddon Mallee regional director Carolyn Wallace, La Trobe University pro vice chancellor Richard Speed and Bendigo Health acute health executive director Robyn Lindsay.
Other members are Kate Burke, of Think Agri, Bendigo businesswoman Margot Spalding, Deakin University’s David Richardson and Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises chief executive officer Rodney Carter.
Mr McGuckian said the group could adequately represent the community, but would keep an open mind to all ideas.
“This process has integrity,” he said.
“The world is flooded with views. You just need to look at social media to see that.
“It’s all about listening to what people have to say.”
The state government announced the program in December last year, and chose members in July.
The program divides Victoria into nine regions, and is designed to focus on a broader range of topics than the Regional Development Australia committee, which covers from Mildura to Bendigo.
Previous council plans and strategies will also be considered as part of the process.
Mr McGuckian said the idea was to bring all sectors together to work towards common goals.
“For example, a council’s public space policy might only look at small parks and gardens in a town. But we should really be focusing on all of the public space, including forests, that might not be a part of a council strategy,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s easy for groups to avoid co-operation and just come up with their own plans. We want to avoid that.
“We know we have serious areas of disadvantage compared to Melbourne, in terms of unemployment and health disadvantage. This is about finding new ways to address these problems.”
The public can directly enter their ideas on the Loddon Campaspe Regional Assembly Website, and vote on whether established ideas and priorities have merit.
To get involved, visit www.engage.regions.vic.gov.au/loddon-campaspe