WILLIAM Angliss College and other hospitality training providers could be encouraged to establish courses in Bendigo as part of the council’s attempt to become a UNESCO-recognised city of gastronomy.
The City of Greater Bendigo has held talks with William Angliss Institute of TAFE as part of a plan to bring hospitality training back to the city after similar TAFE and university courses were abandoned in the past.
Council regional sustainable development manager Trevor Budge said food and hospitality was the biggest employer of people aged 17 to 23 in Bendigo, and many of those could be encouraged to further their studies in the field.
“Fifty-three per cent of that age group is working in either retail or in the food industry in some aspect,” he said.
“We’ve been talking to William Angliss College… they’re extremely interested in the idea.
“People might remember that some years ago TAFE ran a hospitality training course here, the university had a Bachelor of Business in Tourism and Hospitality - they’ve all gone.
“The only negative reaction we’ve had in talking to a lot of people is we couldn’t cope with the training needs of all the people who might come to the city because of this.”
Mr Budge was speaking during a wide-ranging discussion at the Bendigo Writers Festival on the future of food security in the region, and provided an update on the UNESCO city of gastronomy plans.
He said poor health outcomes had become a “major issue” for Bendigo and the region needs to “get back to more sustainable, nutritious, locally-grown food”.
The panel for the Edible Bendigo event included Masons of Bendigo owner Sonia Anthony, councillor Jennifer Alden and Bendigo Sustainability Group member Meg Caffin.
There was consensus that good nutritional habits started in schools through programs such as the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden, which could allow children to impart their knowledge on their wider families.
The panel was also questioned on the council’s ability to control the proliferation of fast food outlets in Bendigo.
Under state planning laws, fast food restaurants can be established in residential areas – provided they are on a major road – because they are classified as a “convenience”.
Mr Budge said councils had limited power to oppose fast food.
“The reality is in the planning system we have in Victoria we simply have no capacity to do that,” he said.
“Council can have policies and they can seek to apply policies, but the reality will probably be that if we went to VCAT we would almost certainly lose.
“That’s not to say that there are not a lot of councils around the state that have great concerns about this issue. When you start mapping food deserts, and you map alcohol outlets, and you map fast food outlets, and you compare it with fresh food outlets, we are creating fresh food deserts.
“At the moment there’s nothing legally we can do to tackle that, but there’s no reason why we can’t go on a journey - laws get changed.”
The City of Greater Bendigo provided a submission to a Senate inquiry into Australia’s obesity epidemic, listing a levy on sugary drinks as one of several measures that could make a difference.
Cr Alden said a range of measures needed to be considered, and a levy was just one of those.
“To me, (soft drinks are) a symptom of a whole lot of other things,” she said.
“There’s a lot of work to do. The shame would be if we focus on that as a solution.
“We tend to look for the magic bullet, and I think we have more of an opportunity here - a community opportunity - to say ‘edible Bendigo’, the city of gastronomy, we can use that as an opportunity to frame it for everybody at that really grass roots level.”
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