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Wimmera Development Association (WDA) is the peak economic development organisation for the Wimmera Southern-Mallee region supporting existing local businesses, and promoting economic development opportunities to investors.
WDA is a vital link between industry and government; lobbying for improved regional infrastructure, and advocating for regional priority issues. Wimmera Development Association is fortunate to have ACE Radio Broadcasters as a valued patron, and the generous support of GWMWater.

Housing plan welcomed

November 17, 2020

WIMMERA Development Association has welcomed a state government cash boost for social housing in the region. 

At least $15 million is allocated to Horsham Rural City as part of the government’s four-year, $5.3 billion Big Housing Build initiative announced this week. 

Mark Fletcher, the association’s regional development project manager, was hopeful neighbouring shires would also benefit from the initiative to increase social housing properties and replace old public housing units; build new affordable and low-cost homes tohelp low to moderate income earners live closer to where they work and provide options for private rental; and to upgrade and maintain existing housing. 

“Our region is experiencing significant shortages when it comes to housing access and availability, and this funding is a step in the right direction to ease those stressors,” Mr Fletcher said. 

Wimmera Development Association supports businesses, promotes economic development opportunities to investors and is a key link between industry and governments, lobbying for improved infrastructure and for regional priority issues.

It has conducted the Wimmera Southern Mallee Housing Study throughout this year, to gain a greater understanding of available housing for rent and purchase at entry, mid-range and executive leveldocumentingemergency housing and properties held by businesses in the region that might be underutilised; and identifying future investment opportunities.

Mr Fletcher said the study showed demand for emergency housing remained so high that agencies would utilise caravan parks and motels to provide assistance to those in need. He said people could wait many months, and up to more than a year, to access ongoing housing solutions – depending on their circumstance. 

Caravan parks would often be used for emergency housing – but during the COVID response and with shared amenities, this became an issue,” Mr Fletcher said. 

“Other times, people are living in homes that are not suited to their individual circumstance, adding pressure tothe bigger picture demands.” 

Mr Fletcher said private rentals were hotly contested, often receiving numerous applicants for one property. 

“This leads to constraints for employers wanting to attract and retain staff, due to a lack of affordable and fit-for-purpose accommodation in the region,” he said. 

Mr Fletcher said the initiative would create an average of 10,000 jobs statewide across a four-year period. The homes will meet a seven-star energy efficiency rating. 

“WDA is looking forward to potential opportunities for local trades to become involved in this project - whether for new builds or maintenance work as standards are raised,” he said. 

“There is a lot of movement from the Victorian government in relation to housing this week.” 

A new government agency, Homes Victoria, has been established to work across government, industry and the social housing sector to deliver this record housing growth and to manage existing public housing.

“Eighteen regional areas are highlighted for this work – and Horsham municipality is one of them,” Mr Fletcher said. 

“Homes Victoria will develop a 10-year strategy to manage the housing stock to meet demands, and will work with local government to learn about those demands. The WDA report will feed directly into that.” 

Results of the association’s housing study will be available soon.  

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Expressions of interest sought for Leadership Wimmera program

October 6, 2020

Leadership Wimmera is preparing a reinvigoratedcommunity leadership program for 2021. 

Expressions of interest for the program open this week and organisers say there is no better time to invest – in yourself and the community. 

It comes after a challenging 2020 year. Not immune to the challenges and changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, Leadership Wimmera quickly transitioned participants to online learning and ensured that supporting the development of emerging leaders continued during a vital period. 

“Strong community leaders are vital – especially during a crisisand there is none more poignant than COVID-19,” program manager Jessica Grimble said. 

“Participants in our 2021 program can equip themselves with the tools they, and their communities, need to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 – by rallying others, building resilience and with innovative thinking.” 

The 10-month Leadership Wimmera program will offer blended and experiential learning opportunities. 

Participants will put learned leadership fundamentals into practice through working on co-designed community projects. The program weaves education about the region and regional priorities into program sessions and project development. 

Leadership Wimmera has a proven record for excellence in leadership development – and plans for 2021 take the program to the next level,” Ms Grimble said. 

Participants will learn more about themselves and their communities and from different perspectives. By investing in their own learning and development, they can become effective, impactful and innovative leaders.” 

Learnings through Leadership Wimmera’s community leadership program continue following the initial 10-month program – with graduates becoming members of its Graduate Network and accessing opportunities that supportlifelong learning. 

These have included training in governance, communications and public speaking, and seminars on topics such as resilience, community leadership, engagement and change management throughout 2020.

Leadership Wimmera is auspiced by Wimmera Development Association. It began in 2002 and has supported the development of almost 600 emerging leaders in the Wimmera Southern Mallee. It is one of nine community leadership programs across regional Victoria. 

With support from Regional Leadership Australia, Leadership Wimmera and its sister programs collaborated to host learning opportunities such as a virtual Federal Parliament education session with ministers and key staffers last monthThe collaboration – which has grown during this year’s pandemic response - also opened opportunities to share ideas among executive officers and program managers and promote learning opportunities for the benefit of local programs. 

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