Addressing Disadvantage

Health and Wellbeing Pillar


Across the G21 region there is significant disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged groups.

The SEIFA Index of Disadvantage (1) found that communities in the G21 region are among Victoria’s most disadvantaged. Colac East is the second most disadvantaged suburb in the state; Norlane is third, Whittington is eighteenth and Corio twenty-sixth.

There are also target areas below the Victorian average on some key critical indicators: (2)

  • There is a very high rate of disengaged youth. (Victorian average 8.2%, in pockets of Corio this is as high as 53.6%).
  • There is a high rate of low income households. (Victorian average 18.3%, in pockets of Norlane this is as high as 52.1%).
  • There is a very high proportion of housing stress. (Victorian average 11.4%, in pockets of Corio this is as high as 25.7%).
  • A higher than average unemployment rate. (Victorian average 5.2%, in pockets of Norlane this is as high as 25.3%).
  • A higher than average youth unemployment rate. (Victorian average 12.3%, in pockets of Norlane this is as high as 75%).

This is a long-term and severe problem that impacts the entire G21 region. Ongoing funding is required.


1 SEIFA is derived from the Census and can indicate the relative level of social and economic wellbeing of a region. The index is constructed based on a series of variables that include income, education, employment, occupation and housing.
2 ABS Census 2016.


Addressing Disadvantage in the G21 Region – Using Place-based Investment Approaches 
GROW Strategic Plan

G21 submission (Aug 2019) to the Legislative Assembly Economy & Infrastructure Committee’s Inquiry into Sustainable Employment for Disadvantaged Jobseekers.

Project Aim

To evolve and grow as a community we must take a united approach that helps build the economy and create jobs in under resourced communities.

Funding is also required across targeted areas to address causes central to disadvantage. This includes access to quality educational opportunities from early childhood, access to services that will improve health and wellbeing outcomes, and encompasses issues such as public transport and affordable housing.


G21 Region Opportunities for Work (GROW) is based on significant international evidence that the best way to reduce areas of persistent disadvantage in a community is to reduce unemployment rates in those areas.

GROW brings together philanthropic, business, government and community organisations across the G21 region to create new job opportunities in areas that have the highest levels of joblessness and persistent disadvantage. It does this by targeting two significant means of job growth - procurement and investment.

GROW supports public and private sectors to direct their routine spend on local suppliers and products, creating new jobs which can potentially employ people from target areas.

It also encourages investment in SME’s, allowing them to begin or expand operations within targeted areas, with a view to local job creation.

And it uses ‘demand-led brokerage’ to link jobs and job seekers, providing incentives for the employment of suitably trained people from targeted areas.

Initially, GROW will focus on Colac, Corio, Norlane and Whittington; where unemployment is at double-digit levels, and well above regional and state averages.

Northern ARC Health and Wellbeing Hub

The Northern ARC (Arts, Recreation and Community) Health and Wellbeing Hub, proposed for the current Waterworld (Norlane) site, develops the precinct into a world-class, integrated community health and wellbeing hub.

Combined with the $33 million Barwon Health North facility (funded), the Northern ARC would create a world-class preventative health precinct in the northern suburbs.

It would produce an iconic destination for health, fitness, recreation, cultural and community activities and would generate $111 million in preventative health benefits to the community over 10 years.

This would be a huge boost for Geelong’s northern suburbs – providing long overdue health infrastructure to some of our most vulnerable communities.

Colac Education, Recreation & Community Precinct

Colac's Education, Recreation and Community Precinct  aims to address the high levels of social disadvantaged in the area by creating an active, learning community. This has included the refurbishment of Bluewater Fitness Centre Stadium, completion of an active sports fields at the Colac Secondary College and implementation of the Central Reserve Master Plan (almost fully implemented).

Project Champion

Bill Mithen, Chief Executive Officer, Give Where You Live Foundation.

What has been committed

The State Government has declared the Geelong Convention & Exhibition Centre development a ‘strategic project’, requiring it to use 90 per cent local content under the Local Jobs First policy.

Corio and Norlane

State and Federal Governments have committed $122.4 million towards services and social infrastructure in Corio and Norlane, including:

  • $34.8 million towards the Northern Bay College regeneration
  • $28.1 million for Barwon Health North, an urgent care centre and co-location of GP services (Northern ARC)
  • $14 million for a walk-in Adult Mental Health Centre in Corio.


State and Federal Governments have committed $11.6 million towards services and social infrastructure in Colac, including:

  • $5.4 million for the Bluewater Fitness Centre Stadium Redevelopment
  • $3.8 million towards the Central Reserve Master Plan implementation.

GROW Strategic Plan implementation

The State Government has committed:

  • $1.85 million to develop and implement the G21 Region Opportunities for Work (GROW) project.

What is required

Critical infrastructure required
Corio and Norlane
Funding required
Northern ARC Stage 1 - Aquatic Health & Wellbeing Centre
(COGG has committed $20.6 million to Stage 1. Total cost $61.6 million)
$41 million
Northern Bay College Regeneration $24.5 million
65.5 million
Critical Program
Funding Required

GROW Strategic Plan implementation over 10 years

(Also, a commitment by the State & Federal governments to embed GROW training, employment and procurement principles in all government projects within the region.)

$2.25 million
$2.25 million