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.
To evolve and grow as a region 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 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 to create new job opportunities in areas that have the highest levels of joblessness and persistent disadvantage.
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 Health and Wellbeing Hub, proposed on 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, the Northern ARC would create a world-class preventative health precinct in the northern suburbs.
It would provide long overdue health infrastructure to some of our most vulnerable communities and and would generate $111 million in preventative health benefits to the community over 10 years.
Vital Communities program
The City of Greater Geelong is introducing a program of initiatives to improve the prosperity of communities who live in Corio, Norlane and Whittington.
The program aims to increase the liveability of these suburbs by improving five areas of activity; education, employment, housing, neighbourhood liveability and health and wellbeing.
Integrated Colac Early Years Hub
In the Colac Otway Shire, 23.3 per cent of children are considered vulnerable (compared to a state average of 19 per cent). An integrated Early Years Hub in Colac would help children and their families access health, support and community services, in a single location.
The Hub would connect vulnerable children in the community with improved assessment, referral and service provision. It would offer a range of visiting services and would encourage an increase in access to early years’ resources across the region.
Winchelsea Walk Rest ‘n’ Play
Walk Rest’n’Play aims to address the high levels of social disadvantage in Winchelsea by creating an active, healthy community. Three initiatives have been identified that will improve health and wellbeing through structured sport, physical activity and play. The Barwon River Loop Walk, the Winchelsea Adventure Playground and development of a second sporting oval, will provide Winchelsea and district community members with access to quality recreational facilities and activities, locally and at no cost.
Bannockburn’s Youth Services
As one of the largest growth areas in Victoria, Bannockburn’s youth population is forecast to increase more than 55 per cent to 821 between now and 2036.
A challenge of this rapid growth is a lack of suitable services to establish a positive and vibrant youth culture that engages young people in a productive and constructive manner.
Better access to youth mental health services, events and activities will build resilience, social connection and mental wellbeing.
Bill Mithen, Chief Executive Officer, Give Where You Live Foundation.
What has been committed
All three levels of government have committed to work with project leads and GROW to adopt employment and procurement targets for relevant projects within the Geelong City Deal.
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
- $33 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.
The State Government has committed:
- $270,000 towards a purpose-built youth hub.
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
GROW Strategic Plan Implementation
- $2.25 million to implement the GROW Strategic Plan.
Corio and Norlane
- $24.5 million to complete the Northern Bay College regeneration.
- $41 million to deliver the Northern ARC Health and Wellbeing Hub (COGG has committed $20.6 million to the project).
- Support for the Vital Communities program
- Funding for a feasibility study investigating the development of an Integrated Early Years Hub.
- $16 million to build an Integrated Early Years Hub.
- $3.8 million to develop a second sporting oval
- $570,000 for an Adventure Playground
- $500,000 to complete stage 2 of the Barwon River Loop walk.
- Improved access to youth mental health services.
- Better public transport connections to enable participation in youth events in Gee-long/Ballarat.
A commitment to embed GROW training, employment and procurement principles in all government projects within the region.