Across the G21 region there is significant disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged groups.
The SEIFA Index of Disadvantage1 found that areas 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.
Bill Mithen, Chief Executive Officer, Give Where You Live Foundation.
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 persistent disadvantage in a community is to reduce unemployment rates.
GROW supports creating new jobs by asking organisations to choose to buy goods and services that contribute economically and socially to our local community (social procurement) and through inclusive employment opportunities for job seekers with barriers.
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 Aquatic and Community Hub
The Northern Aquatic and Community Hub (NACH), 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 NACH 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 would generate $111 million in preventative health benefits to the community over 10 years.
Vital Communities program
Research is underway to understand how the City of Greater Geelong can improve the prosperity of communities who live in Corio, Norlane and Whittington through improved education, employment, housing, neighbourhood liveability and health and wellbeing.
Once complete, a series of recommendations will provide funding opportunities for innovative ideas that have far-reaching benefits.
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.
With the construction of the Winchelsea Adventure Playground in progress, two key initiatives have been identified that will improve health and wellbeing through structured sport, physical activity and play.
The Barwon River Loop Walk and development of a second sports 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 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.
With extremely poor public transport within the Golden Plains Shire and a lack of connections to regional cities, young people cannot access services or jobs in neighbouring communities like Ballarat and Geelong.
What has been committed
Corio and Norlane
- $50.8 million towards Northern Bay College regeneration.
- $33 million towards Barwon Health North.
- $14 million for a Adult Mental Health Centre in Corio.
- $16.8 million towards the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub ($8.5 in the Victorian Budget 21-22, 8.26 million from the Federal Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund. The City of Greater Geelong has committed $44.84 million).
- $45.5 million towards other services and social infrastructure in Corio and Norlane.
- $5.4 million for Bluewater Fitness Centre Stadium Redevelopment.
- $3.8 million towards Central Reserve Master Plan implementation.
- $2.4 million towards other services and social infrastructure in Colac.
- $370,000 towards a purpose-built Bannockburn youth hub.
- $250,000 towards the Barwon River Play space.
GROW Strategic Plan implementation
- $2.45 million to develop and implement the G21 Region Opportunities for Work (GROW) project.
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.
What is required
GROW Strategic Plan implementation
- $1 million to implement the GROW Strategic Plan.
Corio and Norlane
- $24 million to deliver the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub (COGG has committed to fully fund the project).
- $1.5 million for a performing arts hall at Northern Bay College that could service both students and the community.
- $10.2 Million to complete the Northern Bay College regeneration.
- Upon completion of the Vital Communities study, a series of recommendations will provide funding opportunities for projects that have far-reaching benefits.
- 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 sports oval.
- $650,000 to complete stage 2 of the Barwon River Loop walk.
- Local service provision either embedded or through outreach services for a range of health needs, particularly mental health.
- Expansion of the public transport network and increased timetabling to facilitate workforce participation and social engagement opportunities.
A commitment to embed GROW training, employment and procurement principles in all government projects within the region.