Dedicated to making a difference
YOU could say Elaine Carbines has enjoyed a front row seat to what she describes as the renaissance of Geelong.
During her 10 years at the helm of the G21 Geelong Region Alliance, she has played an integral role in helping the city flourish into the vibrant and desirable regional destination it is today.
As her time as CEO comes to a close, Elaine is justifiably proud of what G21 has achieved in the past decade to both grow and protect the region.
“When I first started working at G21 the region was growing a 1.5 per cent and now it’s growing at 2.5 per cent,” Elaine says.
“If we hadn’t done that preparatory work, that growth planning, we would be in a real mess now as to how we cope with this continual influx of new residents.
“We’ve actually done all that planning to protect our coastal townships, to protect green spaces, to protect agricultural land, to protect natural assets but actually to work out agreed places for the region to grow.”
Elaine was due to finish up at G21 in August but extended her tenure until the end of 2020 to help guide the organisation through the pandemic and recovery planning.
She has mixed feelings about leaving but insists it’s time for the next challenge.
“It’s been a great role for me – I’ve really enjoyed it and a lot has been achieved in terms of planning for the future of our region, advocacy which has been incredibly successful and working with hundreds of people across the region who are really committed to looking after this region,” she says.
“But it’s time for the company to have a new leader who can build on the foundation I’ve built.
“It’s a really strong foundation and a really robust organisation that is recognised not just nationally, but internationally.”
Elaine says the care people have for the region, combined with the power of collaboration, has been at the heart of G21’s success to date.
“G21 pretty much brings people together,” she says.
“It brings the five councils together, our member organisations across the region, our state officials, bureaucrats and people from the business sectors working together with a common purpose to improve the lives of the people living in this region.
“Some of the things that have been achieved through that collaboration are huge including public sector investment and strategic planning.”
Elaine says securing $382.48 million Geelong City Deal and the success of the G21 Region Opportunities for Work Project (GROW) have been highlights.
“With GROW, more than 150 companies signed on to training and employment opportunities for people from the most disadvantaged postcodes and no-one ever said no,” she says.
“Nowhere else has that happened in Australia and that’s through the collective work of G21 and the Give Where You Live Foundation.”
Seeing how the region has been able to diversify its economy to cope with the closure of traditional manufacturing has been another highlight of the past decade.
“All of a sudden, over several years, we have white collar jobs we never had before,” she says.
“We’ve got new manufacturing industries such as the carbon fibre research that Deakin has done and commercialised has been enormous for our region and our medical research has been enormous.
“We still make things – we just make different things now. It’s really a very energised place, Geelong.”
Elaine says the challenge now is to recover post-COVID, particularly the hospitality and tourism industries, as well as ensuring infrastructure keeps pace with the region’s growth.
“What we don’t want is to undermine the very reason we love living here which is the liveability of the region, the natural environment, all of that,” she says.
“We don’t want to bring Melbourne’s congestion to our region.”
Elaine is now looking forward to her last major event as CEO, the G21 Stakeholder Forum which has switched to a virtual (and free) format this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The two-hour forum will feature pre-recorded addresses from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien and the keynote speaker is award-winning international journalist and author Stan Grant.
Looking forward to 2021, Elaine says she will continue in her board positions with Barwon Water, GForce Employment Solutions and the AWA Alliance Bank.
“I was intending to do a bit of travelling overseas but I think that is off the agenda for the time being,” she says.
“I’ll take some time and think about where I want to place my efforts in the future.”
The 2020 G21 Stakeholder Forum will be broadcast online on December 4 from 9.30-11.30am. To view the full list of speakers and to register, head to g21.com.au.