Fostering new partnerships and working collaboratively

April 19, 2024 BY

LAST month council voted to adopt a new Advocacy Framework, which outlines the city’s approach to advocacy at a local, regional, state, national and international level across the next three years.

This framework provides two new approaches for regional advocacy.

One of these is that the city will be renewing its membership of the G21 network, but with a reduced financial and strategic contribution.

The other and perhaps more important one, is that the city will work with our northern neighbouring council the City of Wyndham for joint advocacy and for the first time form a strategic alliance.

This new alliance with the City of Wyndham, which is not part of G21, will provide many opportunities and is something that former Cr Grzybek and I had been advocating for since 2017.

The economic prosperity of Geelong for the next 60 years lies in the Avalon Growth Corridor, which is shared with Wyndham and includes such major commercial investment hubs as Avalon Airport and Bay West (the future home of the Port of Melbourne).

This alliance will also ensure the green wedge between Geelong and Melbourne is entrenched.

The Geelong community in every engagement opportunity has said Geelong is not part of Melbourne, it is a separate city.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining the mayor of Wyndham, Jennie Barrera, in what is hoped will be an example of the many new joint opportunities with Wyndham, where in Norlane at Cultura Northern Hub we celebrated Kay Htoe Boe Day with hundreds our local Karenni Community from Geelong and Wyndham.

Another important piece in our advocacy delivery will be the adoption of the City of Greater Geelong’s Economic Development Plan.

The plan is due to be released to the public at our April 2024 Council meeting.

Since becoming chair of the city’s economic portfolio in August 2023, I have worked closely with other councillors, officers, and stakeholders to review and significantly renew our soon to be released plan.

That review and engagement identified that the City of Greater Geelong must be seen to be a reliable and sought after investment and project partner, and work collaboratively with those who share our community’s aspirations.

The city needs to take the lead, and at other times it will be required to play a supporting role.

I believe we have a proud track record of collaborating with industry experts within our region on areas of significance.

One such way we might look to do that with regards to our economic development could be to look at the merit of establishing an advisory body that could represent and endorse our future economic needs.

In the past, we have seen similar bodies such as Enterprise Geelong set up to drive jobs and investment in the city, and I would encourage my councillor colleagues to consider the ways in which something such as this could benefit our region.

An advisory body such with representation from stakeholders across the region has the potential to be the centre piece of the city’s local level Advocacy Framework and could bring together many of the voices that represent Geelong’s future economic prosperity.

So, whether it be at a local or regional level, or through to the international stage, it is our role to be proactive in identifying opportunities to advance our community’s interests.

The City of Greater Geelong needs to be strategic in its planning, and capitalising on advocacy efforts that align with our long-term plans and community demand.

It is imperative that we work collaboratively with all our neighbouring councils including Wyndham, and bring together major stakeholders to ensure the expansion in our economy and investment that is required to match our population growth forecasts, occurs across our whole region and is managed and advocated in the most appropriate way.

Cr Anthony Aitken

Deputy mayor,City of Greater Geelong