LEADING lobby group G21 is preparing for the role it will play – alongside all levels of government, business and other bodies – to help the Geelong region emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.
G21 chief executive officer Elaine Carbines said G21’s board had assumed its regional planning and co-ordination role to identify the needs and opportunities across the community for what could ultimately be a long recovery process.
The 300-plus professionals from across the regional community who volunteer their expertise to G21’s eight Pillar working groups are identifying, within their specialised subject fields, the community’s needs after the coronavirus.
“G21 has a well-researched suite of regional needs and priorities to focus our advocacy work for future investment,” Ms Carbines said.
“Our Priority Projects include a number of infrastructure projects that are ready, or near ready, for investment. Each would stimulate significant jobs for our region to help as we emerge from COVID-19 hibernation.”
One of these projects is the $370 million City Deal, which has adopted the GROW (G21 Region Opportunities for Work) principles of using local suppliers and workers for projects wherever possible to maximise the economic and social benefits to the region.
Founded by G21 and the Give Where You Live Foundation, GROW brings together philanthropic, business, government and community organisations to create job opportunities in areas that have the highest levels of joblessness and persistent disadvantage.
“G21 was instrumental in not only securing the City Deal but having social procurement measures recognised. It is now more essential than ever that employment opportunities are created for our community which has been hit by huge job losses,” Ms Carbines said.
Recent modelling from the state Treasury predicts unemployment across Victoria will double and likely reach 11 per cent in the September quarter.
“We know that disadvantaged pockets of the G21 region, such as Corio, Norlane, Colac and Whittington, often experience unemployment double the state average,” Ms Carbines said.
“Unemployment in the 20 to 30 per cent range would be a recipe for entrenching social disadvantage for years, even generations, for those areas.
“Employers across the region must support one another as we emerge from the COViD-19 hibernation.”
She said surviving the reality of COVID-19 had been challenging, but transitioning to “a new type of normal” would potentially be even more so.
“People have been scarred. Businesses crushed. Jobs lost. Lives irreversibly changed.
“However, as painful as that experience has been for many of us individually, and as a regional community, there are positives to build upon.
“Our region’s community fabric is strong. Our business community is resilient. Our people are resourceful and innovative. Governments have provided unprecedented assistance.”