ATTRACTING and retaining people to the Great South Coast were priorities identified at a forum on Wednesday night.
Great South Coast Regional Partnership chair Emily Lee-Ack said it was great to hear from a number of young people who wanted tertiary education available in the cities they grew up in.
“Some of the young people who participated said they’re really interested in some models of learning that would allow them to have a university experience but not necessarily leave their town,” Ms Lee-Ack said.
“They were so passionate about that idea.”
Warrnambool City Council mayor Robert Anderson said in addition to tertiary education opportunities, the need for access to more hands-on work experience was raised at the forum.
“I think we’ve got to encourage local businesses to offer access to work experience,” Cr Anderson said. “If we want to keep the young ones in our community we’ve got to do that.”
Member for Western Victoria James Purcell said he supported the idea of delivering more tertiary education in regional areas.
Moyne Shire mayor Mick Wolfe, who also attended the night, said an integrated transport system across the region was one idea raised.
He said people visiting the district often had limited options when it came to accessing public transport to other parts of the region.
“Let’s get our public transport co-ordinated,” Cr Wolfe said.
He said more services to connect Warrnambool to other towns were also needed.
But Mr Purcell said he didn’t believe user numbers would support an increase in services.
Cr Wolfe said connectivity across the region was also raised as an issue which needed to be addressed.
He said he believed the region had great potential to grow substantially in the coming years.
He said he believed an investment in Indigenous tourism would attract more visitors to the region and give the area a point of difference.
“If we can obtain funding from the government to further develop Tower Hill and raise the bar on the cultural experience, I think we could encourage people coming down the Great Ocean Road to visit it.”
Other issues raised at the forum included roads, infrastructure and health services across the region.
Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford said the night was a chance to listen to locals.