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Magazines : Our Place - Geelong Region Magazine 2011
2108053-GRM2011 As head of G21, Elaine Carbines is helping plan our region's future by striking the right balance between protecting the best of our lifestyle and environment and welcoming inevitable growth and development. She talks to MANDY SQUIRES BLESSED as it is with majestic rivers, breath- taking coastline and magnificent parks and forests, the Geelong region has a lot to lose if the formula for its future development is not spot-on. As chief executive officer of the region's peak lobby and strategic planning body, G21 Geelong Region Alliance, it's a burden which weighs heavily on Elaine Carbines, but one which she is proud and confident of carrying. Most Geelong region residents are fortunate to enjoy an enviable quality of life and value the communities in which they live, Elaine says. It follows that striking the right balance between growth in the region and the preservation of existing lifestyles and the precious natural environment must be at the heart of all G21 plans for developing the region over the next few decades. e Geelong region is one of the fastest growing regions in the State, with the population expected to almost double -- from 285,000 to about 500,000 -- by the year 2050, Elaine says. at is an average annual population growth rate for the region of 2.1 per cent, with the Surf Coast and Golden Plains municipalities growing the fastest, at 3.9 and 3 per cent respectively. " is presents a great opportunity to the region but also a challenge,' ' Elaine says. " It's a challenge not to compromise what we already have and value greatly in this region.' ' Much of the planning surrounding the growth in population dovetails with G21's "multi-pronged attack" on climate change, which is being discussed and planned for by the organisation as a matter of priority due to the rapid pace at which its effects are being felt, she says. More and better public transport, and developing effective systems for the reduction, reuse and recycling of products, waste and water are fundamental in responding to both challenges. On a personal level, Elaine says she feels duty- bound to protect the beautiful natural environment of the Geelong region. "I just feel that we are so blessed with the natural environment we have here ... the Bar won River, the Moorabool River, the coast, our beautiful parks and green spaces, that we have a responsibility to take very good care of it,' ' she says. Working closely with umbrella body Regional Development Australia (RDA), G21 is strongly focused on developing in a responsible and sustainable way, taking into account vital considerations such as environmental impact. Indeed, creating sustainable settlements and protecting and enhancing the environment are key platforms of the G21 Geelong Region Plan, a comprehensive document which was developed following extensive community consultation. Far from being overwhelmed by the massive responsibility which accompanies her position, Elaine believes she may just have found "the ideal job" as chief of G21. e ex-teacher moved into politics in 1996 as the Member for Geelong Province and then, after leaving politics in 2006, was manager of strategic relations at Parks Victoria. e G21 position she took on in June last year combines a number of her passions, including working with people, protecting the environment, thinking big and pushing for a better deal for the Geelong region, she says. As a former parliamentary secretary for the environment, she also has a long professional interest in, and association with, environmental issues. Perhaps her greatest qualification for the job, however, is her great love for the Geelong region; its towns, coast and country, and its people. "I live in the region, I work in the region and I've raised my children in the region. I am very passionate about improving how this region works and looks after its residents, and about making this region prosper,' ' Elaine says. "I feel very fortunate to be working for an organisation that is actually all about caring for the region and caring for the people who live in it.' ' Elaine, charged with over-seeing G21's many campaigns and projects, says she has the privilege of regularly meeting with the region's best and brightest minds to develop exciting visions and plans for the future, and is constantly inspired by the people with whom she rubs shoulders. One such inspiration is Eugene Athan, director of Barwon Health's Department of Infectious Diseases and head of Geelong's bid to establish an Australian Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases. In what almost certainly ser ves as proof that the world is small, but wonderful, the now associate professor was once a student in one of Elaine's school classes. "Eugene, like all professionals involved with G21, volunteers his expertise and time,' ' she says. "It (G21) harnesses the talents, expertise and passion of the people who live in this region and uses it to make this region a better place -- to make it the best place -- to live, and I find that really quite inspirational.' ' e Geelong Region Alliance, which represents the region's five municipalities (Geelong, Surf Coast, Queenscliffe, Golden Plains and Colac Otway), is made up of community and industry leaders and experts from across the region, and draws on its substantial, collective might to push for federal and state funds, vital for infrastructure development and the growth of bold, new regional initiatives. As a not-for-profit organisation, the majority of G21's financial support comes from the five local government councils it represents, together with government grants and support from its membership base. e set-up is such a good one, and so effective, Elaine says, that it is now being used as a model for the rest of the State. "It (G21) harnesses the talents, expertise and passion of the people who live in this region and uses it to make this region a better place -- to make it the best place -- to live, and I find that really quite inspirational.''
Breakaway Autumn 2011