Growing Community and Industry

Baw Baw Shire

“Given our geographic position just to the east of Melbourne, and the fact that we have freeway access all the way into the Melbourne CBD without a single traffic light, Baw Baw Shire is one of Victoria’s fastest growing regional municipalities. People are attracted here because of our clean and green countryside and the fact that it is easy to commute or conduct business to and from Melbourne,” says Ms Helen Anstis, the Shire Council’s Chief Executive Officer.

With a current population estimated at 42,861, Baw Baw Shire has made a drastic jump of over 1,420 people on previous years, making it the tenth fastest growing municipality in Victoria. From 2006-2011 there was a population increase of 5,682 people, a fifteen per cent increase in overall population, or a three per cent annual growth rate. The population growth of the Shire has more than doubled between 2006 and 2011 compared with growth experienced between 2001 and 2006 – but most compelling of course is the reason for that growth.

Of first note, as mentioned already, is the ease of access afforded by the Shire’s advantageous location. “The fact that you can easily jump onto a train and get into Melbourne in just over an hour, visit the snow fields at Mt Baw Baw or take a trip to the beach really sets us apart. Plus this also means our businesses have access to a large employment market in the Latrobe Valley and south eastern Melbourne,” explains Ms Anstis.

Once attracted to the area, residents find a host of other public features and supports which ensure that the community is built with integrity and social awareness despite its rapid growth.

Statistics for 2011 show that, in general, the cost of establishing house and land in Baw Baw Shire is competitive compared to areas such as Casey, Cardinia, Hume, Macedon Ranges, Melton and Yarra Ranges. “This is a great opportunity for young families or people just looking for a move to somewhere greener.”

The West Gippsland Regional Hospital is located in Warragul and has just undergone a significant expansion to its emergency ward to cater for the growing population. “Whether you are a young family or a retiree, health facilities are always front of mind. We are lucky to have our own major hospital in Baw Baw as well as a comprehensive network of local medical professionals and alternative practitioners across the Shire.”

Currently, Baw Baw Shire is also in the process of expanding its child care services to cater to the growing needs of its communities, with $1.5 million dollar expansions proposed for two kinders.

Education is another important aspect of community in which Baw Baw Shire excels. With five private and twenty-nine government primary schools to build the groundwork for child development, the Shire is also home to three private and four government secondary colleges. In addition, post-compulsory institutes include GippsTAFE, Community College Gippsland and Monash University at Churchill.

Another important aspect of community living is recreation – and Baw Baw Shire certainly isn’t lacking there either. Its recreation facilities are of a high standard for the community to enjoy. The Two Towns Trail is an eight kilometre trail that runs between Warragul and Drouin and is very popular for community members of all ages, attracting over 2,800 people each month. In addition there are many kilometres of bush tracks and trails across the whole shire.

New to the Shire this year are the soccer fields in Trafalgar and a BMX Track at Western Park in Warragul. Designs have also been put forth for the redevelopment of the Warragul Leisure Centre as well as many improvements to various other facilities.

“Our major challenge,” says Ms Anstis, “is accommodating rapid growth whilst maintaining our special country atmosphere and ensuring that services expand to support the needs of our changing community.”

Over the last several years, the Baw Baw Shire Council has undertaken comprehensive planning for the future of the community. In 2010, it facilitated the development of a Forty Year Vision for the Shire for which over six hundred local community members offered their insight.

“We have undertaken extensive planning and are continually monitoring the ongoing growth and development of our Shire and have successfully partnered with government in the provision of new facilities.”

On the business front, Baw Baw Shire has received significant public and private investment. Most notably, a $22.6 million redevelopment of the Warragul railway precinct including a new $12 million road underpass has been initiated.

Last year alone, the Shire’s total economic output was $3.3 billion, with manufacturing, agriculture and construction leading the way for industry. Manufacturing plays a large role in the local Baw Baw economy, resulting in a variety of quality locally made goods being exported to over seventy countries globally. “Our businesses export all over the world. We are one of Australia’s leading dairy regions with 20 per cent of the total Victorian production coming from our Shire. We also have a burgeoning hydroponics industry and have one of Australia’s leading hydroponics businesses (Flavorite) located in Warragul.

“In addition, we have significant organics processing, a leading abattoir, food packaging manufacturers, transport industry suppliers, road safety equipment and streetlight manufacturers and many other businesses manufacturing unique products.”

Baw Baw Shire currently has a number of major projects under development to complement its rapid residential development. Most notably, the area has a $10 million Masters store about to commence construction in Warragul which will be the first in Gippsland. Furthermore, a $20 million, four storey retail, restaurant, office and apartment development is planned for the Warragul CBD and a large retail redevelopment is planned for the main street of Drouin. This is in addition to the $22.6 million Warragul Railway Station project which will bring another two hundred parking spaces, improved public transport facilities and a new vehicle underpass to the Warragul CBD. “On top of all this, we also have a number of significant commercial and manufacturing expansion projects that Council staff are working on with local businesses and developers.”

Already, a number of projects have recently been completed that will enhance many of the Shire’s businesses. For example, Flavorite in Warragul – which produces hydroponic tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers and eggplants for many locations across Australia – has undertaken a multimillion dollar development and has further expansions planned to create more jobs within the Shire.

Longwarry Food Park, one of the leading milk producers in Gippsland, has expanded its business to begin producing a fresh milk range – Gippy Milk – which is sold in stores across Victoria.

Fonterra in Darnum produces cream and skim milk powders for export. The plant has also incorporated an infant formula plant to meet growing demand.

Radford’s abattoir expanded its business to include a boning room in order to meet Australia-wide demand for organic and conventional meat cuts.

Certainly, there is much more in the works, with Baw Baw Shire keeping its steady growth well cared for with opportunity and living standards well above the average. “Council is currently working on a number of multi-million dollar projects with the manufacturing sector but these are of a confidential nature. However, Council staff are working with developers on the commercial and industrial estate at Warragul and the industrial estate development at Longwarry,” Ms Anstis explains. With so many developments underway, Baw Baw Shire is indisputably an area on the rise.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 6:44 AM AEDT