Dear Mr Mayor,
After eight years as Chief Executive Officer and more than 10 years working with the City of Ballarat I have decided to step aside and take on a new challenge. I tender my resignation from the position of Chief Executive Officer. I do this in order to take up a role with Regional Development Victoria in a new regional leadership role as the Regional Director for the Central Highlands and Wimmera Regions. As you know I have a deep passion for Ballarat, which is now my family’s much loved home. I cherish the time that I have had serving as the CEO of Council, most especially so for the access it has given me to the Ballarat community. The people of Ballarat are our greatest resource – they are ambitious, proud and most especially honest. Our community has provided a clear roadmap as to what they want, what they aspire to, and what the future holds to them. They are frank and fearless masters who have high expectations of Council. Council’s staff our City of Ballarat family are also part of the larger Ballarat community. Every day more than 900 people deliver important public services to our community on Council’s behalf. Their sense of commitment and pride holds our city in good stead. The service, the dedication and the care for our City that our people demonstrate every day still inspires me to this day as CEO. In my time I have been single minded in seeking to maximise the capacity of our organisation and empower our people so that they deliver the best possible outcomes for Ballarat. I hand over the organisation confident in its capacity and ability to deliver on our commitments to the city.
In the delivery of these important community services and projects it’s not always been smooth sailing and we sometimes stumble. But I know from working with our people that there is a dedication to fulfilling our purpose of making Ballarat a place for people tolivetheir whole life. This means doing what we can to continue to deliver valued services, create jobs, create meaningful places to live, creating beautiful city and environments, making a place that is culturally enriching and innovative and a place that is healthy and prosperous for as many of our residents and visitors that we possibly can.
During the last eight years Ballarat has transformed in a manner that few of us understood at the time. We were a regional City in Western Victoria, and have now evolved to be the Capital City of Western Victoria. The time has very much passed to be insular in our thinking about our great City. We are a “capital city” in every sense. This is the role we play for not only our citizens but the role that is necessary for the prosperity of our broader region and the State of Victoria.
Our population has grown from 88,000 to 102,000 in 8 years, and is on track to have a population of 130,000 by 2026. Our economy serves a catchment area of 400,000 people, stretching from Melton to the South Australian border. Our regional catchment strategy provides the underpinning for our continued economic strength. The Ballarat West Employment Zone stands as the flagship economic achievement of my time here in Council. Ultimately it will provide an additional 9,000 jobs generating an additional $5 billion in annual wealth for our city, providing the wealth that will support our continued growth. In line with creating an economic capital, we have also sought to establish Ballarat as a cultural capital for the region – providing the capital city experience that people aspire to. This vision has underpinned our CBD renewal, and provides direction for other critical projects including the Railway precinct development, the Eureka Stadium, and the resolution of Civic Hall. I reflect on these major renewal and infrastructure projects together with the work we have done to secure strong lifestyle and tourism events and experiences. All of these will further build the notion of a Capital city experience here in Ballarat.
In line with our economic achievements are our tremendous plans for the shape of Ballarat set out in the Ballarat Strategy. This work sets a roadmap for the type of place we expect to be over the next fifty years. It focusses upon planning our communities and learning the lessons of unplanned growth that has occurred in other places. It establishes the concept of the ten minute city, which is central to our sense of living in Regional Australia in the context of our rich cultural, built and natural history. And in line with this I am especially proud of the work we have done in entering into partnerships with our communities. Whether it be neighbourhood projects, local community infrastructure or community services, each of these are part of our larger vision for a strong Ballarat community.
We simply would not be so well placed as a City without the financial sustainability that we have built over this time. Councillors, staff and the community should be proud of what we have achieved to ensure that Ballarat is financially prepared for its future growth and development. Also, this strong financial position is the key to delivering the many, many major and local projects while maintaining a full suite of community services. Ballarat is widely recognised for its financial sustainability as a local government when so many other local governments are struggling to remain viable. This has been the result of smart and disciplined financial strategy, management and control.
None of the above can be achieved without the leadership of our elected Councillors. In my time I have served with nine Mayors and many more Councillors. Each of them have provided strong leadership and service to their community that in many ways goes unthanked and unappreciated. They have provided for me a clear line of sight as to what they hope Ballarat can grow into. Preserving what we love, articulating what must change, and deciding how best we should get there. A CEO is part of a leadership partnership to deliver upon the agenda of elected Councillors. In my time it has been a pleasure to join with them collectively in delivering their plans. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you as the current Mayor for the support of not only yourself and current Councillors, but also our previous Mayor’s and Councillors.
It is also those that join with us, partner with us and collaborate that have contributed to our success of Ballarat. None of the achievements outlined above could take place without the close partnerships that exists in Ballarat between Council, key institutions and stakeholders. I would like to single out the Committee for Ballarat for the their strong vision and advocacy, joining with other key players including Commerce Ballarat, the Australian Industry Group, VECCI, and CHAFF. Similarly the partnerships between Council, Ballarat Health Services, Federation University, Ballarat Community Health and Australian Catholic University have been crucial. The many community advocates, passionate community groups, volunteers and organisations that I and my team work with and collaborate with mean that the Council is able to deliver outcomes for our community that we would not otherwise achieve. Our united and collective vision has helped deliver our current state of prosperity and strength, in no small part in partnership with our neighbouring Councils, Regional City partners, State and Federal Governments. I would like to conclude by committing to remaining active in the Ballarat community. Our people and our institutions are our great strength, they hold us accountable, and ensure we stay on track. The success we have achieved to date and into the future is a story of success that is shared by many who have contributed. During my time I have had the pleasure to share this work with many positive, visionary and passionate people. I look forward to participating as we move forward from the position as a rate payer rather than as a CEO. The City of Ballarat will continue to hold a special place in my heart as the city moves forward in its grand vision for the future. I encourage the City of Ballarat and indeed the community and our stakeholders to resist standing back and focusing on what is wrong, but positively and actively focus on what we can do and what we can achieve together. Yours sincerely
Chief Executive Officer