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Place-based solutions for the Latrobe Valley Analysis

Place-based solutions for the Latrobe Valley


Nearly 1000 days after the devastating Hazelwood Mine fire in Victoria’s Gippsland region something truly exciting is happening; the establishment of the Latrobe Health Assembly.

The Assembly is an example of a ‘place-based approach’ designed to bring together community members, community organisations, businesses, governments and public services (such as schools and health centres), to jointly tackle a common problem or challenge.

The new organisation is being formed partly in response to the fire itself, but also to the complex and entrenched disadvantage, faced by many communities in and around Morwell, a and the significant health challenges many people face, as highlighted by the blaze crisis.

Recent rumours around the (inevitable) closure of Hazelwood, as well as the Australian Government’s commitments to the Paris Agreement and the potential closures of other coal fired power stations, only underline the urgent need for comprehensive, integrated social and economic development plans for communities that will be impacted by the closures—including Morwell and the wider Latrobe Valley.

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Communities in the Latrobe Valley have a strong appetite to re-establish a sense of place and pride.


As we’ve noted previously, place-based strategies have the power to deliver local solutions to local problems. They can empower people to develop and drive their own innovative community solutions, and integrate them successfully over the long term.

They help build stronger communities that are better equipped to overcome entrenched poverty and disadvantage, in places where it has built up over generations.

The Latrobe Health Assembly—to be established by the Victorian Government—has a clear mission to improve the health and well-being of current and future generations living in the Latrobe Valley.

It will work in partnership with local health agencies, the Department of Health and Human Services, business and industry and the community to drive the adoption of innovative health strategies for better service delivery and make sure investment is delivered to priority programs in the area.

The Health Assembly will be an incorporated association—independent of Government—with a unique governance structure of more than 40 members, and will include local representatives of all ages from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, community groups, businesses and interests.

VCOSS’s recent report, Communities taking power, highlighted the frameworks and relationships needed for successful collaboration, such as:

  • Shared leadership
  • Data sharing in communities
  • A focus on prevention
  • Joint funding of local initiatives.
  • Support for local “economy building”

Integrated social and economic development plans must be place-based, and must address the current and future health, social, educational and employment needs of impacted communities as well as provide support to workers, their families and the broader community as they face significant change.

Ensuring a focus on the provision of health and community services, education, training and employment opportunities as central components of place-based plans can help ensure that the transition of these communities meets both current and future needs.

Early planning can help address current gaps, build on strengths and ensure that the right services are in place to support communities as they adapt to change. Importantly, planning must include place-based approaches that identify the strengths that communities can build upon, areas that need addressing and that engender ownership and a commitment to change by all community members.

Communities in the Latrobe Valley have a strong appetite to re-establish a sense of place and pride.

Building on the experiences and learning of other placed-based work, including the Latrobe Health Assembly, will be key to planning for the future viability and success of other communities that face significant change.■



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Image: Flickr/Monash University