Workforce Development and Accommodation Strategy

Attracting and retaining a skilled workforce

With continued and sustained challenges facing our region, particularly workforce attraction and retention, coupled with ongoing housing issues, the time is right to look anew.

The Central Highlands Workforce Development and Accommodation Strategy is a true action plan that focuses on outcomes that will address both the current and the emerging issues in region.

Developed by CHDC in partnership with the Central Highlands Resources Roundtable (CHRR), and with support from Central Highlands Regional Council (CHRC).

The Central Highlands Workforce Development Program report was prepared by the National Property Research Co. to assist in the development of the Strategy.

The report served as a foundation for understanding the key influences on the Central Highlands economic vitality, social fabric, and housing and childcare needs.

FOCUS AREAS

The strategy is centred on four focus areas: WORKFORCE, CHILDCARE, ACCOMMODATION and LIFESTYLE. Each focus area is interconnected and geared towards securing, accommodating and aiding the workforce, while also protecting local asset values.

Short-term, by June 2024

IDENTIFIED PRIORITIES

ESTABLISH WAC ACTION 1
CHDC to establish the Workforce and Accommodation Collective (WAC) to deliver and monitor the agreed priorities and continue to drive the broader recommended actions. A call for members is to be made for the WAC which will include members of the already established CHRR as well as other businesses, institutions and CHRC. The State Government will also be invited to participate. The WAC will meet monthly and communicate outcomes publicly. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Call for membership by 1 May 2024 and group formalised for first meeting in June 2024.
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PROPERTY REVIEW ACTION 2
CHDC to partner with major property portfolio holders (both public and private sector) to actively review housing stock and seek opportunities to release surplus supply, encourage redevelopment and/or commitment to new development. Initial priority on available stock that could be used to house key workers such as childcare, education and health workers in Blackwater. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Review to commence 1 April 2024. Opportunities to support Blackwater to be identified by 30 May 2024.
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FUTURE SKILLS FACILITATOR ACTION 3
CHDC to create a new full-time equivalent (FTE) position for a Future Skills Facilitator. The position will be tasked with the coordination and collaboration between education systems, government, and industry sectors across the region. The role will initially review current regional training organisations (RTOs) and certification offerings for the region with a focus on skills shortages such as early childhood, health and construction. The role will also engage directly with the CH VET Network and Indigenous groups to ensure the region is gaining access to the right programs and schools to industry pathways. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Position Description to be finalised and recruitment to commence for a start 1 July 2024.
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BUILD 12 IN 12 ACTION 4
CHDC to develop and launch an Expression of Interest from developers/builders to support the “12 in 12" campaign, which will see at least 12 new builds across the region within 12 months. CHDC to work with key property owners, government and companies to also develop other incentives that may support the new build (traineeships, materials, additional grants for first home buyers). Land (as identified in Action 2) would be across the region in all towns and nominated by both government and private sector. ◼TIMEFRAME:- EOI to launch by 1 May 2024.
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CHILDCARE ALLIANCE ACTION 5
CHDC to engage with and develop business case to expand the Childcare Leadership Alliance (CLA) into the Central Highlands region with focus on Blackwater as the first priority area. CLA to be formally invited to address the WAC at its first meeting in June 2024. The WAC with the CLA would be utilised to investigate whether additional centres are needed, where and how they should be developed. ◼TIMEFRAME:- CLA discussions to commence by 1 June 2024. Business Case to be finalised by 1 September 2024.
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CAPITAL INVESTMENT ACTION 6
Capital investment (such as CHRC capital budget and trunk infrastructure delivery) to be directed to areas of highest need. Initial investment should be directed to significant park upgrades in Blackwater (Dempsey Park), new park in Emerald (Devonport Street) and engagement directly with the owner of Blackwater Town Centre on its upgrade and expansion of hours of operation through the State Government to enable Sunday trade for supermarket. ◼TIMEFRAME:- CHRC to ensure appropriate inclusions in the upcoming budget by June 2024 and meeting with Blackwater Town Centre owner by 30 June 2024.
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INVESTMENT INCENTIVES ACTION 7
CHDC to review and consolidate all known current incentives and outline suggested new incentives and/or amended policy to support investment in region. Review should include CHRC’s Regional Economic Development Incentives as well as rates on non-principal place of residence and other potential opportunities for support directly from major employers or suppliers. ◼TIMEFRAME- Review to be completed by 30 May 2024.
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FAIRER AIRFARES ACTION 8
CHDC to develop position paper to work directly with the airlines to find solutions on reducing the cost of airfares and expanding regional subsidy schemes for residents. Monitoring of new fleet and its impact on costs and availability of flights to also be undertaken and improvements to be appropriately communicated to community. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Position Paper to be finalised by 30 June 2024 and roundtable held through WAC in July 2024.
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TALENT ATTRACTION ACTION 9
Ensure that the Talent Attraction Campaign is considerate of the findings of this work and is timed appropriately. Stage 1 to be focused on placing the region on the radar and then Stage 2 to target identified areas of need. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Ongoing.
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SMALL BUSINESS FRIENDLY ACTION 10
CHDC, together with CHRC, to engage with local small businesses to discuss benefits of CHRC joining the Small Business Friendly Program. Based on general agreement from local businesses on the benefit of the program, CHRC will prepare and lodge application to join the Small Business Friendly Program and commit to the Program Charter. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Engagement with small medium enterprises (SMEs) by 30 May 2024 and application prepared for briefing to CHRC by 30 June 2024.
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Medium-term, by March 2025

IDENTIFIED PRIORITIES

REGIONAL BUILD-TO-RENT ACTION 11
Potential land identified in Action 2 as well as EOIs from Action 3 to be used to develop a Regional Build-to-Rent Scheme. Land to be identified across the region and firm proposals sought from EOI respondents. Pilot BTR scheme to be confirmed from a feasibility perspective and, if viable, scheme delivered in region in 2025. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Proposals to EOI respondents sought by 30 August 2024. First Pilot BTR, if feasible, to be identified and delivered by 1 March 2025.
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SHUTDOWN COORDINATION ACTION 12
CHDC with support from the Resources Roundtable, to develop a Shutdown Coordination Calendar. The calendar will be developed as a soft copy prior to seeking proposals from software developers to pilot a platform-based Bowen Basin Mines Calendar. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Soft copy Calendar by 30 July 2024. Proposals to be sought by 30 September 2024 and decision made on next steps by 1 December 2024.
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ACCOMMODATION MANAGEMENT ACTION 13
CHDC to seek proposals from software developers to develop a proof-in-concept real-time occupancy of mining accommodation across the region. Understanding real-time vacancy would substantially improve efficiency and availability with opportunity to free up other in-demand accommodation such as motels and hotels in town. If the proof-in-concept is viable, then funding to be sourced to develop further. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Proposals to be sought by 30 October 2024. Proof-in-concept by 15 December 2024.
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FIT-FOR-PURPOSE ACCOMMODATION ACTION 14
Through the WAC, coordinate and acknowledge the need for fit-for-purpose accommodation across the region. Identify appropriate sites for additional village style accommodation in the right locations across the region including expansion of existing in-town locations such as Pritchard Road. Facilitate the required community conversation and necessary engagement with community to balance the need for different forms of accommodation. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Appropriate sites to be identified by 30 September 2024.
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MOVE TO MORE CAMPAIGN ACTION 15
As members of the Regional Activators Alliance, CHDC to ensure that the region is represented in the Move to More campaign. CHDC to understand investment requirement and ensure appropriate budgeting to cover cost if benefit is identified. ◼TIMEFRAME:- 1 December 2024.
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COMMUNITY SUPPORT ACTION 16
CHDC, together with CHRC, to coordinate and better promote access to available funding opportunities for community groups across the region. Encourage major employers to partner with and sponsor community activities and events. A centralised page on CHDC’s website to direct community members to the opportunities such as Grant Finder, Company Community Partnership Schemes, Council Sponsorship Opportunities. ◼TIMEFRAME:- Centralised webpage to be published by 1 February 2025.
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