3 April 2024

A push to build 12 houses in 12 months, to make airfares fairer, and to improve Blackwater’s liveability are among the first targets of a major new plan for the Central Highlands.

Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC) has launched the Central Highlands Workforce Development and Accommodation Strategy (WDAS).

“At its heart, this is a plan to help our region realise its full potential as a fantastic place to live, work, invest, and play,” CHDC CEO Peter Dowling says.

“The Strategy sets out practical steps to knock down those key barriers, such as the scarce housing supply and childcare places, that stand in the way of the Central Highlands attracting and retaining a skilled workforce.”

Business operators are invited to CHDC’s Working Lunch on 19 April to find out more about the project. Tickets are available at

CHDC developed the WDAS in partnership with the Central Highlands Resources Roundtable and Central Highlands Regional Council, with the assistance of leading consultants Infinitum Partners and National Property Research Co and key stakeholders across the agricultural, education, construction and childcare sectors.

“Collaboration is integral to this project achieving meaningful change,” Mr Dowling says.

“This document is the result of months of extensive engagement with stakeholders across the region and represents their commitment to implementing innovative solutions to these complex issues.”

The first task will be to form a Workforce and Accommodation Collective (WAC) by June this year to drive the Strategy’s short- and medium-term actions.

These actions include opening Expressions of Interest to builders and developers to support a 12 in 12 campaign, which will see at least 12 new builds across the region within 12 months.

The short-term initiatives also put focus on Blackwater’s childcare shortage and shopping limitations, and the opportunity to transform the town’s Dempsey Park into a vibrant social and leisure hub.

As part of the WDAS, CHDC will also develop a position paper to work with airlines to find solutions to fairer airfares and expand regional subsidy schemes for residents. 

The Strategy can be viewed at

Launching the Central Highlands Workforce Development and Accommodation Strategy in Blackwater were CHDC’s Peter Dowling (far left) and Deb Barnes (far right) with (left to right) Coronado Curragh’s Samantha Pontaine; C&K Blackwater’s Upkar Bains and Emily Schlawe; Yancoal Yarrabee’s Aaron Daniel; Geri Lanko from Jellinbah Group; and Justin Voland, also from Yancoal.