$750k Boost for GROW

G21's Elaine Carbines, Christine Couzens MP and Give Where You Live Foundation's Bill Mithen

The State Government has provided a $750k boost to the G21 region GROW project and announced that the program will be replicated across the state. It's a big win for real and meaningful action on breaking the cycle of disadvantage and, oh, how it makes me want to write: GROW Grows Again, for the alliteration alone ...

The State Government funding, announced by Member for Geelong, Christine Couzens MP, is in addition to $1 million in funding for the first five years of operation of the GROW program, and $100,000 to help develop the initial GROW Strategic Plan.

This ambitious idea that rethinks how we address disadvantage as a community in this region has now been adopted by the Victorian Government and will be rolled out across the state, with projects replicating GROW - G21 Region Opportunities for Work (GROW) in both Ballarat and Gippsland, with other centres to follow.

Established jointly by the Give Where You Live Foundation and G21 – Geelong Region Alliance in 2014, the program encourages business and local enterprises to increase their local procurement where they feasibly can and to create opportunities for work for people in disadvantaged communities, too many of who have never had a family member who is employed. 

Give Where You Live Foundation CEO Bill Mithen, said the State Government’s adoption of GROW in other centres of Victoria was a “no brainer” and welcomed the funding announcement. 

“[The funding] announcement will go a long way to ensuring GROW continues to benefit the region but specifically those in disadvantaged areas,” Mr Mithen said. “Some 82 businesses and other organisations have signed the GROW compact in the G21 region, committing to procure and employ locally wherever practical.

“Earlier this month, GROW announced outcomes based on expenditure data collected from 16 of the Compact signatory organisations, showing a $20.2 million increase in local procurement, leading to 179 jobs in the region broadly over a 12 month period.

“Most importantly, we reported 75 on-the-ground specific jobs in disadvantaged target communities," Mr Mithen said.

“Collectively, for every $1 million spent locally, about 8.84 new jobs can potentially be created. And there are obvious commercial benefits for those companies agreeing to procure locally wherever possible.”

G21 CEO Elaine Carbines said addressing long-term entrenched disadvantage was, in many ways, about cultural change and collective action.

“Our GROW compact signatories continue to illustrate why our region has flourished as it undertakes such an initiative,” Ms Carbines said.

“These plans are a catalyst for change in disadvantaged communities. GROW signatories are identifying and developing innovative opportunities to drive meaningful transformation in people’s lives, their own organisations and the broader economy. 

“We’re delighted that the groundwork and hard-slog put in by G21 and Give Where You Live Foundation, with the support of local businesses and organisations, has shown what’s possible and has inspired others to follow.”

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