Employee attraction, retention insights

April 13, 2021

A NEW survey seeks to understand the drivers behind people moving to, or leaving the Wimmera Southern Mallee. 

Wimmera Development Association will manage the survey data on behalf of the region’s leaders, advocates and decision-makers, and employers. 

The survey seeks feedback from people who have moved to the region for work, those who have changed jobs within the region, and those who are leaving for other opportunities. 

Wimmera Development Association executive director Chris Sounness said the survey would detail the region’s strengths, and areas in which to improve in order to retain people for longer periods of time. 

“This survey is not trying to understand the person’s workplace; more the region we live in and how it has attracted people, why people enjoy working in the region and how it can meet their needs and expectations ongoing,” MrSounness said. “This helps employers and leaders of the region to better address the needs and expectations of employees. When people come to the region, we really want them to stay. Unless we ask, we will only make assumptions about what drew them here, what kept them here, or why they opted to move elsewhere.” 

Wimmera Primary Care Partnership executive officer Geoff Witmitz said survey data would assist organisations to work together to attract and retain professionals. 

“The entry survey gives us better insight into why people come to the region to take up a professional career; while the exit survey gives us an idea of what would make them stay. We tend to assume the worst and we don’t talk enough about the positive things that our region has to offer,” MrWitmitz said. 

Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership chairman David Jochinke said the benefits of the survey were far-reaching. 

“The survey helps uensure we prioritise the issues that make the Wimmera and southern Mallee an enjoyable place to live and work. This information shapes the future projects and policies for infrastructure spend and liveability initiatives,” MrJochinke said. 

Wimmera Development Association facilitates a HR Network group of employers and HR professionals working across the region. 

“The network shares information about how we can make the employment experience better for all,” Mr Sounness said. “If you’re new to the region, changing roles within the region or leaving the region, get in touch with your employer or WDA – we are keen to hear your feedback. This data helps the work of individual businesses and HR Network as a collaboration. This survey will have the most value when we maximise participation and get a diversity of viewabout the region’s livability.” 

The surveys take about 10 minutes to complete and the data remains anonymous.

The survey for new arrivals to the region is available here; the survey for people moving within the region is available here; and for those leaving the region, this survey seeks your feedback here.

Understand your risk - a leadership development opportunity

2021 AICD NFP Registration
April 23, 2021
Are you serving on a committee? Looking to take on a committee role? Maybe you're working in community leadership or governance
Leadership Wimmera will host a program in June that gives people an opportunity to hone their skills in: 
  • Strategy and risk management 
  • Financial management 
  • Understanding your role and responsibilities 
The program, Governance Foundations for Not-for-Profit Directors Foundations for Not-for-Profit Directors and delivered by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, is suitable for current or aspiring committee members. Executives can also gain a deeper understanding of the functions of their boards. While the program name refers to non-profits, anyone working in a committee or governance role would benefit. 
The course runs on Sundays June 20 (full day) and June 27 (half day) at Horsham Golf Club.
Discounts apply for non-profit groups and for Regional Skills or Business Leaders graduates.

Some scholarship monies are available. Payment plans are also available.
Limited places are available and online registrations close Friday, May 14.
Leadership Wimmera is proud to offer this opportunity to Wimmera Southern Mallee residents to build their knowledge and skills in a local setting, with local people. 

Working, learning from home impacts detailed

March 24, 2021

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A WIMMERA-BASED study has unveiled the impacts and stressors of working and learning from home for many local families.  

The Wimmera Development Association-commissioned report aimed to understand and record people’s experiences of learning and working from home during the first COVID-19 lockdown in March and April 2020. This included how households shared the load – of supervising learning, work commitments and general household duties; how caregivers connected with schools; and their internet connectivity, digital literacy and access to devices. 

Dr Cathy Tischler, a social and economic researcher from the region, led the study for Wimmera Development Association

An interview team spoke with more than 50 participants involved in learning from home or supervising learning from home during April and May. More than 80 per cent of participants were women and about half lived in the Horsham Rural City municipality. 

“Our work found that while some families were able to share the load, it was predominantly women taking the brunt of the work of caring for children, managing learning from home and juggling work or study,” Dr Tischler said. 

“There are range of factors at play here, including the nature and expectations of work in the region – but the stress of this additional responsibility on one member of the household was identifiable in the research.”  

Dr Tischler said parents reported “significant” variation in the ways in which schools communicated with caregivers and provided educational support. Some parents returned their children to school as learning from home became too difficult or unworkable.  

“The focus of schools appeared to shift – at least from a parent’s perspective – and be strongly about the provision of curriculum. For some schools, the social welfare and support elements of education dropped off and the role of teaching became strictly about information transfer,” Dr Tischler said.  

“Learning from home was labor-intensive for parents of younger children and more than half of all families reported spending six or more hours supporting their children with learning from home.  

“Women with the highest levels of education, and the lowest levels, both identified the most significant struggles.”  

Dr Tischler said many caregivers took leave or reduced their working hours to support learning from home. In some instances, grandparents and friends became involved in providing support to parents.  

Dr Tischler said one positive from the experience was that it also gave parents more insights into their child’s education.  

“This period of time changed the level of engagement many parents had with education. A number of parents said they realised their children needed more help to learn; and even just understanding the extensive workload that their children would complete each day, in a school setting, was an eye-opener for many parents” she said.  

Dr Tischler said the study prompted further questions and actions in understanding digital literacy and internet connectivity – particularly in low socioeconomic households, small businesses and migrant families.  

“Internet access and connectivity impacted children’s ability to access school and engage. This is particularly a concern for low-socioeconomic families and people living outside of larger towns in the region,” she said.  

“There was a lot of perseverance by families coping with poor or intermittent internet connection; some incurring significant additional costs to ensure they had the technology and access they needed – costs which ranged from hundreds of dollars to around $3000. But paying more for internet didn’t necessarily drive better results.”  

The study recommended further consideration for how to ensure educational and linked social welfare support the quality of support has consistency across the region, should learning from home occur again.  

It also provided insight into the impacts on individual families and particularly women in their efforts to manage expectations and responsibilities for childcare and learning from home.  

Wimmera Development Association is the peak advocacy body behind many major and emerging projects in the region. It supports businesses, promotes economic development opportunities to investors and is a key link between industry and governments, lobbying for improved infrastructure and for regional priority issues.

Wind farm generates grants opportunity

February 24, 2021 

A NEW community grants fund opens for applications next month. 

The Murra Warra Wind Farm Sustainable Community Grants Fund will provide financial support to promote social and environmental sustainability initiatives for the benefit of communities within the Horsham Rural City, Hindmarsh and Yarriambiackshire councils. 

It is part of the wind farm’s community investment program

Wimmera Development Association project manager Vernetta Taylor said $55,000 was available across the three municipalities. Not-for-profit groups or organisations can apply for small grants of up to $5000 or large grants of up to $20,000. 

“The fund aims to provide an opportunity for community groups and organisations to develop innovative and sustainable environmental projects; and to provide an opportunity for improved health and education across the community by developing long-term partnerships and cohesive community projects,” Mrs Taylor said. 

“It also aims to strengthen community connections and social wellbeing in developing projects focusing on long-term sustainability; to develop projects that enhance and encourage healthy and active communities; and to develop projects which enhance cultural diversity, creative community activities and projects.” 

Applications open on March 1 and close at 5pm on April 12. Conditions apply. 

All projects must be completed by June 30, 2022. 

Applications forms are available via or

Hard copy application forms are available on request. 

People wanting more information should phone Mrs Taylor on 0419 114 274.

Fostering local leadership

2021 BLG Roses Gap a


February 23, 2021

LEADERSHIP Wimmera’s 2021 flagship programs have officially begun. 

More than 30 Wimmera Southern Mallee people will take on formal and experiential learning opportunities across the next 10 months – learning more about themselves, others and the region and unlocking new avenues to provide leadership and contribute effectively andpositivelyin their workplace, community and personal lives. 

Eighteen people have accepted an offer to complete Leadership Wimmera’s Business Leaders program, designed for people who own or run a business, lead a team and have influence in their workplace. They spent the weekend at Roses Gap on an opening retreat. 

A further 1people will complete the Regional Skills program, designed for people wanting to build skills to enhance participation in workplace, community and personal arenas. Participants apply their learnings through development of a community project as part of their program year. The group’s retreat was delayed due to the COVID-19 Circuit-Breaker Lockdown and was scheduled to March. 

Leadership Wimmera program manager Jessica Grimble said 20 Wimmera Southern Mallee workplaces, and many more community groups, were represented among this year’s cohort.

“Leadership Wimmera offers this region a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth, in a local setting and with like-minded locals who become an important network during and after programs,” she said. 

“Our flagship community leadership programs have very strong support from many local businesses and organisations, who recognise an opportunity to invest in their people and grow and develop skills locally. 

“Including discussion and education about regional challenges and opportunities, along with more program days, are exciting additions to our long-running programs this year

Then, through the Leadership Wimmera Graduate Network, people and businesses can seek specific skills and advice that will apply to businesses or community groups – or everyday life. Last year these initiatives ranged from best practice community engagement and change management, to building resilience in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, to sought-after governance courses with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.” 

Ms Grimble welcomed confirmation that the Victorian government would continue supporting community leadership programs in 2021. 

“The state government’s support helps Leadership Wimmera to offer subsidised opportunities for people to participate in a range of opportunities that will boost their knowledge of community leadership – including our year-long program and other initiatives to support local leaders and learning locally,” she said. 

Major sponsor ACE Radio will continue its sponsorship of Leadership Wimmera. 

Financial and in-kind support from Leading Teams Australia, Agriculture Victoria, the Minerals Council of Australia, The Hugh Williamson Foundation, Robyn and Des Lardner, Wimmera Business Centre, Horsham Rotary Club and Wimmera Development Association enables individuals to participate in the program; and ensure Leadership Wimmera’s offerings are robust, timely and relevant. 

Leadership Wimmera began in 2002 and has supported the development of almost 600 emerging leaders in the Wimmera Southern Mallee through its flagship programs alone. 

Leading Teams will facilitate theprograms and Wimmera Development Association is the auspice organisation.

Fit for Business Retail Skills Webinar Series

IT'S NOT TOO LATE!!  Sign up today !!

Wimmera Development Association and the Wimmera Business Centre with support from the Victorian State Government proudly present


The Retail Doctor - Retrain for the Retail Revolution Webinar Series

This regionally focussed webinar series will include;

  • Managing inventory to sales forecasts
  • Driving worth/value for your business
  • Understanding your numbers, cashflow and margins
  • Understanding who you customer is
  • Training and coaching staff

and discuss how to build your local market brand including web and social media, merchandising (windows and instore) displays, a more valuable business and your point of difference.


  • Session 1 - 10 March 8-9am Recording available
  • Session 2 - 17 March 8-9am
  • Session 3 - 24 March 8-9am
  • Session 4 - 31 March 8-9am


  • Session 5 - 21 April 8-9am
  • Session 6 - 28 April 8-9am
  • Session 7 - 5 May 8-9am

For further information contact Vernetta Taylor 0419 114 274 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CLICK HERE to go to our bookings page

Showcase has festive ‘flavour’

November 20, 2020

SHOWCASING Wimmera Southern Mallee produce is the aim of a new initiative for the festive season.

Wimmera Development Association is co-ordinating A Taste of the Wimmera.

Project manager Vernetta Taylor said at least 10 producers of oils and dressings, salts, coffee beans, preserves and honey and pulse products would supply items for a range of gift boxes.

“This initiative is not for profit; simply a way to celebrate and give people a chance to sample what the region has to offer. As they are mystery boxes, you won’t know what you’re sampling until they are gifted or unboxed at home,” Mrs Taylor said. “The response from food producers has been extremely positive – people are so excited to showcase their products to the region in this way.”

Axis Works will pack the gift boxes, which will be available at the Horsham and Grampians Visitor Information Centre, located at the Horsham Town Hall, from December 1.

“Wimmera Development Association has made a commitment to support Wimmera food producers through its Seeds of Growth program, supporting people with existing or budding ideas and maximising the potential of their produce,” Mrs Taylor said. “As part of that, we wanted to offer an opportunity for food producers in the region to showcase their product so the community can be more aware of the amazing and diverse range of products made locally. What better time than Christmas to offer a gift – particularly for that hard-to-buy-for person – that gives people a ‘taste’ of the Wimmera to share with family and friends.”'

Wimmera Development Association supports businesses, promotes economic development opportunities to investors and is a key link between industry and governments, lobbying for improved infrastructure and for regional priority issues.

Leadership celebration

November 23, 2020

LEADERSHIP Wimmera's 2020 graduates have marked the end of their program year. 

Graduates of the Regional Leadership Skills and Business Leaders programs celebrated a year of self-development and leadership learning when they gathered in Horsham on Friday and Saturday night. It came after graduates shared their experience by way of prepared speeches last month, via Zoom. 

Leadership Wimmera program manager Jessica Grimble said 28 people from 19 organisationshad developed skills to contribute effectively and positively in workplaces and community. For many, the weekend’s dinners were their first in-person meeting since the program began in February.

“Our 2020 participants have spent most of their year-long program online – and it would not have been the year they expected, but one that likely brought many opportunities to learn and grow that were totally unexpected back in January,” Ms Grimble said. 

“Participants in a program such as Leadership Wimmera will get as much out of it as they put into it. 

Completing the program during the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly posed challenges for everyone – from participants to facilitators and those behind the scenes – and we don’t take away from that. But it also offered people a support network and chance to learn new ways to navigate the challenges that came their way.” 

Leadership Wimmera is auspiced by Wimmera Development Association. It began in 2002 and has supported the development of almost 600 emerging leaders in the Wimmera Southern Mallee. 

The Victorian government is the major financial contributor to Leadership Wimmera. Philanthropic and business support also assists in delivering subsidised learning opportunities to Wimmera Southern Mallee residents. 

Expressions of Interest for Leadership Wimmera’s 2021 program are open now. People wanting more information can visit or phone Jessica on 0429 811 744.

Expressions of interest sought for Leadership Wimmera program

October 6, 2020

Leadership Wimmera is preparing a reinvigoratedcommunity leadership program for 2021. 

Expressions of interest for the program open this week and organisers say there is no better time to invest – in yourself and the community. 

It comes after a challenging 2020 year. Not immune to the challenges and changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, Leadership Wimmera quickly transitioned participants to online learning and ensured that supporting the development of emerging leaders continued during a vital period. 

“Strong community leaders are vital – especially during a crisisand there is none more poignant than COVID-19,” program manager Jessica Grimble said. 

“Participants in our 2021 program can equip themselves with the tools they, and their communities, need to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 – by rallying others, building resilience and with innovative thinking.” 

The 10-month Leadership Wimmera program will offer blended and experiential learning opportunities. 

Participants will put learned leadership fundamentals into practice through working on co-designed community projects. The program weaves education about the region and regional priorities into program sessions and project development. 

Leadership Wimmera has a proven record for excellence in leadership development – and plans for 2021 take the program to the next level,” Ms Grimble said. 

Participants will learn more about themselves and their communities and from different perspectives. By investing in their own learning and development, they can become effective, impactful and innovative leaders.” 

Learnings through Leadership Wimmera’s community leadership program continue following the initial 10-month program – with graduates becoming members of its Graduate Network and accessing opportunities that supportlifelong learning. 

These have included training in governance, communications and public speaking, and seminars on topics such as resilience, community leadership, engagement and change management throughout 2020.

Leadership Wimmera is auspiced by Wimmera Development Association. It began in 2002 and has supported the development of almost 600 emerging leaders in the Wimmera Southern Mallee. It is one of nine community leadership programs across regional Victoria. 

With support from Regional Leadership Australia, Leadership Wimmera and its sister programs collaborated to host learning opportunities such as a virtual Federal Parliament education session with ministers and key staffers last monthThe collaboration – which has grown during this year’s pandemic response - also opened opportunities to share ideas among executive officers and program managers and promote learning opportunities for the benefit of local programs.