Barwon spans the four local government areas of Colac Otway, Surf Coast, Queenscliffe and Greater Geelong.

Map of Barwon including the four local government areas of Colac Otway, Surf Coast, Queenscliffe and Greater Geelong.The region includes the traditional lands of the Eastern Maar and Wadawurrung peoples.

It is home to over 316,000 Victorians and has a diverse economy based in construction,

manufacturing, health and education service industries. Economic activity is primarily driven by Geelong.

Barwon is a popular region with tourists. As a gateway to the Great Ocean Road, it attracts seasonal visitors travelling along the coastline to see the Twelve Apostles and other natural sights. Visitors pass through coastal towns of Ocean Grove, Torquay, Lorne, Apollo Bay and many more, while the Great Otway National Park attracts visitors inland.

Draft recommendations

Expand the tabs below to read the draft recommendations for each topic.

Barwon residents have:

  • lower rates of internet connection
  • gaps in internet connectivity
  • slower internet speed, and
  • less reliable mobile coverage than Melbourne.

This means many people cannot access online services (for example banking, job search, health and social services, and education). Unreliable internet connections can make it hard to do business. Unreliable internet also reduces public access to safety information in times of emergency.

There are opportunities to improve internet access and digital connections in Barwon. Reliable on-farm internet access would improve productivity for the agricultural industry. Improvements in internet access would support future growth in the region’s financial and insurance sector. Improved internet and mobile phone coverage in tourist locations would better meet visitor expectations. We can also improve internet access for those who don’t have it at home. For example, using the facilities and expertise in Barwon’s library network.

What are our draft recommendations?

Draft recommendation 80. Continue to address regional Victoria’s digital connectivity gaps (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

In the next five years, continue delivering regional digital connectivity improvements, and review the need for further government investment following the roll-out of the Digital Future Now initiative.

Draft recommendation 86. Improve resilience of regional telecommunications infrastructure (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

In the next 10 years, develop more resilient regional telecommunications infrastructure so communities can stay safe during emergencies, including greater network redundancy and back-up power supply.

Draft recommendation 87. Fund regional libraries to provide better internet access (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately provide funding for regional and rural libraries to improve community access to fast, free internet services, leveraging existing library infrastructure.

Complete the survey below to tell us what you think about these draft recommendations.

Barwon has a diverse tourism offering:

  • road trip experiences along the Great Ocean Road
  • food and wine experiences, and
  • nature-based tourism opportunities in the Great Otway National Park.

The Barwon region's visitor economy has been harmed by border closures and event cancellations in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, as restrictions start to ease, tourism has a role to play in the region’s economic recovery.

What are our draft recommendations?

Draft recommendation 82. Plan for future investment in regional nature-based tourism infrastructure (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

In the next five years, develop a Victorian nature-based tourism strategy to guide industry development and prioritise further investments.

Draft recommendation 83. Develop a Victorian Aboriginal tourism strategy (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Partner with Traditional Owners to develop a Victorian Aboriginal tourism strategy in the next five years to guide future Aboriginal tourism investments, including through Joint Management Plans.

Draft recommendation 84. Boost tourism infrastructure by allowing more national parks to grant long leases (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Attract investment in Victoria’s regional tourism industry by immediately allowing more national parks to grant leases of up to 49 years for infrastructure proposals that meet specific criteria and complement environmental and heritage values.

Complete the survey below to tell us what you think about these draft recommendations.

Patients travel long distances to access healthcare services in rural and regional areas. This can contribute to poor health outcomes in some regional areas.

Healthcare services are now more readily available over the phone and online. This trend has accelerated over the last year, with more people in Barwon accessing health care remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patients now consult with General Practitioners (GPs), specialists and other health providers over the phone and online. Health professionals have used the internet to remotely diagnose and check patients’ health. Delivering more healthcare using technology can give patients more convenient, flexible and quality services.

For those living in rural and remote areas, telehealth could provide greater access to quality care, specialists and allied services and reduce travel.

However, some services still need in-person contact as telehealth is not appropriate in all situations. Demand for mental health services is relatively high in Colac-Otway, for example. Our recommendations aim to improve access to mental health services for Barwon residents, as well as plan for facilities which respond to the service needs of the region’s Aboriginal communities.

What are our draft recommendations?

Draft recommendation 21. Use innovation to deliver better models of healthcare (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Within five years, help slow the growth in demand for hospital infrastructure by funding a comprehensive statewide health innovation strategy to promote better models of healthcare.

Draft recommendation 72. Co-design an Aboriginal Community-Controlled Infrastructure Plan (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately commence a co-design process to develop a plan to guide investment in Aboriginal community-controlled infrastructure to meet current and future social, economic and cultural needs.

Draft recommendation 75. Deliver infrastructure for a better mental health system (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately establish a dedicated infrastructure fund to support a better mental health system, building on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System.

Complete the survey below to tell us what you think about these draft recommendations.

Local governments deliver many social and community services to regional communities. These include:

  • child and family services
  • aged care
  • health care services, and
  • programs to foster social inclusion and improve wellbeing.

Some regional councils have small budgets due to small ratepayer populations. They also need to fund many services to communities spread over a large geographic area. Councils in regional cities like Geelong have high population growth. This is accompanied by growing demand for services.

Many council facilities have a single purpose at a specific point in time. Others are ageing and no longer fit for purpose. This limits service quality, and councils face challenges in managing these facilities well. At the same time, community needs are changing and some facilities no longer meet local needs.

Councils are finding ways to provide facilities that can respond to contemporary needs. This includes building multipurpose service facilities, for example an integrated health and wellbeing building.

Another solution is to upgrade outdated facilities or give them a new use which matches current community needs.

What are our draft recommendations?

Draft recommendation 89. Deliver multipurpose shared social service facilities in the regions (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately undertake collaborative inter-agency planning for regional social services to identify opportunities for multipurpose shared facilities, then deliver them where appropriate in partnership with local governments and community organisations.

Draft recommendation 90. Support regional councils to update, repurpose or retire outdated community infrastructure (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Fund rural and regional councils in the next five years to update, repurpose and retire outdated community infrastructure for better service delivery.

Complete the survey below to tell us what you think about these draft recommendations.

Now more than ever, our state requires more homes for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Barwon’s homeless population has risen 23% between 2011 and 2016. And one quarter of Barwon’s low-income households experience financial stress from mortgage or rent.

Social housing provides low-income Victorians secure, affordable and appropriate housing. Access to affordable and social housing is a priority for the region. This means that some of our most vulnerable community members are on social housing waiting lists and are experiencing financial stress.

What are our draft recommendations?

Draft recommendation 57. Rapidly renew old public housing (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Rapidly renew dilapidated public housing properties, with a priority to renew at least half of all older low-rise apartments and older three-bedroom detached dwellings by 2031.

Draft recommendation 94. Expand social housing in regional centres, in locations with good access (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Focus social housing investments in regional centres, near access to transport and services, to contribute to a target of 4.5 social housing dwellings for every 100 Victorian households by 2031.

Draft recommendation 95. Make social housing suitable for changing local climates (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Prioritising northern Victoria, continue to deliver a long-term program of modifying social housing to be climate-resilient by improving the energy efficiency and energy affordability of residences.

Complete the survey below to tell us what you think about these draft recommendations.

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IV will use the information collected to inform Victoria’s Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy.

Your contact details, where provided, may also be used by IV to update you on the results of the engagement process.

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Other recommendations related to Barwon in the draft strategy

Read the Barwon regional priorities summary for other recommendations related to the region.

Shared community facilities in action

Story from Shepparton: a football club also a leadership training hub

The Shepparton Rumbalara Football Netball Club has a long association with the Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative. The club provides a leadership training hub for the local First Nations community, as well as netball training. It provides a range of training, education, health, leadership and social support programs.

Story from Murray: Old hospital turned into a health and wellbeing centre

The Walwa Bush Nursing Centre is in an isolated town on the upper Murray. The facility exists because of a community campaign following the closure of its eight-bed hospital. The facility was transformed with community fundraising and state government grants. The new health and wellbeing centre is a mix of health and community services. It now houses:

  • General Practitioners
  • district nursing
  • home care
  • emergency first response
  • outpatient clinic
  • pharmacy
  • gym
  • community centre
  • IT centre
  • banking services
  • RUM radio
  • community car
  • meals on wheels
  • health services
  • counselling services.

The centre is run by a community owned not-for-profit and has been successfully operating since 2006.