Project Background

Project Background

Looking to the future of the Orbost district.

In November 2019, the Victorian Government announced the Victorian Forestry Plan. Under this Plan, commercial harvesting of native forests is to phase down from 2024, and all native forest harvesting will cease from 2030. The Government announced a Forestry Plan Transition Fund that would support communities affected by this decision in a transition from logging to other kinds of activities.

Drawing on experience with energy transition in the Latrobe Valley, it was agreed that the Orbost district might benefit from early intervention to facilitate transition. The Latrobe Valley Authority’s (LVA) Smart Specialisation (S3) methodology was seen to be a useful approach for developing a roadmap for the future of the Orbost district.

The Future of Orbost and District project is being managed locally by the Orbost & District Chamber of Commerce & Industry with support from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. Its partners include the LVA, RMIT and the University of Melbourne.

With Smart Specialisation, the starting point for developing a strategic view of the future for the communities in the Orbost district is a close examination of the existing status of economic, social and environmental characteristics of the district. This regional context analysis includes exploring the assets and resources which are available to support innovation, as well as the key policy initiatives that are relevant to the Orbost district.

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A Word From The Project Manager

Having grown up in Orbost and district and then living and working in a number of other regions over the past 20-years, I can say without hesitation that this part of the world is well described on the home page of this very website "pristine natural beauty - a great place to live, enjoy a relaxed lifestyle, Gippsland’s little treasure, an unforgettable place to visit."

Alongside the natural beauty of the district, its people are the key to its future. In my time back here in Orbost I have been blown away with the level of entrepreneurial spirit, can-do attitude and innovative ways of working.

Challenges being faced by the district as transition takes place are no doubt there front and centre. This innovation project using the smart specialisation way of working is the first of its kind targeting place based innovation in Australia. Turning challenges into opportunity is one of the key goals of the project.

Collaboration will be a key ingredient if the region is to prosper and through this project we hope to bring people together with community, government, education and industry all at the table.

Please reach out if you are interested in the project - to learn more, to engage more or to do more.

Tim Cotter

Project Manager, Future of Orbost and District Project

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Innovation Opportunities

The way we work with others

Applying the 'Smart Specialisation Strategy' (S3) methodology pioneered in the European Union, this project brings together government, business, research and education and civil society to co-design a shared vision for the region's future prosperity.

Our Approach

Developing capability, leadership and networks within and between sectors in Orbost and district, identifying and defining key areas of competitive advantage, and supporting sustainable growth and innovation in the region.

Our Mission

The Orbost region is in transition, with significant changes occurring in the forestry, tourism and agricultural sectors, which form the corner stones of the region’s economy. Drought, bushfire and COVID-19 have also impacted the community in recent times.

The Future of Orbost and district project will work in partnership with State and Local Government and the community, to explore a new approach, that will build our understanding of the areas of future potential and development of the economy, to deliver a brighter future for the district

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