In its second year the Gippsland New Energy Conference has delivered a bright and strong message about our region’s energy transition now, and into the future.
The positive feeling in the room during its inaugural year has strengthened even further in 2023. It’s clear that industry, government, and communities now have an even deeper understanding of where they are heading and what they can look forward to.
The conference was inspiring to attend; there was definitely a feeling this year of “let's collaborate”. The journey ahead is exciting although we all know that the landscape is complex. There was a shared understanding at the conference that we need to be navigating this transition together, in partnerships and through collaborations.
Transitioning a skilled workforce was a big topic in the room – upskilling and sharing of the workforce is critical to ongoing economic sustainability. A successful transition will not only see an upskilled workforce, but one that is derived locally as well. Through the conference, there was extensive discussion of how to retain locals, implement programs for upskilling and give the region meaningful and long-lasting employment. Central to the discussion was the role the youth of Gippsland will play. Industry, government, and community are all looking to the education and training pathways that will encourage young people to stay in the region and offer them viable, long-term, sustainable career options.
The other big topic at GNEC was the importance of consultation with the community.
A particular highlight was the community session that saw local Kirra Bott deliver a determined but heart-warmingly optimistic presentation, imploring industry and government to get the consultation with landholders right. Kirra talked about the willingness she observed from both sides, however pointed out that industries have to move faster, be more transparent and consider diverse views and the longitudinal effects their decisions will have on landowners.
The line-up of presenters was impressive, and the conference organisers did an excellent job ensuring diversity of voice. The conference plays an essential role in facilitating discussion, collaboration and realising opportunities. Congratulations to the organising committee for a job well done. We look forward to the 2024 conference to see what's in store!