Some of the brightest minds in Cobram and district gathered last week to discuss how to attract and retain staff to meet future demand.
Staffing the Future Forum was a community-wide initiative involving Cobram District Health, local business, council, police, vets and the general community.
Cobram District Health was approached by Cath Cosgrave from University of Melbourne, whose research looks at the problem of attracting suitable professional staff to rural areas.
Cobram District Health community engagement officer Bruce Naylor said staff attraction and retention was a subject that all community leaders understood.
‘‘One of the major issues Dr Cosgrave’s research pointed to is social inclusion, and the good news is there are solutions if we work together as a community,’’ Mr Naylor said.
‘‘I was overwhelmed with the support for this initiative. It was particularly heartening that the attendance reflected such a broad section of the Cobram community.
‘‘Events like this are critical in stimulating the conversation around a community venture toward promoting and strengthening our approach to attracting and retaining professionals.
‘‘It is also important to work through options that will assist people to become embedded members of our community in a timely manner.’’
Mr Naylor said following the meeting, several key actions were decided as the beginning of a strategy to support the introduction and social connection of professionals in the area.
‘‘We aim to establish an online community register of events with the goal of it being operational by the end of the year. A working group to help nurture that idea was also established,’’ he said.
‘‘This will include surveying other existing networks such as Sun Country Network, Cobram Business and Tourism or the Yarrawonga Mulwala Professionals Network for partnership opportunities.
‘‘Some other ideas were a fish out of water event for new arrivals, perhaps as a welcome to town at the beginning of next year, and information packs about Cobram to be provided on the day people start work.
‘‘Other ideas put forward included the development of a list of mentors for new people and families, partnering across organisations and a multi-cultural day focused around an exchange of food.’’
A date is yet to be decided for the working group to meet, but all community and business members are encouraged to attend.