The Eastern Metropolitan Partnership is an advisory group established by the Victorian Government. The Partnership is a way for local communities to engage directly with state and local governments, and advise the Victorian Government of the top priorities for jobs, services and infrastructure. This advice will become part of the government’s key decision-making processes.

Meet our members

The Eastern Partnership is made of community and business representatives with varied backgrounds, experiences and networks, and the CEO of each of participating local government.

Sam is the CEO of Outlook Australia, a diversified disability services provider and social enterprise focussed on creating employment for a range of priority job-seekers. He has a background in the finance sector with executive experience in investment banking, international capital markets and corporate advisory. He has also held executive roles with an international development NGO, and at Lentara UnitingCare.

Michael is a proud Barkandji/ Wamba Wamba man who grew up in Jerilderie and moved to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in 2008. Michael joined the Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place Board in June 2019 and has worked at Yarra Valley Water for the last 12 years. Michael has a background in engineering, planning and project management and has had a long career in the water industry.

Glenn Hodgkin is CEO at NADRASCA, a non-profit organisation providing services and employment pathways for people living with disabilities. He has had a long career in the non-profit social services sector in a variety of roles spanning disability, housing, alcohol and other drugs.

Susan is an academic administrator and registered veterinarian. She has diverse clinical, operational and senior management experience in university, research institute and educational settings.

David is the CEO of Eastern Health and has extensive executive and senior management experience in the public and private sectors. He has a clinical background as a registered nurse and holds an MBA.

Fiona is the CEO of the Outer Eastern Local Learning and Employment Network. She has had extensive experience working with local schools, TAFE, business and industry and community groups.

Suzanne is an acclaimed photographic artist, with a passion for supporting marginalised members of the community. She has a background in community development and has held a variety of positions in local government, community transport, volunteering organisations, community centres and neighbourhood houses.

Sharon spent over 17 years serving the community as a Whitehorse councillor, including 3 terms as Mayor. During this time, she was actively involved in several regional committees. Sharon is interested in boosting the supply of social and affordable housing in the east, assisting local businesses to recover from the pandemic and ensuring the most vulnerable members of the community are supported.

What we've heard

We undertake a range of engagements to understand the issues and opportunities faced by the communities of eastern Melbourne.

During 2021, the Partnership undertook a number of community engagement activities including:

  • An online workshop for young mental health clients to share their ideas about what the ideal experience of accessing mental health support should look and feel like.
  • Two forums with employers in the tourism and hospitality sector to understand the skills that a young person would need to be employed in the tourism industry and to co-design a tourism industry scholarship program.
  • A forum delivered by Flexible work Australia for interested local government stakeholders to implement pop up coworking spaces.

The Eastern Partnership and the Office for Suburban Development also supported the Yarra Ranges Shire council to hold four de-briefing sessions (at Monbulk, Upwey, Healesville and Yarra Glen) with business owners from the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges affected by the storm event on 9 June.

Additionally, a series of three online engagements were held across November and December. These explored the recovery and future of inner Melbourne and how the suburbs interact with it; emerging economies and the jobs of the future and social cohesion in Melbourne's suburbs.

You can read more about these engagements, and watch recordings of the panel discussions, by visiting the 2021 Flagship Engagements webpage.

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the partnership moved engagements online to ensure community voices from the eastern region continued to be safely heard by government. The partnership sought input on the impacts of the pandemic and what recovery can look like.

The partnership held a range of engagements to understand the impact upon businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and to understand what recovery could look like. Three groups were engaged in focus groups:

  • Small start-up businesses
  • Home-based businesses
  • Chinese-Australian businesses

Surveys and interviews were also conducted with a range of businesses from across the region in numerous sectors, including tourism and hospitality .

The coronavirus pandemic amplified issues previously surfaced by the Partnership in its engagements, including mental health. To build upon previous research into the need for integrated mental health service delivery for young people in Melbourne’s East, the Partnership commissioned co-design workshops to understand what such services could look like. You can read more about the MPDF endorsed project under ‘what we’ve done’.

Youth Engagement – Festival of Learning

The Partnerships held a two-day online engagement with diverse young people from across metropolitan Melbourne. The engagement sought to understand the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic upon young people and to seek their ideas on what the road to recovery might look like.

We formed a co-design committee of young Melbournians to ensure the event was structured in a format that appealed to young people.

We heard that the pandemic had worsened the existing issues that young people already faced – especially employment and mental health.

Participants shared recommendations to address these issues, some of which included:

  • A Youth Mental Health Strategy
  • A Statewide Youth Jobs Strategy
  • An increased focus on International Students
  • Connected services for young people

Read the Metropolitan Partnership Youth Events Summary Report PDF, 3427.11 KB.

These engagements informed the partnership’s advice to government in 2020.

In 2019 the Eastern Metropolitan Partnership chose to dive deeper into two issues faced by community members – jobs for youth and loneliness among older people. These issues were surfaced in 2017 and confirmed as ongoing priority issues in 2018.

Loneliness Dialogue

The Partnership brought together more than 80 participants from the aged services sector in October 2019 to better understand the drivers and impacts of social isolation for older people and to identify local solutions. The Minister for Suburban Development and the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, attended the engagement.

Participants shared  concerns  about loneliness and the social isolation of older people. Key themes surfaced included community participation (and barriers to participation) and the health impacts of loneliness. Current services and support to address loneliness were explored before participants were invited to share big ideas to combat loneliness.

Youth Jobs Focus Group

The Partnership worked with the Outer Eastern Local Learning & Employment Network (OELLEN) to hold an information night on alternative career paths in October 2019. You can read more about the project under 'What we've done'.

Following the evening's presentations, attendees were invited to participate in a focus group.

The Partnership sought to understand how young people can be better supported to transition into employment after school. The engagement involved presentations, a discussion and a survey on the needs and decision-making factors for young people and their families in selecting an alternative training or employment pathway.

The OELLEN information evening also provided insights from employers and trainers on the current skills shortages in the region, their recruitment practices and advice on navigating employment pathways in the region.

Some key findings from participants included:

  • More information could be provided on alternative career pathways in school
  • Stronger links were required between VET and apprenticeships
  • More workplace opportunities could be promoted in schools

It was raised by participants that there was stigma associated with selecting alternative pathways to tertiary education. Experiences of stress and mental health concerns were also raised when discussing young people feeling ‘pushed’ into a tertiary pathway.

Eastern Metropolitan Assembly

The Partnership held its second annual Assembly on 13 June 2018 at Boronia K-12 College, where it heard directly from the community on the priorities of the region. Participants represented a mixture of community members, business owners, service providers and various levels of government.

The 2017 priority outcomes were revisited by participants, along with the Victorian Government’s response. The priorities were generally accepted to still be priorities, however it was raised that the issues of environment and climate change should be added as priorities. It was also suggested that the issue of social inclusion be expanded beyond women and sports to also include other groups of people, particularly the elderly.

Participants then worked to nominate the top priority outcomes of 2018 by reviewing the 2017 assembly outcomes, the top priorities from the youth assembly and the priorities raised on the day. The top three priorities were:

  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Affordable and Social Housing
  • Social Inclusion

Participants in the assembly then explored the priority outcomes in further detail. You can read the 2018 Eastern Assembly Summary Report PDF, 1972.8 KB online.

2018 Metropolitan Partnerships Youth Assembly

Young people aged 15-19 years from school and youth organisations across Melbourne’s six regions, including the east, came together in a Youth Forum hosted by the Metropolitan Partnerships at the State Library of Victoria in May 2018.

The full-day engagement included small group discussions, a panel seminar and region-specific breakouts to discuss life in their regions. The four top priorities nominated by young people from Melbourne’s east were:

  • Education
  • Public safety
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Mental health

You can read more about the issues raised and discussed by youth from across Melbourne in the 2018 Metropolitan Partnerships Youth Forum Summary Report PDF, 7842.16 KB and view a graphic PNG, 394.79 KB of their discussion.

How the Victorian Government responded

Our community engagement work informs our annual advice to government. You can read how the Victorian Government responded to our advice on the priorities for the eastern  Metropolitan Region by downloading How Government is responding: The 2019 Report Back.

The inaugural assembly of the Eastern Partnership, held 31 August 2017, brought together more than 140 representatives of community, business, service providers and local and state government to determine the key priorities for the Eastern Metropolitan Region.

The outcomes of the Assembly have been used by the Partnership to inform advice to government on priorities for Melbourne's Eastern Region.

Five key priorities were identified for Melbourne’s East:

  • Jobs for Youth
    Working to reduce youth unemployment by improving the transition for young people from secondary school to meaningful training or employment.
  • Integrated Health and Social Services
    Improving the way the health and social services systems work together, through collaborative trials to inform system-wide reform.
  • Social Inclusion
    Combating social isolation and loneliness, particularly in the elderly, with a focus on early intervention and social connection.
  • Affordable and Social Housing
    Increasing the supply of affordable and social housing in the region.

Regional Connectivity
Connecting people to the region’s key employment hubs, educational institutions and local activity centres, with improved bus services and active transport.

Read the 2017 Assembly Summary Report PDF, 2346.84 KB and download the accessible Word DOCX, 15231.29 KB format.

What we've done

Since our establishment in 2017 we've invested in research and projects to further explore, and act upon, the priorities raised by the people of our region.

We commission this work with the Metropolitan Partnerships Development Fund and then share the findings and outcomes with government to inform policies and programs.

This research project explores why older women are the fastest growing cohort of people facing homelessness in the east and builds the evidence base for testing a series of prevention approaches.

The project will be co-designed with women over the age of 55, who have lived experience and a range of service providers to identify service gaps and priority interventions.

This project is being delivered by Knox City Council with support from the Eastern Affordable Housing Alliance.

This project tackles difficulties in navigating the youth mental service system.

It will deliver a series of online and in-person seminars for boosting mental health literacy, while improving the capacity of parents and carers to find the right local support for their kids. The seminars will be co-designed with parents and young people who have lived experience of mental health challenges in the home. The seminars will demystify mental health, providing meaningful strategies for self-care, while building an understanding of when to seek professional help, and how to navigate the mental health system in the East.

The project is being delivered by Eastern Health and the Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) and will engage Eastern region Primary Care Providers and Community Health Providers, local governments and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH).

This project will develop a Regional Investment Strategy, aimed at positioning the East to capitalise on current and future growth in the care economy and health innovation sectors. The strategy will leverage existing regional strengths, capitalise on emerging investment opportunities, future-proof against regional vulnerabilities and support projected workforce and skills needs.

Delivery of this project is being led by Eastern Group of Councils through Maroondah City Council.

The Indigenous Arts Trail project will create an online map for an Indigenous Arts Trail in the Eastern region. There are limited opportunities in the region for Aboriginal artists, so this project looks to boost business development opportunities. The regional visitor economy has been hard hit by the pandemic so there is an opportunity to boost visitation by creating a region-wide Arts Trail.

Delivery of this project is being led by Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place.

Stage 1 - Research​

In 2018, the Eastern Partnership commissioned research to investigate how best to support the successful transition of young people from secondary school into meaningful training and employment.​

The final report PDF, 2409.1 KB highlights employment barriers for youth and outlines priorities for better aligning employment services with the needs of young people in the region.

Stage 2 – 50 Jobs for Youth​

Building on the Partnership’s  2018-19 research, the Outer Eastern Local Learning and Employment Network (OELLEN), was commissioned to assist 50 young jobseekers into employment.​

The first 8 positions were created via a separate project stream (Tourism Scholarships program).​

The project helped an additional 42 young people through a variety of approaches, including the staging of several local Jobs Expos connecting jobseekers to local employers and the offering of support services to build their job readiness skills.​

The final report PDF, 2610.47 KB summarises the methodologies applied that led to the outcomes of the program.

In response to feedback from the business community about staff shortages and in line with the Partnership’s ongoing work on youth unemployment, this project provided 8 scholarships to tourism and hospitality students to kick-start their careers.

The scholarship recipients were able to experience paid placements in a variety of local businesses, together with the support of a workplace mentoring program.

The Boosting Coworking project responded to the shift in working closer to home hastened by the COVDI-19 pandemic.

The project provided vouchers for the community to experience working at a coworking space for the first time. The project also trained and supported local governments to develop their own coworking spaces in Council buildings or local activity centres. One of the most popular of these was a coworking space in Monbulk.

Read the Boosting Coworking Program Final Report PDF, 20719.47 KB.

A study into how innovative approaches to community transport can better connect people across the region services, social opportunities and jobs. In response to the engagement work of the Partnership, this project seeks to address social isolation, increase equity of access and opportunity for all residents within the region.

The Partnership commissioned this project, in partnership with the Department of Transport, and enabled the work by endorsing it for an MPDF grant. Current work to date has included the development of an evidence base, including the trial and assessment of Demand Responsive Transit (DRT) options. The Rowville Flexiride project, a trial of an on-demand bus service, is being evaluated as part of this research.

Read the Innovative Community Transport Solutions Project Final Report PDF, 3575.54 KB.

In 2020 two co-design workshops were held with 22 young people from the eastern region with the intent of understanding what they believe integrated health and social services should look like. Facilitated by YLab and attended by young people with diverse lived experiences, six research questions were interrogated.

This work included the identification of barriers to services and the creation of a journey map PDF, 32497.19 KB to understand the experiences of young people.

Read the Summary Report PDF, 558.36 KB and Final Report PDF, 5180.42 KB.

Loneliness and social isolation are significant and growing issues facing many, particularly older Melburnians – as heard in the Partnerships engagements.

This Social Listening project undertook a series of interviews with older people, families and workers in Melbourne’s east to unpack the triggers and impacts of social isolation and loneliness. These interviews identified four triggers for loneliness:

  • Loss of primary connections
  • Loss of capacity and independence
  • Loss of identity and purpose
  • Loss of a sense of belonging

In analysing the triggers for loneliness, the report proposes a number of recommendations to the Partnership.

This research was commissioned by the Eastern Partnership with the endorsement of MPDF funding in 2019.

Read the Conversations on Loneliness in older people living in Melbourne’s East Final Report PDF, 633.69 KB.

In response to the Jobs for Youth research the Partnership joined Outer East Local Learning and Employment Network (OELLEN), local employers, TAFE and Apprenticeship organisations in holding an information evening on alternative career pathways for young people and their families.

Attendees also participated in a focus group to inform the Partnership’s understanding of the current needs and challenges faced by young people in transitioning to employment.

The employment of young people has been an ongoing priority for the Eastern Partnership. The Jobs for Youth project was commissioned by the Partnership with MPDF funding to investigate the training and employment services available to young people in the region.

In partnership with the Department of Education and Training, research was undertaken to investigate any current overlap, duplication or gaps in services and what barriers exist to the successful transition of young people into employment.

The final report PDF, 2409.1 KB proposes a Regional Advisory Group to identify opportunities for collaboration and the monitoring of skill shortages, areas of employment growth and associated vocational training provisions.

This research has informed ongoing work by the Partnership to improve the transition for school leavers to meaningful training or employment.

In 2018 the Partnership endorsed a Metropolitan Partnership Development Fund (MPDF) grant to research which cohorts in the eastern region would most benefit from the integration of service delivery. The work included the mapping of services in the Yarra Ranges Shire to identify gaps and service fragmentation.

It was identified that youth access to mental health services would benefit greatly from an integrated approach to service delivery. A client-centred and place-based service delivery model for seamless access to health and social support services to young people aged 12 to 25 in the Yarra Ranges was then developed.

Read the Integrated Health & Social Services Response - Youth Mental Health Proposed Model PDF, 2193.19 KB.

Local Government Areas

  • Maroondah City Council
  • Knox City Council
  • Yarra Ranges Shire Council
  • Contact us


    Page last updated: 15/09/23