Photo of sprawling northern suburbs

The Northern 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 ensures a community voice in government decision making.

Meet our members

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

Helen is a former Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillor of the Nillumbik Shire Council and has had recent career experiences in the volunteer sector. Helen is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has held board member positions with Women’s Health Victoria, the Adult Community and Further Education Board, the Municipal Association of Victoria and is a former President and current Executive Member of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association, Vic Branch.
Helen has spent her career working with local communities in all aspects of neighbourhood and community life and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2019 for service to the community through a range of organisations.

Phillip is an experienced health sector leader having held roles as CEO of Your Community Health in Darebin and Goulburn Valley Medicare Local in Wyndham. Phillip has a long-standing interest in public policy, especially as it affects the north of Melbourne and serves on numerous boards and committees in the region including Northern Health and North West Local Jobs and Taskforce. Phillip is the Chair of the Hume Whittlesea PCP.

Georgina Dougall is CEO at Banksia Gardens Community Services. She serves on several boards and committees in the region, with roles on the board of Broadmeadows Revitalisation, Sunbury Community Health, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria and the Hume Jobs Taskforce. Gina has held previous positions as Chair of the Hume Whittlesea LLEN and Chair of the Hume Early Years Partnership. Gina hold a Masters of Public Health, along with formal qualifications in arts, education and business management. She has been admitted as Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Nicholas Verginis is CEO of Social Enterprise Network Victoria. A strategic executive, Nick has successfully lead and managed dynamic and diverse workforces across the public, private and community sector in Victoria and the United Kingdom. Nick also brings over 20 years experience in the independent arts sector, not-for-profits and small social enterprises. He holds a Master in Public Policy and Management and Bachelors of Law and Arts from the University of Melbourne, and in 2018 completed the Executive Fellow Program with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Syed Asad Taqvi is a young leader in the Shia Muslim community, currently working in the dental health sector. He is a founder and president of a non-profit organisation Khairul Amal Tv Australia, which supports communities with emergency relief, multilingual health information, community events, programs and services. Syed is a member of Australian Institute of Company directors (AICD). He speaks multiple languages, which enables him to support culturally and linguistically diverse groups, especially as an advocate for asylum seekers and refugees. Syed is also a renowned singer and a recent recipient of the City of Melbourne’s Community Champion award.

Ashley is a Senior Corporate Affairs and Stakeholder Management executive with extensive experience across the economic, education, justice and health sectors. Mr McInnes is currently employed by La Trobe University as the Director of Communications and Stakeholder External Engagement and the University City of the Future Group. He is currently a board member of NORTH Link and a working group for the Leukemia Foundation while also on an advisory body for the Shirley Robinson Childcare Centre in Coburg.

Mariella Teuira is the Community Manager at Itiki Sporting Club of Glenroy. She is an experienced Sports Coordinator and Program Manager having held roles in the sector across Melbourne’s North and West for the last 15 years. Mariella is a strong advocate who brings a grounded understanding of the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse groups in her community, particularly young people. She has qualifications in community services.

The Chief Executive Officers of Hume, Mitchell, Nillumbik and Whittlesea local governments are ex officio members of the Northern Metropolitan Partnership.

What we've heard

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

The partnership’s engagement of northern communities in 2021 was centred around two tranches of work – youth employment and regional transport connections.

Opening Doors to the Employment of Young People

To better understand the challenges and opportunities for the employment of young people in the north, the partnership held industry roundtables, forums to promote mentoring, interviews and a think tank to generate solutions. You can read more about this three-part project under the header ‘What we’ve done’.

Northern Region Transport Strategy

Building upon the work of the Partnership in transport connectivity in 2020, engagements were held with the project’s working group and key stakeholders to plan how the bus network can better connect transport options in the north. You can read more about this three-part project under the header ‘What we’ve done’.

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.

Online engagements

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the partnership moved engagements online to ensure community voices from the north 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 explored the topics of mental health and social isolation, education opportunities to support youth employment, and transport and connectivity.

A roundtable was held in October to discuss the recovery of Melbourne’s north from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Participants included Partnership members, representatives of education, business, infrastructure and service organisations, local MPs and the Minister for Suburban Development. Discussions included the impacts of the pandemic, the priorities in recovery, the future opportunities for the north and the role of the Partnership in supporting recovery.

Northern Regional Transport Strategy

The Partnership’s signature event of 2020 was the Northern Regional Transport Strategy which brought together the Northern Councils Working Group (Merri-bek, Darebin, Banyule, Mitchell, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Hume City Councils), the Partnership, Department of Transport, Melbourne Airport and La Trobe University. This engagement informed the Northern Region Transport Strategy which was provided to the Minister for Suburban Development and the Minister for Transport.

Read the Northern Region Transport Strategy PDF, 12468.55 KB.

Northern Youth Focus Group

In September the Partnership brought 20 young Melburnians aged 12-25 together in an online focus group to discuss education, employment and social issues. A number of concerns and ideas were raised by participants:

  • Access to mental health services
    • Calls for inclusive mental health services that are free of charge, remotely accessible and private
    • More opportunities to maintain social connections during lockdown
    • More tailored information on coronavirus (COVID-19) that young people and CALD Melburnians could understand
  • Employment and financial security
    • Concerns about their future and wanting youth-focused employment opportunities and pathways
    • Solutions inclusive of international students
    • Support and guidance for those who’ve lost employment
    • Support packages for those in the arts, hospitality and event sectors
  • Access to education and training supports
    • Many experienced challenges in remote and online learning, particularly for vulnerable groups
    • Calls for educational supports to address gaps, including transition plans for year 12 students, and those returning to tertiary education

Youth Engagement – Festival of Learning

The Partnerships also 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 on 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.

The Northern Partnership chose to focus its engagement in 2019 upon the experiences of young people in the region. Building upon the engagement work of the past two years, the partnership sought the perspectives of young people on the recurring top priorities of transport, employment and health, in addition to exploring their own priorities.

More than 50 young people, aged between 15 and 25 years, were engaged across the online Engage Vic platform and in a full-day in-person forum. Collectively, they arrived at a vision for young people of the Northern Region:

“A strong, sustainable and resilient region where young people have a voice, are represented, and are connected to their community. Young people are physically and mentally healthy, respected, and live in a region where diversity thrives.”

Through a range of engagement activities, six priorities and concerns for young people were raised:

  • Diversity and inclusion: in the community and for those in leadership roles
  • Inequality: particularly in the areas of jobs, transport and education
  • Representation: of young people and intersecting minority groups in decision making
  • Positive mental health: in young people and for appropriate provision of mental health services that are free, discrete and that young people feel comfortable accessing
  • Action on climate change and protection of the environment
  • Relevant spaces and opportunities for young people to socialise where they feel safe and positive

Northern Partnership Assembly

The Partnership held its second annual Assembly in August at the Hume Global Learning Centre, Craigieburn, where it heard directly from more than 160 community representatives about how to further progress priorities for the region.

In reviewing the 2017 priorities, participants supported the top priorities of local jobs and public transport and expressed a desire to see further progress on the issues of employment and infrastructure for transport and health.

You can read the 2018 Northern Assembly Summary Report PDF, 2204.8 KB to explore the region’s priority issues in greater detail.

2018 Metropolitan Partnerships Youth Assembly

Young people aged 15-19 years from school and youth organisations across Melbourne’s six regions, 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 three top priorities nominated by young people from Melbourne’s north were:

  • health and wellbeing
  • education pathways and life skills resources
  • support for young people.

You can read in greater depth about the discussions and outcomes of the engagement in the 2018 Metropolitan Partnerships Youth Forum Summary Report PDF, 7842.16 KB and watch some of the highlights from the Northern breakout discussions in the video below.

<Drawing from 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 Northern Metropolitan Region by downloading How Government is responding: The 2019 Report Back.

The inaugural assembly of the Northern Partnership brought together more than 170 representatives of community, business, service providers and local and state government to determine the key priorities for the Northern Metro Region.

The two highest priorities that emerged were:

  • local jobs
  • public transport

Participants arrived at the vision statement that:

‘Residents in our region will have greater employment opportunities, close to home, and accessible by a well-connected transport system.’

Other priorities of the region included:

  • education and training
  • health
  • social welfare and young people
  • housing

Read the 2017 Assembly Summary Report PDF, 2083.25 KB and download the accessible Word DOCX, 9518.74 KB format.

The outcomes of the Assembly informed the Partnership’s advice to government on the priorities for the Northern region.

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 project sought to address the issue of employment for young people in the creative industries.

The project engaged with young people to co-design a regional program that promoted the creative industries, investigate the impacts of the pandemic on the sector and enabled access to industry experts to support career transition. Building on the initial creative industries pilot and the Northern Future Workforce study, this expanded project also included work experience visits, mentoring and a regional engagement event where young people were provided an opportunity to showcase their work.

Delivery of this project is being led by the Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network (INLLEN) and is a partnership between the INLLEN, the Northern College of Arts and Technology (NCAT) industry, and Northern Councils.

It also engaged: Bendigo Bank; YouthWorx; Next Wave; Hume City Council; Moreland City Council; City of Whittlesea; Darebin City Council; Banyule City Council; Inner North Community Foundation and North LINK.

Visit INLLEN's Creative Industries page for more details:

This project addresses the issue of transport connectivity and sustainability through the reduction of greenhouse admissions.

The project will develop a Community-Wide Electric Vehicle Transition Plan for Melbourne's North with a focus on the role of Local Government in supporting the transition. Exploring cost-effective electric vehicle transition options in the short to longer term, it will consider policy gaps, charging infrastructure and community access, awareness and engagement opportunities.

Delivery of this project is being led by City of Whittlesea with the support of Banyule City Council; Darebin City Council; Hume City Council; Moreland City Council; Nillumbik Shire Council; Mitchell Shire Council and Northern Councils Alliance.

It will also engage the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action and the Victorian Department of Energy, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

This project addresses the issue of ensuring a vibrant economy for Melbourne’s North by attracting business and ensuring jobs.

The project will deliver an investment attraction strategy for Melbourne’s north to maximise the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will include: a Strategic Review that provides the evidence base for further action; and develop an Action Plan that provides a list of practical, achievable tasks that will improve the region’s investment attraction success rate.

Delivery of this project is being led by NORTH Link with the support of: Banyule City Council; Moreland City Council; City of Whittlesea; Darebin City Council; Nillumbik Shire Council; Shire of Mitchell and Northern Councils Alliance.

This project, being delivered by the Banksia Gardens Community Centre, will gather research across the northern region of Melbourne to better understand the issues of disengagement from school for young people and children. It will also deliver a community-based afterschool program for disadvantaged and CALD communities that will create social connections and cohesion and support mental and physical wellbeing as well as enhancing connections to school and supporting academic achievement.

Since the Partnership’s establishment, the issues of local jobs and youth employment have been top priorities. Acknowledging what we’ve heard, and with the economic and social recovery from COVID-19 front of mind, the Partnership used its MPDF funding to commission Opening Doors to Employment.

This three-part project seeks to better understand the challenges and opportunities for the employment of young people in the north.

Future Workforce: Where the Jobs Are  

Building upon and updating the Future Workforce – Melbourne’s North (2015) study, Future Workforce: Where the Jobs Are will consider the changes in the workforce of the past five years and look into a post-COVID environment.

The project will produce a regional workforce planning analysis to identify and anticipate future industry, employment and training requirements in the North over the period of 2020 to 2030. A range of engagements will be undertaken to support the research. These include:

  • Consultation with councils, health and wellbeing, industry and education stakeholders, looking at changing workforce impacts and needs across groups from young to older.
  • Seven roundtables focussed on key industry sectors. These are being run in partnership with the regions’ major educational institutes.

Vocational Mentoring Exchange (VME) program

A Vocational Mentoring Forum will take place in October 2021 to promote mentoring to community organisations and other Local Learning & Employment Networks in the northern region. The program seeks to scale-up vocational mentoring and support for young people. It’s anticipated this will support disadvantaged young people on their career transition journeys and connect them into networks where job opportunities exist.

Four engagements with community programs from the region will be undertaken to understand the mentoring, local skills and employment needs and constraints in the region.

Engaging young people in creative industries

Young people from Melbourne’s north, working or aspiring to work in creative industries, will be supported to co-design a pathway to employment. Facilitated as a half-day think tank event, young people will:

  • Hear from students in Creative Arts
  • Contribute to a continuing conversation between young people and those working in industry
  • Have the opportunity to showcase their creativity

It’s anticipated the Partnership will develop an understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on creative spaces and industries and will identify opportunities to assist the creative industries recover.

Building upon and updating the Future Workforce – Melbourne’s North (2015) report, this region-wide study considered changes in the workforce over the past five years and into a post-COVID environment.

Led by NORTH Link, delivered by NIER, and guided by a region-wide group comprising local governments, education providers and industry, the project undertook a regional workforce planning analysis. Industry, employment and training requirements in the North, over the period 2020 to 2030, were identified and anticipated.

A range of engagements supported the research, including consultation with councils, health and wellbeing, industry and education stakeholders, looking at changing workforce impacts and the needs across groups from young to older. Over 250 representatives of industry and education providers participated in eight roundtables focussed on key industry sectors.

The project produced Melbourne’s North Future Workforce 2021-2030, an executive summary PDF, 2922.11 KB and comprehensive report PDF, 13680.47 KB, providing the evidence base for understanding the internal and external changes which will affect industry, skills and employment in the short to long term in the nominated industry sectors.

A scaled vocational youth mentoring program for the region – worked with 4 community organisations to recruit 15 mentors with lived experience to improve job and skills readiness for 40 vulnerable young people.

This included a Regional Youth Mentoring Forum engaged with 60 stakeholders representing community agencies and prospective mentors to embed mentoring within core business and provide young people with needed skills and confidence to enter education or employment pathways.

Young people from Melbourne’s north, working or aspiring to work in creative industries, have been supported to co-design a pathway to employment in the creative industry.

The project engaged 12 youth researchers from the Northern College of Arts and Technology, who worked with 30 other students to lead a series of interviews with 24 practicing arts professionals from the North about skills and employment pathways across photography, music, performance and fine art.

The young people were involved in the co-design and facilitation of as a half-day think tank event where they:

  • heard from students in Creative Arts
  • contributed to a continuing conversation between young people and those working in industry
  • had the opportunity to showcase their creativity.

The event was attended by 150 regional stakeholders, including 80 young people. Project findings helped the Partnership develop an understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on creative spaces and industries and will identify opportunities to assist the creative industries to recover.

Read the Pathways to Working in Creative Industries Report PDF, 1065.07 KB.

The project was led and facilitated by the Inner Northern LLEN. See videos of student interviews with creatives and the Think Tank and the summary of students’ findings at INLLEN.

This project will deploy a small team of bicultural health navigators into priority areas, where difficulty navigating, understanding and accessing services is negatively impacting management and treatment outcomes.

Delivery of this project is being led by Northern Health.

The Partnership contributed funding to commission the Northern Horizons report in 2020 to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the region’s priorities for infrastructure, jobs, health, environment and transport today and forward over the next 50 years. The report highlights the region's key strategic directions to guide economic and social recovery.

A Summary Report and Evidence Report can both be viewed on the NORTH Link website.

Watch a recording of the virtual launch from 26 October 2020 here. Please note this is best viewed on Google Chrome.

Local Government Areas

  • Hume City Council
  • Mitchell Shire Council
  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • Whittlesea City Council

Contact us


Page last updated: 06/03/24