‘Branding’ strategy on hold

AN image strategy designed to change external negative perceptions of the Latrobe Valley has been put on hold indefinitely.

Latrobe City Council was due to release a draft of the City Image Strategy for public comment this week, but Councillor Kellie O’Callaghan successfully moved a motion to defer consideration of the document.

Cr O’Callaghan said council needed to consider the strategy’s “intent and relevance” in further detail.

She said while she was concerned about negative perceptions of the Valley, she did not believe they would be changed by what she called a “branding strategy”.

Cr O’Callaghan said the document would not improve outcomes for socially and economically disadvantaged families in the Latrobe Valley.

The region has the highest rate of children in state care, low university participation rates and is among Victoria’s high unemployment areas.

“Ratepayers are a lot more interested in jobs and opportunities in the region and education, rather than what is effectively a branding strategy,” Cr O’Callaghan said.

“We’ve got to look at it again and make sure if we are going to look at something like this, that it’s consistent with the expectations of ratepayers.”

The strategy was developed by a community reference group following research conducted mid last year including phone surveys of local residents and other Victorians, focus interviews with local and external stakeholders and positive community accounts posted on the ‘Latrobe Story’ website.

The draft sets out six objectives including the establishment of a new brand identity, development of a marketing strategy to identify key audiences and the establishment of a group of high-profile community and business leaders to “champion” the new brand.

Cr Peter Gibbons opposed putting the strategy on hold, labelling the move “rash”.

“The committee is made up of young people who have the best interests of the community at heart,” he said.

Cr Gibbons said he agreed the document would not address community disadvantage on its own, but it was part of a range of government approaches to assist the region.

The motion was supported by councillors Sharon Gibson, Michael Rossiter, Dale Harriman, Graeme Middlemiss and Sandy Kam, while Christine Sindt, Darrell White and Peter Gibbons opposed it.