Latrobe City Council criticises relocation of centre director

LATROBE City Council has voiced its opposition to Federation University’s decision to run its Centre for Gippsland Studies from Ballarat.

The university confirmed late last month it would not fund a director for its research centre in 2016, instead announcing Ballarat-based professor Keir Reeves would oversee the facility.

Latrobe City general manager city development Phil Stone said council was against the university’s decision to remove the director position.

“The resolution, adopted as an urgent business matter at (council’s recent) ordinary meeting, states that council will write to Dr David Battersby, Vice Chancellor of Federation University to request that the position is restored,” Mr Stone said.

He said retaining the director for the CGS in the region would appear to be the most logical position.

“Being located in the heart of the geographical area your agency is representing would undoubtedly provide more efficient access to local knowledge, local organisations and local records and data,” Mr Stone said.

“We hope Federation University reconsiders its position.”

Gippsland Cataloguing Network chair Linda Barraclough, who has spoken against the decision, said she appreciated council’s support.

Ms Barraclough said Gippsland’s historical society representatives last week met with FedUni Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education, Professor John McDonald, and Head of Campus Harry Ballis to discuss the decision.

A community forum has also been scheduled for February to further discuss the centre’s future.

“We agreed on a number of points,” Ms Barraclough said of the meeting.

“But I would hope there would be more consultation and together we can come to an arrangement.”

Dr Ballis said the director’s position had not been abandoned.

“The university is committed to supporting the CGS and is working closely with Gippsland regional historical societies with a view to strengthening the activities of the centre at Gippsland,” he said.

“(We are) reviewing the CGS situation and will be working with a shortly-to-be-established Gippsland CGS Advisory group, consisting of local/regional historians, with a view to reinstate the director’s position in Gippsland from 2017.”