News«AGM 2022 GABN Committee
AGM 2022 GABN Committee
5 April 2022
6 December 2022
8.25 minutes


Resulting from the GABN AGM, the Committee Officers for 2021:

PRESIDENT:  Cam Comboy

TREASURER:  Maria Whitford

SECRETARY: Geanie Bell


Kelsey Hosking, Peter McGrath, Ash Marx and Craig Wilson

Ararat Rural City Council's Phillippa Cairns will continue to liaison with GABN on an Administrative level.

President’s Report (2021 President-Maria Whitford)

23 March 2022

Dear Members,

Phew another year of craziness…….

The Association had another successful year albeit in lockdown after lockdown. At the last AGM we saw a new band of business people from the Greater Ararat Region join the team. Our planning day was another success with so much on the planner and then as we all experienced, we had lockdowns.

In 2021, we managed to hold some events. Our first event was a business breakfast, followed by two Business After Darks, one at the RSL and the other at Acacia Caravan Park this was the start of what we wanted to be a successful year with a monthly networking event, embracing our moto of connecting with likeminded businesses to network share and learn. Once we could not proceed with this type of event, we introduced a weekly zoom which was labeled square table, we reached 24 weeks in a row (before Christmas) which was a fabulous effort. Our business network turned up week after week for 30 mins to, if nothing else see others, connect and/or keep abreast of the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic. We were super lucky to have such a great turnout and we also invited some politicians, and other business people to talk about the challenges in their industries. However, a big shout to Andrew Freedman former CEO of Hospital made the zoom attendees challenges we all found ourselves in. Thank you to Dr. Tim Harrison who always lightened the mood with some banter and of course an update on all things Ararat Rural City. The attendees are where I place my biggest thanks as we would not have connected and stayed sane if we didn’t have the weekly zoom’s.

In 2021, we lobbied to government where we wrote two letters to 17 Senators one in early July and one later in the month. To fight for regional Victoria as we were in lockdowns with the same restrictions as Melbourne, at that time most of regional Victoria hadn’t seen any cases at all. I know that most of the region’s chamber of commerce were also writing letters. It seemed to make a slight difference as later in the lockdowns we saw a spilt of restrictions for regional Victoria and Melbourne.

Mid through the year we joined the Victorian Regional Chamber Alliance, this alliance has all the big Chamber of commerce across the state, Bendigo, Ballarat, Colac, Wodonga, Mildura are to name a few and there are some smaller ones included. This group was established to share ideas, have one voice when lobbying to government for the benefit of small business in the regions. Headed up by Ballarat, it has created some great networking opportunities and we are a stronger voice when we align with bigger towns.

So, again we didn’t achieve whilst we did not achieve all on our bucket list, in 2021 the network certainly adapted to the times and finished off the year a sense of achievement.

To finish off, none of this would have been possible without the support of the committee and our sponsors. I would like to thank those who are leaving us, Mark Clyne, Serena Eldridge (who continues to write for us, forever grateful), and David Jennings for all your hard work. I would also like to thank those that have nominated to stay on, Cam Conboy, Kelsey Hosking, Peter McGrath, Geanie Bell, Ashleigh Marx, and those that are joining us we are ready for another crazy year of GAB Net. To our sponsors NBN and Saines Lucas thank you so very much in, believing, and supporting the Greater Ararat Business Network and the work we do for the region, UBC thank you for all your support, your hard work in setting up the website and training you have provided to allow the site to be successful does not go unnoticed. Finally, Ararat Rural City, thank you for your support, the success of the network would not have been possible without you, Phillipa Cairns needs a special mention as she is the pillar that keeps this network together.

This is my last year as president, I have enjoyed the last two years with the association, and I look forward to remaining on the committee and supporting GABN on a different level.


Maria Whitford

President Greater Ararat Business Network.

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