Like many people I am following the progress of our athletes at the Commonwealth Games with added interest this year.

While I’m already an avid sports fan, knowing that the Commonwealth Games will be in our region in 2026 has brought a different focus. Every day we can watch the coverage in Birmingham and see how the city, its people and history are showcased. How exciting to think that in less than four years, Geelong will be showcased to the world as one of the host cities.

However, with such a short timeframe to deliver on the Games, there is a massive task ahead.

Recently the Committee for Geelong was given the opportunity to meet with the CEO of the 2026 Victorian Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, Jeroen Weimar. I’m sure many of us know Jeroen through his leadership during the pandemic as Commander of the COVID-19 Response. His ability to be calm under pressure and communicate clearly was an incredible effort. We are now turning to him again to oversee the delivery of a complex endeavour which is the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

The Committee for Geelong is determined to ensure that we plan for the long term and design our city based on principles of sustainability, equity and economic resilience. The Commonwealth Games presents us with an opportunity to work with government to invest in the necessary infrastructure to ‘grow well’ and be a modern city with global standing.

Speaking with Jeroen Weimar and his team, I was encouraged to see that they are equally committed to pursuing legacy outcomes for the community. The Committee for Geelong has been vocal about this for several months and is focused on how we can best leverage the need for quality public transport networks and housing for the region through Commonwealth Games government funding streams.

Hearing presentations from a range of other local stakeholders, it’s clear that we are all supportive of significant investment into public transport.  There’s no doubt that Geelong is growing fast and is also a heavily car-dependant city. This needs to change. However, major investment is needed to ensure reliable, attractive modes of public transport are available.

According to Infrastructure Victoria, transport services within our region are limited. Only two percent of those who work within the Barwon region commute by public transport. In Infrastructure Victoria’s 30 Year Strategy, there is a recommendation for our region to “Redesign regional public transport to meet local needs”. The Strategy was published in 2021 and recommends that in the next five years, our region needs to redesign existing regional transport services so they are integrated, based on regional needs assessments, and sustainably funded.

We also need to ensure our international airport is competitive, attractive, and has a dedicated train station. With the Melbourne Airport rail link project now funded and underway, as a community we need to be vocal in our desire for Avalon Airport to also have a rail link to compete on a level playing field in a highly competitive market.

Avalon Airport is a vital, generational asset for our community. Having both a seaport and airport elevates the economic importance of Geelong as a Gateway City on a national and global scale.

Our international airport status is a significant positive that will yield economic benefits for decades to come. The future for Avalon Airport is bright but we need government support to build a train station at Avalon and ensure accessible, competitive transport links.

With less than four years until the Commonwealth Games open, we have the prime opportunity to seriously invest in our future.

Jennifer Cromarty

CEO, Committee for Geelong

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