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Yarra River Business Association

06 Nov 2019

Celebrating 21 years

A 21st birthday doesn’t carry as much significance these days, but I think for a community-based, grass-roots organisation to survive 21 years, it is quite an achievement.

We’re a hybrid marketing, networking and advocacy group - a cross between a chamber of commerce and a destination marketing organisation. Much of our work goes on behind the scenes; nibbling away at an issue that might take many years and many millions of dollars to resolve. What immediately comes to mind is the long struggle we have had to get proper berthing infrastructure at Southgate, and the recent improvements to the Flinders Street Station underpass.

As we enter our 21st year, we have solidly turned our attention to renewal of the river’s north bank, which has long been neglected and, in fact, is an eyesore in some sections. The coming together of 45 organisations for the Yarra River Big Ideas Forum in mid-August nominated the improvement of Northbank as a major priority. It might take another 10 years to achieve, but it will not happen without constant advocacy from organisations such as ours.

One of the most pleasing aspects of our 21 years is the fact that there has been very little drop-off in private membership. We can proudly point to many businesses who signed up 21 years ago. While there is a steady stream of new business memberships, we would love to see more local companies and organisations with an interest in this city section of the river joining our ranks. If interested, please visit yarrariver.melbourne/join, or call our executive officer, Tim Bracher, on 0412 502 931. Incidentally, Tim has been with the organisation since the beginning, so there is very little he doesn’t know about this part of the Yarra River.

I must also pay tribute to the long serving board members of the YRBA. They are volunteers and they help to steer the strategic direction of the organisation. In particular, our vice-president Bill Blakeney of Federation Square, our long-time treasurer Peter King of Quest Southbank, our secretary Paul Sullivan of Venice on the Yarra, and Jeremy Vincent of Arts Centre Melbourne have been very generous of their time and experience over many years.

Change is incremental and it is only when we look back at earlier photographs do we realise just how much has been achieved. Whether we are needed for another 21 years remains to be seen, as most of our businesses are now mature and robust; not needing the hand-holding they did in 1998.

To mark our 21st birthday, YRBA is releasing a vision document, VISION 21. While acknowledging what has been achieved to date, it outlines what still needs to be done to make this a world-class visitor destination. The document will be launched at our luncheon on November 27, and then attached to our website.

John Forman - President 

Yarra River Business Association

 

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