Numbers do not always add up!

Published Nov 7, 2023 by Lindy Nieuwenhuizen


From sports results to speeding fines, we rely on numbers to define winners and losers, risk takers and rules breakers. We love the precision and black and white certainty of a number.

But the past few weeks have also highlighted why numbers don’t always add up.

November is that time of year, where once again we remind our VCE students that a number will never define who they are and what they can become, do or inspire in others.

A quick office straw poll confirms few of us recall our VCE results, and not a single member of our sample has ever been asked about their score. On top of this, more than a few of us who thought we needed a result to pursue our dream career, went on to find dreams and careers that we didn’t know existed or simply didn’t exist. Let’s celebrate the achievements of this year’s graduates – that includes a very disrupted high school journey – but also remember the eloquence of Dr Seuss…

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

At the time of writing this column, we are also digesting the Federal Parliamentary Environment and Communications Committee’s recommendation for the future of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This month the GMID Water Leadership Forum and C4GS went to Canberra to present to the Senate Committee. Our challenge is the numbers and specifically the frustration that the plan has been oversimplified to a number – 3200 GL to be exact.

In doing so we have lost sight of where, when, and how the water needs to be delivered to achieve environmental outcomes that are balanced with the needs of communities and industry across the entire Basin.

A bit like a VCE score than no one ever asks about, a numerical target of 3200GL will not mean much the next time we see fish kills at Menindee, the Darling-Baaka stops flowing for 400 days, or key sites are crying out for the water sitting in our storages that can’t be delivered because we didn’t invest in the infrastructure and operating arrangements to make it possible.

Its also a week where 208 became zero, as the funding allocated to the Goulburn Valley Bypass was axed as part of the Federal Government’s infrastructure review. The need for a second river crossing will only increase as freight activity in Victoria is projected to double even triple, and as our city continues to grow.

Numbers are also a brilliant way to size up a challenge. At our member event earlier this month, the Victorian Skills Authority showed us we need at least another 7,600 employees in the next 2 years. This includes 523 aged and disabled carers, 284 nurses, 220 school teachers, 200 truck and delivery drivers, 74 construction managers, 88 human resource managers and 67 accountants – on top of the many existing filled and unfilled roles.

Each year, Shepparton’s secondary schools have around 1,000 year 9 students. Which means we need around 1,000 work experience placements and many of these students will be old enough for their first real job. Both avenues are great opportunities to sow the seeds for future careers in our region – and a downpayment on our future employees’ work readiness.

Our GMLLEN’s online portal where you can register your business to provide work experience opportunities. It’s the go to resource for schools and careers counsellors who are working with local students to find them placements in their areas of interest – and they have the staff to support you through the process. Increasing the visibility of careers and roles in the region is key and we can begin by offering work experience.

And of course, numbers can also be a cause for celebration. This week the Committee for Greater Shepparton will celebrate its 10th birthday. It’s an opportunity to reflect on how our city, community, industry – and our skyline – have grown and grownup over the past decade! Let the celebrations begin and may the future numbers continue to move in our favour.

GMLLEN’s website provides links to the work experience portal. Visit or contact the team.


Lindy Nieuwenhuizen

Lindy Nieuwenhuizen

CEO, Committee for Greater Shepparton


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