Research and Evaluation

The Western BACE project is an important initiative that will improve economic, educational and community opportunities for Melton and the west Melbourne growth corridor. The Western BACE Research group comprises Federation University Australia (FedUni), Victoria University (VU), and the City of Melton. The group have identified a range of research opportunities across the life of this project (and beyond, with the implementation of a longitudinal research program in the second and third phases of the research, funding permitting) and in consideration of the wider, regional expansion of the Toolern/Melton and Western regions of Melbourne. This provides a unique opportunity to advance this research program and include crucial understandings and insights into a major business and community development program. 

This research will broadly contribute to Australia’s Strategic Research Priorities (SRP). Developed by the Commonwealth Government, the SRPs were designed to drive investment in areas of immediate and critical importance to Australia. The core objectives of the Western BACE project will complement three of the five strategic research priority areas, specifically:  Living in a Changing Environment; Promoting Population Health and Wellbeing; and, Lifting Productivity and Economic Growth (Department of Industry, 2013).

The research  comprises three distinct but associated stages that supplement the stages of design, construction and operation of the Western BACE. The first stage of this research has recently been completed and contributed to the ‘formative’ stage of knowledge acquisition, through data consolidation and stakeholder information and benchmarking. The data collected informs, and contributes to, the remaining stages of the research. These have been identified as the ‘Transformative' stage, which encompasses the construction and completion phases of Western BACE, and the ‘Expansive’ stage, which extends beyond the launch to examine the operation of the Western BACE in the ensuing two to five years.

Research conducted in each of these stages will inform and extend the following year’s plan of research. As such, and with each year, the breadth of research will extend the previous year's knowledge and will provide a comprehensive understanding of the overall impact of the Western BACE project on business and growth in Melton.

               Formative Research         →        Transformative Research             →       Expansive Research

               (Year 1)                                         (Year 2)                                                  (Year 3 and beyond)      

The formative phase for this research included significant benchmarking activities designed to inform the training, ICT, community service and other developmental needs that could be supported by embedding these activities at the Western BACE. This first phase was labour-intensive (hence the high budget) but provided the foundation necessary for the collection of important data for the region in the key areas of business innovation and growth, employment, education and training and community development.

The focus for further research will extend the foundation knowledge and will be identify how the Western BACE is contributing to Melton growth (employment; businesses; greater skills base); what impact broadband has on Melton businesses and (potential) Western BACE tenants; how the Western BACE is meeting the needs of tenants; what training new employees need to support growing business opportunities in Melton/Toolern (including higher education training opportunities); how infrastructure services will improve local communities.

The Research Group will contribute to research expertise in areas relating to Business innovation and growth, Employment, education and training, and Community infrastructure and development with consideration of current and future needs of Melton businesses (including potential Western BACE tenants) and Melton residents.

The Western BACE Research Group recognises the importance of this project and has identified various research questions and methodologies to support the key stages outlined in the Western BACE Research Overview, and that are aligned with the research specifications of the Suburban Jobs Program submission.