“It’s hard not to look back at the past twelve months with an equal mixture of pain and pride.”
We entered 2021 thinking that COVID-19 was behind us and a year of freedom and opportunity lay ahead. How wrong we were.
We all had our struggles this year, whether it be yet another round of home schooling, separation from loved ones or the isolation of spending time in our homes.
As I write this reflection just a few weeks out of lockdown, it’s already grown easier to dilute the significant challenges we faced this year. The joy of being back in the office, out to dinner and seeing the kids back at school means that, for many of us, we can adjust to ‘normal’ life quickly and seamlessly.
Tech savvy and wise to the ways of working remotely, the year progressed in and out of lockdown reasonably seamlessly for Ratio. Our team, together with VCAT, government agencies and a raft of other consultants were all able to keep the wheels of commerce turning, whether we were in or out of the office. It’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t using Zoom and working flat-chat at home in between emptying the dishwasher or putting on a load of washing!
This year Ratio’s Geelong office relocated to our new premises in Union Street and, unsurprisingly, the number of staff now working in Geelong has tripled. I love heading west and working in amongst the Geelong team as it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with the staff and clients in the region. There’s no doubt that exciting times lay ahead for our Geelong team and the region at large.
We also opened a new office in East Gippsland to capitalise on the growing demand for urban design, planning and transport advice in the eastern regions of our state. Under the direction of Tim Biles ‒ who is also loving the opportunity to spend more time in his spiritual home of Metung ‒ the new office is capitalising on the opportunities regional Victoria has to offer and the investment being poured into the area, much of which has been accelerated by the pandemic.
It has been rewarding to see the continued growth of our waste management section with the hard work and dedication of Ratio’s newest Environmental Consultant, Lachlan Harris. The role of waste management specialists is often underestimated in property development and watching the success of both Lachlan and Mitch Fairlie in bringing genuine solutions and cost savings to client has been tremendous.
We’ve had some notable successes on a vast array of projects during the year, ranging from multi-storey commercial and residential buildings in just about every location imaginable, Movement and Place Framework Assessments, affordable housing under the Big Build provisions and even the preparation of a strategic study of the redevelopment of a former apple cannery in Batlow, NSW… Not to mention the hundreds of appearances before VCAT.
A project that really stands out for me this year was our work in establishing parklet-style dining options in a diverse range of communities. Leveraging our work on roadside dining and activating the public realm, in Swan Street, Richmond, it was rewarding to see the high calibre work undertaken by our urban design, transport and planning teams in assisting various local governments in preparing quality public spaces. The multidisciplinary nature of this project presented us with the opportunity to unite our collective expertise, resulting in fantastic outcomes for clients and better outcomes for our communities.
Though I finished with a similar sentiment last year, it bears repeating. We are immensely proud of the people that make Ratio what it is. COVID-19 has demonstrated our capacity to rally around each other. We’ve worked hard to put our people first and, together with our clients, our team are always central to our decision-making. After all, how can we put our best professional foot forward if we don’t have it in hand at home?
Our staff have faced down 2021 with courage, resilience and tenacity and I, as well as all the other directors, are full of pride of our incredible team.
Hand in hand, with the support of our incredible clients, we’ve all grown to know each other in ways we never imagined, peeking into each other’s homes during virtual meetings and forging bonds remotely. I like to think we’ve formed stronger relationships as a result of these challenges and will produce even better outcomes for the next year.
Thank you all for an incredible year and for your ongoing support. We wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas and a memorable new year.