Margaret O’Rourke.

Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke has been returned as chair of the leadership group Regional Cities Victoria.

The announcement was made in Bendigo last week when the mayors of Victoria’s 10 largest regional cities gathered for their first meeting of the mayoral term.

Shepparton mayor Kim O’Keeffe was elected deputy chair.

Cr O’Rourke said she was honoured to lead her colleagues for a second time and looked forward to the group continuing to work together for the benefit of regional Victoria.

“Regional Cities Victoria is an important advocacy group that provides industry and government with clear objectives regarding what it wants to achieve for its residents and what regional Victoria needs to continue to thrive,” Cr O’Rourke said.

“We know regional Victoria provides great lifestyle alternatives to metropolitan areas, however regional councils need to be supported with the appropriate funding to deliver for their communities.

“A key priority in the coming year will be to continue growing our partnerships with other levels of government, particularly as we approach a Federal election.”

Cr O’Rourke was recently appointed to her third term as mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo.

Regional Cities Victoria comprises the mayors and chief executive officers of the 10 largest cities in regional Victoria − Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.

The group meets bi-monthly and is chaired by a host council, which is voted to the position annually.