Community approach to building the future

Like many regional areas, Corangamite Shire in South West Victoria is concerned about its future. This includes protecting its natural beauty and tourist attractions, including the popular Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road; enhancing its primary, secondary and service industries; maintaining its safe, country hospitality lifestyle and above all, stemming a population drift, often resulting in the loss of its most promising talent, its young people.

Working with the South West District Development Board, Council recently organised a two day forum titled, ‘Building our Future’. The aim of this forum was to work with the local community to create a vision for the future. This including drafting a plan to guide social and economic development in the area, as well as building links with regional neighbours.

Business people, residents, local secondary students, Councillors, Council staff, Development Board members and representatives from neighbouring Councils, worked with Dr Peter Ellyard, Project Consultant and Facilitator, to start mapping out Corangamite’s ‘preferred’ future.

Following addresses by a number of keynote speakers, covering Government, private sector and academic perspectives, it was over to the participants to create a vision for the area and develop a process to work towards achieving this. Dr Ellyard challenged participants to project forward, to use new century thinking.

“Imagine you are waking up on the first morning of the new millennium, what do you want this area to look like,” he said. To ensure everyone could participate in the planning and not become overwhelmed by the more vocal, Dr Ellyard employed an innovative process using a Grouputer.

Designed here in Australia, this state of the art software enables a large number of people to simultaneously input to the planning process. It involves using a dozen separate key boards spread around a ‘U’ shaped table arrangement. At the front is a large overhead screen enabling all participants to immediately see ideas as they are keyed in. Participants not at the keyboards simply write their ideas on paper to be keyed in exactly as they are written. Ideas pouring in remain anonymous as all keyboards operate simultaneously.

This process assists people who may not be totally comfortable in expressing their ideas in an open forum. Following an excellent day’s work the Facilitator will draw the ideas together to present to Council. A draft will be released for public comment prior to finalisation.

For further information contact Paul Smith, Council’s Economic Development Manager, telephone (055) 93 7100.