Why does East Gippsland Shire Council undertake community planning?

    In Victoria the role of local government is legislated through the Local Government Act 1989 which specifies local government powers, duties, roles responsibilities and functions. Councils primary objective under the act is “to endeavour to achieve the best outcomes for the local community having regard to the long term and cumulative effects of decisions.”

    Community Planning enables local government to understand and plan for the needs of the community.  The processes used to undertake community planning are dynamic and participatory.  The process involves working alongside the identified community to develop a group vision, priorities and actions to achieve a positive change that will enhance the well-being of the community.  A community plan documents these to reflect the aspirations, strengths and uniqueness of a community including the social factors (i.e. lifestyle, health and wellbeing, education, recreation), economic factors (i.e. business, employment and industry) and environmental factors (i.e. open space, biodiversity, landscapes, streetscapes, reservation/conservation areas and walking trails). Documenting community aspirations and priorities enable local and other government agencies and services to plan for and respond to the needs of the community.

    Some, but not all communities in East Gippsland have had Community Plans for nearly a decade. A review of the previous community plans identified the need to change the way Council works with the community. This new approach is called Place Planning and is a major initiative of the East Gippsland Shire Council.

    Why were three districts chosen to trial place planning?

    Council was successful in obtaining a grant from the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund, to pilot the development and delivery of a place-based planning approach in some of the most remote districts within the shire.

    This is the first community plan for the Cann Valley District, and the second plan for the Errinundra to Snowy and Twin Rivers Districts. The three districts chosen represent districts that are considered remote (Errinundra to Snowy and Cann Valley) and rural (Twin Rivers).  Each district is unique which allowed the trial project to test the place planning and District Community Plan process to ensure it would work across the range of different communities in East Gippsland. 

    How were the districts created?

    Twelve districts and one sub-districtwere identified across East Gippsland, each with its own distinctive history, culture, people and natural environments (see map).  East Gippsland covers over 20,000 square kilometres and 171 separately identified localities. While we can’t possibly focus on all of these places individually, the East Gippsland Shire has been divided into twelve geographical districts that cover all of the localities that make up the Shire. These districts are significantly influenced by the geography of the region, with each reflecting the social, economic activities, transport routes and relationships that have been created during the evolution of the various communities.

    What community consultation went into creating the Plans?

    A total of 18 workshops (6 in each district) were facilitated from August 2018 through to April 2019. These workshops concentrated on developing the core elements of the District Community Plans including community values, vision, ideas, mapping of existing assets across six key elements, development of a community survey and exploration of this data inclusive of ABS data, scoping of ideas around community needs, prioritisation of needs and creation of the District Community Representative Group.
    An additional 8 information workshops were run from February to March 2019, in response to community’s request for specific expertise and information to assist informed decision making around their community plans and priorities.

    Parallel workshops were run to ensure the voice of young people was heard in partnership with local schools – Nicholson Primary School, Swan Reach Primary School and Cann River P12.  A total of 8 workshops with 85 students provided valuable input into the planning process.

    A community survey was used to build an understanding of who makes up the district and to provide an opportunity for those who couldn’t participate in the workshops to have input in to the process.  The community survey was made available online and hardcopies were available and it was open between November 2018 – January 2019.  The invitation to complete the community survey was prompted in a variety of different ways (general stores/post offices, flyers, neighbourhood houses and community centres, community newsletters and through local papers).  The response rate to the survey varied across the three districts; Twin Rivers 6.6%, Cann Valley 19.6% and Errinundra to Snowy 10.95% (percentage calculated using the adult population in each district).   

    How were the community surveys and workshops publicised?

    The project was publicised through a combination of media releases in local newspapers; emails to the Place Connect newsletter databases; posters at local community centres and neighbourhood houses, schools and businesses; and flyers addressed to the householder distributed via the Australia Post mail system. A number of people who came to the workshop sessions also said they heard via word of mouth. 

    What should I be looking for when I review the Plan?

    Overall, we are interested if the document resonates with you and your family, if it is functional/useable, how you react to the ‘look and feel’ and if there is anything major missing. Additionally, if you see a typo, grammar issue, inaccuracy or wrong information we would be pleased to know.

    We recommend that you review all the FAQs before reading the Draft District Community Plan.

    Read the Plan through once before filling out the feedback form. It will then be easy to complete the feedback form and ensure you have captured all your comments about the Plan.

    How will my contributions reviewing the Plan be responded to?

    A final Engagement Report will be prepared and released following completion of the project. It will detail what the feedback was and how it changed the final version of the Community Plan.
    Comments will be grouped into themes and each theme will be responded to.

    When will the other documents described in the Plan be available?

    The next step is to prepare and finalise the Annual Action Plan by the working groups and District Community Representative Group (DCRG). The Annual Action Plan is a tool for these groups and the members who are providing their time and skills to work towards achieving the outcomes. Once finalised it will be available for review through the DCRG in November 2019 when the endorsed Plan is released.

    The Annual Action Plan will be used to keep Council and partner agencies updated about the changing needs and priorities of the district and will align Council, Community and partner agency activities to describe how the outcomes are being met on a yearly basis.

    A Community Toolkit will be made available on the Council website in December 2019. This collection of documents and resources will be available for communities and individuals to access to help them understand and apply the IDEA Model to the development and evaluation of their ideas.

    A Visual Summary of the Plan has been designed to support the District Community Plan. This document can be printed and placed in key locations in the district, or used as a quick reference guide for the Plan. This document will be released following Council’s consideration and endorsement of the District Community Plan.

    Where do I find the data that was collected in creation of the plans?

    Background statistical information can be found at the following link.
    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census Data 2016: https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/LGA22110
    Profile ID: https://profile.id.com.au/east-gippsland
    Community Survey: some of the survey results are provided in the Plan, other aspects of the results either cannot be published due to privacy issues as it cannot be appropriately de-identified. What additional information can be shared will form part of the information provided to the DCRG with the Community Toolkit. The data included in the plan is designed to be a benchmark so that future community surveys can determine the impact of the achievements made as a result of the Plan.

    What are the next steps for the District Community Plans after the community consultation period closes?

    During October 2019, the Community Planning Team will collate and review all the feedback provided from the public consultation. Any proposed changes will be made to the document based on this review and a summary of the comments will be provided to Council.
    The District Community Plan will then go to Council in November 2019 for consideration and endorsement. Council’s formal endorsement of the Community Plans provides strategic direction for Council and associated resourcing, budgeting and advocacy decisions.
    The first Annual Action Plans, the Community Toolkit and the final Engagement Report will be released following Council consideration of the District Community Plans for all three communities.

    How do I get involved in a Working Group?

    If you are interested in working on a priority project as identified in the Plan please contact the Community Planning Team by emailing StrategicP@egipps.vic.gov.au or by telephone on (03) 5153 9500 and we will connect you to the working group of interest.