23 October, 2022, Cumberland Hotel, Castlemaine
LEARNING BY EXPERIENCE SERIES EVENT NUMBER 1: WORKING WITH COUNCILS
SPEAKER: GEOFFREY TURNER.
Geoff outlined his current role of Executive Officer of the Murray River Group of Councils (a total of six councilsvarying in size and scope). The Murray River Group acts as an informal advocacy group facilitating dialogue, priority setting and inclusion between the Councils to foster good decision-making for their collective benefit.
An important point Geoff made from the outset was that Local Government is an instrument of the State Government and is not recognised in the Australian Constitution.
He said the Victorian Local Government Act of 2020 – a ‘principles-based Act’ – very clearly identifies an approach all Councils need to make in relation to their governance. The Act specifies:
1. Community Engagement
2. Strategic Planning
3. Financial Management
4. Public Transparency
5. Service Performance
These result in and lead to Council’s vision (driven by the community), planning process, and the eventual financial and Council plan presented to the community. As a group we need to keep these ‘pillars’ in the forefront when we see the need to comment on or question decisions.
Attention was also directed to possible future changes in Local Government electoral boundaries with a push towards single member wards.
Geoff explained clearly the strategies that can help local groups such as CASSOC to become effective and listened to in our local community and beyond. He emphasised the importance of media releases and the effect they can have in getting action and provided an explanation of the distinction between the role of Councillors and the Council organisation itself and the need to develop relationships with both.
His advice to us is:
• Become a trusted partner
• Be constructive
• Clearly describe problems and suggest solutions
• Facts, Data, Expertise (should be the basis of any presentation)
• Provide genuine stories from people experiencing issues to provide authenticity
He also saw the need for CASSOC to build relationships with like-minded organisations in the community and to build trust with Council.
Participants were able to ask a range of questions including issues about planning and interesting dialogue continued with Geoff providing practical and clear comment.
Geoff’s presentation is invaluable to our new group as we aspire to become a real force in the community and a trusted organisation which is taken seriously.
An excellent start to the Events program
21 OCTOBER, 2022
Affordable Housing Development Proposed for Templeton Street
At its meeting last Tuesday, Council unanimously resolved to progress an affordable housing initiative in Castlemaine. The next step is to develop a detailed set of procedures going forward.
The proposal aims to develop affordable rental housing at 30a Templeton Street behind the Castlemaine Town Hall and 65 Templeton Street to cater for a mix of households across demographic and income levels.
Council has initiated extensive consultation with the community during this first scoping stage and we would expect this to continue. Further development will be subject to funding.
CASSOC congratulates Council on this initiative and we welcome the local community to provide input to the ongoing development work.
Castlemaine Heritage Study
The Castlemaine Heritage Study is a multi-stage process that will strengthen protection for significant sites and places under the Mount Alexander Planning Scheme.
To enhance this work Council is establishing a Project Advisory Group (PAG).
Specifically, the objectives and functions of the PAG are to:
- Assist with research and provide advice on specific heritage matters that support the Castlemaine Heritage Study.
- Help to identify emerging heritage-related issues that will meaningfully impact the project.
- Participate in workshops, meetings and other activities that may include research, property identification, etc as required.
Council is seeking people who can demonstrate a strong connection to Castlemaine. The connection could be as local residents, or as people who are active in the community either through voluntary or professional roles.
Council is also keen to hear from people with a variety of skill sets that may play a role in heritage, such as architects, historians, heritage consultants, builders, planners etc.
Expressions of interest are due by Sunday 13 November 2022.
Climate Change Strategy 2023 – 2033
Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 in response to strong community demand. A petition calling for the Declaration was signed by 2,000 residents. A Climate Change Forum hosted by Council attracted 49 verbal submissions, complemented by an additional 91 written submissions.
Following this, Council is in the process of developing a climate change policy for the next 10 years to address the current and future impacts of climate change on the health, economy and wellbeing of the people of the Mount Alexander Shire.
As part of the initial process, Council recognises the significant expertise and good will within our communities, and that we need to develop our climate response together.
A Community Reference Group is being established to support and encourage constructive collaboration between Council and the community, and harness local climate knowledge and experience.
The key selection criteria for the community representatives include:
- Strong local knowledge of climate change challenges and opportunities
- Be a resident of the Shire
- Ability to represent a broad range of views that represent the diversity of the community
- A willingness to take part in communications activities for project documentationand promotion purposes.
- A willingness to contribute meaningfully to meetings in a fair and unbiased manner,looking beyond personal interests for the benefit of the community
An Expression of Interest form (EOI) is available on the Shire website.
EOIs will close at 5pm on Tuesday 1 November and Council will respond by Wednesday 9 November.
Housing and Neighbourhood Character Strategy Study for Castlemaine
The second meeting of the Community Reference Group was held on Thursday.
The consultation period has been extended to 6 November and your feedback to Shape Mt Alexander is encouraged, see mountalexander.vic.gov.au Ask CASSOC if you need help with the task.
Plan2Place Consultants have commenced their fieldwork/neighbourhood assessment study.
Council will attempt to provide further community advice and information before close of business this year.
Please give feedback to Council for any of these issues, or consider volunteering to be a community representative.
(Please feel free to pass this email on to interested people).