Deliberative engagement for our communities

Published on 21 April 2022

Tongala pool 2021.jpg

Council has endorsed the deliberative engagement plan starting with a review of public swimming pools, and moving to Place Based Plans and Township Facility Plans.

Mayor Chrissy Weller said that across a 15 month period, the community will review, assess, and develop recommendations for the future of their town’s public swimming pool.

“Deliberative engagement simply means that the community will be working with Council to determine the best outcome. Community members will weigh up documents, data and opinion, then give their final position to Councillors to consider.

“To ensure that the entire community is provided with the opportunity to participate, the deliberative engagement plan contains several steps.

“This process will ensure the community is telling Council, through a self-assessment process, what they want their town’s future to be, not just the future of their swimming pool, but a broad overview of their town’s aspirations.”

Step 1 – Initial review

A Community Panel of 30 to 50 Campaspe Shire residents will be independently recruited to complete an initial review. The review will include Council documentation and data regarding the pools, input from pool user groups and data from a Shire wide telephone survey (to be conducted to ensure a balanced discussion). The panel will be recruited and managed by an independent consultant, not Council. Once all the information has been reviewed, the panel will give its initial position on the future of the public pools.

Step 2 – Place Based Planning and Township Facility Planning

During this time, Place Based Plans and Township Facility Plans will also be created for each of these towns:

  • Colbinabbin (Place Based Plan started)
  • Echuca
  • Kyabram (Place Based Plan completed)
  • Lockington
  • Rochester
  • Rushworth
  • Stanhope (Place Based Plan completed)
  • Tongala (Place Based Plan started)

These are the towns with swimming pools and are therefore being prioritised, so that all these steps can be completed before the deadline of April 2023. For those towns without a pool, plans will be developed by December 2023.

These plans will be developed with the assistance of community committees. Place Based Plan Committees are made up of local people from different backgrounds, aligned to different community groups, with different skills and expertise. The Place Based Plan is a document that will showcase community aspirations, which will help to guide future planning. What do the residents want their town to be? Focused on agriculture, on art, on recreation? A haven for tourists, for families, for industries?

Township Facility Plan Committees are made up of local people with backgrounds in business, finance, construction, tourism, law, planning, real estate, recreation, and social wellbeing; people who can expertly evaluate and comment on a Township Facility Plan. The Township Facility Plans will assess all community assets and provide recommendations to Council about the future of these assets.

Both committees will then report the respective plans to the overarching ‘Community Panel’ for consideration.

Step 3 – Panel to review

The Community Panel will then review each town’s Place Based Plan and Township Facility Plan. It will examine both documents to ensure they address issues such as social health and wellbeing, economic development and more. The panel will then decide whether to adopt the plans, note the plans or decline to support the plans.

Step 4 – Final recommendation

Finally, the Community Panel will review all data and all community opinion – from the initial review, from all plans and from the telephone survey.

They will then make a final recommendation to Council on the future of outdoor public pools.

Another important step 

“Council also agreed to another very important step,” Cr Weller said.

“If the Township Facility Plan recommends to decommission, close or sell a Council owned asset, and Council decides to do this, Council will then make the revenue gained from the asset available for the aspirations listed in that town’s Place Based Plan.

“These funds will equate to five years of maintenance savings, five years of staff cost savings, or net profit of asset sales. Money that may arise from the decommission or sale of a Council owned asset goes straight back to that community.

“And that’s why we have the Place Based Plans and the Township Facility Plans, because then we know exactly where the community would like that money to go.”

In coming weeks more information will be made available on Council’s website.