IDEAS gleaned from three public workshops will help guide Bass Coast Shire Council’s long-term planning in Wonthaggi.
The Future Wonthaggi-Community Focus Group Workshop report is the result of nine hours of workshops and discussion by 15 members of the Wonthaggi community.
Terry Earl, a participant in the focus group and member of the Wonthaggi Tourism and Business Association, said that the council should be engaging with the public in this fashion more often.
“Council should be working with the community,” Mr Earl said.
“This is how community interaction, how community engagement between the council and the community, should be. It should be open and transparent.”
“This was quite an exciting process to be a part of,” Faye Quilford said.
“We are all really passionate about the town, but also recognise that there are things we can work on.”
Six clear themes and goals for the future of Wonthaggi emerged from the report:
• Create a safe town to walk and move around.
• Create an interest and understanding of the community.
• Focus on our infrastructure.
• Deliver strong tourism services.
• Draw upon Wonthaggi’s history as a model town based on solidarity, inclusiveness and cooperation as inspiration to stand together as a modern, progressive community.
• Grow our own entrepreneurs and business champions to keep our kids here.
Ideas for future business growth, safety, infrastructure and the heritage of the township were all discussed in the creation of the document.
“This town had such momentum in the 1950s, and we’ve lost that,” participant Sam Gatto said.
“The town does not have a new identity. If people have an interest and understanding of this area, they will show more pride, and market it better.
“We need to work on holding onto the best of Wonthaggi’s youth, who at the moment are moving away.”
The workshops were held at the Wonthaggi Centennial Centre over three weeks.
The workshops were not run by the council, and were impartially adjudicated by Keith Greaves.
The information and ideas generated by the focus group were then put into a report, which was presented to the council by members of the group at a meeting on Wednesday, September 14.
Coordinator for Strategic Planning at the shire, Chris Wightman, said he was extremely pleased with the outcome of the three workshops.
“We at the council haven’t run anything like this focus group before. It was all about giving more power, more responsibility to the public, and they responded beautifully,” Mr Wightman said.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from this process, and we’re committed to carrying forth this momentum.”
Both the incoming council and the outgoing council will be briefed regarding the document in October and November.
“We have a number of ongoing projects that this document will then go on to help inform, such as the Wonthaggi North Masterplan and the Dalyston Wonthaggi Strategic Masterplan,” Mr Wightman said.
“There are a lot of upcoming projects occurring in and around the Wonthaggi area.
“This document will prove invaluable to these processes.
“The focus group was very pragmatic and realistic about the outcomes of their work.
“I feel as though through this process I know the community and the town a lot more.”
Mr Earl said the document must be not gather dust.
“I just hope now that this document we’ve created is put into operation,” he said.
“I personally will be disappointed if the project ends up sitting on a shelf.”