Council seeking community input into the future of your city

Kori Besgrove, from Ipswich Youth Advisory Council, Interim Administrator Greg Chemello, Paulette Montaigne, president of U3A (University of the Third Age) and former member of the seniors consultative committee, at community reference groups launch at Springfield Central Library.

Ipswich City Council is looking for up to 100 members of the community to participate in newly-formed community reference groups.

These people will meet as a group, talking with council decision-makers, contributing ideas, views and suggestions to council about how to build a better, more connected and vibrant city.

The five voluntary community reference groups will be aligned to the five “Advance Ipswich” strategic plan themes and new standing committees of council:

  • Economic Development
  • Resilient Communities
  • Growth Management
  • Environment
  • Transparent Governance

Council announced this new framework in November after reviewing its existing community engagement mechanisms and made the decision then to dissolve a number of long-standing reference groups.

Interim Administrator Greg Chemello said it was a clear effort to facilitate improved community input into decision making by local government.

“Public participation and engagement is at the core of good local government decision-making and is mutually-beneficial to the community and council,” he said.

“It is important that, during this period of administration, we reset the way your council engages with the community. This is a great opportunity for council to re-engage with the community at a strategic level.

“Individual issues such as pot holes, parking fines and barking dogs will not be discussed at these meetings. Instead, members will be asked to share their thoughts on broader issues that significantly impact a local area or the city as a whole.

“For example, instead of discussing specific wheelie bin collection problems, the Environmental Management community reference group will debate how council can best enable the Ipswich community to become better recyclers of waste.

“Similarly, the Growth Management community reference group won’t be considering particular development applications, but may be asked to advise on how council can best work with communities to balance the views of current residents with the needs of new residents in a rapidly expanding city.”

The new community reference groups will seek to achieve membership that is broadly representative of the community and these will be chaired by Mr Chemello until a new council is elected at the local government elections in March 2020.

Mr Chemello noted that the success of each reference group would be dependent on many factors, one of the most important being political neutrality.

“This is about the community in its purest form, not politics. We are looking for fresh, unbiased perspectives from residents who are genuine, impartial representatives of their community.“

In that context, no current or former state or federal members, former councillors, or current or former ICC staff will be eligible to apply for membership on council’s reference groups.

Council’s community reference groups aim to:

–               Provide a deliberative forum for members to discuss issues of community interest;

–               Draw on local knowledge and enhance community voice in decision making processes and outcomes; and

–               Build community understanding of council’s core business functions and specific projects or activities.

Expressions of Interest open today, Thursday 7 March for the five separate community reference groups and applications close at noon, Friday 29 March.

“Reference groups are representative of our entire community which means most people are eligible to submit an application. This is your chance to have a stronger and strategic voice for your city,” Mr Chemello said.

To register, visit here.

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