Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

How do you Recognise and Develop Strategic Links Between All Sectors in the Region that can be Built on to Achieve a Common Goal for the Region?

What are the Strengths and Possible Synergies that can be Built on to Achieve a Sustainable Regional Community?

Name of Leader:

Mike Young – Michael Young & Associates – Canberra ACT.

Names of Participants:

Merrin Brown, Dana Kelly, John Reeve, Nichole McLennan, Joy Deguara, Nathalie Sarosz, Cathy McGowan, John James, Daniel Armstrong, Sergio Teixeira, Rob Nielsen, Don Thomson, Darren Schmidt.

Main points of discussion

  • Recognise the positive features of the community – industries, social infrastructure, physical features, history, successes
  • Community has to “want” to change – may be born of necessity – change can’t be imposed.
  • Are there any signs that indicate community decline and are expressing need for help?
  • What models for small town revitalisation exist? – E.g. Peter Kenian – WA. He has produced indicators of small community vitality.
  • Sharon Pepperdeen – Community well being.
  • Use of “Wave Analysis” technique to enable community groups to identify the characteristics of their community

The method can be used with different groups in a community/stakeholders to identify: what’s working well; what is no longer working for the group; what new ideas are starting to be tried and are make an impact; and what is out there on the horizon that, with a bit of imagination, could have a significant impact.

This process enables the town/community/groups washing to be aired and then reflected upon to see where linkages and synergies could be developed. It may expose novel ideas that could be promoted for the good of the group. It could identify linkages between important local industries and create new perspectives on the old resource base.

  • The new perspectives may reveal some of the underlying community discomfort and provide some incentive and direction for change.
  • It may also show that the group is in a “happy rut’ and not want or need major change.
  • Regional communities can evaluate all the business types, their inputs and outputs (including waste products) and see if there are any novel ways to use the products and forge relationships that weren’t previously there.
  • Identify key people who have the capacity to reallocate their resources to new and innovative uses.
  • It may be possible to identify ex locals who have made a success in business elsewhere and invite them to return to their home town and set up a business – with the benefit of strong local support.
  • Sell cheap residential blocks ($1) on the condition that the new residents build houses and establish businesses locally – this has worked in some areas and failed terribly in other areas (become rural slums).
  • Areas away from regional centres need to find alternative ways to provide access to community and business support services – mobile (as in travelling) services, electronic services.
  • Often need to find employment for professionals’ partners.
  • The role of churches can be important in providing community support and focus for social cohesion – maybe no more or less than the local pub, sporting or social clubs (for those who don’t like value judgements.)
  • This last point exposes the issue that there is a need for new social platforms for people to get together, face to face – especially with the demise of sporting clubs in some rural areas where the population base is being eroded by a focus on large regional centres.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

There are surprising opportunities that can emerge from within a community following a re-evaluation of the total physical, human and economic resource base and a re-arrangement of the resource combinations. Some of these new combinations may result in innovative market and social opportunities.

  • Make a list of examples of what has been achieved in other areas.
  • Distribute small town revival kits
  • Pull together list of references and resources to assist in group and community revival.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page