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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Engaging Urban Communities in their Regional Communities

Name of Leader:

Melva Hobson

Names of Participants:

Glen Millar, Darren Moor, Chrissy King, Dan McKloskey, Warwick Easdown, Dana Kelly, Nigel Gallus, Cynthia Carson, Vanesssa Hood, Lynette Pirie, Rebecca Scott, Tony Koch

Main points of discussion

There is a need to foster a sense of community so urban people feel part of a community. This might mean investing in fostering relationships in urban communities – although the question was asked whether urban people feel that such investment is worthwhile given the perception that mobility of the urban population is high and residence is not long term. There is also the concept/principle of anonymity in urban areas.

Benefits were identified in the development of relationships through the establishment of small groups in urban communities, something not frequently done, whereas in rural areas this basic social function is often more quickly established. Discussion occurred around the concept pf communities of interest in urban environments – eg neighbourhoods, friends, work places, although there is the potential of losing the skills of mixing in diverse groups by relying on just these “communities of interest”.

Other topics canvassed included:

  • Urban sustainability
  • Lack of common expectations between urban and rural communities
  • Lack of mutual understanding of urban and rural communities
  • Government responses for example to greenhouse, which see land management action as the government response and not urban responsibilities. Some exceptions –eg industry abatement programs, green power.
  • Ecological footprints

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

A range of suggestions was made as to how the urban community could be engaged. These included:

Dealing with local councils who have another line of networks and contacts – even there though there maybe “gate-keeping” to overcome.

Engage rural communities in the life of the urban community to increase mutual understanding

Get the message across that NRM is a common problem – use marketing tactics for water quality such as:

  • give credit as to what has changed -rural no cover leads to loss topsoil – changed practice, good cover improved WQ –
  • ecological footprint applies to all
  • Recognise the increasing diversity of the urban community, with the ability of some LGA’s to have rainwater tanks and the small but increasing use of “green power”
  • Develop the concept “lend a hand to those who look after the land” – for rural/urban understanding
  • Build on the concept of the “supply chain” from production to end user, and drawing groups of people together, based on the supply chain. (See Chrissy King for further details)
  • Use the rainfall simulator in shopping centres – eg Woollies
  • Identify the “big” issues for urban population – eg health – parthenium, agricultural safe foods emphasis
  • Focus on shareholders many of whom want to buy shares in sustainable industries
  • Focus on opportunities for premium payments on labelled “sustainably produced foods” – eg Jock Douglas ALMS concept. Demonstrate the relevance to people themselves
  • Rather than focus on Landcare week or Weedbuster week include NRM focus in health promotion events
  • Pith at the person at the end of the foodchain, not the individual but the business – eg Coles and Woollies. Get them onside and there is a greater chance of accessing the majority of players
  • Have NRM focus in National youth Week

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