Growth Area Social Planning Tool Launches
16 September 2014 at 11:14 am
Collaboration between councils, peak Not for Profits and community organisations in Melbourne has led to the launch of a Growth Area Social Planning Tool.
The development of the Growth Areas Social Planning Tool has been led by the City of Whittlesea on behalf of seven growth area councils of metropolitan Melbourne.
“The Growth Areas Social Planning Tool – Putting People First – has been developed by Melbourne’s Growth Councils as a way to ensure that we don’t just build new developments or new suburbs, but focus from the start on creating new communities,” Social Policy and Projects Officer at the City of Whittlesea, Joanne Kyrkilis said.
“The Growth Areas Social Planning Tool outlines a process of social practice that aims to put the social needs of people first and to help create communities that are healthy, safe and inclusive, are culturally rich and engage with active citizens that participate in decision-making processes.
“In developing the tool it quickly became apparent that a benchmarked prescriptive list of social programs and services would not be helpful or relevant to growth areas that are demographically, socially and geographically distinct.
“A ‘cookie cutter’ approach also removes the opportunity for residents to have a say in what they envisage for their community or adjacent communities.”
The tool has developed as a website that:
• articulates a vision of community wellbeing
• establishes the guiding principles for social planning
• outlines a process for local government to establish partnerships with internal departments and external stakeholders
• provides resources and relevant links to inform decision-making, implementation and evaluation
• provides resources to assist stakeholders in advocating for growth area social planning
• provides practitioners with an avenue to interact with one another and share good practice.
The project has generated participation and funding from all levels of Government, community service organisations and land developers, as well as peak bodies including:
• Australian Communities Foundation
• Victorian Council of Social Service
• Urban Development Institute of Australia
• Planning Institute of Australia
• Association of Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres
• Foundation for Young Australians
• Victorian Local Governance Association
• Municipal Association of Victoria
• Scouts Victoria
• National Growth Areas Alliance.
• life-long learning opportunities
• social enterprises.
“These sorts of social resources build community and a sense of belonging by connecting people around shared experiences and common goals. However, this community building role is significantly under-resourced in many areas,” Kyrkilis said.
“We need to learn from past experiences so that people who move into new housing developments do not just get a home, but also the prospect of building a future for the long term, supported by a flourishing community.
“If new homes do not become successful communities, the risk for the future grows of managing the consequences of failure. It is important to avoid the mistakes of the past.
“While this place-making role and the delivery of social programs and services are vitally important for all communities, growth area residents face particular challenges that make planning for and delivering these resources especially significant.
“These challenges such as a very rapid population growth and development means everyone is dealing with ‘newness’ and everything is unfinished, where there are gaps in social service delivery and often poor access to public transport.
“All of these contribute to a number of negative social outcomes for these residents as compared to the Melbourne average including higher rates of family dysfunction and violence, financial stress and lack of social cohesion.
“There is now a growing body of evidence on the very specific and measurable benefits of social connection for the wellbeing of individuals, communities and society as a whole, or ‘social capital’ as it has become known.
“The social capital approach seeks to build civic and community engagement, networks and a sense of trust and belonging. It is generally accepted that social capital focuses on productive social relations through community engagement and connection and community capacity building.
“There is evidence that the development of high levels of social capital across all socio-economic cohorts can build the health and wellbeing of communities and reduce inequalities and inequities.
“The Growth Areas Social Planning Tool seeks to draw our attention and our work to the centrality of creating those opportunities and networks early in the life of a community to build a firm base of connection and resilience from which a community’s social capital can continue to grow.”
Some of the research considered in developing the Social Planning Tool tool came from the 2007 work of the Australian Community Foundation (formerly Melbourne Community Foundation) and its MacroMelbourne Initiative.
The initiative offered a number of strategic projects, identified to address emerging issues around disadvantage in Melbourne and was undertaken in collaboration with the Committee for Melbourne, Melbourne Cares, Pro Bono Australia, the Victorian Local Government Association, the Victorian Council of Social Service, RMIT, Deakin University and the Victorian Government.
It started by looking at the available evidence in relation to disadvantage in Melbourne; the extent to which it is already a divided city and how growth may exacerbate this divide.
MCF MacroMelbourne chair and founder of Pro Bono Australia, Karen Mahlab said at the time that Stage Two of the initiative delivered projects to address five action areas that fundamentally impact on disadvantage.
These areas focus on placed-based strategies – looking at Melbourne’s most disadvantaged suburbs, both inner and on the fringe, education and employment opportunities for young people, housing affordability, the digital divide – connectivity and access, and monitoring trends to better understand disadvantage over the coming decades.
To find out more about the Growth Areas Social Planning Tool go to: www.socialplanningtool.net.au