THE effectiveness of community representative groups has been questioned.
During last week’s Wellington Shire Council meeting, Michael Hobson announced the executive of the Port Albert Progress Association would resign during the association’s annual meeting next Tuesday, August 15.
Mr Hobson, the association’s outgoing vice-president, said such groups should provide a voice for their community to council.
“It’s unfortunate that over the five or so years I’ve been on the executive of the progress association, it has not been a collaborative relationship,” he told council.
“We’ve tried, and I feel that it could be, and community representative groups should be, a strong voice for their community.
“My reason for resigning is that I have no more say to advocate on behalf of my community than I do as an individual.
“Why on earth would I jump through the hoops that are mandatory as far as a community representative group goes?”
Mr Hobson said community representative groups should be given more respect and listened to more often.
“We can solve a lot of problems before they become problems if the process was better,” he said.
Council, Mr Hobson said, needed to look at ways for better co-operation with community representative groups.
“I think the council really needs to have a good hard look at how that process operates, and perhaps move into a more collaborative model so that we don’t have such angst in the community and better ways of community ideas being brought to the fore,” he said.
Council acting community and culture general manager Sharon Houlihan said there were often changes in the people represented on community committees.
“New people bring new energy, ideas and perspectives to a group,” she said.
“Council expects that there will be changes in committee representation.
“Council will continue to provide assistance to the Port Albert Progress Association if they, as a committee, agree to being the group responsible for developing and implementing the Port Albert Community Plan,” Houlihan said.
“If the Port Albert Progress Association do not wish to continue in this role, council would only get involved with the group if requested and would consult with the group when working on projects in Port Albert, as we do with any other incorporated group.”
In 2016, council developed a terms of reference and rules of agreement, with input from 13 active groups across Wellington Shire.
This document provided community planning groups with details on the role and responsibilities of council and the role and responsibilities of the group in regards to the development and implementation of community plans.
“For council to receive a community plan, it needs to be clear that a comprehensive consultation process has been completed by community planning groups to gather all views of the community,” Ms Houlihan said.
“Members of the Port Albert community have expressed that they have not been consulted and do not believe that the priorities included in the community plan developed by Port Albert Progress Association represent the views of the Port Albert community.
“To help address these issues, council continues to work closely with the Port Albert community and other state government offices and peak bodies.
“Council will continue to provide individual support to each of the community planning groups across the shire.
“We will be open and transparent about expectations from council’s perspective and from a community planning group perspective, and ensure that these are reflected in any workshops and support provided.”