The panel was tasked with developing the Strathbogie Shire 2040 Community Vision Statement and setting the direction for the 2021-25 Council Plan.
Strathbogie Shire Mayor Cr Chris Raeburn said the independently selected panel was part of an extensive engagement program to build ‘The Big Four’ plans required of a new Council.
“This is the first time Strathbogie Shire Council has used deliberative engagement methods to guide our future planning,” Cr Raeburn said.
“Our community has shared valuable ideas and opinions to help develop Council’s vision for the next 20 years and set our goals to get there.
“We are committed to putting our community at the heart of Council’s decision-making process and we’re proud that our Community Panel has been part of this.”
Council launched a nine-month engagement process in February which kicked off with the face-to-face Share Strathbogie sessions in seven townships, followed by activating our online engagement hub in April.
Feedback was then reviewed and workshopped by the Community Panel in three Sunday forums led by expert facilitators between July and August 1 to develop the Community Vision statement.
Initially set to take place at the Longwood Community Centre, COVID-19 restrictions saw all the Community Panel sessions move to online Zoom meetings.
“The Strathbogie Community Panel was randomly selected by the independent experts to form a representative sample of the community,” Cr Raeburn said.
“This deliberative engagement process ensured many viewpoints and ideas were voiced and explored as the panel created a shared position for the Community Vision statement.”
Nagambie retiree Bronwyn Neubecker nominated for the panel because she was passionate about how Council manages housing development to meet population growth.
Dr Neubecker moved from suburban Melbourne 13 years ago and said she was “a big believer in decentralisation”.
However, she did not want Strathbogie Shire to follow the same footprint of the “densitised development” she had left behind.
“I moved to Nagambie because I wanted to reclaim space, to have a decent-sized front and backyard for a garden and shade trees, not just for aesthetics but for environmental and climate cooling reasons,” Dr Neubecker said.
Dr Neubecker valued the opportunity to voice her views and listen to many perspectives during the panel’s collaborations on a shared vision for the Shire’s future.
“A lot of participants were passionate about different issues and aspects we were covering,” she said.
“It’s been a really positive experience; everyone has been attentive and respectful of each other and the facilitators.”
Dr Neubecker said the panel’s discussions recognised Council decisions needed to meet State and Federal government legislative requirements.
“It’s been a valuable process. I would like to see it (the Community Vision) be a very effective document,” she said.