Developing civic deliberation and collaborative governance to co-create a sustainable future (Western Australia)
This project aimed to have citizens, government and industry in the Greater Geraldton City Region working together to develop and implement sustainability plans.
The Greater Geraldton City Region is facing serious challenges to its future resilience as its traditional industries of fishing and agriculture are in decline. Climatologists have highlighted this region as being of high ecological and infrastructure vulnerability.
In addition, expansion of the resource sector and potential for a major port & rail development (Oakajee Port and Rail) - along with a number of high tech opportunities such as the global science astronomy project, SKA (Square Kilometre Array), the next generation radio telescope ASKAP (Australian SKA Pathfinder), and the National Broadband Network rollout - are likely to lead to significant changes in regional demography.
Predicted increases in population and changes in population make up have the potential to alter the culture and social fabric of the community, especially the ‘small town feel’ of Geraldton. The people had not been adequately engaged in understanding the challenges and opportunities these issues present for future sustainability and this provided a long term means of agreeing a policy with broad based support. The objective was to harness the informed, deliberated views of the people, and together with decision-makers, address the often complex sustainability issues facing the region.
Through a series of deliberations, some organised by decision-makers, others by community, ordinary citizens were given opportunities to engage with scientific data, differing viewpoints and each other to develop local solutions. Focussed recruitment strategies ensured inclusion of marginalised groups, while random sampling ensured representation of diverse community views.