Nillumbik’s inaugural Community Panel presented their recommendations on updating the Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) to attending Councillors at their sixth and final sitting day on Saturday, 17 November.

The Community Panel’s task was to consider the question 'What is the best way for us to manage Nillumbik's Green Wedge now and into the future?'

Representatives of the Community Panel presented the report to Mayor Karen Egan, Cr Peter Clarke and Cr Grant Brooker at the conclusion of deliberations at the Shire offices. You can read the full report here.

The Community Panel articulated its vision for the report to be “living with the landscape to enhance the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the Shire.”

The group identified principles that inspired and permeated their recommendations including connectedness, embracing change and social equity.

The Community Panel made recommendations on the following issues that they considered to be critical, after reaching consensus of 80 per cent or above:

  • Bushfire Preparedness, Mitigation and Management
  • Governance
  • Environment
  • Planning
  • People and Culture
  • Economy

One recommendation that did not achieve 80 per cent consensus has been included by the Panel as a minority report, as some Panel members felt strongly that it be raised with Council. Some members of the Community Panel have also produced a minority report, also presented to Councillors, on issues where the 80 per cent consensus could not be achieved. The minority reports appear on pages 38 to 62 of the full report.

The Mayor thanked the Community Panel for all the time and energy they invested in the process.

“Today marks the culmination of an enormous collective effort by the Panel and I commend them for the way they approached this task,” Cr Egan said.

“The members of this Panel have represented the diversity of views and backgrounds that make our Shire so dynamic and vibrant. This process has highlighted the diversity of views on how best to protect our Green Wedge and fully realise its potential as a sustainable community asset.

“We will now transition into the next critical part of the process: the Panel will formally hand its report with recommendations to Council at the next ordinary meeting on 27 November. Council will then consider this report before responding to each recommendation at the next meeting on 18 December.”

Community Panel members Alex and Isabella presented the report to Mayor Karen Egan at the conclusion of the session.

Alex, the second youngest member of the Community Panel, said he has spent his whole life in Diamond Creek.

“We grew up thinking it is just part and parcel of life and it’s not until you have visitors or friends come into the area and they say ‘wow, it is such a unique part of Melbourne’. The reason I’m here is that we have to protect that unique nature, that unique landscape that is right on Melbourne’s fringe,” Alex said.

“This is a first for me and it’s a first for Nillumbik as well, I think it’s a really great way to engage people, especially in this day and age. It’s just incredibly important to make sure you are reaching out to ordinary members of the community, no matter what age or background.

“It has been such a one of a kind experience; I don’t think there would be any other time that I’d be sitting for six days, giving up six Saturdays to meet with such a range of people and, even in the break times, you’re getting to know people, why they’re here as well and I think that’s as valuable as anything else.”

Isabella from Strathewen, who is expecting her first child, said she is passionate about the community.

“My partner is fifth generation and we are about to have the sixth so it is close to my heart that things stay the way they are,” Isabella said.

“We are right smack bang in the middle of the Green Wedge so whatever the outcome is of this Panel and the review it is going to affect us directly.

“I’ve learnt so much, we’ve had so many specialists come and speak to us, it’s been a massive learning curve; I almost wish we could start again now we’ve heard all the information. I’m much better informed than I was at the start.”

The Community Panel will officially present the report to the Council at their next ordinary meeting on Tuesday, 27 November.

The Community Panel agreed that the existing Green Wedge Management Plan should serve as "a base on which to prepare an updated plan and any action that are yet to be completed should be carried over, unless specifically contradicted by our recommendations.”

Council will consider the Community Panel’s report and respond to each of the Panel’s recommendation at the following ordinary meeting on Tuesday, 18 December. Where Council does not agree with a recommendation, an explanation will be provided.

Council’s response to the Panel’s recommendations will directly inform the preparation of the draft GWMP. It is anticipated the draft GWMP will be released for community feedback between March and April 2019 ahead of the Plan being finalised by June 2019.

Council will continue to keep the community informed about this process with information regularly provided under "Latest News"