Future directions - By Robby Walsh, Mayor Waratah-Wynyard Council
To capitalise on the unique cultural identity and tourism potential of the Tasmanian town of Waratah, the Waratah Wynyard Council and local community have embraced a new approach; establishing a Community Board.
Waratah Wynyard Council stretches from Wynyard on the North West Coast, deep into the wilderness of Cradle Mountain and reaches to the West Coast at Corinna. Waratah, located between Savage River and Cradle Mountain, is about one hours drive away from Council’s main town of Wynyard. Waratah has a strong association with the mining and hydroelectric industries, both playing a big role in the towns’ history, fortunes and character.
Waratah was previously a municipality in its own right, until 1993 when it amalgamated with Wynyard to form the Waratah Wynyard Council. Since amalgamation the community of Waratah had little formal engagement with Council and with a small population it has been difficult for Waratah to have a community member elected to Council.
Recognising the need to capitalise on the tourism potential of Waratah’s unique sense of identity, in late 2017 Council engaged David Hammond, from consultants Hammond Robertson to support Council to engage with the Waratah community in a planned way, and to develop Waratah’s sense of identity into a strategic planning force.
A Community Board structure for the people of Waratah was recommended; an approach successfully employed in similar communities in New Zealand. Council commenced a public expression of interest process in February 2018 and later appointed Anne Dunham, Neil Thorne, Rosemary Dick, Tony Schmidt and Yvette Ekman for a three-year term coinciding with the term of the current Waratah Community Plan. Waratah Wynyard Councillor Kevin Hyland is the Council representative on the board and was also elected as the interim Chair of the Board for the first 12 months.
The Waratah community has embraced the opportunity, with commitment from Council to make agreed actions work. Council continues to work closely with the Board on critical issues such as risk management and budgets expectations, and together, Council and the Community Board are ticking off priorities from the Community Plan.
In collaboration with Council the aims of the Waratah Community Board are: achievement of Waratah Community Plan 2018-21; developing and delivering on community priorities; local and representative leadership for the Waratah community; effective engagement with the local community and organisations; and liaison with and advice to Council and other relevant authorities.
Through the Community Board, the Waratah community are engaged in marketing, planning and implementing potential developments for Waratah. Despite the steep learning curve, the combination of goodwill and a renewed focus on the shared goal of encouraging developments for the Waratah community looks sure to deliver great results. The Waratah Community Board is a great example of local democracy empowering community action.