Community building takes centre stage

A paper prepared by Hayden Raysmith for the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) advocates that Local Governments become key delivery agents for the State Government’s Community Building initiatives. The Premier recently announced Community Building as one of the four key priorities of the Victorian Government.

VLGA supports the development of a whole of government strategy for community building in Victoria and, based on overseas and interstate experience and pioneering work already done in Victoria, has endorsed the paper which includes a staged program over three years.

Collaboration between the business, philanthropic, university, government and community sectors was a feature of the new era of community building and Local Governments were seen to be pivotal to bringing together these partners and developing integrated long term strategies.

Hayden Raysmith said that community building had become a focus of modern governments for following reasons.

  • They need to engage the community in finding solutions to problems such as drug abuse, gambling, child abuse and school to work transition.
  • They need to respond to people’s concerns about globalisation, personal safety, being disconnected, loss of community and feeling insecure and helpless.
  • They need to encourage capacity building, enterprise and innovation.

Building Better Communities: A Plan for Victoria was strongly endorsed at a recent VLGA general meeting and has been forwarded to the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Local Government. It advocates that funds be allocated in the State Budget, due mid May.

The Plan is based on three stages, with Local Governments being asked to take an initiating role by bringing together partners from all sectors in Stage 1. The State Government is then asked to fund Stage 2 with up to $150,000 for three years to build the long term strategy, consolidate the partnership arrangements, create appropriate structures and governance arrangements and put in place the resourcing and financial infrastructure to manage projects funded under Stage 3.

One of the benefits from the Plan would be well thought through and widely supported proposals to the Community Support Fund, thus making effective use of this Fund.

VLGA believes the Budget will be a clear indication of whether the State Government is ready and willing to enter into a new partnership with Local Governments to help strengthen and build local communities. It certainly seems clear that Local Governments are ready.