Bendigo gets set for a brighter future

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Bendigo looks set to reap many benefits from the recent Bendigo +25 three day Future Search Conference. This brought together 100 members of the community to create a shared vision for the municipality for the next 25 years and beyond.

Greater Bendigo Mayor, Councillor Rod Fyffe, said the Future Search Conference was one of the most significant events in the region’s history.

It brought the whole system of the City of Greater Bendigo together to explore their past, look at the issues and trends affecting it now and agree where they want the City of Greater Bendigo to be in 25 years.

At the end, participants grouped around the future directions they’d like to help advance. The conference was facilitated by Bob Campbell and Lynda Jones, Australia’s leading practitioners in whole system planning processes.

The Future Search process had its beginning in the British Aerospace merger post World War 11. At this time, people were working on developing a strategy for the new company and they found it difficult to do this without involving the whole system; the complex network of groups and organisations that drive the day to day functioning of the company.

At the same time in the United States there were people working on large scale community planning processes. The two concepts merged to create whole system planning of which Future Search is one. Future Search is used for community visioning which delivers the vision, values and future directions that form the basis of a community’s strategic plan. The process also builds social capital. Communities with strong social capital are more resilient and able to cope with change.

“The conference demonstrated that a strong sense of community spirit is alive and well in our region and that we are all willing to work together for the greater good,” Councillor Fyffe said “I, like many of the conference participants, felt privileged to have the opportunity to come together and gain a better understanding of what’s happening.

“Although conference participants came from a broad range of backgrounds, ages and interests, it was amazing to see how quickly they started to discover common values and aspirations. Everybody was there because of a passion to make a difference, and because they care deeply about the community – this ensured there was a great deal of energy throughout the conference.”

Each participant was asked to bring an object or artefact to the conference that symbolised the future of City of Greater Bendigo. Artefacts included a seed which is the germ of many things and ideas; a torch to look forward and focus on the where we are going; a set of Chinese scales from the goldfields representing the past and balance for the future and a juggling ball representing the importance of valuing and managing diversity.

Water remained an important issue, with many delegates bringing bottles of water to symbolise their concerns for the future supply of water in the region. The artefacts provided a great talking point and got everyone thinking about what would be important in the future.

The conference also highlighted the vast wealth of experience, knowledge and passion that exists within the Bendigo community. Participants represented a wide variety of interests including governance, health, education and training, sport and recreation, culture and lifestyle, business and economic wellbeing, and community safety.

“Through listening and learning about each other over the three day conference, we were able to discover that we share many common aspirations and ideas for the future of this region,” Councillor Fyffe said.

“These ideals and dreams will form the basis of the vision and values that we hope will guide Bendigo into the future.”

The work from the conference is used as the basis for the development of the strategic plan which will outline the vision the City of Greater Bendigo’s destination, the values to guide choice and decision making and the future directions, the things the community needs to work on the reach their destination.

It will be available from City of Greater Bendigo’s web site www.bendigo.vic.gov.au.