A new way for residents to connect

Warrnambool City Council has launched a new online meeting place for the community, which could play a vital role in emergencies.

The south-west Victorian council recently launched Connect Warrnambool, an online hub that offers residents a new way to meet, communicate and connect.

An initiative of Warrnambool City Council and Regional Development Victoria, Connect Warrnambool is creating an online community supported by a purpose-built website and Facebook page that works like a virtual community noticeboard.

The concept provides Warrnambool residents with a new way to find out about local groups, activities and events, get involved in community and volunteering opportunities, or simply ask questions or share what’s happening in Warrnambool.

In the event of an emergency, it will also play a vital role in the recovery process in connecting organisations and individuals.

As well as contact details and general information, clubs and organisations who sign up to the community directory section of the website are asked to list infrastructure, resources and skills that they would be willing to share if the community needed them, in the event of an emergency.  

Warrnambool City Council Manager Community Planning and Policy Lisa McLeod said that making Connect a useful community resource all year round was key to ensuring its success in an emergency recovery situation.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time it is there to build connections – to introduce people and groups to each other and promote what’s going on in the community.

“If we can build connections in the community day to day, and everyone knows each other and understands the community’s capacity, if an emergency happens we will be able to work together and support each other better.”

Since its launch in September 2015, the website and community directory, which was built in-house by Warrnambool City Council, has received over 17,500 page views from 3800 individuals and the Facebook page has attracted more than 3000 ‘likes’.

172 clubs and organisations are now listed, with more coming on board all the time.

“The response from the community has been excellent so far,” Ms McLeod said.

“We set out to connect the community using technology and that’s what the website and Facebook page are doing.

“There is now a go-to place in the community for people to find and share information, promote events and attract a wider audience to what clubs and groups have going on.”

Connect Warrnambool was made possible with state and local government funding.

Glenelg Shire Council is also participating in the pilot project and has launched its own website and Facebook group.
Find out more at www.connectwarrnambool.com.au.