Dear members, residents, community groups and business leaders,
We would like to thank those who attended our recent “Meet and Greet” Community Forums held in Kalamunda, Armadale and Parkerville. Our goal was to introduce Perth Hills Future, a draft vision and how we propose to empower the Perth Hills community.
We learned quite a bit through the discussions at each event. Here is a sample of some key points raised by attendees, including:
Independent oversight of the Board appointment process and publication of the criteria used is seen as important to ensure transparency and build trust. We have taken steps to make this happen.
A discussion was suggested with the broader Perth Hills community to determine if/how the Scarp could be activated to make more of the spectacular views, add amenity to residents and attract visitors.
Planning was raised at every forum. Lively discussions followed about the need for an open and honest community-led discussion to set some environmental, social and economic objectives that residents broadly agree do not compromise the nature or culture of the Perth Hills. Honesty and transparency was seen as critical, particularly where there are significant alternative views.
Clarity was sought about the role of Regional Development Australia, Perth (RDA Perth). RDA Perth has provided significant support (financial, advice and auspicing) to Perth Hills Future to help us get going. We are grateful for this support. We are further along than we would be without it. It has helped legitimise what we are trying to do among elected members and has enabled us to run events like the recent Community Forums. Once we elect a Board, vote on a constitution and strategy and grow our membership to reflect the breadth and length of the Perth Hills, we will shift to the engagement and collaborative work that is our true purpose. How we do this will be determined by an elected Board and voted on by our members.
There were questions about Perth Hills Future's independence from government. Like RDA Perth, Kalamunda Council has voted to endorse the way the Perth Hills Future approach to engagement. We are seeking opportunities to present to other Perth Hills Councils and will ask for their endorsement, as well. We will continue to do the same with community and business groups. These endorsements help demonstrate that the community and key stakeholders and decision-makers want to work together and that Perth Hills Future is contributing positively. This strategy, and all others, will be discussed and voted on at our first Annual General Meeting in October.
Clarification was sought about The Perth Hills Strategic Visioning Report. This report was developed and delivered by RDA Perth at the request of stakeholders from across the Perth Hills to initiate a conversation, identify shared priorities and propose next steps. A key finding was significant demand for more effective community engagement by government. This led to a recommendation that a group like Perth Hills Future be established. We incorporated in response to this recommendation and have made use of the findings in the Report as a starting point for conversations with the community. We propose to test these findings through community conversations once we are fully established.
Questions were asked about how Perth Hills Future will engage with stakeholders resisting development proposals, planning decisions and policy directions. Perth Hills Future is inclusive and impartial. We will not duplicate, advocate for or oppose the work of organisations that join us. Likewise, our member organisations and supporters will continue to set their own agendas. We welcome this diversity. Our goal is to explore this diversity of opinion, bring in experts to inform the conversation and develop some shared priorities that have broad-based support. We think this will empower the community to advocate for what it values most. This model has been successful elsewhere around the world.
These discussions will continue. Please send your thoughts about how we propose to work to email@example.com or post them on the Perth Hills Future Facebook page. We will continue to listen and report back as we go.