The shock was so great I thought I was going to pass out. The letter in my hand said Monash Council was going to sell my parents’ home. I read the letter again and again in disbelief. I now know this scene was repeated in many other parts of Monash – again and again as families received the news of the sale of the aged care residences. The very next week Monash Council called for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from buyers.
So often I have heard people in Monash comment on the Council making decisions before consulting with the community. Many carers felt the decision to sell aged care residences had been made before residents and relatives were notified. Glen Waverley residents are feeling this again as the plans for the Glen Waverley Activity Centre were drawn up by consultants before consultation with the public began.The public feedback was to STOP the EOI for the Central Car Park but the Council went ahead anyway.
Imagine a different approach!
Imagine the Council calling a meeting at the very beginning of a project and putting the issues to the public e.g., Changing trends in aged care or impact of the Melbourne Plan and population growth on Central Glen Waverley. Imagine the opportunity for the public to be involved in decisions.
What would the result be?
In the aged care case more options could have been on the table. The terms of the Council’s EOI excluded community run co-operatives as an alternative model. The option of keeping the Council owned land in Mulgrave and leasing the aged care business was also excluded.
The result of early consultation could be the community putting more options on the table before decisions are made.
The result in the case of the Glen Waverley Central Activity Centre could be a community with better understanding of the issues and able to make well informed contributions to the design. Part the issue has been mistakenly understood as a choice between a ‘state of the art’ library on Central Car Park or no library update. There are more choices e.g., the library could be renovated and developed on its current location near the Civic Centre.The trend for libraries to specialise could be looked at with the community deciding on the appropriate specialisation for Glen Waverley.
The result of consultation at the beginning of the project could be the community identifying the real issues and playing a more active role in planning.
The way forward…
The Council election in October is the community’s opportunity to vote for change.
Look for candidates promoting genuine public participation, including participation in the early stages of project development (i.e., before external consultants are paid to draw up plans and EOIs are invited).
Vote 1 Gayle Nicholas in Glen Waverley Ward.
Empowering Monash and YOU (2015) Monash Council Proceeds with EOI despite Community Feedback https://monashandyou.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/monash-council-proceeds-with-eoi-even-despite-community-feedback/