In 1994 The Chatswood West Ward Progress Association was awarded The Sydney Morning Herald Australia Day Award for Community Service.
The details of the submission follow:
Chatswood West Ward Progress Association
“Community Self-Help Project”
Prepared by Terry Fogarty for:-
The Sydney Morning Herald Australia Day Awards for Community Service – 1994
The aims of our project are to:-
- provide a co-operative and consultative forum and organisational support for our local community to discuss and resolve issues relating to their environment and welfare
- to encourage a keen spirit of community, citizenship and mutual help
- to co-operate with other associations having similar objectives on wider issues
- to facilitate two-way participative government representation
Our project budget is primarily based on the volunteer labour of our local community. However, during the past twelve months we have been able to obtain direct assistance from a number of organisations.
Willoughby City Council :-
- voted $250,000 for the resolution of local traffic problems within our area
- funded training and resources for a number of our activities
- voted Section 94 Funds to undertake a number of major environmental surveys in our area (including a local area drainage study and a more comprehensive traffic survey)
The New South Wales Fire Brigades has recently donated two Community Fire Units to our community (valued at approximately $14,000). Local business has donated over $1,000 for printing of newsletters and leaflets. We have plans to raise an additional $2,000 to more fully equip volunteer members of our local Community Fire Units.
Our project’s goals are being achieved by the community of Chatswood West Ward adopting a pro-active, responsive, collaborative and consultative approach to resolving the issues that face them.
We provide the opportunity for our community to discuss and resolve issues relating to their environment and welfare by holding regular meetings of :-
- the Progress Association itself
- our Traffic Task Group
- our Precinct Based Traffic Committees
- Committees for Bushland Care; Bushfire Emergency and Planning & Development
We provide a co-operative and consultative forum for our community in a number of ways. We established a local precinct approach and have worked hard to ensure our office-bearers and committee members are geographically representative of the area. We adopted a consensus approach, particularly for controversial matters. This meant we took some eight months (of weekly meetings) to resolve the traffic proposals related to Fullers Road. The approach we have pioneered is promoted by Willoughby Council and our local Members of Parliament as a model for successful community participation.
We provide organisational support for our local communitynot only by facilitating a large number of meetings and activities but also by distributing a quarterly newsletter and issue specific handouts. We also encourage other community groups, such as Neighbourhood Watch, Safety House, Red Cross and Red Shield to use our distribution channel to reach our community.
We encourage a keen spirit of community, citizenship and mutual help by co-ordinating a wide range of community activities including:-
- six – eight bushland regeneration groups who toil for four to five hours per month
- two Community Fire Units equipped and trained for action after a fire-front has passed
- seven Local Precinct Traffic Committees who identify the traffic problems in their area
- volunteers who can distribute 3,000 leaflets in less than 24 hours
- a Traffic Task Group who have put in over 2,500 hours of effort on a well researched and documented Local Area Traffic Management Plan
- a Management Committee who have spent hundreds of hours responding to Council and State Government proposals
- a sub-committee that arranges local Carols by Candlelight once a year
- volunteers for a range of welfare campaigns and door-knock appeals
- Australia Day Community gatherings
- support for Neighbourhood Watch, Safety House and Community Consultative Committee initiatives of the NSW Police Service
We co-operate with other associations having similar objectives on wider issuesby active participation. We have three delegates to the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations and currently provide secretarial support for this peak organisation. We have joined ‘Link-up’ (for transport action) and provide representatives when requested to Council & State Government Committees such as Bushland Management, Recreation Planning and Catchment Management. We also send delegates to Willoughby Environmental Protection Agencies (WEPA) meetings.
We facilitate two-way participative government representation by arranging guest speakers to address our forums on a regular basis. Over the past twelve months we have arranged for:-
- General Manager, Willoughby City Council, to present Council’s 1994 Plan of Management
- Northern Region Zone Commander, NSW Fire Brigades on Bushfire Hazards
- Director of Environmental Services, Willoughby City Council, on Local Environmental Plan #65 (The Consolidating Instrument)
- Director of Environmental Services, Willoughby City Council, on Council’s Housing Strategy
- Representative from Barclay-Mowlen Pty Ltd on the proposed Macquarie Rail Link
- Various representatives from the Roads and Traffic Authority and the Traffic Police
In addition, when faced with unplanned events such as the January bushfires, new proposals for traffic management or zoning and regulation changes that will impact the community, we have arranged public meetings to discuss the situation. Following are some of the issues we addressed during the past year:-
- proposed changes to Fullers Rd traffic management (three meetings)
- aftermath of the January Bushfires (two meetings)
- proposed traffic management changes near Epping Rd (two meetings)
- bush regeneration projects & Community Fire Units
We have also had a number of meetings with our State member (Mrs Kerry Chikarovski) to brief her on community concerns. Our representatives have attended State Government run workshops covering the Pacific Highway Route Study; Epping Rd Study; Warringah-Lower North Shore Transport Options and the Local Government Act Regulations Review.
For Willoughby Council, we have responded to major Council initiatives. This has involved major submissions in the past year to Council regarding:-
- the aftermath of the January bushfires
- proposed rating changes
- classification of public land
- Council’s Management Plan
- Local Environmental Plan #65 (The Consolidating Instrument)
- Council’s Housing Strategy
- Local drainage problems in West Ward
- West Ward Traffic Management Plan
In addition, our representatives have attended a large number of Council workshops to consider these matters.
On behalf of the community we also write formally to Council to alert them of local situations and issues and provide basic consultancy to residents who wish to comment on Council proposals (particularly dual occupancy applications). We have addressed Council at Open Forum on a range of items of concern or interest to the local community.
Our local area has benefited in four main ways from our community service project:-
- our community has benefitted. We have moved from being focused only about those things that impact us directly to considering the needs and problems of others in our community. We have gained fulfilment and resolve from our accomplishments and now think in terms of “how can we help” rather than “who is going to solve this problem for me.” Our community now feels that it has a stronger community “voice” and is prepared to share the responsibility for issues that effect it.
- our natural environment has benefited. Our precious bushland is being regenerated in a planned, systematic and sustainable way. We have assisted in codifying our public land and ensured our residents know about and care about these areas. We are working to resolve our drainage problems which will further enhance the sustainability of our bush. The work we are undertaking regarding traffic management will ultimately see a reduction of pollution and noise in our area. Already with the minor improvements we have been able to implement we have dramatically improved the quality of life for many of our people.
- our built environment has benefited and will benefit more so in the future. Our work on ensuring that dual occupancies minimally impact the environment and our work on Council’s Housing Strategy will see a more sustainable future for our residential area.
- our Community Fire Units will protect our properties when we are again faced with fire. (In the interim our people have benefited by the reassurance and peace of mind these units bring).
- finally, our governments, government representatives and government officers have benefited by being better informed on community needs – this has led to better decisions being made. Much of the work we have undertaken during the year, in the past, would have been directly funded by Council or by the employment of consultants – we have not calculated our contribution in monetary saving terms.
Our civic leaders also benefit in having a vast, low cost group of volunteers who can take the messages forward and work with them for a better Willoughby and a better Australia.
The number of people involved in a volunteer capacity with our project totals in the hundreds. Within Chatswood West Ward the people who have been involved with this project include
- the ten (10) Executive members and Conveners of the Chatswood West Ward Progress Association
- our local ward councillors, Greg Bartels (former Mayor) and Prue Dally who have sponsored a number of our public meetings and meetings with State Government instrumentalities
- the one hundred plus (100+) members of our local Bushland Care Groups
- the thirty (30) trained members of our Bushfire Emergency Units
- our twenty (20) strong leaflet & newsletter distribution team
- the twenty (20) street co-ordinators of our Neighbourhood Watch Unit
- the eighty (80) members of the O.H.Reid Reserve Resident Action Group
- the Board and members of Chatswood West Bowling Club who have allowed us the use of their clubhouse on a number of occasios
- the Principals, School Councils and P&Cs of the area who have supported our initiatives
- the local Girl Guides and Scout troops who have assisted our group when called upon
- the more than one thousand (1,000) people who have responded to various surveys we have undertaken
- the over one thousand (1,000) people who have attended our public meetings
In addition there are a large number of paid employees of local and state instrumentalities who have greatly assisted our endeavours. Their names are detailed in our attachments.