Shaping the future of Coffs Coast
EVERY resident of Coffs Harbour is being offered the chance to have a say in the future direction of our community.
A coalition of prominent local stakeholders has announced a series of three, separately themed community forums that will look at who we are, what we want, need or could become, and how we will get there.
Southern Cross University, in partnership with the Coffs Harbour City Council and the Advocate, will stage these significant public discussions aimed at providing a road map for our sustainability.
SCU's Head of Campus at Coffs Harbour, Professor David Lynch, says the time is right to connect the ‘thinkers with the doers' and build a brighter future for the local community.
“I have been in Coffs Harbour for two years and became head of campus in January and think this really is a great place which has all the lifestyle attributes to raise a family,” Prof Lynch said.
“But we need to find ways to address the high level of youth unemployment and to encourage greater participation in education in order to provide capacity for future growth.
“The community forums are about identifying and harnessing all the new opportunities which are being presented to regional communities across Australia and creating real outcomes for Coffs Harbour.”
The Advocate's general manager, Brent Rees, says it is critical we all explore what opportunities lie ahead sooner rather than later.
“Like all coastal communities relying heavily on tourism dollars to support us, we must look at diversifying into the future,” Mr Rees said.
“The exciting thing about the forums is that we hope to come out of them with that game plan.”
Prof Lynch led community forums in Darwin and Noosa and is confident that positive outcomes will also be achieved here.
“The forums have proven to be catalysts for change and have served to reinvigorate the communities they've been held in. They have brought new networks of people together and provided the platform for innovations to be sought and applied,” he said.
Prof Lynch said SCU was perfectly placed to play an integral role in that process of change.
“Universities are no longer just places to get a degree. They have new roles to play and are increasingly involved in community renewal and engagement. They are economic drivers in their own right.
“The feedback from the community about what is needed to create a more resilient local economy and stronger creative communities is crucial.
The Coffs Harbour City Council general manager Steve McGrath, described the forum series as a unique opportunity for local people to take action to achieve the objectives of the Coffs Harbour 2030 Community Strategic Plan.
“The Coffs Harbour 2030 plan is all about the city making its way towards a sustainable future based on the community's own vision,” he said.
The first of the community forums is set down for Wednesday August 17, at 6pm, at SCU's Coffs Harbour campus. Entry is $5, with all proceeds going toward local charities.
An expert panel will lead discussions focused on where the Coffs Coast is at and why the community and local economy is the way it is.
The next forum in September will consider what we want our economy and community to be like and the third in October will focus on how to create the changes we want to achieve.
What do you think?
In 50 words or less tell us how you would describe the Coffs Coast – what’s good about it and/or what needs improving.
Label your email ‘community forum’ and send it to email@example.com.