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Sustainable Geraldton wins Australasian awards

Media release

A joint ARC Linkage project by the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP) and the City of Greater Geraldton has won three categories at the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Australasia Awards held in Sydney.

Transitions to a Sustainable City, Geraldton WA: An applied study into co-creating sustainability through civic deliberation and social media, won the flagship ‘Project of the Year’ award and also secured the ‘Research’ and ‘Planning’ awards.

The project will allow the City to take a more ambitious stance regarding sustainability, encompassing alternative energy, and urban and regional planning, including immediate actions such as the planting of one million trees and extensions to bicycle paths.

CUSP research leader Professor Janette Hartz-Karp said the project has enabled the City to resolve its budgetary problems in a sustainable manner.

“In what is believed to be a first, the City’s entire operational budget of  $70 million, as well as the City-region’s approximate $71 million ten-year capital works budget were determined through extensive deliberations involving two ‘People’s Panels’, comprising randomly sampled representatives of the people.

“After months of deliberations, consulting with City staff and the broader population, each ‘People’s Panel’ made budget allocation recommendations, which were fully accepted in by the elected Council.”

Professor Hartzs-Karp said the overall research project involved more than 20 public deliberations, small and large scale, face-to-face and online, integrated with social media.

“Some initiatives were orchestrated by the City and others by grassroots community ‘champions’.

“All public deliberations were influential. This was achieved through innovative forms of collaborative governance, which ensured the agreed outcomes of the public engagement would result in action.”

Professor Hartz-Karp said the work has changed the way the City operates, becoming more participatory, transparent and accountable.

“One of the key research findings was that adaptive management, involving high-quality deliberation among ordinary people, significantly raised people’s trust in local government and their willingness to become more involved in civic life.

“This has been a wonderful example of pioneering new technologies of cooperation, which are essential to future sustainability,” she said.

The work will be presented at a CUSP seminar in partnership with the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) on 26 November.

The seminar will take place between 12 and 2pm in the Bankwest Lecture Theatre at Curtin University.


Note to editors

  • Professor Hartz-Karp was supported in the research by City of Greater Geraldton Director, Andrea Selvey, assisted by CUSP PhD candidate Rob Weymouth and the City of Greater Geraldton’s Janell Koplhuber.
  •  City of Greater Geraldton CEO, Ken Diehm, as well as his predecessor Tony Brun and Mayor, Ian Carpenter, ensured the participation of all City of Greater Geraldton departments and many City Councillors.
  •  The online deliberation platform was provided by research partners CivicEvolution, USA.