The Shire of Manjimup have won the inaugural Minister Coulton Award for Progressive Community Leadership, sponsored by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development with their submission, Manjimup Transformed – Aspirational Leadership, at the National Awards for Local Government 2020.
The Minister's award for Progressive Community Leadership recognises individuals, project leaders and local government representatives who have:
- Displayed leadership in their communities in the face of change or challenges.
- Demonstrated best practice collaboration, engagement and consultation with their community.
- Established sustainable plans, strategies and implemented them successfully.
Progressive Community Leadership makes a positive impact on communities by:
- Providing stability and highlighting opportunities during times of difficulty, uncertainty or change.
- Boosting the capacity of the local community to grow, adapt and thrive.
- Embracing innovation and utilising community strengths.
Minister Coulton said the inaugural winner of the Minister's Award for Progressive Community Leadership - the Shire of Manjimup - undertook a locally led process to design an alternative growth plan for the shire when faced with a decline in their regional timber industry.
This plan was created with locals and embraced four of the Shire's strengths to oversee $150 million in new investment flow into the region through private and public infrastructure in the eight years since.
Shire President Paul Omodei accepted the award on Tuesday 17 November 2020 by virtual attendance at the conference in Wagga Wagga. "In accepting this award I recognise the incredible passion and commitment of the team here at the Shire of Manjimup and I acknowledge the significant community, business and government partnerships that have been forged.
Together we have reinstated Manjimup as a progressive regional centre, an investors dream, visitor destination and premier food bowl of Western Australia.
What we have achieved over the last decade has not been by chance – the transformational change of Manjimup has been conscious and strategic. We knew that for the transformation to be sustainable it was essential that it needed to build capacity, confidence and opportunity across all sectors of the community.
We knew our strengths - strong community and business foundations, community spirit, unique geographical location, and environment and economic attributes.
We have worked side by side with our partners to grow our region's prosperity, economic strength and diversity and we are kicking goals" he said.
At the closure of the millennium, the primary local economic driver, the timber industry, was fated to be scaled back. Whilst Manjimup has had resilience in its economic diversity it was still essentially regarded as a timber town. Facing serious economic challenges, population decline, psychological impacts and a general feeling of uncertainty the community was at its lowest, a general feeling of social and economic malaise was evident.
The Shire of Manjimup took a stand.
With unanimous determination the Shire of Manjimup embarked on a journey of transformational change for Manjimup. The team undertook a locally-led process to design an alternative growth plan for the Shire. A plan informed, and strongly embraced, by the local community.
The vision was broad and included all built, social, economic and environmental aspects of the community. It was acknowledged that for the transformation to be sustainable it was essential that the project built capacity, confidence and pride across all sectors of the community and provided an improved value proposition for new investment and visitors alike.
The new plan focused on four broad categories to create sustainable growth, being: agricultural expansion, town centre revitalisation, regional airport and an aged-friendly town. In 2012 the Western Australian State Government nominated Manjimup as a WA Regional Growth Centre, an initiative of growing regional centres through investment in infrastructure through the Royalties for Regions program.
Manjimup has been transformed, building on strong foundations, community spirit and unique geographical, environmental and economic features.
These give scope to a 'new feel' regional centre that offers opportunity and lifestyle, and is well positioned to service the region.
The work of growing Manjimup continues, still guided by the principles of the original plan and evaluation is a strong feature of this approach. Telling the 'transformation story' also helps strengthen investor and community confidence in the future of Manjimup, with organisational representatives presenting at numerous forums and engaging with the private sector regularly.
The Shire of Manjimup is recognised as an organisation that punches well above its weight. In times of challenge whether it has been economic down-turn, legislation changes or natural disasters the organisation consistently confronts the challenge and looks to facilitating the necessary outcomes. Outcomes which are generally achieved through strong collaborative networks at the community, business and state levels.
"Our Shire team are invested in their community and who better to manage our projects – we kept it in house. Well over $150 million in public and private investment has occurred in the past eight years and there is more in the pipeline" said Councillor Omodei.
More information on the awards can be found on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website www.infrastructure.gov.au/NALG
Authorised by Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer
Contact Sheri Laba, Public Relations Officer
Contact for comment: Paul Omodei, Shire President
Contact: 0448 810 773