OUR PLACE Western Sydney

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1 OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report Stage 2: Community

2 Authors: Margaret Somerville, Centre for Educational Research, University of Western Sydney Lin Brown, Centre for Educational Research, University of Western Sydney Alicia Kasbarian, School of Education, University of Western Sydney In collaboration with Karen Paroissien, Sue Burton and Amy Devine Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Jen Dollin, United Nations Regional Centre for Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, Greater Western Sydney Copy-edited by Rhubarb Academic Editing Printed at University of Western Sydney, Kingswood, NSW, Australia [Print Services] ISBN: (prpt) ISBN: (erpt) This document is also available on the Internet (www.uws.edu.au/centre_for_educational_research) and at Commonwealth of Australia Copyright Regulations 1969 WARNING This work is copyright. This work may be reproduced for private study, research or educational purposes and as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 of the Commonwealth of Australia. Commercial copying, sale, hiring or lending is prohibited. Apart from the permitted uses as stated above no part of this work may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of University of Western Sydney. This work has been funded by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), New South Wales, Australia. Any permitted reproduction must include a copy of this copyright notice and must acknowledge the funding by OEH. Disclaimer: This report was prepared by Margaret Somerville in good faith, exercising all due care and attention, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the relevance, accuracy, completeness or fitness for purpose of this document in respect of any particular user s circumstances. Users of this document should satisfy themselves concerning its application to, and where necessary seek expert advice in respect of, their situation. The views expressed within are not necessarily the views of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and may not represent OEH policy. Cover image Painted Leaves: Kelsie King, Gundungurra, Blue Mountains.

3 OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report Stage 2: Community Prepared by: Margaret Somerville Lin Brown Alicia Kasbarian Prepared for: Office of Environment and Heritage NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet August 2013

4 Acknowledgements As lead author of this report I would like to begin by acknowledging that this research was conducted on Darug Lands, to pay my respects to elders past and present, and to acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal people who participated in this project. I would like to acknowledge the community members who participated in this research and shared so generously of their time, commitment and passion. If the wellbeing of the planet was in their hands the world would be a better place. I would like to acknowledge the collaboration and support from Sue Burton, Karen Paroissien and Amy Nancarrow of the Office of Environment and Heritage and Jen Dollin of the UN Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, Greater Western Sydney. Without this three way partnership the project would not have been possible. Finally I would like to acknowledge the research assistants Alicia Kasbarian and Lin Brown. Alica organised the community forums with youthful enthusiasm and a flair for organisation. Lin assisted in the analysis of data and the preparation of the final report. We hope that readers will find this report informative and engaging and that it will make a difference. Margaret Somerville Professor of Education Director, Centre for Educational Research University of Western Sydney iv OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report

5 Contents Executive summary...1 Introduction...6 What is Our Place, Western Sydney?...6 The project...7 Our Place, Western Sydney Stage 2: Community...7 Methodology...7 Place as framework...7 Methods...7 What did we find?...9 Recruitment...9 Outer west: how to engage community members...9 Mid west: recruitment failure...10 Inner west: trial a new process...10 Evaluation of recruitment methods...10 Community forums...12 Community members: Who participates?...12 Places that matter Outer West Community Forum...15 Objects connecting people to local places...15 Workshop discussions...16 Local places (walking distance)...17 Regional places (travel some distance)...17 Global places...18 Local to regional to global place: connection to country...19 Summary...20 Mid West Community Forum...21 Objects connecting people to local places...21 Workshop discussions...22 The Nepean River...23 Penrith Lakes...24 Backyards and beyond...24 Summary...25 Stage 2: Community v

6 Inner West Community Forum...26 Workshop discussions...27 Local places (within walking distance)...27 Regional place (travel some distance)...28 Global place...29 Summary...30 What are the priority issues in looking after places that matter?...31 Recreation and pleasure...31 Why places are special and therefore need looking after...31 Environmental concerns...32 Conservation and preservation of place...32 Lack of community sustainability awareness...33 Safety...33 Summary...34 What is needed to look after places that matter?...35 What do I/you need to do to look after local places?...35 What is needed to look after local places?...36 Education...37 Specific initiatives and Government support...39 Summary...40 Developing collaborative community-based projects...41 Outer west community forum...41 Mid west community forum...43 Inner west community forum...44 Assessing, funding and supporting the projects...45 Outer West...45 Funded Project 1: Maintenance and restoration of the Florabella Pass track...45 Funded Project 2: Simply Living Demonstration Festival...46 Funded Project 3: From Ideas Market to Marketable Ideas...46 The ripple effect further outcomes...46 Project 1: Priority Conservation Wetland Monitoring...47 Project 2: Barn Owl Nesting Study on Richmond Lowlands...47 vi OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report

7 Mid West...48 Funded Project 1: Emu Green Riparian Regeneration...48 Funded Project 2: Mamre Farm Seed Bank Project...48 The ripple effect...49 Project 1: UWS Social Engagement Leadership Program SELP...49 Inner West...49 Funded Project 1: Our Community is Connecting You re the Voice...49 Funded Project 2: Community Gardens Connecting through Cooking Demonstrations...50 Developing collaborative projects...50 Conclusion and recommendations...51 Recommendations...52 APPENDIX 1: Example program, outer west community forum...53 APPENDIX 2: Open Space Technology Process...54 APPENDIX 3: Action Template...55 Stage 2: Community vii

8 List of tables Table 1: Places that matter to community member participants per region...13 Table 2: Outer west community forum: places that matter...16 Table 3: Mid west community forum: places that matter...22 Table 4: Inner west community forum: places that matter...26 Table 5: Summary of priority issues in looking after places that matter...31 Table 6: What do I/you need to do to look after local places?...35 List of figures Figure 1: Example of recruitment flyer... 8 Figure 2: Number of participants and the type of affiliation/s to local places Figure 3: Outer west artefact 1: painted leaves Figure 4: Outer west artefact 2: bird feathers Figure 5: Outer west artefact 3: Sandstone Figure 6: Mid west artefact 1: photo book for pre-school children Figure 7: Mid west artefact 2: river pebbles Figure 8: Mid west artefact 3: platypus poster...22 Figure 9: Participants discussing the ideas posted on the bulletin board (Outer West)...42 Figure 10: Participants developing projects (Parallel break out groups-outer West)...42 Figure 12: Ideas posted on the market place (Mid West)...43 Figure 11: Sharing marketplace ideas (Mid West)...43 Figure 13: Participants developing projects (Parallel break out groups-mid West)...43 Figure 14: Participants discussing the ideas posted on the bulletin board (Inner West)...44 Figure 16: Photo credits: UK Barn Owl Trust and Australian Museum...47 Figure 15: Photos courtesy of Cumberland Bird Observers Club, UWS Wetlands...47 viii OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report

9 Executive summary Introduction What is Our Place, Western Sydney? Our Place, Western Sydney was a collaborative project between the Centre for Educational Research, University of Western Sydney, the UN Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainability Development, Greater Western Sydney, and the Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW. The project was designed to find out how community sustainability educators and community members can be assisted to achieve environmental and sustainability outcomes in the region. It was organised in two stages. Stage 1: Community educators, aimed to investigate how community sustainability educators in the Western Sydney region are engaging with their communities and how they can support their communities to get more involved in looking after their local places. Stage 2: Community members, aimed to find out what local places are important to communities in western Sydney and how to support community members to look after their local places. This report summarises the activities of Stage 2 of the Our Place Western Sydney project. The project Our Place, Western Sydney Stage 2 was designed to explore the question: How can we facilitate members of the communities of western Sydney to get involved in sustainability activities and in the protection of their natural environments? The project aimed to: Contact relevant community organisations, groups and stakeholders Identify local priority issues for community sustainability Map community achievements and find out what new skills are required Develop potential community projects and options for support and funding Strengthen communities by developing connections between community members around the local environment Evaluate the pilot study and refine the process to apply in other locations Methodology Place as framework In the recent restructuring of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) the organisation has moved from a state-based (governance) approach to a place-based (regional approach) in their planning and activities (NSW 2021). The project was framed within the concept of Place in alignment with the current directions of the Office of Environment and Heritage and the structure of RCE, Greater Western Sydney. Places connect people. Using Place as a conceptual framework provides a common language across different language and cultural groups. Place provides a link between local concerns and global issues. People s relationship to Place is a way to engage community members on an emotional and spiritual level. The geographic place of this project is the Western Sydney region, defined as including eight local government areas Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains, The Hills, Penrith, Blacktown, Parramatta, Holroyd, and Auburn. In Our Place, Stage 1 it became clear that we needed to divide the region into clusters of local Stage 2: Community 1

10 A community forum was held within each of the clusters. Community members were invited to bring an object to tell the story of what places matter to them. government areas with similar sustainability challenges. We used a map to group the eight local government areas into three clusters according to distance from the centre of Sydney and apparent population density. This resulted in an Outer Western Sydney cluster (Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains) characterised by low population density and large areas of rural and wilderness land; Mid Western Sydney cluster (The Hills, Penrith, Blacktown) characterised by mid density population, peri-urban development and new housing estates; and Inner Western Sydney (Auburn, Holroyd, Parramatta) characterised by high population density, highly urbanized environments and smaller total land areas. Each cluster was anticipated to have their own sustainability and local environment issues. The project applied this place-based framework to trial a process of community investigation and engagement through a series of community forums. Methods The methods of Stage 2 involved designing and conducting a community forum in each cluster in order to find out what places matter to the community, to identify community needs in relation to looking after their places, and to trial a process for the development of small collaborative projects using seed funding. The methods generally fell into three distinct phases 1) Recruitment; 2) Place and Needs Identification; and 3) Project Development. Recruitment of community members Our Place Western Sydney used a collaborative approach between the project partners to identify appropriate organisations, groups and stakeholders in order to involve as many community members as possible. Community educators involved in Stage 1 of the project were invited to provide input into recruiting potential participants. In collaboration with the organisations and groups, appropriate venues, times and modes of invitation/advertising were developed. An invitation flyer was ed through stakeholders distribution lists and posted across public spaces such as community halls, shopping centres and noticeboards. Community forum A community forum was held within each of the clusters. Community members were invited to bring an object to tell the story of what places matter to them. Each forum developed a sequence from individual participants identifying what places matter to them to discussing their needs in relation to looking after their places in small groups of 6-8 community members. Community members then engaged in developing collaborative projects to look after their local places in an Open Space Technology process facilitated by a skilled OST facilitator (see Appendix 1 for further information). Project development The process of developing collaborative projects began in the community forums using the Open Space Technology process and continued after the forum with the submission of project templates by community participants, the assessment of projects for seed funding, and the tracking of projects as they were implemented. Summary analysis Recruitment Different recruitments methods were found to be effective for the different clusters in western Sydney. For the Outer West forum there were established networks in the Hawkesbury LGA area but tapping into community networks in the Blue Mountains LGA required personal contacts through the project officer from Stage 1. In the case of the Mid West all recruitment methods failed due to a disconnect between community educators and their local communities, and between the three local government areas in the cluster 2 OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report

11 Penrith, The Hills and Blacktown which had diverse rather than similar demographics as the peri-urban areas developed differentially. Recruitment for the Inner West forum built on vibrant connections between well connected community educators working in both paid and volunteer capacity. The Inner West educators from Stage 1 were able to call on strong local networks of people connected within their own local groups. Local groups came together and some new links were formed. Common elements of the recruitment process lead to some generalisations about the engagement of community members. In all cases, tapping into networks of people who are already connected is crucial. This is even moreso where the networks are already established for the purpose of carrying out sustainability initiatives in relation to local places. The reach of these networks varied according to population density with connected community members in the Outer West travelling some 50 kilometres to a forum across large local government areas; people in Mid West failing to connect across much smaller LGAs; and in the Inner West, concentrations of people attending from a single interest groups due to the presence of dense local connections. All other methods of recruitment ( distribution, advertisement in local papers, public flyers) resulted in a very small number of additional participants. The places community members identified as important to them fell into three broad categories according to the distance from their home and the nature of the place:- Local places, Regional places, and Global places. Community forum Participants The Our Place, Western Sydney Stage 2 Community Forums were attended by a total of 67 community members across the three western Sydney regions:- 27 in Outer West, 25 in Inner West and 15 in the single LGA of Penrith. Community members identified their affiliations for the purposes of recruitment with some interesting differences emerging across the three clusters. In the Outer West a greater proportion of community members indicated they belonged to a community organisation while in the Inner West a larger number identified with a workplace organisation. A Table in the body of the report shows the affiliations of participants in the three community forums. Places that matter The strongest identification of places that matter emerged with those community members who brought objects along to tell the story of their places. The objects included a jar of clear water; a block of Blue Mountains sandstone; pebbles from the Nepean River; and a jar of dried eucalypt leaves painted with miniature Aboriginal symbols, among many others. While participants who brought objects spoke powerfully and emotionally about their places of attachment, community members in the Inner West chose not to bring objects, possibly due to the different nature of their local places and therefore the different nature of their attachments. In the workshop discussions of places that matter, a total of 115 places were identified by the total of 67 participants. In the Outer West region, 27 participants identified 56 Significant Places, 15 Mid West participants recorded 17 places significant to them, whilst in the Inner West 42 significant places were mentioned by 25 participants. The places community members identified as important to them fell into three broad categories according to the distance from their home and the nature of the place:- Local places, Regional places, and Global places. Local places included backyards and workplaces; regional places included bird and fish habitat places and parks; and global places included planetary issues such as global warming, and country understood in the Aboriginal sense. Discussions of country yielded the connecting ideas of the downstream concept ; passing through country ; mulching the community ; and reading the country. These concepts are described in detail in the body of the report. Stage 2: Community 3

12 The process of facilitating the development of collaborative projects involving community members from different organisations and groups was a significant outcome of the community forums. Needs for looking after places Community members interestingly identified what places need in relation to being looked as well as their personal or group needs for looking after the places that mattered to them. Examples of things they needed to do to look after their local places community members included growing food in their own backyard, using alternative transport. Education at all levels was expressed as a common need including getting the message out to young people and to children who will take the message home, integrating sustainability in schools, TAFE and university, linking to local history and heritage, and building on tourism to engage people. Experiential activities in education were favoured and the need to meet people where they are and accept slow change were emphasised. Connecting to country, as mentioned previously, was identified as an important strategy by a mixed group of Aboriginal and non-aboriginal community members. Developing collaborative projects The process of facilitating the development of collaborative projects involving community members from different organisations and groups was a significant outcome of the community forums. Discussion in the forums generated a large number of possible projects that coalesced into actual practical project proposals during the process of building collaboration. The process of collaborative project formation was a magic moment of transformation from many individual initiatives to collective and collaborative group projects. Ongoing support was required for collaborative project development after the forum, including assistance for community members to complete the simple project template, develop a budget, and apply for funding. The transfer of funds was complicated because of the auditing procedures required by the funding institution and the lack of knowledge and capacity of community members and newly formed community groups to receive public money. The projects that were funded took longer in their development and implementation than was imagined at the outset. Many of the project discussions initiated in the forums are ongoing with projects developing into different forms depending on the availability of people and funding. The ongoing support of these projects and the further development of collaborative projects resulting from discussions initiated in the forums is continuing through the brokering work of the UN Regional Centre for Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, Greater Western Sydney (RCE GWS). The system of United Nations Centres around the world is intended to build connections between local sustainability initiatives across a region and to connect regions around the world to gain greater momentum for transformative change. Conclusion The Our Place Western Sydney Stage 2: Community project met its aims of recruiting community members to engage in community forums to identify the places that matter to them and the needs they have in relation to looking after their local places. Community members identified immediate local places, regional places and global place connections that mattered to them. They interestingly focussed on what community members in general need to do to look after these places and what the places themselves need in order to be cared for. Education for all ages and at all levels was identified as the one common and abiding need across all groups in terms of looking after local places. The development of collaborative projects enabled community members to enact their specific needs in relation to looking after their local places and the large number of projects initially proposed is evident of the range of needs. These were framed in terms of small amounts of project funding but also the need for networking and support of both experts and volunteers. The basic model was found to be successful however, ongoing evaluation and refinement 4 OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report

13 of the model for use in other places was carried out throughout the project. The methods of recruitment were modified in the mid west community forum for areas where there is little established community activity and interest in sustainability and environmental initiatives. The timing, venue and form of the community forums was also adapted according to the nature of the communities with significant differences between outer rural and wilderness areas, peri-urban areas, and urban areas with high migrant populations. The process of Open Space Technology was uniformly successful in forming collaborative projects, however the support required for community-based project development extended way beyond the scope of the Our Place project in all cases. Education for all ages and at all levels was identified as the one common and abiding need across all groups in terms of looking after local places. Recommendations 1. The provision of resources, education and support for the development of small community based projects A key recommendation of the project is that the development of small collaborative projects is a key to building grass roots community engagement in looking after local places, however, resources, support and education are required for community members to engage successfully in these projects for the long term benefit of community and environment. 2. The evaluation of community-based projects for short term, medium term and long term outcomes All of the community-based projects generated through Our Place, Western Sydney are currently in process with some significant potential outcomes in terms of community engagement and ownership in the enactment of their vision for environmental and social sustainability. A planned process of evaluation is required to assess the short, medium and long term outcomes of these projects. 3. The evaluation of the model itself will need to be carried out once it has been implemented across a number of regions Currently the development and trial of the model is completed in Western Sydney, is nearly finished in the Hunter Region and is in process in the southern Murray-Darling Basin. These three regions will constitute a significant trial of the model to assess its usefulness for state-wide implementation. Stage 2: Community 5

14 Introduction What is Our Place, Western Sydney? Stage 2 aims to find out what local places are important to community members and how to support them to look after their local places. Our Place, Western Sydney is a collaborative project between the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Centre for Educational Research, University of Western Sydney, and the United Nations Regional Centre for Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, Greater Western Sydney (RCE, GWS). The project is organised in two stages Stage 1: Community educators and Stage 2: Community members. Stage 1 of the project aimed to identify how community-based environmental and sustainability educators in the Western Sydney region are engaging with their communities and how they can support their communities to get more involved in looking after their local places. Stage 2 aims to find out what local places are important to community members and how to support them to look after their local places. Community educators participating in Stage 1 are connected with community members participating in Stage 2 through the research process. This report summarises the activities of Stage 2 of the Our Place Western Sydney project. Our Place, Western Sydney was developed in the context of the transition from a state-based (governance) model to a region-based (place) model for the Office of Environment and Heritage. For this purpose the western Sydney region is defined as comprising eight local government areas: The Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Penrith, Blacktown, The Hills, Auburn, Holroyd and Parramatta. In asking the question How can environmental and sustainability educators engage community members in looking after their local places? in Our Place, Stage 1 it became clear that we needed to divide the region into clusters of local government areas with similar sustainability challenges. We grouped the eight local government areas into three clusters according to distance from the centre of Sydney and apparent population density. This resulted in an Outer Western Sydney cluster (Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains) characterised by low population density and large areas of rural and uninhabited land; Mid Western Sydney cluster (The Hills, Penrith, Blacktown) characterised by mid density population, peri-urban development and new housing estates; and Inner Western Sydney (Auburn, Holroyd, Parramatta) characterised by high population density, highly urbanised environments and smaller total land areas. Each cluster was anticipated to have their own sustainability and local environment issues. Stage 2 applied the same place-based model to engage community members in forums about looking after their local places. 6 OUR PLACE Western Sydney Project report

15 The project Our Place, Western Sydney Stage 2: Community Our Place, Western Sydney Stage 2 was designed to explore the question: How can we facilitate members of the communities of western Sydney to get involved in sustainability activities and in the protection of their natural environments? The project aimed to: Contact relevant community organisations, groups and stakeholders Identify local priority issues for community sustainability Map community achievements and find out what new skills are required Develop potential community projects and options for support and funding Strengthen communities by developing connections between community members around the local environment Evaluate the pilot study and refine the process to apply in other locations Methodology Place as framework In the recent restructuring of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) the organisation has moved from a state based (governance) approach to a place-based (regional approach) in their planning and activities (NSW 2021). The project was framed within the concept of Place, aligning it with the new directions of the Office of Environment and Heritage and the structure, the RCE, Greater Western Sydney. Places connect people. Using Place as a conceptual framework provides a common language across different language and cultural groups. Place provides a link between local concerns and global issues. People s relationship to Place is a way to engage community members on an emotional and spiritual level. The geographic place of this project is the Western Sydney region, defined as including eight local government areas Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains, The Hills, Penrith, Blacktown, Parramatta, Holroyd, and Auburn. In Our Place, Stage 1 it became clear that we needed to divide the region into clusters of local government areas with similar sustainability challenges. Eight local government areas were clustered into three according to distance from the centre of Sydney and apparent population density. Using Place as a conceptual framework provides a common language across different language and cultural groups. Methods The methods of Stage 2 involved designing and conducting a community forum in each cluster in order to find out what places matter to the community, to identify community needs in relation to looking after these places, and to trial the development of small collaborative projects using seed funding. The methods generally fell into three distinct phases Recruitment, Places and Needs Identification and Project Development. While these phases differed slightly in each of the clusters, a general outline is provided in the following. Stage 2: Community 7

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