Shared Visions Emerge From Western Port Workshop


World leading visionaries, academics, key regional decision makers and community group representatives have developed frameworks for exciting and plausible futures for the Westernport region.

The workshop was organised by the Australian National University, Preserve Western Port Action Group, Victorian National Parks Association, with the generous support of Bass Coast Shire Council.

The scenario-planning workshop held on Phillip Island for 5 days this week explored what Western Port may look and feel like in 2040. The workshop was based on previous demonstrated success of scenario-planning exercises in various contexts around the world in developing and communicating a shared vision.

Participants from more than 27 organisations, included Professors, strategic planners, scientists, businesses, Councillors and PhD students from the Australian National University

They developed and explored four plausible futures for Western Port considering financial, sustainable and creative futures.

These four scenarios were developed according to the two key uncertainties that are likely to shape the future of Western Port. The intersection of these two key uncertainties created four scenarios that were explored by groups of participants in an effort to understand the implications for Western Port.

The first uncertainty considered how Western Port as a region determines its future by either following conventional economic development policies or shifting to United Nations sustainable development based policies that will preserve this relatively undeveloped and unique region.

The planned international mega container port at Hasting was an example of a regional policy that pursues continued economic growth at the potential expense of the environment and other sectors of the economy.

The second uncertainty considered likely to shape the future is whether the world as a whole shifts from its current pursuance of economic growth beyond what is considered to be the planet’s ability to support this growth and instead switches tack towards development within these planetary boundaries. Global action on climate change that attempts to keep climate change within 2 degrees Celsius was considered by the group to be an example of such action.

Professor Robert Costanza, one of the workshop conveners stated: “developing this vision is essential for ensuring that we consider all the possibilities for Western Port and generating a broad discussion of what kind of future people want”. He went on to explain that the process was essential as “it is only through communication and development of shared visions that we can hope to achieve them”.

The Victorian National Parks Associations Simon Branigan stated “This workshop has been a fantastic opportunity to bring together a diverse range of stakeholders, to think outside of the box and come up scenarios of what the Westernport region could look like in 2040”.

Preserve Western Port Action Group Chairman Jeff Nottle stated” We have seen comprehensive planning and visioning undertaken outside political divides and not limited to input from State bureaucrats and the hopes of politicians seeking to be elected. This is where true community strategic planning and thinking needs to commence and we now have well considered visions for the Westernport region” he added.

The organisers and participants of the workshop plan to communicate the scenarios with the public in an effort to generate further discussion that will lead to obtaining a shared vision for Western Port.

The participants passed a motion of support to recommend that the Bass Coast Shire Council consider seeking funding to develop and implement a communications and engagement plan for the final report.

It is expected that a report from the workshop will be available by mid September 2014.

Media Enquiries: Jeff Nottle 0419 158 232 

Photo: (L-R) Steve Cork ANU ecologist and futurist, Dr Ida Kubiszewski ANU Senior Lecturer, Dr Robert Costanza ANU Chair in Public Policy , Simon Brannigan VNPA, Professor Barbara Norman Foundation Chair of Urban & Regional planning, Jeff Nottle Chairman Preserve Western Port Action Group.

Scenario Workshop Dates Confirmed

Bass Coast Council approved funding for a study by internationally acclaimed researchers into the impact of the proposed Port of Hastings Extension on the environment of Western Port. The study to commence in late July will develop a range of scenarios that give proper weight to environmental values as well as their contribution to the economy of the area.

The Preserve Western Port Action Group welcomed council’s decision. “The community is extremely concerned at the impact the proposed development will have on the environment and ecology of Western Port, we are delighted that Council is funding the project and supporting the community,” the Chairman Jeff Nottle said.

“The proposed expansion of the Port of Hastings into an international container port will require massive dredging of the Western Port and increase the volume of shipping dramatically; it is the most significant issue facing the Phillip Island and Western Port communities. The expansion has the potential to wreck the environment and amenity of Western Port and with it the tourism industry,” he said.

“This crucial study by eminent researchers Professor Costanza and Dr Ida Kubiszewski from the Australian National University will establish the datum for assessing this project and should have been carried out before the Government announced its decision to expand the Port. We really do expect better governance from a Government that professes to support tourism,” he said.

Students participating in the study are undertaking studies in Environment Management and Development: Scenario Planning and Analysis for Australia.

The study will be done right here on Phillip Island over a one week period and will involve key stakeholders; Councillors, CEO’s, The Victorian National Parks Association, Western Port & Peninsula Protection Council, industry and environmental specialists.