Sports club views sought

Published on 28 August 2014

Loddon’s sporting and recreational clubs have an unprecedented opportunity next week to help shape the way they interact with the Shire over the next five years.

Council is working on a whole new Recreation Strategy to take it through to 2020 and is making strenuous efforts to gather as much high-quality feedback as it can on how best to support local clubs.

To this end, a meeting will be held at the Serpentine Bowls Club on Wednesday 3 September, from 7pm to 9pm, to which representatives of all 96 sporting and recreational clubs in Loddon have been invited.

Community input will also be sought through surveys placed in schools, neighbourhood centres and football clubs, using a mail-out, Council’s website and conducting face-to-face interviews at selected sporting events.

Loddon’s sport and recreation facilities encompass football, hockey, netball, lawn bowls, tennis, swimming pools, croquet, water skiing, shooting, golf and walking trails.

Manager Community and Recreation Allan Stobaus said the new plan was being developed in conjunction with Bendigo consultancy Community Vibe at a total cost of $40,000.

“This all-new document will replace the former Recreation Strategy, which covered the period 2008/2017,” Allan said.

“Since 2008, Council has done a great deal of work and achieved much in the way of improving community facilities, but now believes it’s time to revisit and re-establish its priorities.

“In those earlier days, 80% of what Council did tended to be reactive, but now it’s 80% strategic, thanks in no small part to the decision to employ a Recreation Officer in the person of Tony Bellenger.

“With this new plan, Council is keen to consult widely in order to gather quality feedback, to help us plan the use of our resources in making our clubs stronger.

“Clubs rely so heavily on volunteers and the roles and responsibilities they bear are far more complex these days, so we’re looking to determine how best we can support them.”

A second forum will be held on 17 September in Bendigo, to which both local club representatives and State Sporting Associations will be invited.

This meeting will present an overview of local issues, trends and potential solutions as well as further workshop sessions and responses from the associations. 

The results of these two forums will then feed into Loddon Shire’s Recreation Strategy planning.

Mayor Cr Gavan Holt, who will speak at the first forum, said Loddon Shire had undertaken significant improvements to sport and recreation infrastructure over recent years.

“Facilities such as ovals, hard courts, pavilions and swimming pools have seen dramatic improvements, thanks to Council’s partnerships with sports clubs, state sporting associations and state and federal governments,” Cr Holt said.

“However, preliminary discussions with the steering committee  indicate there are some key issues and trends impacting sport and recreation in Loddon Shire, which may have either positive or negative implications in the future, depending on how these issues and trends are managed. 

“We want to take a proactive approach, rather than react when it may be too late to change things – hence these meetings.”

Community Vibe plans to close its consultation period on 27 October, after which a draft strategy will be prepared for Council’s consideration.

To RSVP for next week’s meeting, please phone Allan Stobaus on 5494 1200 or email astobaus@loddon.vic.gov.au