STEPS TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY
Economic Development and Community Wellbeing Event
Address given by LGA Executive Director Public Affairs, Lisa Teburea
Evening of Monday 3 April, SAMHRI
The LGA is very pleased to be bringing you this event in partnership with SA Health and we thank SAMHRI for their support.
I am going to take a few minutes to talk about the incredible impact that local government can have on creating sustainable communities. I saw the evidence of this as a judge of the awards announced earlier this afternoon. The projects that received awards are tremendous examples of innovation and excellence in public health by local government. And there were many more fantastic initiatives among the entries of councils playing an expert role as local place makers and service providers- making a genuine difference in the lives of communities.
Councils are the sphere of government that are closest to communities. They are well placed to understand the needs of their community and to further support their wellbeing. Elements that are key to achieving a sustainable community include a healthy environment, a strong economy and community wellbeing – meeting the triple bottom line.
There is growing acknowledgement of the links between planning, economic development and population health, within both the health and planning professions. This has been the aim of the strategic partnership between the LGA, SA Health and the Planning Institute of South Australia.
But what does a healthy community look like?
It looks remarkably like a sustainable community- one that is socially inclusive, vibrant and culturally diverse. It is an age-friendly city, a community where we feel safe and have plenty of opportunities for people to connect, learn, participate and grow to their full potential. It looks like a community which is resilient, where people support each other to flourish in good times and bounce-back from tough times. It is a place where people want to live, love, work and play.
So how do we build this idyllic community?
A lot of what goes in to make up these kinds of communities can happen organically through the ways we live and work together. But the role of local government can’t be underestimated. The sustainability of our communities is reflected in the way we plan for them, it’s seen in the decisions and actions we make as local government.
It’s evident in how we work with the state government and the private sector and, most importantly how we listen to and respond to the needs of communities themselves
Strong economies and employment are essential to Community Wellbeing. Local Government employs locally, drives precinct development, place making, activation of spaces and tourism. Enhancing Community Wellbeing also boosts productivity and economic outputs.
According to Dr Rod Tolley, our keynote speaker tonight (2011) “A good physical environment is a good economic environment”.
It makes good economic sense – There are direct and measurable financial benefits to improving urban planning design- these include increased housing values, increased retail property values and rents, increased retail expenditure and generation of new business;
Working to protect the public health of a community also means working to improve its liveability, sustainability and vitality. Initiatives including planning for open space, recreational facilities, and walkability for all ages can lead to positive physical and mental health outcomes including social connectedness, active lifestyles which in turn can have benefits for the communities including economic prosperity, and increased community involvement , for example, volunteering.
The introduction of requirements for Regional Public Health Planning at the local government level has created a new impetus and energy for us to consider ways to make further support the communities we serve.
Through Public Health Planning all councils in South Australia have consciously taken stock of the numerous ways they support the health and wellbeing of communities and they have declared aspirations for further advancements in community wellbeing.
But we’re not done yet- there is still space for innovation, continuous improvements and new ways to demonstrate excellence- more public health awards to be won.
But we don’t do it for the awards and the accolades- we do it because we should. We do it because providing for the wellbeing of the community is one of the core functions of local government- enshired in the Local Government Act
The LGA looks forward to a continued partnership with SA Health to support our member councils to create sustainable communities.