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We are such creatures of habit

Reform for the Docklands Community Forum? Yes or no?

30 Mar 2017

By Sunny Liu

It has been nearly five years since the Docklands Community Forum was first established and some believe a reform might be needed.

The Docklands Community Forum (DCF) is convened by the City of Melbourne and Places Victoria and attracts local representatives to highlight and discuss community issues at their meeting every two months.

The DCF was first assembled in August, 2012 to engage the local community and facilitate the implementation of the Docklands Community and Place Plan, which outlined Docklands’ key directions, community priorities and programs that the City of Melbourne and Places Victoria were set to deliver over the next 10 years.

The DCF is open to the public and anyone with an interest in Docklands’ community and development can join the meeting and have their voice heard.

A representative group was appointed to present issues close to their heart at each DCF meeting. The group comprises local residents, workers and business owners from various fields that represent a diversity of skills, involvement, interest and experience.

However, Docklands has gone through a dramatic transformation since 2012, and the transient population, property developments and facility upgrades all have posed great challenges to the operations and engagement of the DCF.

Andrew Ward, DCF representative and owner of Push! Fitness in Docklands, said 2017 might a good time for DCF members to consider a reform for the forum.

“Docklands has changed a lot in the past five years and it might be time to re-establish the forum’s priorities and objectives,” Mr Ward said.

“The DCF has done some great work over these past few years and the members have given a lot of time and energy to the forum. But it’s also time to regain more commitment from existing and potential new members.”

Mr Ward said he thought the forum needed to keep up with the pace of the swift changes in Docklands’ population and landscape.

“Even I have changed quite a bit for the past few years. I started at the DCF as a worker in Docklands and now I’m a business owner. So it can be worth a complete re-prioritisation of objectives and issues at the DCF. We need to think about what the plan is now,” he said.

Joh Maxwell, Docklands Chamber of Commerce president and also a DCF representative, said the DCF representatives were working to better engage the community and were holding a private meeting between representative group members and the City of Melbourne on April 5.

“A reform is certainly something we need to discuss and it would be a valid opportunity for people to contribute to the broader Docklands community,” Ms Maxwell said.

“We need to work out how we can get the community members better involved with the forum and make sure we deliver all the information to the community.”

Though many DCF members might agree with Mr Ward and Ms Maxwell’s perspective, some other representatives are hesitant about the discussion.

Keith Rakin represents the Docklands boating community at the DCF. He told Docklands News a reform should not be a quick decision.

“I will certainly add input to the forum when the question of a reform arises, but it’s a very complex question that requires a group discussion rather than one person’s opinion,” Mr Rakin said.

Mr Rakin also questioned the influence of the media on the forum’s decision-making process.

“I don’t think it’s a newspaper’s place to hold this kind of discussion. It will be the community’s decision and the opinion of whether to reform really varies from individual to individual,” he said.

“I think we can go back to the original premise of when the forum was first established and check our performances based on the objectives we set at first to see whether a reform is needed. It’s not one person’s decision to make.”

Places Victoria’s general manager precincts, Simon Wilson, told Docklands News: “Any reform of the Docklands Community Forum is something for the City of Melbourne to consider. We are happy to work with the forum in whatever format is decided upon, as we support any opportunity for the community to be represented in Docklands.”

The next DCF meeting will be held at the Library at The Dock on April 26.

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