Sustain is delighted to be working with the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) in the formation of a time-and-task limited Food Governance Taskforce.
The Food Governance Taskforce will focus on defining the role and the challenges and opportunities for local governments in the space of agriculture and food systems. The Taskforce will examine issues from economic development, to local laws and best practice with a view to coming up with a targeted shortlist of priorities for the sector in terms to understanding and realising the potential of this vital part of our economies
The invitation was sent to Councillors, Managers and staff in 18 local councils from inner metro, peri-urban and regional cities and shires. At the first meeting representatives from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, City of Whittlesea, City of Melbourne, City of Cardinia, City of Greater Geelong, Yarra Ranges Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council, and the City of Wodonga attended.
Those attending reviewed the drivers that had led to the creation of food system policies, plans and strategies, with a particular focus on the crushing burden of dietary-related ill-health in many municipalities, the largely hidden but growing phenomenon of food insecurity, and the significant potential for job creation and business development through the support of strong local and regional food economies.
Sustain has been supporting the formation of this taskforce through the work of one of our Masters intern students, Sally Jane Flett, who has carried out in-depth interviews with Agribusiness Officer at the City of Whittlesea, Annemaree Docking, and Rural Business Officer at Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Gillian Stewart, on the significance of their roles within their respective local councils. Sally presented to attendees her initial findings on the work of Annemaree and Gillian, and we reproduce below some slides from her presentation.
The Taskforce then discussed some of the key barriers to food systems work in local government in Victoria. These included a lack of understanding (and therefore commitment) from senior levels of management / Councillors, as well as impediments at the State government level, especially in relation to loopholes and constraints in the Planning provisions.
The Taskforce agreed to meet on a bi-monthly schedule, with the next meeting to be convened towards the end of May. Notes will be circulated for comment and discussion in the interim. Anyone interested in finding out more please email us: email@example.com.
The Taskforce has now met twice further in June and July, and the following summary was distributed to delegates attending the MAV Future of Local Food Conference in September 2016:
This Taskforce was formed at the initiative of the VLGA and Sustain, following the Democratising Food Systems workshop held at William Angliss Institute on 19 October 2015. It is a multi-institutional action-oriented taskforce, with a volunteer local government membership, formed with the intention of supporting local government in Victoria to be an enabler of food system change that supports health and wellbeing, environmental and economic development outcomes. The Taskforce has met three times with the participation of 13 Councils, and has now agreed to continue its work via three working groups focused on the priority themes of Health and Wellbeing, Planning and Economic Development.
Purpose of the Taskforce
- To capture and disseminate existing best practice in Victoria and elsewhere as regards food system policies, strategies, research, programs and projects
- To support Councils and communities to embed food system principles and actions in key Council plans and strategies
- To support Councils and communities to identify key barriers and obstacles to food system change, and engage in collective advocacy to address those obstacles at the State level
Terms of Reference of Working Groups:
1. Develop brief position statement on the issues under consideration, by reference to:
– The issue / drivers of change
– Guidelines / best practice / areas of engagement
– Key Stakeholders
– References / research
2. Purpose of the position statement: To articulate clearly the role of local government, as
– removing barriers to change
– enabling food system change
– advocating for food system change
3. Audience for the position statements
Members of the working group/ Other Councils
Potential funding partners
4. Outcomes sought
– Half a dozen best practice policies / strategies across the different areas identified and profiled
– A dozen templates and guidelines produced
– Case studies identified and profiled
– Formation of a Victorian Food Network, supported by the VLGA and Sustain
Meetings will be held of Working Groups for Health and Wellbeing, and Economic Development, in the next fortnight. Details of the facilitators can be found below. It is also anticipated that a meeting of the Planning Working Group will also be held during October – details to follow.
Health and Wellbeing Working Group
Facilitator: Peter Kenyon, Health Promotion Officer, Food Systems
North-East Health, Wangaratta
Tel: (03) 5723 2221
Facilitator: Annemaree Docking
Agribusiness Officer, City of Whittlesea
Tel: (03) 9217 2593
Proposed Working Group agendas:
- Review and agree TOR of the Working Group
- Review and revise structure and content of the draft position statement
- Discuss opportunities to influence the development of [Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plans] / [Council Plans] / [Municipal Strategic Statements] / [Economic Development Strategies] in 2017
- Discuss key demands that could be framed as joint advocacy campaigns for local government / public & community health / economic development / social, community and strategy planners / etc.
- Brainstorm ‘power and influence key stakeholder’ map
- Actions / next steps – aim is to present the respective position statements (or at least those that have reached a reasonably advanced stage) at the Urban Ag Forum on 21 November