Responding to the challenges of regional development : Clermont’s preferred future and community development strategy
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Robert MilesRobert Miles, J Reark, Susan KinnearSusan Kinnear, Tracey HowkinsTracey Howkins, T Springer
The Clermont Preferred Future Project is a twelve month community planning study undertaken under the leadership of the (then) Belyando Shire Council, in partnership with Rio Tinto Coal Australia and the Clermont community. For a number of generations, the Clermont community has prospered, due largely to the presence of Rio Tinto’s Blair Athol coal mining operations. However,this long term relationship has resulted in Clermont becoming accustomed to, and economically dependent on, the mine. For Clermont to continue to enjoy sustainable growth, the community must now seek to develop an economic base that (a) adjusts to the impending closure of the BlairAthol Mine; (b) capitalises and leverages off the growth brought by the new Clermont mine; and (c) enables the township to develop a longer term post-mining economy and future. This paper describes the primary challenges and opportunities confronting the Clermont community in light of these impending changes, as identified by the key stakeholders. It also discusses the Preferred Future Strategy, which was a key outcome of the Preferred Future initiative. The Strategy is framed around the need for the Clermont community to develop a wider economic base, build self-reliance,and consider issues of community vitality, health and well being into the future. It provides recommendations on the ways in which Clermont can combine the efforts of local industry, the three tiers of government and the community in order to seek a sustainable, desirable future for the township and region. The challenges confronting the Clermont community are not unique: many are experienced in other rural and regional areas, particularly those centres that are based around coalmining operations. Hence, the key lessons learned through the Preferred Futures Project and its resultant Strategy can be applied elsewhere in Australia to help achieve sustainable regional development.