Incorporating the Council Plan, Public Health and Wellbeing Plan, Pandemic Recovery Actions and Disability Action Plan
The City of Whittlesea recognises the rich Aboriginal heritage of this country and acknowledges the Wurundjeri Willum Clan as the Traditional Owners of this place.
About 50,000 years before colonisation, a diversity of Wurundjeri people, families and communities managed the land that the City of Whittlesea now occupies. Throughout this time the Plenty River and other local natural features provided an abundance of flora and fauna as both a source of food and shelter.
The Wurundjeri Willum Clan is part of the Wurundjeri tribe and Woi Wurrung language group – one of the many language groups that make up the Kulin Nation. The people of the Kulin Nation were both Waang (the Australian raven) and Bunjil (wedge-tailed eagle – the creator) people who shared the same religion and language and lived in what is now metropolitan and greater Melbourne.
The pre-colonial legacy of the Wurundjeri people can still be seen today as the Whittlesea area is home to a number of protected and sacred ‘scarred’ trees. These trees were used for making bark canoes or as boundary markers for distinct tribal groups. Today the scarred river-red gum trees serve as a reminder that Aboriginal people have always been, and will always be, central to the social, economic and cultural prosperity of the City of Whittlesea.
Throughout this document, the term ‘Aboriginal’ is taken to include people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. ‘Aboriginal’ is used in preference to ‘Indigenous’, ‘First Nations’, and ‘Koori’.
It is my great pleasure to present the Community Plan 2021-2025, which for the first time incorporates Council’s Health and Wellbeing Plan, Disability Action Plan and the Pandemic Recovery Actions.
In preparing this Community Plan, we engaged with our diverse community in many ways over a period of eight months to gain input into what our residents and businesses see as important to them.
I was very proud to participate in a number of these conversations and more recent consultation activities along with Administrators Ms Peita Duncan and Mr Chris Eddy, our CEO Mr Craig Lloyd and Council officers.
It is extremely pleasing to know that almost 5,800 pieces of feedback have been considered in the development of this four-year plan, and that the voice of our community will help shape the future of the City of Whittlesea.
In this Community Plan, we have developed 60 initiatives under our Whittlesea 2040 goals, which will be delivered between 2021 and 2025, and which respond to community priorities.
The Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan has been incorporated to protect and enhance the health and wellbeing of our community. Some of the areas we will focus on will be public health and safety actions; some will focus on activating our community through art and events following the pandemic. Others include mental health and wellbeing activities, and inclusion initiatives that will ensure the City of Whittlesea is truly a place for all.
We have also integrated our Disability Action Plan into the Community Plan to clearly demonstrate how we are building an inclusive community for all, including people with a disability and their carers.
In 2020/21, as the COVID-19 pandemic was still emerging, the City of Whittlesea allocated $2 million to a COVID Community Recovery Fund. It is only now that we can see ‘recovery’ in our sights and this fund is helping our community and businesses recover from the significant impacts the pandemic has caused. The recovery initiatives were determined by a group of 26 community members who were invited to participate in a COVID Recovery Budget Working Group and we thank them for their significant guidance and input.
The delivery of our Community Plan 2021-2025 will be overseen by the Panel of Administrators (the Council). We are firmly committed to continuing to listen to our community and serving the City of Whittlesea until October 2024 in partnership with Council officers who will deliver on the key initiatives and actions included in this Plan and the annual Action Plans.
Chair of Administrators
The City of Whittlesea is one of Melbourne’s largest municipalities and is the proud home to a fast-growing and diverse community.
Located in the north of Melbourne, our municipality spans approximately 490 square kilometres with a mix of established suburbs, growth areas and rural communities.
By 2040, the City of Whittlesea’s population is expected to increase by more than 60 per cent as we welcome around 8,000 new residents each year.
To accommodate our new residents, the City of Whittlesea will see around 56,000 new homes built across the municipality. These will be made up of a mix of new housing types to meet our community’s growing and diverse needs.
Our community is proud of its diversity. We have the second largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in metropolitan Melbourne.
Adding to the rich culture and heritage of our municipality is a multicultural community so diverse that almost half of our residents speak a language other than English at home.
More and more families are calling the City of Whittlesea home with more than half of our households comprising of families with children. Every week, 62 babies are born into families living in the City of Whittlesea.
Our community’s largest age group is aged 35-59 followed by 18-34 year olds. People aged over 60 years make up 16 per cent of our population.
Council has captured the priorities and values of people living in the City of Whittlesea’s established, growth and rural areas based on almost 5,800 pieces of feedback from people across the municipality. Council also considered relevant health and demographic data about our community and other feedback received through broader engagement. Priorities differ across areas and precincts and reflect the wide‑ranging community aspirations addressed in this Community Plan 2021‑2025.
Owing to its two universities, Bundoora has a high number of people aged in their 20s who are renting alone or living in group households. Students share the suburb with older families and couples, many of whom have called Bundoora home for several decades. During consultation Bundoora residents told us they would like to see better waste management, more well- maintained green spaces and improved public transport options close to home.
Propelled by a recent surge in greenfield housing development, Donnybrook is transforming from a small rural town into a community that will grow to a population of more than 25,000 people by 2031. Young families living in Donnybrook value social and community connections, with access to groups and activities for young children. As part of our engagement, Donnybrook residents told us they expect safe roads and essential infrastructure to be delivered at the right time to meet the community’s needs.
With 28,000 residents now calling Doreen home, families in this community during consultation advocated for access to recreational facilities including leisure centres and swimming pools. The community values public open spaces and residents are avid supporters of maintaining our local natural environment.
This vibrant precinct plays a critical role in the City of Whittlesea’s economy and will continue to attract investment into the future. During consultation, people who live in Epping told us they value the natural environment and outdoor spaces. These residents are seeking well maintained spaces to meet and exercise along with better footpaths and natural shade.
Epping North is the largest precinct in the City of Whittlesea with a population of around 38,000 people and 15,000 more people expected in the next two decades. The young, and culturally diverse residents of Epping North told us they support local businesses to strengthen the economy and create more employment opportunities and value places to play and be active.
This well-located precinct has a growing community of residents aged in their 70s and 80s but is also popular with young couples and families, many of whom were born overseas from countries including India, Iran and Iraq. Through our engagement residents of Lalor told us they value local shopping and being connected to neighbours. These residents seek more local events such as festivals and markets to build relationships and experience other cultures.
Having experienced rapid population growth in the last decade, Mernda continues to attract young couples and families to the area with a further 6000 people forecast to call Mernda home before 2030. Mernda residents advised they seek improved road and transport networks to connect them to employment, schools and services, and understand the importance of supporting local businesses.
This community is characterised by mature families and empty nester couples aged in their 50s and 60s. This established area has limited opportunity for new housing growth. The community told us they value its local vibrant businesses and seek safer and better-connected roads and bike paths. Residents also seek access to green spaces where they can play, exercise and meet with friends and family.
The City of Whittlesea’s rural north, containing a mix of natural biodiversity, agricultural businesses and rural residential properties, is home to older families and retirees. Through the consultation process, the community advised they are passionate about growing the local economy by encouraging small business ventures, supporting agribusiness and providing opportunities for new social enterprises.
This community is largely made up of families who have lived in the area for more than 10 years, with children who are at, or approaching, secondary school age. During consultation South Morang residents told us they are seeking more parks and upgrades and better maintenance of existing open spaces. The community would also like to see a diverse range of festivals and events to experience culture and connect with their neighbours.
Our most culturally diverse community, more than half of Thomastown’s residents were born overseas. One in five residents are aged over 65 years, making it an ageing community. Through consultation we were advised that feeling safe and secure in their neighbourhoods is important to people in Thomastown. Better waste management practices, recycling and access to more public transport also rank highly.
This township in the City’s north has a population of 5,500, which is largely made up of maturing families with teenage children, empty nester couples and retirees. The community advised they value improved access to services such as health, disability services and employment support. Whittlesea Township residents support small businesses and seek meaningful work opportunities close to home.
A booming population located in the west of the municipality, Wollert is set to welcome 5,500 households in the next 10 years. The diverse community of first home buyers and young families let us know that they value community spaces where they can meet and host events, as well as parks and playgrounds. The community likes to make new social connections and seeks better quality roads to support its growing population.
The City of Whittlesea invited the community to share its ideas and priorities for Council to focus on delivering over the next four years.
More than 1,500 people joined the conversation to give Council a clear understanding of the community’s priorities that has helped inform the Community Plan 2021-2025.
Council asked the community two key questions to consider when forming their views and ideas:
5,771 comments from 1,394 people helped shape the Community Plan 2021-2025.
Of those who responded:
For more information about how Council engages with the community and for information about current consultations please visit www.engage.whittlesea.vic.gov.au.
The City of Whittlesea's Community Plan 2021-2025 shapes the future for the City of Whittlesea and has been informed by extensive community engagement.
It clearly articulates what Council plans to achieve between 2021 and 2025, how it will prioritise its resources and effort, and how it will measure success by meeting the needs of its community.
This includes Council's planning to achieve key health and inclusion outcomes such as family violence prevention, climate change, gender equality, reducing barriers to goods, services and facilities access, participation in employment, inclusive communications and preventing discrimination against persons with a disability.
In developing the Community Plan, Council considered the community’s goals and aspirations set out in Whittlesea 2040, which was developed in 2018 with significant input from people who live, work, study, visit and those who do business in the City of Whittlesea.
This Community Plan is the City of Whittlesea’s main medium-term strategic planning document. It expands on the long-term 20-year community vision, Whittlesea 2040: A place for all, to include key outcome priorities, services and initiatives over the next four years. It plays a central role in Council’s overall strategic planning and reporting framework.
The five key goals under Whittlesea 2040: A place for all – connected community, liveable neighbourhoods, strong local economy, sustainable environment and high-performing organisation align to key state planning frameworks for health and wellbeing, disaster recovery, and access and inclusion.
Health and wellbeing focus areas: includes Council's planning to achieve health outcomes through promoting gender equality, social connection and inclusion, preventing family violence and discrimination, and reducing barriers to services and facilities.
Health and wellbeing focus areas: accessible, safe connected walking and cycling paths within mixed use precincts, improved transport infrastructure.
Health and wellbeing focus areas: strengthening the local economy, attracting investment and facilitating new opportunities for working locally and remotely. Education and employment pathways.
Health and wellbeing focus areas: protecting the natural environment and biodiversity, increasing access to quality green open space parks and playgrounds, Greening Whittlesea, Green Wedge Management, action on climate change and its impacts on health with a focus on at risk precincts and groups.
Health and wellbeing focus areas: integrating equity into planning and decision making and responding to poverty and financial hardship.
A fast-growing community on the urban fringe presents opportunities but also challenges for our community.
The pace of growth can make it difficult to deliver timely infrastructure and services, causing challenges like limited access to public transport, health services and educational opportunities, unemployment and insecure employment, long commutes and traffic congestion, financial vulnerability, rental and mortgage stress, and social isolation. This contributes to more sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy weight and poorer mental health outcomes.
The City of Whittlesea continues to listen to what our community needs and responds as effectively and efficiently as it can through community-driven decision-making.
We also advocate to other levels of government and stakeholders to partner with Council so that we can deliver the infrastructure and services our community deserves.
There is no doubt that we are now living in extraordinary times with the global COVID-19 pandemic impacting significantly on local employment, the viability of local businesses, community connections and mental health.
Council is committed to helping guide our community through its recovery phase with new initiatives and grants that will directly impact on improving the lives of those who live and work in the City of Whittlesea.
There have also been some positive changes through the pandemic like a greater willingness for our community to explore and connect with local neighbourhoods, reduced time and costs in commuting to work, leaving more time for family and increased opportunity for flexible and remote work. It has enabled a greater use of our local open spaces, and taking up new hobbies and interests such as gardening, walking or cycling. Council will pursue strategies to retain these positive effects.
Climate change is also a global public health challenge, reinforcing the need for Council to take a leadership role at the local level to minimise health impacts by enhancing tree coverage, greening and cooling urban areas and ensuring equitable access to quality parks where people can connect with nature.
For more information about the health of the community and contributing factors please visit the City of Whittlesea Health Profile at whittlesea.vic.gov.au/healthprofile.
Council engaged with people across the City of Whittlesea. From every suburb and across a mix of diverse groups, Council has used the ideas from our residents and businesses to help shape the next four years.
Across all of our engagement activities, people were strongly in favour of:
Other key priorities included focusing on local employment, shops and neighbourhoods, maintaining public safety, and increasing community facilities and activities like festivals.
To help recovery from COVID-19, the community asked Council to focus on:
In the 2020/21 Annual Budget, Council committed $2 million for COVID-19 recovery. The pandemic extended longer than expected and most of the ‘recovery’ will fall into 2021/22.
Funding for this initiative will be expended in 2021/22 and includes recommendations made to Council via a participatory budget workshop program that included 26 people from our community. This group was selected to demonstrate diversity in our municipality and, together, participants considered the evidence and impacts of the pandemic and developed recommendations to help our community recover.
Whittlesea 2040 goal Connected community
Whittlesea 2040 goal Liveable neighbourhoods
Whittlesea 2040 goal Strong local economy
Whittlesea 2040 goal Sustainable environment
Many of these recommendations have been included in the Community Plan 2021-2025 and others have been included in Council’s planned activities and programs.
We have listened to the ideas presented during the consultation about how best to support our community to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and through to 2025.
Council has prioritised initiatives across each of the goals from our shared community vision – Whittlesea 2040: A place for all. An annual action plan will be developed and shared with our community to confirm what initiatives will be actioned by Council each year.
Delivering on these actions will ensure our decisions over the four-year cycle of this Community Plan are shared priorities with our residents and local businesses.
The City of Whittlesea’s Community Plan 2021-2025 constitutes the Council Plan under section 90 of the Local Government Act 2020 (Vic). It integrates Council’s:
The Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan (MPHWP) is a strategic plan that identifies evidence-based goals and strategies to help the community achieve optimum health outcomes and is informed by the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2019-2023.
There are a range of legislative requirements for Local Government in health planning:
Over the next four years we will continue to work to foster an inclusive, healthy, safe and welcoming community where all ways of life are celebrated and supported. Our community priorities are: Public safety, festivals, events, arts, culture, heritage and markets, social connection: access and inclusion, sports facilities and infrastructure and community groups and community infrastructure.
What we will deliver in 2021-2025
Over the next four years we will ensure our City is well planned and that our neighbourhoods and town centres are convenient and vibrant places to live, work and play. Our community priorities are: new and upgraded parks and playgrounds, transport improvements, local shops, social and affordable housing, clean streets and spaces, traffic management and road safety.
What we will deliver in 2021-2025
Over the next four years we will seek to make our City a smart choice for innovation, business growth and industry investment as well as supporting local businesses to be successful, enabling opportunities for local work and education. Our community priorities are: supporting local business, local employment, economic development, delivering libraries, schools and early years education, technology and innovation and creating employment pathways.
Our key initiatives:
What we will deliver in 2021-2025
Over the next four years we will prioritise our environment and take action to reduce waste, preserve local biodiversity, protect waterways and green spaces and address climate change. Our community priorities are: waste management, biodiversity, community education and awareness, maintaining and increasing the number of trees, sustainable energy and infrastructure , water quality and security and climate change action and awareness.
Our key initiatives:
What we will deliver in 2021-2025
Over the next four years we will work to ensure Council engages effectively with the community, delivers efficient and effective services and initiatives, makes decision in the best interest of the community and delivers value to the community. Our community priorities are: customer service and responsiveness, communication and engagement with our community, service quality and Council performance.
Our key initiatives:
What we will deliver in 2021-2025
Council provides a range of important and valued services to support the community to be a place for all. Our services have been grouped under 26 service headings as outlined below. For each service we ensure the work that is undertaken is aligned to deliver the Community Plan and that the services adapt to the changing needs of our growing community. Our services may be further refined as we continue to improve our services.
Strong local economy
High performing organisation
We will use the Community Vision: Whittlesea 2040 A place for all indicators to measure our progress on the Community Plan. We will report on these annually to the Community. During 2021-2025 we will review and update these measures to ensure they align with the identified community priorities outlined in this plan.
Goal 1 Connected community
Goal 2 Liveable neighbourhoods
Goal 3 Strong local economy
Goal 4 Sustainable environment
Goal 5 High-performing organisation
This Community Plan Action Plan 2022-2023 (Action Plan) is the annual supplement to the Community Plan 2021-2025. It outlines the key actions we will focus on delivering throughout the second year of the Community Plan under our five goals: a connected community, liveable neighbourhoods, a strong local economy, a sustainable environment and a high-performing organisation.