Category Archives: Wollongong

WOLLONGONG 2022 Vision Community Summit

This is what community democracy sort of almost looks like

One of the "Ideas" boards

Today I had the privilege of attending the Wollongong Community Summit with 200 other members of the Wollongong community. It was a seemingly diverse group. We were charged with the responsibility of helping formulate the vision to be at the heart of Wollongong City Council’s Community Strategic Plan. Many attendees were cynical, believing this to be another WCC tick the box exercise in faux community consultation. However there are a few promising signs that this may be the dawning of a new day for council. The most significant is that for the first time in my memory, council are submitting serious objections to the TRU concept plan for the Tallawarra Lands. This would never have happened in the old regime.

There are a few warnings. Firstly, although appearing diverse, there were only 2 community members from the Dapto area. See the map below. There were none from Cringila, Warrawong, Port Kembla, Primbee or Windang. The far north was also very lightly represented. Sadly there were very few aboriginal people. People with disabilities seemed well represented. All ages were present in good numbers.

Suburbs represented.

Council did commission a survey of school children from the Warrawong area. Interestingly apart from mentioning their love of beaches and the environment, they were very concerned about prostitution in Wentworth Street. Some cynical people suggested that the data collection process may have been shaped in particular directions. Children’s number one priority for Wollongong was – more “nice people”. Hmmmm.

Also, this is one of several summits. Others have been for “Leaders” and “business”.  While this event seems to be a genuine effort to engage the community, time will tell how much weight is given in practice to these various perspectives. When there is conflict between goals or strategies, how will these be resolved. Will the “ordinary” resident keep their seat at the table or be pushed aside for the interests of “business” and “leaders”?

I shared tables with a number of groups and encountered the usual problems of dominant personalities hijacking the agenda, not respecting others and completely ignoring the task at hand. Maybe Wollongong really does need more nice people. There were also a lot of passionate, respectful articulate people.

Interestingly in terms of content, there was a significant amount of convergence around key issues. The environment rated very highly. There was a strong push for an end to homelessness and unemployment. People wanted Wollongong to genuinely embrace innovation as a real possibility, not just a slogan.

Details will follow shortly, but I thought I’d share my last table’s consensus vision statement for Wollongong. We can’t show you this woman’s face because its irrelevant – read the sign.


Occupy East Dapto

CRED invites all residents of East Dapto to get informed and get involved in the coming Occupy Sydney meeting at Martin Place on October 15. Concerned citizens will rally at 2:30 and begin the process of shaping the vision for a different Australia. So why bother? Will it make a difference? What has this got to do with our community?

Firstly, this is not just a support or sympathy rally for Occupy Wall Street – even though the events of Wall Street do directly impact our daily lives. Occupy Sydney is one of several rallies nationwide to address Australia’s concerns. Our situation is not as dire as America at present, thanks to the mining boom and modest levels of national debt. Yet we share the same structural unfairness that locks 99% of Australians out of the game. Consider our local issues.

We have already lost ownership of the once publically owned Tallawarra Lands to a subsidiary of China Light and Power. The land was sold well below market price by the corrupt Bob Carr government in 1997. Now I’m sure you would like some bargain basement real estate with lake views? So how come a foreign company gets the chance that we don’t? Could it be that they are the 1% and we are the 99%?

When the development was proposed, a consultant to TRUEnergy conducted a community survey. The scope of the survey was to discover the community’s attitude towards the proposed development and preferred use for the land. Several times I have asked to see the results of this community survey. As an affected resident, I was refused because apparently community opinion is “commercial in confidence?” When did community opinion become a trade secret? How could this happen? Could it be that they are the 1% and we are the 99%?

Consider our pool? Once we had free access. Maintenance and staffing was covered by rates and even the poorest of the poor could take their kids for a free, fun day out. What happened? Already struggling, the cost of heating the pool was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Why don’t rates cover the cost of providing community services? Why does the State Government not adequately fund our community? Could it be that they are the 1% and we are the 99%.

What about the problems of social disadvantage, poor education outcomes, vandalism and crime? Why aren’t Australia’s wealthiest companies and citizens making a big enough contribution to adequately provide the prevention, education and social services to adequately improve the lot of our disadvantaged people? After all – our natural resources belong to all of us. Surely a compassionate and progressive society like Australia that values a fair go would do what it takes to fix this? Isn’t THAT the ANZAC spirit? Yet when the Federal Government proposed a Super Profits Tax, the 1% spent millions on advertising to defend their greed! Our Government dared not to even contemplate a tax on Bank Super Profits. Maybe it’s because they are the 1% and we are the 99%?

In these wildly prosperous times, why do such a large proportion of us have no job at all, not enough hours or a full-time job that still leaves us struggling to pay rent, food, water and electricity? Is it because they are the 1% and we are the 99%?

So if you think this is just about the USA or Sydney – think again. The actions of the wealthiest 1% directly affect your life, your dreams and your prospects. You have already seen their impact on electricity, water, rent and housing costs. If you have a job, you have already seen the demands for endless productivity gains when you are already working at full capacity. So what are you going to do? This is not just about protesting. The “Occupy” movement needs your voice, your heart, your ideas – or simply to know that you want to see a fairer world, country and community. Find out more at I hope to see you at Martin Place – or on the wonderful 2 hour train ride to the City.

Community Strategic Plan

This just in from the terminally ill NSW Government:

A new approach to planning and reporting

A new planning and reporting framework for NSW local government has been introduced. These reforms replace the former Management Plan and Social Plan with an integrated framework. It also includes a new requirement to prepare a long-term Community Strategic Plan and Resourcing Strategy. The essential elements of the new framework are outlined in these Guidelines. Guidance to assist councils to implement the new framework is explained in the supporting Planning and Reporting Manual.

The Community Strategic Plan

The Community Strategic Plan is the highest level plan that a council will prepare. The purpose of the plan is to identify the community’s main priorities and aspirations for the future and to plan strategies for achieving these goals. In doing this, the planning process will consider the issues and pressures that may affect the community and the level of resources that will realistically be available to achieve its aims and aspirations. While a council has a custodial role in initiating, preparing and maintaining the Community Strategic Plan on behalf of the local government area, it is not wholly responsible for its implementation. Other partners, such as State agencies and community groups may also be engaged in delivering the long-term objectives of the plan.

Community Strategic Plan

* Each local government area is to have a Community Strategic Plan that has been developed and endorsed by the council.
* The Community Strategic Plan is to identify the main priorities and aspirations for the future of the local government area.
* The Community Strategic Plan must cover a minimum timeframe of 10 years.
* The Community Strategic Plan must establish strategic objectives together with strategies to achieve those objectives.
* It must address social, environmental, economic and civic leadership issues in an integrated manner.
* Council must ensure the Community Strategic Plan is adequately informed by relevant information relating to social, environmental, economic and civic leadership issues.
* It must be based on the social justice principles of equity, access, participation and rights.
* The Community Strategic Plan must give due regard to the State Plan and other relevant state and regional plans.
Community Engagement
* Each council must prepare and implement a Community Engagement Strategy based on social justice principles for engagement with the local community in developing the Community Strategic Plan.

The Resourcing Strategy
The Community Strategic Plan provides a vehicle for expressing long-term community aspirations. However, these will not be achieved without sufficient resources – time, money, assets and people – to actually carry them out.
The Resourcing Strategy consists of three components:
* Long Term Financial Planning
* Workforce Management Planning
* Asset Management Planning.

The Resourcing Strategy is the point where Council assists the community by sorting out who is responsible for what, in terms of the issues identified in the Community Strategic Plan. Some issues will clearly be the responsibility of Council, some will be the responsibility of other levels of government and some will rely on input from community groups or individuals. The Resourcing Strategy focuses in detail on matters that are the responsibility of the council and looks generally at matters that are the responsibility of others.

for more information see:

Wollongong gets poor green rating – Local News – News – General – Illawarra Mercury

Illawarra Mercury 15 June 2010.

This is no surprise given the State Government’s propensity for giving away land to developers at bargain basement prices and building houses on high quality agricultural land. CRED calls on council to keep Tallawarra Point and Calderwood green.


15 Jun, 2010 04:00 AM

Wollongong is the worst ranked of all Australian cities when it comes to coping with emerging environmental pressures such as climate change, a national report has revealed.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Index, which measured the eco-credentials of the nation’s 20 largest cities across 15 indicators, found Wollongong was Australia’s least “resilient” city – the most likely to falter under major environmental stress.

The unflattering result was due to a low education rate, comparably poor public health, a scarcity of volunteers and a lack of local food production, the index showed.

Just 35 per cent of people aged over 20 have completed Year 12 or equivalent, and almost 7 per cent of the city’s population suffers Type 2 diabetes.

High levels of household loan repayments also contributed to the result.

In terms of overall sustainability, Darwin was ranked No 1.

Wollongong placed 17th, ahead of Newcastle, Geelong and Perth.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokeswoman Monica Richter said a sense of community would help cities stay resilient in the face of threats such as global warming or a peak oil crisis.

“A city with a strong sense of community, volunteering and more places for local food production is better placed to deal with future challenges, by giving people a sense of strong, cohesive community around them,” she said.

“Wollongong has some way to go – it is doing very well in some areas and poorly in others.”

The city also ranked worst in air quality, measuring 2.5 times more particulate matter per cubic metre of air than the best performing city, the Sunshine Coast.

But Wollongong scored well in water usage, low rates of private car ownership and climate change policies put in place by local government.

Cunningham MP Sharon Bird questioned the pessimistic snapshot.

“I very much dispute the argument that somehow there is a major problem in our region that makes it a negative overall – it’s sad to rank in a way that insinuates the bottom cities are not going well,” Ms Bird said.

Conceding youth unemployment and school retention rates were problematic, the Wollongong community boasted a “very deep sense of the need to look after each other”, she said.

Cunningham Greens candidate George Takacs said while Wollongong may have low rates of private car ownership, public transport did not make up the shortfall. He was also concerned about the Illawarra’s hunger for new housing areas, claiming it was eating up valuable agricultural land.

via Wollongong gets poor green rating – Local News – News – General – Illawarra Mercury.

26th May Deadline for comments on Draft Management Plan

Just a quick reminder – one day left till submissions close. Please write to council using

Feedback Form

Get more info on the Daft Management Plan here

A one line comment will help.

Please mail to:
Organisational Strategy and Improvement Division,
Wollongong City Council, Locked bag 8821, WOLLONGONG DC NSW 2500
or Fax to 4227 7580

What’s been happening about Tallawarra

Over the next few weeks I’ll be updating this blog up to speed on whats happened leading up to, and since the Council’s consultation process.

The first thing to note is that 7 months ago, Sylvia Hale made an important speech supporting us, and out State Government’s response was to vote to adjourn the house!


Page: 12229

Ms SYLVIA HALE [2.16 a.m.]: I understand that the Director General of Planning is currently considering whether to allow the draft Wollongong local environmental plan [LEP] to go on public exhibition. I believe that the draft local environmental plan should not go on exhibition at this time and that it should be returned to the council with an instruction to undertake a thorough and open investigation to ensure that any proposed rezonings have been put forward on the basis of merit and not on the basis of corrupt or partial dealings with certain Wollongong developers. I have good reason for concern about the way in which the draft local environmental plan has been put together. In July this year I was provided with information that Frank Vellar, the developer named by ICAC in its report on Wollongong City Council as engaging in “serious corrupt conduct”, had two currently empty mansions on the Illawarra escarpment at Corrimal recommended for retrospective approval as part of the draft local environmental plan.

It has been alleged that these mansions were built illegally on land zoned for environmental protection. A Wollongong council report found that the Vellar construction site contributed to damage to houses on land below the Vellar property caused by the 1998 Wollongong flood. Documents obtained by the Greens show that Wollongong council, rather than prosecuting Mr Vellar, spent nearly $140,000 of public funds repairing drainage problems on the escarpment caused by his illegal building works. Disgraced former council employee and Australian Labor Party member Joe Scimone was head of the council’s engineering department at the time the remediation work was undertaken at council expense. The recommendation to rezone the Vellar land to allow the houses was contained in a draft local environmental plan approved by the disgraced Wollongong council the night before it was dismissed.

Following the public exposure of this scandalous rezoning proposal, the council’s administrators withdrew the Vellar mansions site from the draft local environmental plan. That leaves unanswered the question that must be answered: How did the Vellar rezoning find its way into the draft local environmental plan in the first place? I have a very real concern that it was put there as a result of partial, if not corrupt, dealings involving Mr Vellar and officers of the council. There is the additional question concerning how many other proposed rezonings in the draft local environmental plan may be the result of inappropriate or corrupt dealings with developers. Consider, for example, the proposed rezoning of lands at Tallawarra. I raised this matter in the House in May and I do not believe that the issues I raised at that time have been addressed.

The background to the proposed Tallawarra rezoning is that in 2003, in a secret deal, the Carr Government sold to the company TXU Australia, for an upfront payment of $4 million, the publicly owned Tallawarra lands, which comprise some 600 hectares and nearly six kilometres of Lake Illawarra frontage. A further $11 million was to be paid later when a power station was operating on 65 hectares of the site. A condition of this bonanza for the company was that it build a gas-fired power station. In return, some of the remaining 535 hectares could be sold to provide further employment opportunities, and the rest was to be retained for environment conservation. I doubt whether anyone would be surprised to learn that TXU donated $11,000 to the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party at around the time of its secret deal with the Government.

In 2005, the China Light and Power Company, known in Australia as TRUenergy, bought TXU and, with it, the Tallawarra site. We know from council documents that there was a cosy relationship between some Wollongong council officers and representatives of TRUenergy throughout this time. The proposed rezoning will allow for the development of a huge housing estate on the Tallawarra lands. The local environment study [LES] prepared by TRUenergy forms the basis for the draft LEP in relation to Tallawarra. I believe that the LES, prepared as it was on behalf of the proponent, is questionable and needs to be set aside. An LES undertaken independently of TRUenergy, as required by law, should be prepared before any rezoning proposal for Tallawarra is given further consideration. I believe that the draft Wollongong local environmental plan should be sent back to the council and an open and independent inquiry undertaken into all the rezoning proposals contained in that plan. The people of Wollongong have the right to know that any local environmental plan is drafted on the basis of what is best for the community, not on what is best for corrupt developers.

Community Engagement Resolutions





1. In response to broad community concern across the Wollongong region, and involving a number of concerned local community groups and individuals, a ‘Community Engagement’ Conference was hosted by Wollongong Against Corruption at the Fraternity Club Wollongong on 28 February 2009. It was the purpose of the Conference to review Wollongong City Council’s (WCC) Draft Local Environment Plan 2009 (DLEP). The Conference was attended by 150 citizens of Wollongong.

2. The following Conclusions were drafted after the Conference by the Organizing Committee from minuted statements of speakers and participants; the Resolutions were voted on at the Conference and passed unanimously.

3. The current Report on the Conference and its Resolutions demonstrates the general case that must be made for developing a planning framework across the State that aligns with international best practice through putting into place community engagement from the start of the planning process as the essential criterion for good planning.


1. Apart from generic problems in both the Plan’s overall vision and general zoning provisions as applied to the whole Wollongong region, case studies revealed significant problems in specific developments either included within the current DLEP or still under review and awaiting final Council determination. The Conference concluded that these case studies were but examples of a wider and deeper malaise in the Plan and the planning process. Participants were concerned that the current Plan was formed essentially within the period that Wollongong City Council was demonstrably corrupt according to ICAC and identified as serving the illicit interests of developers. As the DLEP directly and negatively affects not only their own immediate neighbourhoods, but also national objectives of equity and democratic voice for all people, community-building, sustainable development and response to climate change, participants at the Community Engagement Conference were deeply troubled by the impact this flawed DLEP will have on their future.

2. Based therefore on its informed review of evidence the Conference concluded that Wollongong City Council’s Draft Local Environment Plan 2009 is deeply flawed as is the consultation process that sought to facilitate public access to the Plan and general knowledge about it.

3. In terms of the content and conclusions of the DLEP, the Plan:

(1) is not based on a local community-generated or tested vision of what the people of Wollongong want for their own communities and living environments, but on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy of planning and an untested and unannounced assumption of the need for more highly concentrated urban development either because considerable employment growth in the Illawarra can be projected (at a time of major global economic recession), or because the region is planned to serve as satellite support for Sydney’s development and employment;

(2) does not support this higher density vision with any planning of associated infrastructure requirements or studies of impact on local residents and/or future introduced citizens and their lifestyles and community neighbourthoods;

(3) is fundamentally flawed because it misleads the public by communicating a ‘status-quo’ vision when major developments still under review are not included or referred to, for example, with respect to the cases of Corrimal and Bulli shopping centre developments, Talawarra Lands, and the Thirroul Excelsior Colliery Lands; this lack of comprehensiveness reflects a lack of regard for the transparency that is crucial for the citizens of Wollongong to make an informed decision;

(4) reflects a fundamental shift in the generic basis of planning for the whole region as demonstrated in new and more flexible ‘developer-friendly’ building restrictions within:

(i) new DA conditions across all zoning categories, for example, building heights, required land space and community facilities, in particular in reference to areas defined for low and medium density development;

(ii) the selection of areas chosen for rezoning for higher density development – in particular, in response to assumed but unsurveyed demand within the proximity of some railway stations, but not according to a tested vision of Wollongong’s overall community demand, economic and social needs, precinct-based quality of life and projected residential settlement patterns, and the city’s urban integrity;

(iii) the absence of any review of the impact of climate change, sustainability, economic and social needs, and aesthetic criteria across the Plan as a whole; and,

(iv) the inclusion of only four lines of text that take marginal account of generalized zoning requirements for the prevention of bushfires as have devastated extensive regions of Victoria in the last month;

(5) includes a number of specific cases of planning incompetence, illegality or unaddressed corruption in process that, on further analysis may be widespread, but at this point can be identified specifically in relation to,

(i) the absence of required environmental, climate change, impact statements, and infrastructure assessments across all zoning proposals, as specifically demonstrated in the Talawarra Lands Case considered by the Conference; and,

(ii) the inclusion of approved developments that have been tainted by previous corruption or illegal Council approvals as demonstrated in the Corrimal Vellar Mansions and Thirroul Excelsior Lands Rezoning Cases considered by the Conference.

(6) includes no detailed controls for exercising consent powers even though a wide range of land uses are permitted with consent under standard zones, so as a consequence, the community is being asked to accept the proposed land uses when no idea is presented of where and how they might be permitted – including directly adjacent to their own property.

5. In terms of the consultation process utilized by Wollongong City Council in communicating the DLEP to the public and gaining feedback, the Plan :

(1) as a whole was formed without broad ranging community consultations on what Wollongong people wanted for their own local neigbourhoods or for the city’s general future environment;

(2) is presented in a form that makes it virtually inaccessible to public understanding, specifically for example, as,

(i) no guiding vision or executive statement of the essence of the Plan is presented even though a ‘higher density’ assumption is carried through in details embedded in the entire Plan;

(ii) language and format of presentation is dense and bureaucratic rather than clear and user-friendly;

(iii) there are no assessments of impact and,

(iv) there is no way for a reader of the advertised Plan to identify what is different to the existing 1990 Council planning conditions except by the reader making a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison to Council’s existing planning requirements embodied in separate documents.

(3) has been presented to the public in a limited period of time commencing a fortnight before Christmas holidays through ‘information kiosks’ and availability of CDs that favor one-way presentation of detail rather than communication and assessment of vision and responsiveness to community concerns.

4. Although the Wollongong Council Administrators have now extended the deadline for submissions by two weeks (on the eve of the currently reported Community Engagement Conference to which Council was invited but chose to not officially attend), this is not enough additional time for the average reasonable citizen to search out all relevant information, review options and possible impacts on their quality of life and interests – given that the Plan contains no such assessments, and present fully informed submissions, given the flawed nature of the current document and absence of adequate supportive studies.


Conference Participants agreed unanimously on the following Resolutions:

This Conference of concerned local residents:

(1) Fully supports responsible, ethical development and the generation of employment.

(2) Welcomes the advent of a new Local Environment Plan for Wollongong.

(3) Calls on the NSW Government-appointed Wollongong City Council Administrators however to order a Public Hearing under Section 68 of the Environmental and Planning Act to examine the wide-ranging concerns raised throughout this Community Engagement Conference and the need to re-start the planning process in order to develop a Plan for the people that is truly based on community aspirations, health, wealth and infrastructure requirements at both local and city level rather than untested bureaucratic population growth assumptions and a ‘one-size fits all’ philosophy.

(4) Calls on Wollongong City Council Administrators to immediately postpone the newly announced 31 March 2009 deadline for public submissions to a date which allows adequate time for initial submissions, for the Public Hearing to then take place, for the findings or report of this Public Hearing to be published (including details of all submissions received) and the community to have the right to respond to any amendments made by Council to the LEP after the Public Hearing.

(5) Demands the NSW Government conduct democratic elections for Wollongong City Council before the Plan is returned to community consultation in order for the peoples’ democratically elected representatives to guide the community consultation process at local neighbourhood levels and take care of local issues and the interests of their constituents.

(6) Calls on Wollongong City Council Administrators to therefore defer finalisation of the DLEP until after this Hearing is held, elections are conducted, and the concerns of the people detailed at this Community Engagement Conference are fully addressed.

(7) Demands that after the above conditions are met and when the revised DLEP is again released for public exhibition that the document,

(i) clearly states that the DLEP is a statement of standards rather than potentially flexible guidelines;

(ii) is based on full interactive community engagement;

(iii) is written in plain English;

(iv) includes associated infrastructure requirements and studies of impact on local residents, their lifestyles and their community neighbourthoods;

(v) clearly identifies changes in previous zoning definitions and zoning;

(vi) identifies all lands owned by developers who are likely to gain capital advantage from the zoning changes; and,

(vii) is exhibited along with its accompanying Draft Control Codes in plain English.

(8) Calls on the NSW Minister for Planning to monitor this review, consultation and revision process in order to ensure that the Wollongong DLEP 2009 is based on community engagement at local levels, takes full account of the wide-ranging and deep concerns raised by the present Community Engagement Conference, and is reformed in the context of a fully democratic process.

(9) Supports, in principle, the measures to protect native vegetation and the escarpment, but seeks to have climate change response, sustainability, biodiversity, bushfire prevention and maintenance of the integrity of local residential areas as focal aims of the Plan. An example of this is the Wollongong Futures Project which does not appear to have been effectively taken into account. We ask Council to take into account all relevant and appropriate research, Council and State commissioned studies including the Escarpment and Sandon Point Commissions of Inquiry.

(10) Considers that the provisions for residential areas generally should be modified significantly so that they enhance the characteristics and quality of existing areas, whilst allowing more intensive development of a reasonable scale in appropriate locations but not next to schools and dwellings.

(11) Considers the following specific proposals unacceptable and in need of full re-appraisal:

(i) Tallawarra Lands – to test the integrity of employment lands rather than residential, and the likelihood of their being developed as well as to ensure that all appropriate environmental and aesthetic considerations have been accounted for;

(ii) Vellar Mansions, Corrimal – Council should refuse the proposal to rezone the Vellar Land E3 in favour of the developer, order the demolition of the Vellar Mansions, and order the owner to restore the escarpment forest and fix the risks of land slip and flooding;

(iii) Excelsior – to require the environmental studies recommended by the Commission of Enquiry to be carried out before re-zoning;

(iv) Gwynneville East – to respect the single storey residential and flood prone environment;

(v) Keira/Kenny Streets – to use the land for residential, not industrial purposes; and,

(vi) Medium density proposals at Corrimal East and Woonona East to allow more respect for existing residential environments.

(vii) Council should refuse to rezone land next to the new Port Kembla School from Private Recreation to IN1 (General Industrial) and the old Port Kembla School site that was once zoned Educational to IN2 (Light Industrial). Both sites have dwellings adjoining them.

(12) Calls on Wollongong City Council to immediately review the stalled Belmorgan Fairy Meadow development and order the developer to fix identified safety issues then complete or demolish.