Advocacy fact sheet

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Introduction

The City of Whittlesea is the second largest growing municipality in Victoria. The estimated population for 2013 is 176,593 and is projected to grow to over 249,800 over the next ten years1. The City of Whittlesea is the third most multicultural municipality in Victoria with one third of its population being born overseas and 43% speaking a language other than English2. The general population remains younger than the Melbourne average and has a higher proportion of households with children, making 56% of the total population2. At the same time, there is also a significant growth observed in the ageing population as well which clearly demonstrates the need for service delivery in both ends of the spectrum.

The rapid transformation of Whittlesea in to a growth corridor of metropolitan significance has stretched its services and infrastructure to its limits. The gap between demand and supply of human service delivery and infrastructure needs has widened ever since. A more consorted effort and a partnership approach are needed from Federal, State and Local Government as well as from range of Community Service organisations to cater to the ever growing demand.

Whittlesea Community Futures Partnership

The imperative to increase investment in human services in the City of Whittlesea was identified in the ‘Strategic Plan for Human Service Delivery, 2003’ report. A wide range of agencies contributed to the report which found a severe lack of human service infrastructure across a spectrum of needs in the City of Whittlesea.

In response to this growing demand, the City of Whittlesea joined together in a substantial partnership with over 40 human services agencies, community-based organisations and state government departments to deliver the Whittlesea Community Futures (WCF) Project. The vision of the WCF partnership is to create a connected inclusive community that shapes its own future. Since its inception in 2006, WCF has steadily evolved in to a strong partnership of multidisciplinary agencies and earned a good reputation as a cross sectoral and united planning and advocacy body of the Whittlesea Community.

Whittlesea Community Futures Human Services Strategy

The WCF Human Services Strategy is the key strategic document of the partnership. The strategy was informed by the human services needs analysis conducted by the City of Whittlesea in 2011 and was developed with the contribution of all member agencies. It is considered to be a living document and therefore will evolve with the change in priorities of the partnership. The strategy encompasses the strategic action plans of all four clusters. The human services strategy spans over a period from 2011 to 2016 and provides the way forward for the partnership.

Priorities of the WCF Partnership

The following has been identified as the key priorities of the WCF Partnership. A range of strategic actions have been developed under each of these priorities. Clusters have been established for each of these priorities to take the actions forward. The WCF Partnership plays a major role in advocacy, collaborative planning, development of innovative service models and pursuing resources for services across all these priorities.

  • Family & Children
    Family & Children is one of the key priorities of the partnership as households with children makes nearly 56% of the total population of the municipality2. The Whittlesea Early Years Partnership (WEYP), which is the sector leader, has further identified Family Violence and Early Childhood Intervention as the key priorities to be addressed by the group.
  • Youth
    The WCF Partnership has identified 'Youth' as one of its key priorities. The demand for services, opportunities and age appropriate infrastructure has tremendously increased in the recent times. The Whittlesea Youth Commitment (WYC), a partnership of agencies working in the youth sector is leading the way. It has identified Youth Engagement & Connection, Youth Mental Health and Youth Homelessness as key priorities to be addressed by the group.
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities
    City of Whittlesea is the third most multicultural municipality in Victoria. The WCF partnership has identified this as one of its key priorities and has further identified Family Violence, Racism & Community Relations, and Employment as its sub priorities. CALD communities cluster is playing a key role in this sector.
  • Positive Ageing
    People over 50 years of age makeup 26.1% of the total population2 and in the recent times significant increase in the number of old people have been observed. Recognising this reality, the WCF Partnership has identified Positive Ageing as one of its key priorities. The Positive Ageing cluster has further identified Community Transport, Service Provision, and Positive Ageing as the sub priorities to be addressed by the group.

Key Advocacy Priorities of the Partnership

  • Strengthening the mental health service provision for young people within the Municipality. WCF partnership through its Youth Cluster has been advocating for a Headspace centre to be opened in the City of Whittlesea as well as strengthening the existing mental health services to cater the growing demand from young people.
  • Strengthening the youth homelessness support services. The Partnership through the Youth Cluster is currently advocating to secure resources to develop a comprehensive picture around youth homelessness in City of Whittlesea and to develop strategies based on evidence to support vulnerable young people.
  • Family Violence is one of the key advocacy priorities of the WCF Partnership. The Partnership is continuously working to raise the profile of the issue within the community as well as at State and Federal Government circles. The Partnership has been advocating for more resources to be put in 'prevention' as well 'early intervention' stages. Further, WCF partnership is promoting a partnership approach among the member agencies to work together to find lasting solutions to this growing problem. The WCF CALD Communities cluster and WEYP has been working with a specific focus on this issue.
  • The WCF Partnership through the Positive Ageing cluster has been advocating and working in partnership with Whittlesea Northern Transport Link Project (WNTL) to strengthen the community transport sector in the City of Whittlesea through securing more resources and profiling the significance of the issue for our ageing community.
  • The WEYP is advocating to embed the UNICEF Child Friendly City (CFC) guidelines into policy planning & practice in the early years sector in the City of Whittlesea.

Achievements and Current Initiatives of the WCF Partnership

  • 'Family violence' has been identified as a key priority by CALD Communities Cluster as well as WEYP. WCF Partnership has channelled its energy in this area and through the CALD communities cluster it has been able to secure philanthropic funding. A scoping exercise has been completed and a project to support CALD communities address family violence has been very recently initiated.
  • The WCF Partnership had also successfully conducted the 'City of Whittlesea Family Violence Forum' on December 2011 with the participation of key Government players and community service organisation. The forum helped to raise the profile of the issue considerably in the Government ranks and among service providers.
  • The WCF Partnership has regularly organised meetings with politicians and senior government officials to advocate for the needs of the City of Whittlesea communities. These forums has helped the politicians and government officials better understand the increasing needs of this growth municipality as well as providing the community service organisations an opportunity to highlight the constraints they face in servicing this community.
  • The WCF partnership has been advocating with relevant authorities to increase the level of human service provision to the municipality. The Youth Cluster has been advocating strongly for bringing in mental health services for youth into this municipality. Further a working group is exploring opportunities in youth homelessness sector and is trying to establish a clear picture of youth homelessness in the City of Whittlesea.
  • The WCF partnership has been instrumental in coordinating a number of partnership funding applications for some of the Government grants. The WCF promotes a collaborative approach towards funding opportunities. It tries to build a shared understanding among agencies to work collaboratively rather than compete for resources, and funding.
  • The WCF Positive Ageing Cluster played a key role in supporting City of Whittlesea deliver the 'Positive Ageing Forum, June 2011'. Many members of the Positive Ageing Cluster actively participated in the program and over 200 seniors attend the program.

Get Involved...Become a Member of WCF partnership!

If your organisation is currently providing services in the City of Whittlesea or providing services to clients from City of Whittlesea it might be worth becoming a member of WCF Partnership. It gives you an opportunity to collaborate with agencies like yours, share ideas and plans, advocate together for the community and work in partnership for better outcomes for the community.

If you want to know more about this partnership please contact Thiyagerajah Abarajitha (Abi), Whittlesea Community Futures Project Officer, City of Whittlesea on (03) 9217 2524. Alternatively you can email to thiyagerajah.abarajitha@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

References

1 City of Whittlesea Population Forecast
2 City of Whittlesea Community Profile

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