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Our 2021 Summit


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had a big meeting in Canberra on April 19/20 2008 to discuss the nation’s future.

In Newstead we gathered on Sunday May 4th  2008 at the Community Centre to discuss Newstead’s future and the big issues for our community.

What began as a mad idea a few weeks earlier took shape, as we worked to organise our “summit” where the people of Newstead and surrounds would come together and share ideas about how residents might prepare for the future.

Our informal committee included some people who had not met before. Consequently our first meeting established new friendships. It was a good sign. The structure and format of the day was quickly established. We wanted the entire community, including residents of all ages to feel welcome, to come along to share ideas, have fun and maybe start a community conversation about shaping a viable future for Newstead.

Officially 123 people turned out for Newstead 2021.  That’s 15 per cent of our local community! We suspect there were more who didn’t sign in at the door.

Patrick Kavanagh opened proceedings and welcomed participants to share their ideas, enthusiasm and energy to discuss how our local community could build on its strengths and meet the challenges of 2021.

Genevieve Barlow interviewed Maureen Heagney from Sandon on her involvement in our community over the past fifty years. What a wonderful insight Maureen offered. She explained how the community had responded to the great fires that threatened Newstead in 1979 with the forming of the CFA Ladies Auxiliary the year after, and how the community rallied to raised funds to build and run the pool. She talked about the struggles the auxiliary faces now to gain new members and how to this day, they raise money by running dances and catering for funerals. She showed us how volunteering and doing things together has always oiled friendships and the community spirit.

A highlight of the day was the sharing of perspectives about what makes the Newstead community special. Our local policeman, Grant MacDonald, told us about the broader role his profession plays in servicing our community in times of drought and stress. Paul Righetti, who farms at Yandoit with his wife Jacquie, spoke about the challenges facing our primary producers. Cheryl Gervasoni, of the Newstead IGA supermarket, highlighted the key role our small businesses play in servicing local needs. Kylie Richardson focused on the diversity of youth and sporting groups helping people of all ages enjoy recreation. Newstead Landcare representative Jennie Grundy reflected on the keen interest and high level of involvement in environmental activities that has become a feature of our community in recent years. Trouble magazine proprietor Steve Proposch gave an arts community perspective on what was already happening and what might be possible. Chris Simmins from the CFA gave a compelling talk about the role of community volunteers and the challenges his organisation faced in maintaining its viability.

The team from the Newstead Primary School, Maddie Ruggles, Zac Carson, Alice Reece and Sam Daldy summed up their hopes in their presentation. They talked about a future where the community might join in with school kids to help create a community garden and about how their methods of learning will change as technology advances. They talked about the importance of understanding Newstead’s past to create a future.

Then the fun began, as Geoff Park called for ideas from the floor. There was no shortage of them: safer walking paths, street trees that could feed people, a system of integrated walking and bike paths, more play facilities for kids, a community garden, a cultural centre, a ride-share program, solar energy, natural gas connection and so on.

This special insert outlines the main themes that emerged from the summit, a hint at what might emerge from the Summit as groups begin to meet and a list of all the ideas that people submitted on the day.

We’ve created this so everyone, including those who couldn’t be at the summit, can reflect on the ideas and think about where Newstead might progress from here.


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