The Process

The Murraylands and Riverland Plan (MR Plan) is about supporting our region to develop enduring regional resilience. 

The planning process will follow a strong evidence-base to further the economic, social and environmental interests of the Murraylands, Mallee and Riverland towards achieving this vision.

Developed in partnership with the Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association (MRLGA), the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board (MRLB) and Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland (RDAMR), the planning process is guided by a local and expert Steering Committee, that recognised the need to identify a diverse regional network, formal and informal, that span our Murraylands, Mallee and Riverland region, including people across industry, social services, the unemployed, the self-employed, families, friends, churches, sporting and service clubs, live-in, work-in, artistic groups, committee representatives and more.

Project Partners

A partnership of Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland (RDAMR), Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board (MRLB) and Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association (MRLGA) led the development of the Murraylands and Riverland Plan through a process of collaboration with the community and local stakeholders.

Steering Committee

The MR Plan Steering Committee was assembled to advise and support the MR Plan project team.

This Steering Committee was comprised of Chief Executive Officers (or equivalent) from RDAMR, MRLGA, MRLB, one Riverland and one Murraylands Council, one Riverland and one Murraylands Aboriginal representative, one MR community representative, and one MR industry representative, plus the PIRSA Regional Coordinator and an independent Chair.

Following a Terms of Reference, the Steering Committee met monthly from August 2021 – June 2022 across the region (where possible in light of Covid-19 impacts) and online to advise the project lead, RDAMR, on consultation, engagement and process to develop the MR Plan.

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hours of Steering Committee Meetings

The Experts

Independent consultant, democracyCo were appointed by the Steering Committee (following a tender submission process) to undertake detailed project engagement activities aligning with the MR Plan project purpose.

The democracyCo team assisted with the facilitation of the Community Conversations, Regional Summit and Interest Panel forums.

Their expertise ensured that the MR Plan process truly captured the voice of the community.

Emily Jenke (Co CEO of democracyCo)

Emma Fletcher (Co CEO of democracyCo)

Individual Interviews

With the assistance of community engagement experts, democracyCo, a diverse range of 28 community members from across the region were interviewed in October 2021.

Steering Committee members and project partner organisations, along with some democracyCo staff, identified people in their personal networks (not professional networks) with an emphasis on identifying everyday people in the community who would be less likely to participate in a traditional planning or consultation engagement process.

We listened, not telling them of existing or developing plans; just listened, questioned and learned.

The interviews were intended to help to prepare and frame the resilience challenge authentically before we embarked on broadscale engagement on this issue.

The interviewees are at the core of the Community Conversation Guide and Host Guide.

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Interviews Held

Ages

The 28 interviewees come from a diverse range of community members across our region.

Droughts – not getting enough rain- this will have a huge impact on the farmers and the town. This will be the biggest issue they will face in the next 10-15 years.

Interviewee, Karoonda

We have one good year in ten. Farmers plan for the future – they plan financially for disaster. They don’t expect good years.

Interviewee, Loxton

Talking – people underestimate the power of talking… you know you’re not alone when you talk/share with someone. And this happens casually in sporting clubs/church. You can get stuff off your chest.

Interviewee, Mannum

Social media has fueled a lot of the hate and resentment.

Interviewee, Tailem Bend

Covid has impacted our culture, we can’t touch each other. It is human, we need to hug each other. We need to touch and connect with each other – we need human touch.

Interviewee, Loxton

We need strong leadership. People with knowledge and expertise. We need to trust in our leaders.

Interviewee, Murray Bridge

We are in good hands – the leaders are doers – they are positive… they have a long-term vision. The conversations are about the next 10-30 years.

Interviewee, Tintinara

Government is constantly taking services away. This has bad impacts on the community. It makes you feel unimportant and it makes it harder to get families into the district because they will go elsewhere… we are in a weird negative cycle. They rip services out and then give different services because we are depressed.

Interviewee, Geranium

Community Conversations

This stage aimed to understand how the community and stakeholders viewed the strengths and the weaknesses of the region’s communities – collecting valuable data and insights that provided a sense of opportunities and challenges that required attention.

Community Conversations commenced with Soft Launch events held in November 2021 across the region in Berri, Murray Bridge and Lameroo.

The conversations were guided by The Community Conversation Guide, a document framed by the feedback received from interviewees both in terms of the language used and the content detailed.

The Guide was designed to enable small community groups to come together and discuss their strengths and what they needed to support their resilience.

Any community member could host a Community Conversation and they were supported in doing this by the Host Guide.

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Community Conversations held
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People across the region participated

Regional Summit

The MR Plan Regional Summit was conducted on 18 February 2022 as an online event due to the threat of COVID 19 in the community at that time.

There were over 130 registrations for the event from across the region, from diverse industries, and ranging in age from 16 to over 65 years.

The MR Plan Regional Summit was designed to be a whole of region, inclusive event. The event highlighted the MR Plan Process and continued the conversations that had been started in the community about the future and resilience of the region.

Participants heard from our region’s leaders (existing and aspiring) about their vision for the future, and from guest speakers who encouraged lively discussions around our regional identity, being in control of our own future and exploring what we expect and need from leadership in the region. Then we listened and took lots of notes!

Content from the Summit, along with interview and conversation data, were used to shape the focus of the Interest Panels.

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Participants
MR Plan Regional Summit Feedback

In answer to the question “How well did our online format help you connect with others across your region?”

Felt like they were able to connect well with others online31%
31%
Reported that connecting online was much better than expected61%
61%
Indicated that it was great to catch up online6%
6%
Indicated that they felt they couldn’t really connect (with others) online2%
2%
4 Part Process

The Regional Summit involved 4 ‘parts’:

Interest Panels

Four Interest Panels were convened to deeply explore four prioritised areas as developed by a Regional Leadership Panel of volunteer MR Plan participants, through reflection of democracyCo’s analysis of Interview, Community Conversation and Regional Summit feedback.

The four Interest Panel focus areas were:

  • Productive and Collaborative Futures
  • Leadership in Action
  • Together Community
  • Prepared and Proactive

An open invitation to register to participate in the Interest Panels was extended to the public, and all participants involved in the process to this point were invited to register their interest to participate.

In addition, the RDAMR Project Team, Project Partners, Steering Committee and democracyCo met to identify key stakeholders that needed to be involved in each of the Interest Panels.

This process resulted in 56 people participating in four Interest Panels, each meeting three times as individual groups and coming together once to review the completed draft Plan.

Stakeholder Engagement

The stakeholder engagement statistics:

Funding Source

The Murraylands and Riverland Plan is one of the first Regional Drought Resilience Plans for South Australia, presenting our region with great opportunities to be first-in-line to access further support under the Future Drought Fund and other Australia Government programs.

We understand the system now better than when we started but the hero of this process remains agriculture, and the villain, drought.

The impacts of drought on agriculture may well have been the ‘problem’ on which this process focused at the start, but we can now see that building resilience in and around our agricultural sector is at the heart of the ‘solution’ for our entire regional ecosystem.

The MR Plan

The process of developing the Murraylands and Riverland Plan (MR Plan) commenced through the Regional Drought Resilience Planning process, starting with a focus on building the resilience of the agriculture sector to the impacts of drought.

As community interviews and discussions grew, the scope grew, encompassing all elements of the regional ecosystem as we currently understand it – including the supporting and service industries to agriculture and its many communities, and considering the impacts of climate change from floods and storms to droughts, pandemic and other biosecurity risks, and changes in global financial and trade settings.

We now see that the system is connected. It is complex.

We understand the system now better than when we started but the hero of this process remains agriculture, and the villain, drought. The impacts of drought on agriculture may well have been the ‘problem’ on which this process focused at the start, but we can now see that building resilience in and around our agricultural sector is at the heart of the ‘solution’ for our entire regional ecosystem.

You can view the MR Plan below:

Get Reconnected

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