Cooktown - Cape York

Candoo, Research Training & Development

Archive Document written by Maria Altmann
Engaging a concept through a Community Events Plan

The Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Centre (working title) is a integrated community development goal.

For the people of this Shire it is a challenging regional and local strategy for promoting local and regional Civic Engagement.
Cook Shire is changing rapidly and our residents need an Multi-Purpose Event Center, a joint facility, a place to meet and engage with other members of our inter-regional community.

The Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Centre plan supports a strategy that promotes the functioning of our local regional society, as it will help people connect through community, business, families and individuals.

We, who live in this community, need a community engagement site that supports community activity and builds on social cohesion
Social Cohesiveness

The promotion of Civic Engagement should not only result in decreasing levels of some social ills, but also in improving physical wellbeing.

The Cooktown Event Center plan offers outcomes of increasing educational performance of children in school, increasing productivity of workers in business and industry, and improving relationships within families and reducing crime.

By promoting spaces for social connectedness, we will encourage the promotion of valuing tolerance, differences and diversity, through the involvement of all sectors in our community.

If one advocates the need to develop 'prevention' against community breakdowns, through the promotion of civic engagement, then one is almost automatically responsible for dealing with many social problems.

See the ID Boom Approach - A local snapshot of what's required in rural and isolated regions, as Cook Shire. With a spatial population, Cook Shire is the largest geographical Shire in Queensland. Social planning is extremely under-resourced and difficult.

Support for Inclusiveness

The Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Centre planning initiative is an inclusive concept. It would help to provide locals and regional people with an opportunity to learn how to inter-engage with all sectors in society, which is inclusive and 'everyone's business'.

Through an Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Centre, we can develop a framework for better understanding and operationalising strategies of Civic Engagement.

Determinants of Civic Engagement include planning for events that increase social connectedness, freedom from discrimination, economic participation, event promotion action and activities, that involve key population groups and life stages e.g. families through early childhood to elder age groups, ethnicity, social and economic status, location, sexual preference.

The Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Centre provides a settings for action e.g. sport and recreation, community, local government, semi-rural and rural environment, arts, culture, entertainment, as well a economic sustainable assets in health, education, and the workplace.

Intermediate Engagement Outcomes

Positive outcomes will transfer benefits to the individual, community and organisational levels. Key well-being concepts include the reduced isolation, through capacity building and building local partnerships, which will help directly alleviate social anxiety and individual depression.

Long-term Cohesive Benefits

Decreased levels of social isolation; will improve connectiveness; improve productivity in workplaces; improve learning outcome for school students; improved family, personal relationships, as well as present positives in other areas for individuals in this inter-regional community.

In relation to social connectedness, evidence suggests that lower levels of social integration relate to higher prevalence individual and social wellbeing.

We know that young people reporting poor social connectedness are between two and three times more likely to experience depressive symptoms when compared with peers who reported the availability of out-going and confiding relationships. I.e.: Team peers, group leaders, connecting others who are engaging in community events.

Counter Action against Social Drift

The Event Center plan will help counter-act social drift in areas of complex interactions between these specific determinants and other risk behaviors such as substance use, sexual behavior and eating disorders for example.

Trusting relationships - by building community capacity through Civic Engagement have been identified as one of the important underlying elements needed to promote social cohesiveness and social wellbeing within communities.

Social Cohesiveness and the Community

With the growing numbers of our youth and ageing population spending more time alone, it seems that Civic Engagement programs, such as those planned for the Event Center as a place to meet, will naturally work to overcome isolation which should be made a visible and clearly actionable component of integrated social policies.

This is because communities are made up of private structures such as families and friends, and the more public institutions that are encouraged to engage i.e. such as schools, sports clubs, local government, religious organisations, service groups, youth organisations and arts and cultural groups, and who have a role to play in maintaining and enhancing our sense of connectedness and inclusion.

Building Teams that help to counter-act Bullying.

Finding new ways to counter-act bullying is national goal and local priority. Community membership, by participating in community events can function as a protective factor against isolation and disconnectedness.

Policy concepts, in researching this developmental event plan sought to improve our community development goals, with aims that work across a number of different sectors between these structures, to encourage partnerships to improve opportunities for people to connect with others in the inter-regional community.

This is an example of how we as a community wish to address the issue of valuing diversity and freedom from discrimination, and this can be felt in the development of our underlying premise which is; 'By Working Together' - 'We Can Do It Better'.

This key aim alone, is one that will help us attack issues of vilification and bullying.

Bullying in any society has a negative impact, and has a highly determental effect on our sense of community wellbeing. On a national and regional scale bullying is a major problem identified in schools, work places, the public services, in the media and in sport as well as in our civil and political institutions such as parliament, which affects overall and individual and community health.

Through the Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Centre we plan to take local action that require us to improve partnerships between organisations from a multitude of sectors including business, government and community.

Building Economic Participation by building on  Civic Engagement

Economic participation was the another we found as a key determinant of social cohesion.

Improving capacity, inclusiveness, engaging social capital by working together, by doing it through the events plan, can be identified by helping to create strategies that build pathways of social and Civic Engagement.

This counteracts the present form of isolation experienced by many residents within the Shire, where evidence demonstrates, that poverty and unemployment impacts upon general well being through community health, and more particularly, as ways to alleviate depression, anxiety and lower self esteem. (Also see ABS, 1998).

Projects which monitor impact of involvement in economic activity by engaging other sectors which helps to build understanding amongst institutions and organisations about the effect of employment, unemployment and underemployment, can be assisted through active moves to improve places that encourage social cohesion.

Support Cook Shire Council'sM ulti-Purpose Event Plan

Candoo Research and Development (NGO), believes the Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Centre plan affronts at all of the above mentioned social determinants by;

1) Working with partner organisations within community;

2) Creating programs with encourage locals to share ownership and responsibility of the local and regional community engagement issues b;

3) Encouraging new pathways that help local people engage with one another, from where they live and work, with each other better. I.e.: In sport we will learn to play better, and through the creative activities we involve ourselves in, a set of goals based on understandings that are shared by everyone, by engaging in local events.
We, the residents of inter-regional Cook Shire ask for your support to build a Cooktown Multi-Purpose Event Center.

We urgently need a local place where we may engage more constructively with one another within this regional Shire, as well as with State, National and International sectors.

Yours truly,

Ms Maria Karolina Altmann, MPhil
Candoo, Research Training & Development
Cooktown, Cape York.
Phone (07) 40695 849

27th September 2006

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