Strong turnout for forums
Hundreds of residents have taken up an invitation from the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie to come up with solutions to issues affecting their region.
More than 220 people attended the first five community forums scheduled for Yankalilla, Goolwa, Mt Barker, Kersbrook and Mt Pleasant last week.
Further forums are being held at Stirling, Clarendon and Strathalbyn this week with another eight events planned across the electorate after Easter.
The forums are a follow-up to the survey distributed by Ms Sharkie late last year to every household in Mayo as one of the largest community consultations ever conducted by an elected MP in the electorate.
More than 4000 people filled in the survey identifying health, the environment and employment as three of the priority issues listed as well as adding the condition of local roads, lack of public transport and better treatment of asylum seekers as their top three concerns.
“My office had a response rate of about five per cent across the electorate and over seven per cent in the Victor Harbor district which is a strong result for a survey which usually averages about one per cent . It just shows that the people of Mayo want to have a say about what is important to them,” Ms Sharkie said.
“That sentiment has come through even stronger at the community forums where I have been really encouraged by everyone’s willingness to engage with the workshop process and come up with innovative and practical ways to deal with issues at a local, state and national level.
“Not surprisingly some priorities varied in different regions.
“For example, cost of living pressures for pensioners were a big concern at the Goolwa forum while the condition of local roads and the constant closure of Gorge Road was a key topic at Kersbrook.
“However, across the board people had a lot to say about the delivery of health services in regional areas and had suggestions to boost employment, protect our environment and how to encourage the buying of Australian goods and services.”
The forums finish on Kangaroo Island in June with Ms Sharkie then planning to compile all the information into a public report.
Follow-up forums will then be held in 18 months’ time to track progress.
“This is all about listening to the people of Mayo, working out what matters to them and trying to work out ways together to address our collective concerns,” Ms Sharkie.
“We’re only a third of the way through the forums but I am so pleased by how engaged everyone has been and how they are working together in a workshop, around a table, to flesh out ideas.”