New President for Vision 20/20

August 25, 2008

A meeting is to be held on August 27 to talk about Vision 20/20’s “The Living Classroom” project (formerly known as the “Bingara Farm Gardens”). The meeting, which is being organised by Gwydir Shire Council, will provide the opportunity for community groups and other interested people to comment on the proposed project.

This new name reflects the training and education aspects of the proposal to develop the Common. There was some discussion of the project at last week’s Annual General Meeting of Vision 20/20. There was general agreement that it was unfortunate the original name had misled people and generated some misconceptions.

The benefits of the stormwater mitigation aspect of the project have also been overlooked by the community, according to retiring President, Garry McDouall. Funding for the feasibility study has come firstly from the Gwydir Shire Council which has approved $10,000. TAFE has promised $7000 and the DRSD has offered to match the community’s funds.

The recent Annual General meeting of Vision 20/20 saw the first rotation of the presidency since the organisation was formed three years ago. Elected unopposed to the position was Rick Hutton. Frances Young was elected as the Vice President.

Vision 20/20 has 30 members which include both individuals and businesses, reported outgoing Treasurer, Bob Charlston, a number which he said he found disappointing.

Retiring Chairman, Garry McDouall in delivering his annual report said “Gwydir Shire is a very positive place in which to live. We have a sound resource base, but the main reason is our people – we are generally proactive, and create a very positive image of the place.

We are lucky to have a small and approachable Council which is intricately involved with the community. I believe the larger councils which surround us are nowhere near as supportive, particularly of the smaller communities within those shires. As the term of the current councillors comes to an end, I would like to extend my congratulations to Mayor Peter Caskey and his team for a job well done.

It is absolutely true that positive people attract positive people, whether they are visitors to the area, people who are considering moving here, or the myriad of external entities with whom we need to deal.

As with all communities, there is a negative element and time spent with negativity can be particularly enervating. We must guard against this. One of the things I am most proud of about Vision 20/20 is that we have consistently and very proactively presented a positive image for our town and district.

This has been a very busy year for all of us. This is one of the reasons many of our community groups are struggling for membership and with succession. However, the volunteer ethic is absolutely crucial to the success of small country towns and we need to spend time understanding what needs to be done to ensure their continuance.

Councillor Peter Pankhurst, in moving the adoption of Garry’s report, said that communities need an organisation like Vision 20/20 “to push the boundaries” of what is possible to achieve for the community.

Mayor, Peter Caskey, who chaired the election of office bearers, said that Vision 20/20 “is a creditable organisation.” He commented that there would always be plenty of critics but that every small community needs a Vision 20/20 “to provide creative, entrepreneurial flair that councillors tend to lose when elected, due to the pressures of politics and regulation.” Cr Caskey said it was good to have people “who can afford to be free thinkers.”

Cr Caskey also said that he thought the Energy Forum, organised by Vision 20/20 had been “absolutely first class” and that it had “cemented the organisation’s standing in the wider community into the future.” Cr Caskey went on to say that Council is trying to encourage the establishment of a similar organisation in the north of the shire and that he would appreciate any help that Vision 20/20 could give to help this occur.

Incoming President, Rick Hutton said that Vision 20/20 was formed to take an advantage that existed before Bingara Shire Council’s amalgamation with Yallaroi and continue to promote it. A group of people came together to maintain that positive position. That inaugural gathering of 45 people decided on the name Vision 20/20 because it suggested looking forward as well as in balance.

Mr Hutton said that when the organisation was formed, it needed a Chairman with the strength and acumen to take the organisation forward. He said that “if Garry had not taken the position, we would not be where we are today.” Rick concluded his speech by saying that when you work as a volunteer in the community, “you’re up against it!”