Social Planning is planning to improve the wellbeing and quality of life in local communities. The NSW Local Government Guidelines define Social/Community planning as:
"the process of investigating and responding to the social needs and aspirations of all the people who live or work in a local government area. It is a process of collaborative planning on social and community issues at the local level and incorporates all types of activities that have an impact on community well-being."
Broadly speaking, social planning is similar in approach to any other form of strategic planning, however, it has a specific emphasis on social and community issues. Social and community issues are very broad terms. In the Hastings Local Government Area (LGA), Social Planning encompasses:
- Transport and access
- Community participation and inclusion
- Crime prevention
- Community safety
- Community services
What Does a Social Planner do?
Within Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, the role of the Social Planner is to:
- Provide social planning input to council's planning processes including DA assessments, State of the Environment reporting, strategic planning, DCPs, LEPs and Section 94 plans
- Lead and facilitate the development, monitoring and review of the Hastings Social Plan, including research, consultation, data analysis and preparation of reports
- Assess and provide comments on Social Impact Assessments for development activities
- Provide advice to council and council staff on trends and changing social needs and the implications for council's role
- Co-ordinate the development and maintenance of the community profile, population projections and social forecasts
- Collaborate and negotiate with a range of stakeholders to ensure social planning projects deliver the specified outcomes
- Increase awareness and understanding of the current and potential contribution of social capital in the development of sustainable communities in the Hastings
- Raise the profile of social issues through partnership development and enhancing industry capability and opportunities
- Promote the role social capital plays in the development of the Hastings community, its ideas and stories
- Identify key areas of social need and infrastructure in the Hastings
History of Social Planning in the Hastings Local Government Area
Historically, local governments in regional areas have concentrated their priorities in the areas of road construction and maintenance, rate collection and service provision such as rubbish collection and libraries. However, through available funding in the early 90s through the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning's Area Assistance Scheme, and Department of Community Services Home and Community Care Program, Hastings Council started to take some steps in addressing community service issues.
In October 1995, a Community Services Workshop was conducted for the Councillors. This workshop, and the subsequent resolutions of Council, set the direction for Council's future involvement in the community services area. The primary commitments made by Council at this time were:
- Acknowledgement of its role and responsibility in the co-ordination and development of community service for the Hastings.
- The development of a staff team to undertake this role.
- The undertaking of a community services audit and needs analysis.
- The development of a Community Services Plan based on information collected from the audit and needs analysis.
- The development of a Social Impact Assessment Policy and a Section 94 Contributions Plan for Community Facilities.
- The development of an Action Plan addressing issues raised by the Disabilities Discrimination Act.
Since 1995, two Community Plans have been prepared for the Hastings Region, the 1997 - 2000 Hastings Community Services Plan and the 1999-2004 Hastings Community Plan.
The 2005-2010 Social Plan has built on these previous social planning documents and been developed in compliance with the Local Government (General) Amendment (Community and Social Plans) Regulation 1998.