Too often a Strategy of this type is treated as end in itself. A clear understanding of the ramifications of accountability for actions - as well as a commitment to their periodic review to continue to give them life is needed to ensure strategy plans are effective.
A Strategy of this type should be seen as a tool by which responsible parties can better address issues and actions for which they are accountable. It should be treated as a mere starting point and a vehicle by which agencies have a planning framework and philosophy to tackle the implementation of recommended actions which they have deemed to be acceptable and achievable for their organisation.
In the case of this Strategy, all actions have been scrutinised by the various accountable agencies and accepted as achievable within current budgetary circumstances. In addition, at the time of preparation of the document, all accountable agencies have indicated their preparedness to fund the Strategys actions. However, funding of actions will be subject to annual budgeting processes. This may mean that Councils and other funding stakeholders are unable to fund actions according to the priority given specific actions by the Strategy Steering Committee.
As for the detail of implementation, it will occur through each agency developing works plans and budgets to prioritise and program works to meet the action requirements. In the case of Councils, these works plans could involve the allocation of a spread of funding directed to:
· various parts of Council and their Parks business units or contractors; and
· the MCMC - to deliver actions where the Council has assigned MCMC responsibility for delivery.
It has not been seen as the role of this Strategy to outline as a set of further appendices these works plans for each Council or agency. This is clearly a matter which only each agency can undertake. The inclusion of such detail could unrealistically raise expectations about achievement of actions and tie Councils to implementation over timeframes beyond the term of current elected Councils and their budgetary commitments.
It will therefore be a matter for each agency to more accurately cost actions and allocate funding for implementation over manageable budgetary periods.
In 1999, it was anticipated that a degree of accountability for implementation would be obtained through presentation of a biennial report on implementation achievements. This was to become part of a biennial review of the Strategy convened between the stakeholders. It was also anticipated that presentation of regular reports to MCMC meetings on achievement of actions would serve as a further means by which the Strategys actions can be kept before stakeholders.
MCMCs Merri Creek and Environs Strategy Implementation Subcommittee was set up as a response to the need for regular updating of progress on the strategy and is an important forum for updating the strategy and reporting on and consolidating information about progress on actions. However, the anticipated biennial review of the strategy has not taken place (this is the first overall review of the document text and actions since 1999), nor have concise biennial implementation reports or 3-year priority activity plans been prepared. In part this is due to the complexity of the document and the number of stakeholders involved.
1. Implementation of many actions requires coordinated action by Councils and other agencies
2. Councils and agencies may need some prompting and encouragement to undertake some actions
3. The large number of actions means that a clear way is needed to identify the more urgent actions
1. Enhance catchment planning, coordination, resource allocation, monitoring and reporting (adapted from Port Phillip and Western Port Regional Catchment Strategy objective PO1)
1. Very High priority actions will be completed within a year of this strategy being published
2. High priority Actions will be commenced within a year and completed within 3 years
3. Medium priority Actions will be commenced within 2 years and competed within 4 years
4. Low priority Actions will be commenced within 4 years
See Section E page 213