On 4 June 2011, Cittaslow Australasia Inc was established in Yea, Victoria. With the successful accreditation of Yea, which joined Goolwa in South Australia and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains NSW, a meeting was held to establish the Australasian Cittaslow Network. It is a requirement for a country or region to have three accredited towns before a national network can be established. Following the experience of the Scandinavian Cittaslow Network, it was agreed to call the organisation Cittaslow Australasia to ease the entry of single towns from New Zealand into this family of towns that strive to improve the quality of life for all who live, work or visit their precinct.
The Cittaslow Australasia network – how it came about
In 2007, Goolwa in South Australia became the first Cittaslow outside of UK and Europe!
A few days later, Katoomba Blue Mountains also became accredited and this started the process of building the network in Australia called Cittaslow Australasia. As recent as May 2011, Yea in central Victoria was accredited as our 3rd Cittaslow, completing the foundation of the first Southern Hemisphere network.
More recently, a growing number of towns and villages have voiced their interest in joining the network and now there is a way that enables this to occur, without directly involving a delegation from Orvieto, Italy, the Cittaslow International headquarters. (By reducing travel we reduce our ecological footprint and this is one of the aims of a Cittaslow)
Other towns actively exploring Cittaslow accreditation are Tecoma and Dandenong Ranges (VIC), Kempsey (NSW), Willunga, Kangaroo Island (SA) and Bellerive (TAS), with Matakana in New Zealand, leading the Kiwi program. These we are aware of though there may well be others.
An Assessment Team has been formed under the name of Cittaslow Australasia Incorporated which will visit and inspect prospective Cittaslows and recommend them for accreditation. So, once the necessary submission has been approved by Orvieto, they may become fully endorsed locally and part of the CAI network.
On 13th August 2010, the first joint meeting of Australian Cittaslows took place in Goolwa and many hours were spent discussing how to move forward with the developing of the Australasian Network. We met the Mayor, Kim McHugh, Frank Tuckwell, a councillor, Graham Webster, the GM and Tanya Mitchell from their Tourism. Also present was a group of hardworking and passionate locals and we spent the morning in solid discussion, exploration and good will to continue the successful collaboration with Alexandrina Council. Then, we went to lunch at Signal Point, compliments of the Council. For more detail on the meeting, see attached article form the local newspaper Southern Argus.
Cittaslow Yea – 3rd leg of the Australasian network
For Yea, the work required to get accredited was significant – two years of discovery, surprise, documentation and creativity. They achieved Cittaslow certification and were excited to see video of the Cittaslow International gathering in Poland, as they announced that Yea had been formally approved for membership. Now, they are planning projects, devising a membership model, assigning portfolios and collaborating with other community groups. “We believe we can add something special to Yea and its community, at a time when so much change is occurring in the Shire and beyond. Our town is unique and we want to share some of that with the world,” said President Adele Anderson. Visit www.cittaslowyea.org
Inaugural CAI AGM – May 2012
In 2011, Cittaslow International designated Goolwa as the “lead town” for the establishment of the Australasian Cittaslow Network. One of the early tasks for the Australasian Cittaslow Network is the establishment of the Australian criteria based on the original Italian goals. There will be more details to come.
Meanwhile, getting on with business meant an AGM was required and this took place in Katoomba in May 2012 and a very enjoyable and productive time it was. Further work was carried out in the Australasian set of accreditation criteria and other important matters.
The next AGM took place in Sept 2013 in Goolwa, attended by the existing Board members, delegates included Jane Booth (Cittaslow Goolwa), Cr. Margaret Gardner (Cittaslow Goolwa), Bec Bowles (Yea), Adam Dennis (Yea) and much appreciated observers & visitors: Lis Jones Ingman (Burra SA), Dr. Kirsten Seale (RMIT University), Lidia Moretti, Heidi Van Gerwen, Carol Clarke, Bruce Gardner, Hans Dansen and Jenny Newell.
In fact, Prof Sarah Pink from the UK and Dr Tania Lewis from RMIT, had planned to attend as they are studying how sustainable community develop. Due to circumstances unforeseen, Kirsten Seale attended in their behalf and made her presence count with her comments and acknowledgement of the efforts of our whole network thus far.
Much serious and valuable discussion occurred about how to proceed as a viable network, potential member towns as well as further review of assessment criteria published by Cittaslow International. Also on the agenda was planning for the hosting by Goolwa of the International Assembly in 2016, a grand undertaking that now marks Australasia as a significant part of the international community of Cittaslows. Naturally , over the 3 days of work, time was set aside for fun, food and enjoyment of the Goolwa district, amenities and projects.
From here, where to…?
Our next AGM is due later this year and will be hosted in Sept by Yea, a full circle one completed.
On the growth side, Bermagui and 3 surrounding towns on the south coast of NSW, termed the Triangle, is taking time to look into the possibility of joining the network. In fact, several years ago, a member of a festival committee was asked when applying for a grant why is was that Bermagui was not already a Cittaslow. Perhaps the time is coming.
With the 2016 international Assembly on the horizon, many hours will be spent by the Board and other active volunteers in each town in discussion, negotiation and planning . One up side is that this preparation activity and the actual event will involve other towns on the Fleurieu Peninsula and this may garner interest from them in becoming part of the network. Another benefit is that the visitors from across the world will experience our region and may care to visit the other Cittaslows in Australia, furthering the awareness of what we are doing in Oz. The overall interaction is bound to be pleasant, interesting and worthwhile.
Beyond all of this, each town holds the accreditation dear to their hearts and to continue work towards consolidating the presence and positive impact that Cittaslow can have for their communities.