Inaugural Community Energy Congress SUCCESS

Community Energy Congress

The culmination of nearly two years of work for Australia’s inaugural Community Energy Congress was rewarded with a sell out success, with more than 350 delegates gathering at the National Library in Canberra.

In the words of Embark, a member of the Organising Committee: “… the participants gathered across 4 days to share, learn and build a strong movement for our emerging sector. The Congress provided a beacon of hope in the midst of the political storm around renewable energy.”

A key part to building the movement was the deliberative democracy process applied to the new National Community Energy Strategy. The Strategy is being finalised and will be published shortly. Several dozen new strategic initiatives were also brought to the Congress, with dozens of delegates expressing interest to take ongoing involvement with their implementation.

The Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) was officially launched as part of the Congress, and expressions of interest are now being taken for membership.

Check out the Congress Harvest site for copies of the presentations as well as a fantastic photographic essay of the event. You can also see a sample of the significant media coverage which was achieved.

Starfish would especially like to acknowledge the Institute for Sustainable Futures for their extraordinary leadership in creating the Congress, particularly their lead staff and researchers ~ Nicky Ison and Edward Langham.

Starfish is proud to have been a member of the Congress Organising Committee. Starfish is also a founding member of C4CE.


Starfish wins Tender for Ballina Major Regional Centre Strategy

BMRCS LogoStarfish has been engaged to facilitate the community engagement process for the Ballina Major Regional Centre Strategy.

Ballina has been identified through the NSW Government’s Far North Coast Regional Strategy as an emerging regional centre, indicating that Ballina can expect significant growth and change over the next 20 years ~ with its population anticipated to double during this period of time.

The Ballina Major Regional Centre Strategy is being prepared to guide the developing of Ballina through this period of significant growth and change.

The Strategy will be founded on engagement with the community, consistent with the intent associated with community involvement in strategic planning evident in the NSW planning reform process.

Starfish’s work will involve two key parts of the Strategy development, namely:

  • Design and facilitation of a major Futures Forum involving a diverse cross-section of the community
  • Convening a Civic Panel comprising around a dozen community members who will contribute to the ongoing development of the Strategy

Read more about this initiative here.

Community ‘ownership’ of windfarms is the future

COW_WINDWith 4,000 direct jobs in rural NSW and over $6billion in investment in the pipeline you would expect politicians on the Southern Tablelands to be supporting jobs in the renewable energy industry. This industry has become one of the major employers in this region.

Instead they are listening to the noisy few who are actively working to destroy the best long-term opportunity this region has seen for decades.

Windfarms are an excellent way for farmers to secure a passive income stream to make their farms viable for the long term. Windfarm income allows farmers, large and small, to run economically, environmentally and ecologically sustainable farms. It also frees them (and the Government) of the reliance on drought assistance the next time it stops raining.

Charlie Prell, Crookwell farmer and spokesman for The NSW Regional Renewables Alliance said local councils and politicians should be meeting with windfarm developers to negotiate the best possible outcome for all in their community. Ideally this would mean a strong local component in every project, funds for community enhancement projects, local road upgrades and more.


“The Southern Tablelands region has the most to gain in Australia as a renewable energy hub with potential jobs for locals and huge investment opportunities in the area,” he said.

“Development models used by the windfarm industry need to be improved. Landowners in the immediate precinct of a proposed windfarm need to be included in any consultation and eventually in any payments. This would allow the whole community to “own” the project. Any spectre of land devaluation in the immediate precinct of the windfarm would instantly evaporate. Properties would be retained as productive rural land and would actually increase in value because of the income from the windfarm,” he said.[/quote]

Mr Prell said he believed the vast majority of people in this area were in favour of windfarms. In the most comprehensive survey of community attitudes to wind farms, conducted by the NSW Dept of Environment in 2010, 89 per cent of people surveyed on the Southern Tablelands supported wind farms in their region.

Over 700 construction jobs on the Southern Tablelands have been created as a result of wind farms. The Capital Windfarm alone has put $10million into the local economy during construction and $3million every year thereafter. Over 1,500 tourists have visited the Capital Windfarm, which is great news for the local economy.

“Opportunities in regional Australia are hard-won. It is ludicrous to squander them because a noisy minority doesn’t like the look of wind turbines. Coal mines are a far greater eyesore, use billions of litres of water, contaminate our best farming country, and destroy the environment,” said Mr Prell.

The NSW Regional Renewables Alliance, representing farmers and rural businesses, is calling on local politicians to quantify how they will address climate change and how they will replace the jobs and investment that will be lost to this area if the windfarm industry is closed down.

For Further information contact:

Charlie Prell
Phone: (02) 4848-1244
Mobile: 0427-224 839

Funding secured to establish Australia’s Coalition for Community Energy

Starfish is incredibly pleased to announce that funding has been confirmed to establish the Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE). This work includes the development of an innovative collaborative governance model to better enable the collective impact of the 60 plus organisations and groups across the country working on community energy initiatives. The project will also deliver an operational which will address C4CE’s current initiatives (such as the campaign to establish a national grant fund), funding and systems for internal and external communications and collaboration.

Starfish has developed nearly a dozen collaborative governance models, drawing upon pioneering fields like Collective Impact, Constellation Governance, Adaptive Governance and Multi-Stakeholder Governance. These each work to improve the scale and impact of work through agreement and collaboration on common initiatives and objectives.

The $45,995 funding for this work has been generously provided by the McKinnon Family Foundation, The Earth Welfare Foundation, Ross Knowles Foundation and Diversicon. Starfish would also like to acknowledge the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network for their support in coordinating this collective funding approach.

The Future State 2030 | KPMG International

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]”We are now at a critical juncture. Governments must take a longer view of accelerating social and environmental challenges. Without significant changes, the impact of these identified megatrends will far outstrip governments’ ability to meet the needs of people in the next 20 years.”

– Satyanarayan R Satya, KPMG head for government and infrastructure in the Asia Pacific[/quote]

Global professional services firm KPMG International launched on Thursday its “Future State 2030” report, which identified the megatrends worldwide that will affect the way people live and how governments should act in the years ahead.

There are nine megatrends in the report, and while all interrelated, the firm has divided these trends into three categories. One of them is the the physical environment, which considers urbanisation, climate change, and resource stress as critical developments affecting this area.

The other six megatrends are grouped into those affecting the status of people – demographics, the rise of the individual, enabling technology – and changes in the global economy, specifically public debt, economic power shift, and economic interconnectedness.

“Governments have been focused on short-term issues due to different factors, such as the global financial crisis and its aftermath,” noted Satyanarayan R Satya, KPMG’s head for government and infrastructure in the Asia Pacific.

Climate change, for instance, due to the increasing greenhouse gas emissions around the world, has already resulted to unpredictable changes in the environment, testing the resilience of both built and natural systems, explained the firm.

Governments have to achieve the right combination of adaptation and mitigation policies to combat climate change, they added.

Similarly, the “combined pressures of population growth, economic growth, and climate change” have put an enormous stress on the environment, the report noted. Natural resources are dwindling, which can trigger crises on water, food, land and energy.

There needs to be a 50 per cent increase in global food production and a 40 per cent increase in water if demand in 2030 is to be met, cited the report. This dynamic is strongly tied to resource scarcity, it added.

“The impact of these megatrends is not limited by borders. Governments will have to consider implications both within and outside of their jurisdictions,” said Satya.

Nick Chism, global chair for government and infrastructure, noted in the 80-page document how governments have to increase international collaboration, and not just focus on local engagement.

“Concerted capacity development in evidence-based policy development and stakeholder management will be essential to making the most of opportunities and managing risks in a changing world.”

Read the full KPMG International Report | The Future State 2030
Repost from Eco-Business’s article Governments must respond to urbanisation, climate change megatrend: report

Genuine Solutions for Sustainability are Transformational

The Story of Solutions explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction, starting with orienting ourselves toward a new goal.

In the current ‘Game of More’, we’re told to cheer a growing economy – more roads, more malls, more Stuff! – even though our health indicators are worsening, income inequality is growing and polar icecaps are melting. But what if we changed the point of the game?

What if the goal of our economy wasn’t more, but better – better health, better jobs and a better chance to survive on the planet?

The Story of Solutions highlights that genuine solutions for sustainability are transformational, creating an entirely new game, whereas the technical fixes of the current game create more problems than solutions.

Read more about The Story of Solutions
Source: The Story of Stuff Project

Inland Rail Gains Momentum

Inland Rail Track

The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alliance (MBIRA) and the Border Regional Organisation of Councils (BROC) co-hosted a Strategy Meeting in Moree to identify ways to support the creation of an inland rail line and logistics system for freight movements in the vast inland area between Melbourne and Brisbane. The Strategy Meeting was facilitated by Starfish Associate Adam Blakester.

The MBIRA, which is made up of the local councils along the proposed rail route, has a vision to see the completion of a modern, high standard railway to efficiently transport freight.

One of the strongest messages which came from the meeting was that the Inland Rail is a transformational nation-building project that has the potential to provide centuries of benefit if the railway is designed for low operating costs and built to world’s best practice.

Stakeholders attending the meeting included councils such as Moree Plains Shire Council, Parkes, Toowoomba, Goondiwindi, Gwydir, Inverell and Wagga Wagga; State transport representatives from NSW, Victoria and Queensland; industry groups such as NSW Farmers, the Australian Logistics Council, the Australasian Railway Association, GATR and Cotton Australia; and industry representatives from Asciano, Thiess and the Port of Brisbane.

The meeting was extremely successful in providing a forum for the exchange of exciting ideas, and marks a key milestone for the project to start making tracks. The next major step for the MBRIRA is to host a second Inland Rail Symposium in Moree early 2014.

Read more below:


Starfish supports Governance & Leadership for new UNE Student Association

UNE LogoStarfish is pleased to announce it will be working with the new University of New England Student Association (UNESA). Starfish’s role, in partnership with Bronwyn Pearson Consulting, is to prepare and facilitate a Governance and Leadership Workshop for UNESA’s inaugural Board of Directors.

UNESA’s purpose is to represent UNE students “without fear or favour” and to encourage participation in a fair and just tertiary experience through shared higher thinking. This purpose is central to the upcoming goverance and leadership training, which aims to enable Board members to actg in the best interests of all 20,000 UNE students.

The UNE’s student base has several unique characteristics which shape the role of UNESA and the responsibilities of its Directors:

  • Highly culturally diverse as an international university
  • Very virtual, with more than 15,000 external students and 12,500 students studying online
  • Both under-graduate and post-graduate student members
  • Many mature-aged students as well as younger school leavers

Find out more:
UNESA Facebook Page
University of New England governance

Information or Wisdom?

Web Trend Map

Web Trend Map

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]

American biologist, E.O. Wilson says: “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesisers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely. ~ Issue 3 UQ Momentum 2013.”[/quote]

Starfish specialises in research which involves large scale participation and synthesis of information.

Starfish has analysed large bodies of information to prepare synthesis’ regarding:

Starfish Appointed to facilitate Northern Inland Sustainable Business Network

[frame src=”” width=”IMAGE_WIDTH” height=”IMAGE_HEIGHT” lightbox=”on” title=”Armidale Dumaresq Council Property Manager, Andrew Strudwick discusses the gains from energy management with NISBN Steering Committee member and Regional Manager for AusIndustry, Tim Cotter and NISBN Co-Facilitators, Elizabeth Gardiner and Adam Blakester from Starfish Enterprises.” align=”left” ]

Starfish has been appointed to facilitate the delivery of sustainability programs, technical assistance and support for business throughout the Northern Inland region of NSW. This work will be led by Adam Blakester and Liz Gardinder.

The Northern Inland Sustainable Business Network (NISBN) currently has 120 Members. Starfish’s role will be to both support existing members and encourage new members. NISBN provides practical training and technical assistance in areas of energy, water and waste efficiency as well as providing valuable information about business sustainability programs, funding and case studies.

Armidale Dumaresq Council provide a solid example of the benefits of NISBN Membership. Their participation in the Sustainability Advantage Program over the last three years provided energy management results from behavioural and technology changes that turned a 45 percent increase in electricity charges into a 20 percent decrease.

Find Out More

Starfish’s Role