Social Inclusion Charter being reviewed

Gosford's Council Chambers.

A Social Inclusion Charter written by Central Coast Council is getting closer to its first public outing.

A copy of the draft charter was circulated for review to the Social Inclusion Advisory Group meeting on October 14.

The committee voiced its frustration in February about the delay in completing this policy and it has now seen the draft and is providing feedback.

Eventually the policy will go to Council for adoption.

The committee Minutes explain that the Charter will complement various strategies and policies already in place within Council and provide an overarching structure for inclusion.

Feedback from the committee was in the Minutes that Administrator, Dick Persson, received and noted at the December 14 Council meeting.

Committee members said that it was important for people to understand how the Charter would be used once it was endorsed.

It will mean that all Council policies/projects would need to align with the Charter.

It was suggested that this assertion be included in the Charter, as well as specific criteria or targets to ensure compliance and to measure success.

The committee discussed the language used and talked about the difference between equality and equity, the word equity being used in the Charter.

It was noted that the language used was in accordance with national standards.

The committee suggested that the Charter’s preamble should include the need to address the concept that “our society was inherently inequitable and outline exactly what social inclusion is and why it’s needed”.

The Minutes show that it was noted that improving social inclusion had significant economic value leading to quality health and wellbeing, increased employment opportunities and ultimately greater outcomes for the region.

It said the Charter shouldn’t just add bureaucratic layers, it should fit well with existing documents to reduce overlapping.

Members of the committee were keen to see more mention of advocacy in the Charter, with the view that Council take on a more active role in advocating for social inclusion on behalf of the community.

The ABS figures were discussed as they showed low numbers, seeming to indicate the community wasn’t as diverse as suggested.

“This may mean more support is needed, as disadvantaged groups are under represented,” the Minutes stated.

It is important to ensure that the Charter is known to all staff and that its effects are also experienced externally, the Minutes concluded.

The review is continuing.

The committee meets again in December.

Merilyn Vale