:: Possibilities Consulting
"Lisa always had a game plan for each meeting but was flexible enough to abandon this game plan on occasions if the group felt strongly it wanted to go in a different direction."

Reference Group Participant

Long term community planning


The township of Mornington, located on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria needed to develop a revised 20 year plan for its development.

The existing plan was nearing its 'used by date' and the new process was to be framed by the State Government’s recently introduced blueprint for Victoria known as Melbourne 2030. This state-led framework required nominated activity centres (including Mornington) to develop a long term plan consistent with its framework.

The local council (the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council) took the initiative and acted to bring together a diverse group of Mornington stakeholders who were briefed with providing advice to the Council on the development of the plan.

Given the diversity of the group, the importance of the task, and a challenging history of planning issues in the township, Possibilities Pty Ltd was engaged to design an effective engagement process and to chair / facilitate the work of the Reference Group over its 18 month lifespan.


The 13 members of the reference group were drawn from and represented the diversity of the Mornington community including:

  • Local business owners (solicitor, jeweller, pharmacist, real estate agent)
  • Land owners (residential and commercial)
  • Community representatives (CEO Community Contact, individuals active in the community, member of the local Save our Suburbs group)
  • Environment group representatives (Head of local environment group)
  • Industry representatives (CEO Chamber of Commerce)


Before the formal launch of the project, Possibilities laid the groundwork for a well-informed process.

Convening interviews were undertaken with all participants allowing the key issues to be identified and the members to be educated about the process.

At the very early stages of the process, all members of the Reference Group, along with the relevant technical staff from the council and some elected Councillors attended a one-day Negotiation Skills Workshop designed and run by Possibilities Pty Ltd. The workshop aimed at creating a productive working environment for the project that would enhance idea generation and consensus building.

The deliberations of the Reference Group took place over 15+ meetings and involved significant and sometimes confronting discussions within the group and also challenging communications between the Reference Group and the Council.

Over the course of the project the Reference Group was able to find significant areas of consensus and present these persuasively not only to the Council but also to the State Government’s appointed Priority Development Panel as a cohesive community view.


The Reference Group was able, through the significant efforts and good will of the members, support from the Council Officers as well as focussed facilitation, to influence the shape and direction of the structure planning process and the content of the plan itself.

The plan is now at the ‘draft framework plan’ stage.

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