Terms of Reference
as at May, 2011
Preamble to the Terms of Reference
Purpose of the Terms of Reference
What is the Great South Coast Group?
What is the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan?
Statement of Purpose for the Great South Coast Group
The roles and responsibilities of the GSC Group
The Board Chair
Setting the agenda
The Executive Officer
Project Working Groups
Dispute resolution procedures
Life of the Terms of Reference
The Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan was established after almost two years of broad community consultation and planning.
The plan began with a collaborative agreement between the Victorian Government and the municipalities of Glenelg, Southern Grampians, Warrnambool, Moyne, Corangamite and Colac Otway. It marks the first time the Great South Coast’s long-term future had been considered from a truly regional perspective.
The purpose of these Terms of Reference is to provide a framework for the Great South Coast Group partners to work together to implement the Regional Strategic Plan and grow the Great South Coast region.
These Terms of Reference formalise the arrangements between members of The Great South Coast Group in terms of governance of the Regional Strategic Plan (and associated projects) and makes clear their roles and responsibilities.
These Terms of Reference are intended to underpin the sustainable, long-term participation of all key stakeholders of the Great South Coast.
The purpose of these Terms of Reference is to establish an agreement between the municipalities and any other Great South Coast partners. The Terms of Reference are also a descriptor for the Great South Coast Group’s structure and its charter as it oversees the implementation of the Regional Strategic Plan.
The Great South Coast Group is an evolving alliance of government, business and community organisations working together to improve the lives of people living in our region.
The Great South Coast region incorporates the geographic area bounded by the Shires of Colac Otway, Corangamite, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Glenelg and the City of Warrnambool.
However, this is a body that traverses all municipal boundaries, with a truly regional focus.
The Great South Coast Group is a strategic planning committee for which community leaders and skilled specialists who are passionate about the region volunteer their time. The group acts as a forum in which regional issues are discussed, resulting in coordinated and well researched responses.
As a not-profit organisation, the Great South Coast Group draws its financial support from its six member municipalities and from Government grants. It may later seek to attract paid memberships.
The Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan explores the opportunities and challenges the region will face over the next decade and beyond. It identifies the economic, environmental and social issues that impact upon our way of life and presents a regionally agreed position as to the best responses to those issues.
The plan seeks to provide a framework for future growth through the identification of five strategies:
Position for economic growth
Improve our connections
Sustain our natural assets
Strengthen our communities
It was developed through an exhaustive process of community consultation over almost two years. The opinions and advice gained from that consultation, roundtable discussions with business and community leaders and input from the Regional Management Forum has significantly influenced the content of this plan.
The Regional Strategic Plan identifies a series of strategic actions for the Great South Coast region.
The Great South Coast Group will oversee the timely and efficient delivery of the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan.
It will work in partnership with other Government and non-Government agencies, business and the Great South Coast community to grow the regional economy and enhance the way of life of its residents.
Its specific aims are:
To support sustainable growth and development across the Great South Coast region.
To create healthy, economically buoyant and happy communities in which there is opportunity for individuals to achieve their full potential.
To oversee the timely and efficient delivery of the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan.
To foster relationships and productive partnerships with all tiers of Government, with industry and with the community, generally.
The Great South Coast Group’s role is to provide for:
implementation of the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan
liaison with all tiers of Government, industry and the Great South Coast community
stakeholder and community engagement
monitoring the evolution of the Regional Strategic Plan and its various projects
evaluation of projects and of the plan, generally
ensuring clear lines of accountability and reporting
systemic advocacy on behalf of the Great South Coast region.
The Great South Coast Group will seek to contact, consult with and involve relevant stakeholders of the project, and will make available opportunities for their participation. Project Stakeholders may include (but are not limited to):
Councillors and employees of all member municipalities
State Government departments and agencies
Federal Government departments and agencies
Transparent, open and timely communication fosters cooperation, shared understandings and alignment of purpose and outcomes.
A focus on the region as a whole, with an understanding that we are looking beyond municipal boundaries as we work together for the benefit of the entire Great South Coast region.
Outcomes of the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan must add to the overall wellbeing and capacity of the regional community.
The diverse voices of the entire Great South Coast community must be heard and heeded during the planning, delivery and evaluation of outcomes.
The Great South Coast Group will work to develop a shared vision for this region – one that takes account of a diverse range of views and information.
Strong, cohesive partnerships are integral to developing a coordinated regional approach in which innovation and efficient use of resources is encouraged.
Partners will collectively share responsibility for identifying and sourcing resources outside of the Great South Coast Group to fund activities or projects beyond the scope or means of any single public or private organisation.
This region places great store in its physical and natural environment and recognises that community, economy and environment are interdependent.
The Great South Coast Group is comprised of the Shires of Glenelg, Southern Grampians, Moyne, Corangamite, Colac Otway and the City of Warrnambool.
To move the process of delivering upon the Regional Strategic Plan forward, a flexible governance structure is needed. This should allow for the group’s future evolution and maturation.
The proposed structure includes a Board of Management (currently comprised of municipal CEOs and Mayors), beneath which sits a series of four Pillar Groups aligned with four of the five strategies of the Regional Strategic Plan:
Improve our connections
Sustain our natural assets
Strengthen our communities.
The function of the fifth pillar outlined in the plan – Increase collaboration – will be largely absorbed by the Board. Its functions include establishing a governance model, securing appropriate resources and support, engaging stakeholders, defining roles and responsibilities, prioritising projects.
As a key stakeholder, State Government is anticipated to have an important role to play at Pillar level, with Government representatives also invited to observe and contribute to Board meetings.
A series of Project Working Groups will be established within each of the Pillar Groups to focus on planning for, delivering, monitoring and measuring individual projects.
The Great South Coast Group reserves the right to co-opt additional members, as required, and to invite guests to attend, observe and/or participate in meetings.
The Great South Coast Group is overseen by a Board of Management, membership of which is currently restricted to municipal CEOs and Mayors. There is an understanding and expectation that membership will be extended to Government, industry and community representatives as the organisation matures.
The Board is responsible for the stewardship of the Great South Coast Group and the timely delivery of the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan.
Each Board member has a fiduciary relationship with the Great South Coast Group – that is, each Board member must always act in good faith towards the Group and in trust. Board members are considered to be representing the Great South Coast Group, not a Council, business, Government department or any other personal interest.
The Board’s general functions are:
to provide leadership and vision for the Great South Coast region
- set the vision, principles and values for the Great South Coast Group
- to always act in the best interests of the Great South Coast Group
- foster ethical and responsible decision making across the group
- to act honestly at all times, exercising care and diligence
- develop the group’s approach to corporate governance
- foster regional networks
The Board’s specific functions are:
to agree upon an annual financial contribution from member Councils
to develop and oversee the Great South Coast Group Budget
to make formal decisions on behalf of the Great South Coast Group
appoint and evaluate the Executive Officer
set criteria for project prioritisation for the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan
monitor the progress of Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan projects
identify and foster funding opportunities to facilitate Regional Strategic Plan projects
establish and review the Great South Coast Group’s Terms of Reference
establish policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable law
adopt measures for receiving feedback from stakeholders
monitor and measure outcomes from the Regional Strategic plan
ensure effective communication between all stakeholders, including the Great South Coast community, generally
establish stakeholder roles and responsibilities
annually appoint the Board Chair.
The Chair acts as an important intermediary between the Board and the Great South Coast Group as it undertakes its work across the region.
The Chair will preside over Board meetings and will lead the Board to consensus. The Chair is also the official spokesperson for the Great South Coast Group.
The Chair is elected annually from and by the Board membership.
The Great South Coast Board is presently comprised of Mayors and CEOs. There is an understanding that membership may over time be broadened to draw on the skills and talents of people who are not involved in local government.
Any individual Great South Coast Group Board member may resign at any time. However, each participating municipality is strongly encouraged to have representation at Board level at all times. Should a municipality wish to withdraw from the Great South Coast Group altogether, it must provide a full 12 months’ notice of its intent.
For decision-making purposes, each Council is afforded one vote. This will be via the Mayor or the CEO – whichever the respective Council has nominated as its primary representative on the Board.
An important distinction is that Board members are viewed as independent representatives of the Great South Coast Group Board – not as representatives of their respective municipalities. To that end, their decision-making should reflect members’ intent to act in the best interests of the Great South Coast Group.
The Great South Coast Group will generally meet monthly, or as otherwise required. The meetings will be held at times and places decided in a schedule determined by the Board.
The host municipality is to provide appropriate venue and to bear all costs associated with staging the meeting, including catering.
Three voting members (either CEOs and/or Mayors) will be required to make up a quorum.
Agendas will be set by the Executive Officer with input from any Great South Coast Group member who may bring forward issues to be added to the agenda at any time. Agenda items should be provided to the Executive Officer at least 10 days prior to the meeting.
Agendas and any accompanying papers will be distributed to all Board members at least seven days prior to the scheduled meeting date, usually via email (unless otherwise requested).
At all times, members of the Great South Coast Board, its Pillar Groups, working groups, committees, representatives and all conducting the day-to-day work of the Great South Coast should be sensitive to the potential for conflicts of interest.
Frequently the person who knows most about a potential conflict of interest is the individual concerned. Hence that person has a responsibility to ensure, wherever possible, that no real or perceivable conflict of interest arises in the performance of their duties. If an individual is aware of an interest that might reasonably be seen to conflict with their obligations to the Great South Coast Board, they have an obligation to disclose that conflict and, if necessary, absent themselves from discussion, debate and voting.
There may also be situations where an individual is unwilling to disclose the details giving rise to the conflict of interest. In such cases it is sufficient to disclose the fact of the conflict as long as they withdraw from the situation concerned.
Agenda items are to be sent to the Executive Officer at least 10 days prior to the meeting. Each agenda item must be accompanied by a written report detailing:
Implications for the Great South Coast group
Relevance to the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan
Budget (if applicable)
A template will be supplied to all Board members for this purpose.
The Executive Officer is appointed by the Board of Management. Reporting directly to the Board, the Executive Officer’s key responsibilities include:
provision of administrative support to the Great South Coast Group, including setting meeting agendas, taking minutes, arranging for guests, etc.
research and advice in relation to the group’s governance structure, delegations and authorities
research and advice in relation to the group’s Terms of Reference
managing the day to day operations of the Great South Coast Group
initiating and responding to correspondence on behalf of the group
facilitating the review, development and implementation of the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan
supporting the implementation of the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan
developing excellent working relationships with the Great South Coast Group Chairperson, Board Directors, Pillar Group and Project Team members and leaders, all tiers of Government, regional organisations and key stakeholders
establishing and managing the provision of support systems, such as planning frameworks, research, regional performance indicators/measurement
developing and delivering communications programs within the group and externally to the Great South Coast region, generally
ensuring positive media coverage of Great South Coast outcomes and managing contentious media issues that may arise
developing and regularly updating the Great South Coast website and other information management systems
actively sourcing partnership arrangements for the operation of the Great South Coast Group and projects emerging from the Regional Strategic Plan
ensuring a strategic approach for the Great South Coast Group with appropriate plans, timeframes, actions and outputs for success
preparing written reports for the consideration of the Board at each of its meetings
preparing any update or compliance reports required by funding partners
induction/orientation for new members
introduction of agenda items at Board meetings.
A truly collaborative regional alliance will include representation from a disparate range of organisations with a range of work cultures and alignments.
Four Pillar Groups – Economic Growth, Improve our Connections, Sustain our Natural Assets, Strengthen our Communities – will be established to guide the roll-out of the Regional Strategic Plan.
At the outset, the Board will be responsible for appointing the foundation Chair of each Pillar Group. As the Pillar Groups mature, they may assume responsibility for electing their own Chair.
The Chair is responsible for the agendas, action plan updates and progress reports to the Board. The Chair will also provide feedback from the Board to Pillar Group members.
Pillar Group members will be carefully selected and invited to sit on one (or more) of the Pillar Groups according to their core interest, professional expertise or skills base. It will be important to ensure these people are senior decision-makers or people with a genuine stake in the issue/project at hand. It is envisaged that State Government will have a strong role to play in terms of Pillar leadership.
Each Council is encouraged to have representation on each Pillar Group (preferably a Councillor or senior manager). This is seen as appropriate, given that Councils are the primary funding source for the Great South Coast Group and ought to have an ongoing say in the decision-making process.
Pillar Groups are to meet monthly, or as otherwise required, to progress their actions plans and achieve set objectives.
All Pillar Group members will act in an honorary capacity.
The primary functions of Pillar Groups are:
complete grant applications and associated acquittal processes
identify what resources (financial, human and administrative) are required to ensure projects can be implemented in a timely manner
establish collaborative partnerships
promote the Great South Coast Group through presentations and written documents
assist with coordinated marketing initiatives
report to the Board as required
establish Project Working Groups ensuring each group has the relevant capacity and skills to achieve their project goals.
Sitting within the Pillar Groups, a series of Project Working Groups will be established to implement individual projects at “ground level”.
While the Pillar Groups have a broader administrative function, the Project Working Groups have a more practical application. Specific functions will vary according to the Work Group’s focus and objectives.
Membership should be decided upon the basis of members’ individual skills and professional capabilities. As with the Pillar Groups, it is important to have representation from industry and business as well as from the community.
All new members of the Board, Pillar Groups or Project Working Groups will have opportunity to undergo an induction and orientation process. This process will be facilitated/delivered by the Executive Officer.
During the induction process, all new members to receive electronic or hard copy versions of:
the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan
Terms of Reference
meeting minutes from the past three months
an organisational chart including current Pillar and Project Group membership, Pillar Chairs and contact details
any relevant action plans
list of meeting times and venues for the Board, Pillar Groups and Project Groups
A collaborative, democratic approach will be taken to decision making within the Great South Coast Group.
At Board level, each municipality is afforded one vote and each individual member will have an equal say in the decision-making process. Where there are conflicting opinions, the majority vote secures the final decision.
Significant decisions pertaining to issues such as funding, submissions, policy change, marketing or significant changes to the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan are to be tabled for Board meetings for discussion.
As Board members are viewed as being representative of the Board (not as representative of individual municipalities) the Board may only commit its own funds – it may not commit the funds of member Councils.
Clear and open communication is one of the cornerstones of the Great South Coast Group. This group recognises that it has an obligation to communicate in an honest and transparent manner with all stakeholders.
Storage of all Great South Coast documentation is the responsibility of the Executive Officer.
Information, including agendas, minutes, correspondence, reports, etc. is to be stored in a central site in electronic and hard copy format, where possible.
An internal communications strategy, developed by the Executive Officer, will guide provide protocols for communicating within the Group.
Mayors and CEOs are encouraged to ensure their respective Councils are kept apprised of the Great South Coast Group’s ongoing business.
Generating a shared understanding of the aims of the Regional Strategic Plan will be crucial to the plan’s success.
To that end, a detailed external communications plan will guide all communications with the Great South Coast community.
The Board Chair is the official spokesperson for the Great South Coast Group.
Progress will be documented at each meeting via the verbal and written reports of individuals. All meetings – Board, Pillar Group and Project Working Groups – are to be minuted with minutes made available to all stakeholders.
(Please note: It will be important to develop protocols around distribution of minutes.)
The Chair of each Pillar Group is requested to email agendas and minutes of meetings along with any relevant reports or documentation to the Board one week prior to the Board meeting.
The Board will provide any reports required by funding partners in a timely and efficient manner via the Executive Officer.
Any disagreement or dispute, in the first instance, will be raised with the Pillar Chair or the Board Chair, whichever is more relevant.
The parties to the disagreement or dispute will meet with the relevant Chair to discuss the matter and attempt to resolve it as soon as possible.
Steps taken to resolve the disagreement will be documented and tabled at the Great South Coast Group meetings.
If, following this process, agreement still cannot be reached, an independent mediator will be appointed after consultation with the Board Chair. Each of the parties agrees to co-operate fully with the mediator. Each of the parties also agrees to pay an equal share of the costs of mediation.
These Terms of Reference will be valid until June 30, 2014.