Working with members to build Melbourne’s resilience | Statement from the CEO and Chair
2 April 2020
Working with members to build Melbourne’s resilience
Last week we met-virtually-with our patron, Her Excellency the Governor of Victoria, the Hon. Linda Dessau AC and discussed the unprecedented circumstances in which our people, our members, our government, and our community find themselves as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. How can we best support our people and our members, and fulfil our mission, at this difficult and disruptive time? How can we help our city and community, and how can we best work with our members to recuperate and rebuild?
The Governor was most generous as always with her insights and suggestions. From her unique perspective the Governor was able to highlight the many challenges faced by individuals on the front line: our medical professionals, health care and social workers, emergency services staff, teachers, and indeed all essential service providers. We also discussed the devastating impact that the current situation is having on the many organisations that depend upon community support such as charities and our arts and cultural institutions.
Our first concern is to care for our people and their loved ones. To ensure that they are safe, working effectively remotely, so that they spend their time purposefully and so that the work of the Committee can continue with our members and with the wider community.
The Committee for Melbourne was established during the economic crisis of the 1980s by civic minded business leaders who worked with government to re-build Melbourne and to restore its status as a thriving place to live, work and do business.
Melbourne certainly benefitted from their leadership at this critical time. Their vision and the practical projects for Melbourne’s recovery provided a focal point and some of the necessary stimulus. The lessons from those times are as relevant today, as business and “for purpose” organisations fight for survival, and plan how they will rebuild.
Our mission of “Shaping a better future for Melbourne” is a call to action. The extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves remind us of the interconnectedness of our world and the common destiny we face. That said, our heritage and home is in Melbourne, and from here we can do our part to help the state and our nation chart a course of recovery.
The Committee can assist by mobilising the power of its cross-sectoral membership and relationships with governments and communities, and leverage its extensive experience in collaborating with our members and other organisations to be the voice of our membership, to identify key initiatives that we should advocate and drive, to help build the collaborative support systems required for recovery, and to build a strong, safe and resilient future for our communities.
The Committee’s experience tells us that there is both risk and opportunity in every crisis. This crisis will change the way we go about our future business, in the near term and into the longer term. There will be changes in our daily lives and we need to plan and be prepared.
The Committee is:
- building a coalition of business, industry and community leaders to generate ideas for a roadmap to recovery. By collaborating and synthesizing our views we can have a more coherent voice with government on what is needed and by doing so we can speed up critical decision-making processes.
- working with members to identify key issues, to host virtual forums on important challenges in the coming months, to plan how we can work together to rebuild a safe and vibrant Melbourne, to collaborate on solutions and drive initiatives, and to represent our members in the coalition of peak bodies.
- communicating and publishing ideas and initiatives of our members and the Melbourne community which support recovery efforts.
- using our sister Cities and Regions network to share ideas and collaborate on how we help our communities rebuild.
This crisis has thrown our health and safety, financial security and way of life into turmoil. Supply chains have been disrupted, businesses are closing, and people are losing their livelihoods. The Committee therefore supports the significant economic stimulus and support measures for businesses and individuals that have been announced by federal, state and local governments.
Business operations and practices have quickly evolved and shifted to accommodate the current crisis, such as working from home, virtual meetings and forums, and remote access to data and systems. This new way of working may well become a permanent feature of how we live, work and do business in the future.
Some of the key issues facing Melbourne will therefore be how organisations from all sectors can master these changes, adapt to a new environment and benefit from innovations and experiences occurring globally. The same is true for our Committee. We can also learn from how other cities around the world are handling the crisis and planning for recovery.
Some of the important issues that the Committee has been advocating for will continue to be important into the future. Some change in our agenda is to be expected. Our collaboration with our members on the need for an integrated transport system, affordable housing, skills of the future, our arts and cultural sector and our digital / AI capability are expected to remain an important foundation upon which our city which will recover and then continue to grow.
The current situation is an opportunity for the Committee to work with its members and friends to listen, synthesise and develop ideas and initiatives that support the community, our economy and aid our recovery. Such collaboration will enable us to better communicate key messages into governments and other organisations.
Over the next few weeks we will contact all our members to ask them how they are doing and how they would like the Committee to work with them to build for recovery. Our annual membership survey will be another opportunity for you to help shape our forward agenda.
We know that we will get through this crisis. We have an important opportunity to learn from this situation and to build a stronger and more resilient society for the future.
Wishing you and yours all the very best at this challenging time.
Scott Tanner Martine Letts