Dr Tom Measham visited the Illawarra at the request of RDA Illawarra on 1 November 2019 as a result of an impressive presentation witnessed by RDA Illawarra Chair Eddy De Gabriele, Deputy Chair Joanna Kubota and CEO Debra Murphy.

Tom presented on the topic of Future Illawarra to an intimate group of 35 Illawarra leaders across a range of industries and peak bodies (including representatives from the Leadership Illawarra Program). The presentation focused on a Strategic Foresight Approach and explored plausible future outcomes for the Illawarra region depending on a range of fixed and changeable factors.

Tom opened the session by discussing geographic issues and global exposure, as well as population change in regional Australia and income inequality across regions. The effects of emission reduction and the growth in renewables was also tabled as a contributing factor to the success and progress in regional areas.

To stimulate discussion and form the basis of the round table session that followed Tom’s presentation, he presented 4 plausible alternate futures for regional Australia and encouraged input and debate around where the Illawarra currently sits and what might be a future plan for success.

Robust debate by an engaging group of stakeholders on where we sit on the alternate futures was held, with differing views expressed and votes for the scenarios put forward, including between ‘Fast and Flexible’ (growth in high tech knowledge and service sectors) and ‘Natural Advantage’ (successful multi-purpose land use and corporate investment). 

An overwhelming theme around the room was that the plausible alternate futures should be considered when it came to Future Planning, and that perhaps a regional plan encompassing all issues and taking into consideration the wider factors was essential if the Illawarra was to experience a Regional Renaissance.

We also discussed the ‘So What?’ question – that’s great, but what action should we take now.  Many ideas were captured, including how we can feed in to existing and future strategic plans; training need; STEM; place creation; SDG’s as a lens; global solutions and benchmarks; collaborating for success; infrastructure investment; service mapping and taking a holistic approach.

​Debra Murphy was grateful to Eddy De Gabriele, RDA Board Chair and Joanna Kubota, Deputy Chair for assisting at opening and closing the event, as well as the extensive and comprehensive media coverage provided by local news outlets.  It was exciting to see the topic covered and promoted amongst the broader community, who must also engage if the Illawarra is going to thrive.

This is the start of a discussion and future planning, ensuring the Illawarra stays competitive and attractive for investment and remains a desirable place to live.  The Regional Renaissance will continue into 2020, and we will be delving into themes around our long term future prosperity.