UTAS and Council to set out education vision

In late March, Burnie City Council at a special meeting agreed on a heads of agreement that outlines the University of Tasmania and Burnie City Council working together to expand educational opportunities for the North-West region on the land at West Park.

Mayor Steve Kons said, “It would be fair to say there has been a reasonable amount of concern from the community since the announcement. It is clear the community is supportive of expanding a campus in the region, but there are many questions about the choice of site and the future of the Makers’ Workshop.

“This is a huge visionary decision that will ultimately shape the future of Burnie and hasn’t been taken lightly. There were processes that needed to be followed before we could speak openly and cohesively about the vision we have for the site.

“We have heard loud and clear that the Burnie community are passionate about the site and want answers about this development and that the community feel that decisions were made without consultation. UTAS and Council are committed to sharing the vision with the community, recognising that many of the answers the community are seeking will be developed over time. To date Council and UTAS have signed a heads of agreement, which sets out guidelines to make sure we both have the same vision for the site. This is only one step in what is a long term project.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Regional Development) and Director of the Cradle Coast Campus Professor Janelle Allison said, “The agreement we have reached with the Council will involve the development of a long-term master plan for University development in Burnie, which will take into account the goals established by the community and Council in the Making Burnie 2030 Strategic Plan and West Park Strategic Guidelines.

“We have also started consultation with the community to develop the master plan and we will communicate further opportunities for involvement through both the UTAS and Burnie City Council websites as they arise. In the first instance we think it’s important to provide information about our vision, and the steps we are planning to take in the future to get there.”

Council and UTAS will begin hosting information sessions at The Point, West Park, in the next fortnight that will allow community members with an interest in the project to come and hear the vision and timeline moving forward. A fact sheet entailing details agreed to in the heads of agreement and information from these sessions will be made available online too.

Janelle Allison said, “We are committed to delivering a lasting legacy for Burnie and the Cradle Coast region, including a more accessible University, in which the needs of students, staff and community members have been considered.

“We believe that developing campus infrastructure in the heart of our regional cities will spark not only short-term economic regeneration but support long-term economic, social and cultural growth for the region.

“The West Park site is of regional significance and offers a range of possibilities for a shift in scale and focus for UTAS in North West Tasmania.  The Makers Workshop expresses not only the clever industrial history of the region but also points to the future.

“Some in the community have questioned why UTAS is excited by a partnership with the visual arts and creative endeavours undertaken within the Makers’ Workshop. While relatively new in the portfolio of university activities, courses and research in the creative industries have gathered momentum as a force for economic and social prosperity over the last two decades demonstrated in the funding for the Academy of Cultural Industries and Performing Arts (ACIPA) in UTAS.

“Creative industries include industrial design, visual and performing arts along with a bewildering array of digital and electronic media. We see the Makers’ Workshop as an opportunity to create a venue that blends both commercial and existing community engagement through the Makers with world-class creative education opportunities.

“Alongside this, the proximity of neighbouring sporting facilities at the West Park site provides opportunities to increase the intersection of community and learning. Sport is an entry point to not only physical health and well-being but also community well-being and participation. This also links to the potential to grow specialisations in the health and sports sciences, allied health and preventative medicine - a key focus of UTAS’ Northern Health initiative.”

Mayor Steve Kons said, “This is a huge direction change for Burnie, and we expect there to be some apprehension, but we hope after attending the sessions or reading the information the community will begin to see that this new venture will secure a brighter and stronger economic future for Burnie.”

Information Released by UTAS and BCC:

The Media Office, University of Tasmania

Phone: (03) 6226 2124

Email: Media.Office@utas.edu.au

For further information please contact

Libby Dobson
Communications Officer
Burnie City Council
(03) 6430 5716 or 0448 568 728

Email: ldobson@burnie.net