working with outrage

dogs on inverloch beach

A challenging issue

In late 2013, Bass Coast Council made a decision to ban dogs on all Inverloch beaches over the forthcoming summer from 1 December to 30 April from 8am to 8pm. This led to a high level of outrage from dog owners who were used to walking their dogs on the beach at any time of day.

Council received 9 petitions, over 700 items of correspondence and there were many questions at Council meetings. People wrote to local newspapers and two new community groups were established to take action.

A shared process

In February 2014 the Council acknowledged the community’s concerns and committed to improving consultation and engagement. Kimbra White and Keith Greaves were appointed to undertake the community engagement work.

Following a public meeting of about 200 people, two drop in sessions and 14 community group interviews, community members were invited to collaborate on the development of solution.

About 40 community members (dog owners, non-dog owners and people concerned about the environment) took up this challenge and came together over three evening meetings facilitated by Kimbra and Keith to work on the problem. 

The outcomes 

Together the group successfully developed a set of recommendations to put to Council.  

These recommendations included a shared arrangement for the beach: people only areas during peak times in summer, specific dog off-lead areas plus a set of related recommendations. 

The community recommendations were accepted in part by the Council.

“We are impressed that so many people who hold different views were able to work together -
and we hope people will accept these recommendations even if they don’t like them.”

— Participant commenting at the end of three meetings.