On 20th February 100 people gathered in Singleton for the Hunter Renewal Summit to meet special guests from other coal communities that have adjusted to economic change and hear from experts about new opportunities and pathways to creating a thriving future for our region that doesn’t cost the earth.
- Luke van der Meulen, retired Latrobe Valley miner & former President of the CFMEU Victorian Mining & Energy District
- Lisa Lumsden, Port Augusta City Councillor & founding member of Repower Port Augusta
- Carl Shoupe, retired coal miner & member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
- Scott Shoupe, Energy Intern at Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development (Kentucky US)
- Dr Amanda Cahill, The Next Economy
- Nicky Ison, Community Power Agency
- Prof. Daryll Hull, Centre for Workforce Futures Macquarie University
- Stewart Ewen, Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association
- Dr Neil Perry, Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability UWS
- Scott Franks, Plains Clan of the Wonnarua People
- Prof. Bob Lusby, Tintilla Estate vigneron
Scott & Carl Shoupe (above) came all the way from Harlan County, Kentucky USA to share their story of horror and hope (check them out on our news page)
A series of three workshops were conducted throughout the day to capture ideas and nuggets of wisdom about how we can get the ball rolling on a timely and orderly transition from coal in the Hunter.
There was some gold in all that paper! We sorted the comments into common themes and listed all the most popular ideas - you can access the list here
In June 2018 we commissioned Hunter Research Foundation Centre to survey 300 residents of the Upper Hunter on their level of agreement on diversifying the Hunter Region economy away from reliance on the coal mining industry.
The results of the survey show a relatively high level of agreement on diversifying the Hunter economy - more than half of respondents (55%) either agreed or strongly agreed that the Hunter economy should diversify. Only 23% disagreed.
In October 2018 we commissioned a Reachtel poll of another 253 residents of the Hunter, with roughly 70% agreeing the Hunter should diversify its economic base and develop a plan for a post-coal economy in the future - nearly 57% of them were strongly in agreement.
With all of our door-knocking surveys, phone-polls, public dinners and meetings we've directly engaged a broadly representative mix of over 2000 Hunter residents in conversations about transitioning the Hunter from our economic reliance on coal.
Between 2016 and 2018 a team of over 40 volunteers hit the streets of Singleton and Muswellbrook to find out what locals think and feel about coal mining and the future of the Hunter Valley.
We knocked on thousands of doors and directly surveyed over 1000 people - mine workers, parents and grandparents, professionals, retail and service industry employees, the unemployed, students and retirees.
We had meaningful conversations about benefits of the coal economy, disadvantages to our health and environment, whether more mines should be approved and our vulnerability as a region if/when the demand for our Hunter coal declines.
In particular, we asked if people agreed that the Hunter Valley needs a plan to transition from our dependence on coal to healthier, more diverse industries.
9 out of 10 respondents said YES - they want a plan for a post-coal economy in the Hunter.
In November 2017 and March 2018 we hosted 170 guests at two Seat at the Table community dinners in Muswellbrook & Singleton.
The dinners, inspired by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, brought local people together to share their hopes and dreams for the future of the Hunter Valley.
Over a delicious three course meal of locally produced ingredients we discussed and recorded ideas about:
- What a healthy and prosperous future for the hunter looks like
- What an inclusive and equitable plan for the future includes
- What the role of govt, industry & community should be in planning for the future
We collated and sorted over 1000 comments from the two dinners into common threads for further conversation and development into a vision. This gave us a basis to start engaging more deeply with key stakeholders and decision makers about the idea that we need a long-term plan.
Our shared vision
~ we want to protect and promote our natural environment, our lifestyles and community connections. Preservation of agricultural lands and growth of agricultural industries is important to us.
~we need job creation and security through investment in non-mining industries, an urgent transition to renewable energy production, rehabilitation of mining lands, and increased tourism ventures. We require subsidised training and more education opportunities, small business incentives and supports so that we can stay in the region and grow stronger communities.
~ we know that the best way forward is through robust and committed political leadership and a dedicated coordination authority to plan for the transition to a future beyond coal. And most importantly, the process must involve meaningful community engagement and empowerment.