Firstly, we hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well in these surreal times. We all know that 2020 has been a year of crises, which call for deep reflection and ought to be turning points in the way we interact with others and our environment.
Many of us are feeling the emotional impacts of the year that has been, and the fears and anxieties associated with caring for self, loved ones and our affinity to place. We may feel it is difficult to make a difference. It is important that we remain grounded, preserve our integrity and be guided by compassion in speaking up.

Here is a message from us to you, along with recommendations from us at Planners Declare to encourage you to participate in the Planning Institute of Australia's Victorian Committee's invitation to shape their Covid-19 Response Plan.

Please use them as you wish and see fit, these recommendations are optional; we encourage you to write your own.

See Email Draft Plan and How-To Guidehere. Guidelines that you can include are themed by category are below. The Victorian Commiteee Response Plan can be found here. 

A Message From Us
Individual & Community Safety 
Bounce Forward Together
Supporting The Vulnereable
More Crises
Transportation &  Roads
The Process of Recovery

Here are some advice from us at Planners Declare for you to support yourself, your loved ones and your practise. Keep safe and wash your hands.

  • Our first responsibility has to be to ourselves and our closest loved ones, particularly in these times. Looking after self and working for better places are entwined, so please keep to routines and practices that ground you.
  • Be guided by compassion and the principle of doing no harm. Suspend activities that cannot continue, and be mindful of any pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines or work targets.
  • If you are able to stay home, then take the opportunity to focus your energy on living better in place, whatever that means for you. Also, focus on deepening your relationships with the place around you, and look at how this might inform your own practice.
  • Keep your observational skills up. Look at the interactions between people and place around you, and think about what they mean for your passion for planning, your practice and how community life might be reshaped after this.
  • As many planners have rightly pointed out, physical distancing (necessary) and social distancing (potentially harmful) are different things.
  • Do make contact with friends and colleagues whose company gives you energy and insight. At the same time, do set constructive boundaries to give yourself time to reflect and look after yourself.
  • Be mindful of the points where we can make a difference. Focus on things you can control and action that gives you a sense of meaning.

Note: the list are there to be used as a guideline, feel free to add, edit as many as you see fit in your response to the VIC committee Covid19 Response Plan.

  • We support the focus on individual and collective safety, and on planning fast-tracking community-led adaptations and responses to Covid-19.
  • Planning should adopt a “first, do no harm” approach during the pandemic, while advocating for positive change and recognising environmental factors that exacerbate the impacts of Covid-19, particularly in terms of social isolation, precarious housing and family violence.
  • There needs to be a recognition that planning restrictions, policies, governance and enforcement will need to change to preserve the good that comes from these adaptations – including improvements to social cohesion and community fabric.
  • PIA should send a survey to it’s planners asking the following questions:
    i. What are your main concerns about the impact of the Coronavirus on the efficient functioning of the planning system?
    ii. What changes have you made to your working practices in response to the current crisis?
    iii. How effective are your IT systems? What measures are needed to enable the planning system to respond to the crisis?
    iv. Have you been affected by lost income or support since the pandemic?
  • The VIC committee should provide key measurables that outline precisely how the response will be tracked, monitored and reported back to the members and non-members of the planning community.

Note: the list are there to be used as a guideline, feel free to add, edit as many as you see fit in your response to the VIC committee Covid19 Response Plan.

  • VIC’s PIA’s COVID19 Response Plan should be an opportunity to convey existing PIA’s policy position(s):
    i. National Housing Settlement Strategy
    ii. Transportation Integration Act 2010 calling for an Overarching Public Transportation Plan.
    iii. PIA’s policy on the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency. 
    iv. Lobby for the further integration between Statutory and Strategic planning.
  • There cannot be a return to business as usual, for many reasons. To expect such is a missed opportunity for the profession to bounce forward collectively.
  • The PIA response should recognise the importance of reforming planning systems and entrenched ways of working that have exacerbated the impacts of both the bushfire season and COVID19. These include urban sprawl, car-dependency, poorly designed density, developments designed to engender social isolation and the continued destruction of biodiversity, and food bowls on the edge of cities.
    i. PIA should outline steps now to better achieve the 20-Minute Neighbourhoods Plan.  
  • The PIA response fails to recognise the importance of the Institute’s advocacy role in working for positive change, informed by its members and practitioners. While recognising the position of the institute in working for and with its members, it is not time to defend or push for a return to the status quo.
    i. PIA's response should entail tangible solutions to existing PIA policy positions around it’s advocacy body.
  • A crisis is an opportunity to see beyond the systems that are the problem. For planning, this is an obligation and core responsibility.

Note: the list are there to be used as a guideline, feel free to add, edit as many as you see fit in your response to the VIC committee Covid19 Response Plan.

  • It is reasonable to work on the basis that COVID19 is exacerbating existing health, wellbeing and environmental vulnerabilities in society.
  • PIA’s response fails to recognise the role of planning in exacerbating and potentially addressing the vulnerability of people experiencing social isolation, homelessness and mental health issues in these times.
    i. The response should include how planners can form solutions around the lack of public and social housing and renting stress.
  • Critically, the response fails to recognise the importance of reforming planning systems and practice in order to position planning as a constructive agent of change.
    i. PIA should expand the policy and regulatory reform action in their response plan to include not just business and jobs. But to include key pillars of  planning: housing, transportation, environment, etc. that the Local Government Act 1989 and the Planning and Environment Act 1987 enables & exacerbates.

Note: the list are there to be used as a guideline, feel free to add, edit as many as you see fit in your response to the VIC committee Covid19 Response Plan.

  • The bushfires and COVID19 are both entwined in their impacts and temporality. Planning must recognise these intersections. It must both learn from and support healing from these dramatic ruptures in Australian society.
    i. PIA should change their Covid19 advisory group to a National Disaster Crisis advisory group in-order to maintain learning from existing disasters.
    ii. PIA should provide further clarity to their Declaration of Climate Emergency and what they expect from the planning community and it’s members to attain carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • If planning does not play a more constructive role in crisis response, and the profession fails to learn the lessons from these times, we are abdicating our responsibility to the communities, places and people we work for.
  • The PIA response should encourage members and organisations to see these events as entwined, and open space for a reflexive and honest examination of planning’s role within them.
  • Long-running problems of car dependency, lack of walkable environments, urban green space, an over-reliance on market-based housing approaches and poorly designed housing are exacerbating problems and existing vulnerabilities during COVID91. These longer-running problems are embedded in the COVID19 situation.

Note: the list are there to be used as a guideline, feel free to add, edit as many as you see fit in your response to the VIC committee Covid19 Response Plan.

  • Local Government and State Planners to introduce emergency solutions to rethink who roads are for as a temporary solution to accommodate an increase in walking and cycling:
    i. PIA should conduct a workshop and release a plan on Tactical Urbanism.
  • Start thinking of a long term solution to implement the 20-Minute Neighbourhood Plan and evidence based planning that we need to shift our cities from cars to pedestrians and other multi-mode public transportation solutions.
    i. PIA should make reference to existing PIA policy around the Transport Integration Act 2010 calling for an Overarching Public Transportation Plan to plan for a people-designed city post COVID19.

Note: the list are there to be used as a guideline, feel free to add, edit as many as you see fit in your response to the VIC committee Covid19 Response Plan.

  • The way that recovery is defined as effectively returning to “business as usual” is a lost opportunity. This will simply further entrench the dynamics around ecology, social isolation and health and wellbeing that exacerbate the impacts of disasters and pandemics.
  • We need to at least acknowledge, and as a profession work towards addressing planning’s role in escalating the vulnerability of sections of our population as a result of COVID19.
  • We know that pandemics start because of the destructive relationship humans have with natural environments at a global scale. This is demonstrated in various outbreaks of Ebola, SARS viruses (including that which causes the Covid-19 illness) and forms of avian influenza/swine flu. Planning has a critical role in unwinding and re-envisaging the systems and structural conditions that cause this at a local and global scale.