The Big Brainstorm

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We all know life has changed dramatically since COVID-19 hit.

The way we live, work, socialise, travel, study and exercise have all been impacted.

How many of these changes will became part of ‘normal’ life now that COVID restrictions are easing?

How will these change impact on the way local Councils serve their communities?

Kingston is keen to tackle these questions, so we are ready to adapt and respond to changing community needs.

But we need your help.


1. Big Brainstorm
All staff are invited to take part in the Big Brainstorm to share your ideas about how life has changed in 2020.

Share your ideas by submitting comments in the Guest Book below to brainstorm:

What changes have you seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in your life, your community, your neighbourhood and beyond.

  • Have you used your area differently?
  • How you get around?
  • How you shop and access services?
  • How you work? Do you work?
  • How you use your time for 'play'?
  • How you keep in contact and connect with others?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What has challenged you?

Please note: If you have previously registered your email with Your Kingston Your Say you may need to use your password. If you are new to the site (or using a personal email address) you won't need to register to take part.

2. Deeper Dive - Smaller group discussion
We’re also keen to bring together a smaller group of around 20 people from across different parts of the organisation to have a deeper conversation on the topic.

If you’d like to be chosen to take part email your interest to Strategic.Planning@kingston.vic.gov.au


Your feedback will then be used to help Kingston plan for the future and make sure we are well-prepared for the changes ahead.


Towards Exceptional Vision

The Big Brainstorm forms part of our Towards Exceptional vision for Kingston.

One of the pillars of Towards Exceptional is that we are A diverse, dynamic and contemporary organisation - We are flexible, collaborative and innovative.

The Big Brainstorm aims to harness the ideas, expertise and experience from right across the organisation to make sure were are well-prepared to meet our changing community landscape.





We all know life has changed dramatically since COVID-19 hit.

The way we live, work, socialise, travel, study and exercise have all been impacted.

How many of these changes will became part of ‘normal’ life now that COVID restrictions are easing?

How will these change impact on the way local Councils serve their communities?

Kingston is keen to tackle these questions, so we are ready to adapt and respond to changing community needs.

But we need your help.


1. Big Brainstorm
All staff are invited to take part in the Big Brainstorm to share your ideas about how life has changed in 2020.

Share your ideas by submitting comments in the Guest Book below to brainstorm:

What changes have you seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in your life, your community, your neighbourhood and beyond.

  • Have you used your area differently?
  • How you get around?
  • How you shop and access services?
  • How you work? Do you work?
  • How you use your time for 'play'?
  • How you keep in contact and connect with others?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What has challenged you?

Please note: If you have previously registered your email with Your Kingston Your Say you may need to use your password. If you are new to the site (or using a personal email address) you won't need to register to take part.

2. Deeper Dive - Smaller group discussion
We’re also keen to bring together a smaller group of around 20 people from across different parts of the organisation to have a deeper conversation on the topic.

If you’d like to be chosen to take part email your interest to Strategic.Planning@kingston.vic.gov.au


Your feedback will then be used to help Kingston plan for the future and make sure we are well-prepared for the changes ahead.


Towards Exceptional Vision

The Big Brainstorm forms part of our Towards Exceptional vision for Kingston.

One of the pillars of Towards Exceptional is that we are A diverse, dynamic and contemporary organisation - We are flexible, collaborative and innovative.

The Big Brainstorm aims to harness the ideas, expertise and experience from right across the organisation to make sure were are well-prepared to meet our changing community landscape.



Add your ideas

What changes have you seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in your life, your community, your neighbourhood and beyond?

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I was impressed with receiving a pamphlet in my letter box offering to do my shopping if I was unable to myself and with a couple who started a mini book exchange outside their home.

Badrm1 6 months ago

Life became simpler, less rushed, more time for exercise in the morning without rushing to get to work. More time with adult children who would have ordinarily been out and it's been lovely. Community for the most part has been very receptive and understanding. The second lockdown was harder for everyone I knew. Tough with an older parent who lives on his own and outside my 5km range. I would visit anyway under the carer's rule but was driving there I was always anxious and had to pass road blocks often.
Overall, I've noticed the people who are quick to 'pivot' and adaptable to change have not struggled as much as those who are reluctant and/or scared.

Kath S 6 months ago

Being able to work from home and having the flexibility to work hours that suit individual needs has been a huge change and shift to the organisation which has allowed more work life balance,

I am keen to see these changes carried through, giving people that flexibility to work at times that suit them, in turn giving the community access to many services right around the clock instead of the traditional 9am-5pm!

The environmental impact on these changes ie, reduction in traffic is also a huge bonus including and the need for parking spaces reduced.

Seeing the organisation adopt new processes across the organisation and "move forward" and "progress" into the future has been fantastic! Keen to see that continue!

Sylvia Benedict 6 months ago

- stronger connections with neighbours and the people who live nearby
- more focus on the important things in life - spending time with family/friends, wellness, health, being happy and healthy over the material things
- changes to how and when we work - realisation that a lot of work can happen from anywhere and doesn't always need to have people in the same room to be productive.
- greater need for flexibility to fit in work life balance. Finding ways to avoid, dead commute time, time stuck in traffic, starting or finishing at different times, working from home sometimes, starting at different times
- the imperative need for human connection
- need to support local businesses and shopping, and having greater more vibrant shopping strips
- need for parks and gardens that serve all the community

Emma Jarrett 6 months ago

Despite the initial Good Will and supports offered by neighbours, friends and vulnerable community groups, fear, frustration and COVID information/messaging fatigue set in and changed peoples attitude and tolerance levels. Consequently, l have since noticed that various Community members (particularly those aged between 45 - 60+ are fearful of close contact and social interactions, despite the distance rule. Over time, particularly within my social networks, fear and concern was replaced with anger and frustration, particularly when stage 4 restrictions kicked in. Attitudes changed as people started to experience isolation, loneliness as they missed interacting and engaging with their adult children, grandchildren and siblings.
Initial fear saw masked members of our community avoiding these unmasked, Fear I believed has been replaced with frustration and anger at those risking the overall being of the community by flaunting and breaching restrictions.

Members of our community groups are fearful of re-engaging and re-connecting with their social community groups, after such a long absence. hence, we need to understand what members of our community need to give them the confidence to re-engage and return to a new normal safely and confidently. We must keep in mind that we may see or hear about groups ( young and old ) who Pre-COVID did not experience any issues, and now Post COVID may require mental health support and assistance with re-connecting and engaging in a meaningful way.
How do we assess/reach and provide support to those who are reluctant to re-engage in activities and life in general pre-COVID.
Whilst those suffering from diagnosed mental health issues may have significantly suffered due to social isolation, fear, loss of employment and connection with social networks, the newly healthy unwell may be hard to reach.

My neighbours (we live in a Court) have become protective and supportive, often seeking assurance and asking each other if support is required. Locals in neighbouring streets whilst in their own gardens are now engaging with each other over the fence, unlike Pre COVID – I’ve noticed a greater sense of belonging amongst neighbours. Home grown produce is shared amongst each other. COVID has given us all an engaging and supportive perspective/approach.
As result of COVID 19 - My relationship with my immediate family improved, lockdown and social isolation forced us to rethink our life style and helped re-evaluate our objectives and what we value - we have become more appreciative of our home, we learnt to enjoy “ Being US together” something we were all too busy notice. CD19 helped us slow down and take stock of what we need to change in our lives - we now all work towards a work life balance and engage in having more family meals together, family game nights , enjoy each other’s company.

JW - SD team 6 months ago

Test

Annette Forde 6 months ago

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Annette Forde 6 months ago

Having returned to work as part of a bubble it has been great to be able to work with a select few of our team and I do look forward to when bubbles will be abolished and be able to work with everyone again. I have not missed the commute at all and i do believe that a good balance of working in the office and from home is achieveable. A really big positive for me having been able to work from home is being able to spend more time in the morning and after work with my son as i don't have to drop him off so early to childcare and i'm able to pick him up earlier and not worry that i'm going to get stuck in traffic and have the poor guy stuck at childcare for nearly the entire day and spending minimal time with him before bed. Working in the office with masks has been a challenge especially when you are taking calls all day so i look forward to the restrictions on masks being eased and i hope these will eventually be reflected in indoor spaces.

HHeath 6 months ago

I have found working from home, changes to what we do have provided a better level of service to clients, less sick days and a more efficient work day with less interruptions. Travelling to on-site jobs once or twice a week to maintain efficiency

Alexmac 6 months ago

During this time, it has been a big challenge, but there have been some positives for me. That feels really weird to say, when it has been a time of great loss throughout the world. But for the first time in years, I actually knew what my children were learning about at school. I got to know them differently - they were students and part of a cohort that I didn't see before home schooling. I didn't have to ask them about what they had learned today - "nothing!" as I knew what they had been learning about. I had underestimated the complexity of concepts they had to grapple with.

With my work, I never ever thought that I would work from home, but I have, and it has been interesting. I have learned lots of new IT skills in a very short amount of time, and I have learned about resilience in my team. We have been having weekly Friday meetings for the department, and many of those had a theme, which showed that even though we were apart, we could still dress up, have a laugh, support each other and learn what their other dream job would be! These opportunities to have a laugh and learn a little bit more about the people I work with helped me over lock down during winter.

But it has also shown me how much I miss what is my normal job. Speaking with lots of people every day, continuing those connections with people who have been coming into the library, some every day. I have wondered how some of them have managed without the routine of reading the paper at their local library, or using the computers and chatting to others who have become friends. And books! I missed being able to go into work and borrow a real book to read, so I understand how happy people are that the library has reopened - I feel the same way.

How I buy things has changed too coming out of lock down. I want to shop locally and see my community thrive both socially, but also economically. So gifts at Christmas that have been sourced from shops in my area is my new thing.

I have lived in a small, very community minded street for a long time (in Kingston), but there have been a lot more random acts of kindness this year. One neighbour owns a bakery and has been bringing home bread at the end of the day, and offering it for free to the street. Popping down to get a loaf of bread from his porch became a social occasion! Another neighbour bought my kids helium balloons for their birthdays, because she knew that they couldn't see their grandparents. I put up a sign on the fence to beep the horn for my 10 year old's birthday and she felt special all day with neighbours beeping and waving.

This sense of community is what I hope will continue as we move back to a pandemic free life.

Local librarian 6 months ago

COVID has changed us in many ways. Our friendly faces are now replaced with face mask, wether it's a happy or a sad face, but nobody will never know because we can't see. But bumping the elbows certainly can brings happiness in the community. Being in locked down, has made me appreciate our local businesses. I am more aware of my suburb and the people in the community, and has really made me more aware of those who are living alone.

The aged care residents certainly was impacted as loneliness and uncertainty was their daily thoughts. But as a support worker I have learnt to be fun, happy and full of ideas. Even becoming tech savvy so we could help the clients to able be in contact with family members all over the world, using applications such as scope, zoom, FaceTime or even Facebook.

It's easy to give up and hard to keep positive but we are all in this panademic together and that makes us all equal. If we can keep in touch with our friends and families using technology I think that can help with the boredom.

In the future, I would like to see support workers being rostered on shifts to help the elderly who live alone, connecting with families/friends via technology. I truly believe we all need a lending hand to connect with love ones as the constant changes of technology and different applications can make it difficult for the elderly. Sometimes this can't be done so another option is to have a support worker to visit just to sit and have a cuppa whilst having a chat.

Leanne Dwyer 6 months ago

Our Immunisation department has jumped through a few hoops to try and achieve a way to vaccinate our babies, secondary school students and parents within a Covid safe plan. While students were not at school we had to find a new way to vaccinate students while they were home schooling. We were not allowed to continue with the program as we know it at the school venues. We worked with the schools and contacted parents to facilitate school immunisastion appointments at one of our own council buildings rather than attend their schools. This had its challenges but we managed it and it worked very well in the end, our school statistics unscathed in the end.

Our Immunisation Community sessions are now by appointment only and not a drop in - why oh why didnt we do this before !! Works so well and much better for the clients and for the staff, (again it took a pandemic).

Working from home has also been the biggest change in my life, I didnt like it at first as i felt discombobulated a bit, but it didnt take me long to get into my groove. Finding new and wonderful ways of working in a paperless way (again it took a pandemic to make this happen). Infact talking to all our team via Teams works perfectly and in some ways I feel more connected to them than I ever did, as a quick video call or message on teams got me a instant answer to my questions rather than the usual email requests.

My pathetic excuse for exercise has even had a kick up the bum. Where as I usually caught up with friends either in a coffee shop, restaurant or bar now I meet them for a walk, where we can still talk and walk (who would have thought !) As wfh makes us sit for longer periods of time as we have less distractions, i may add i am also walking after work now, never did that before either.

I think having the flexibility of working from the office and working from home is something that we are all embracing and have realised that we can make it work for us and our team. I hope the flexability continues and Management can see its benefits.

So this pandemic has stopped me from holidaying, catching up with family and friends and stopped me from shopping for things I dont need, but it has made me reset, reconnect in ways that I never used to, and has made me grateful for many many things in my life. I want things to go back to normal just like everyone else - but this pandemic has taught us a few things about ourselves, our country and even the world.

just me 6 months ago

As l have returned to work, there are a few things l have noticed;
although hotdesking is not favoured, as staff return to work partially some of their equipment is at home and at work, so most staff have to hot desk
Masks l know are mandatory in the office, but so hard when you are are in a meeting to read facial expressions or talk on the phone, even for the few staff that are in there, it is rare to wear you mask all day. Not sure how that will go with more staff returning to the office.
The opportunity to work more from home will be available but clear guidlines to make it fair for everyone will need to implemented. I already have staff requesting to work some time at home, which is fine at the moment.
How we run meetings will be so different, we will need video conference capabilities in every meeting room

Ncrowe 6 months ago

The pandemic has forced me to stop and look at the way we live our lives. Pre COVID life was spent rushing from one place to the next, whether it be work, school, kids sports, catch ups, shopping etc. Seeing how well we can all live in a less 'full' lifestyle, has been eye opening. It is the simple things that have made the greatest impact, morning walks as a family, weekends just hanging around doing 'nothing', being able to prepare dinner during a lunch break, allowing more time of an evening to catch up on everyone's day.
Whilst we have always lived in a street in which neighbours know one another, relationships have grown and new neighbours welcomed in, as we relied on one another for that human contact through the harshest of restrictions which has been great. As the only member of my greater family within Melbourne, not being able to contact my mother, and siblings in person was very difficult and the hardest part of the lockdown period, as well as my friendship groups who were largely outside of the 5km radius. Whilst we initially made time for online catch-ups these were hard to maintain as most of us were so sick of online conversations all week, so hard to gather motivation to extend these into personal time.
Kids did not stop growing through the pandemic, so whilst I did resort to online shopping as they grew out of various items of clothing, we still maintained our trips to the supermarket rather than online food shopping. However what I did find is we would shop for smaller items daily rather than having a large shop once a week. Relationships were also built with business owners and their staff within the local shopping precinct. As a result I have certainly placed more emphasis on shopping local and ensuring we support local business with using their services.
I have tried to maintain a fairly standard working day, during traditional business hours, however have been able to adjust this slightly as school has recommenced, in order to pick-up and drop off kids, and the flexibility to be able to catch up on that work later in the day has helped. At the start of working from home it was difficult to switch that computer off, however I found this was occurring pre covid anyway with the mobile phone. I do think that I have now reduced the amount of time I am checking on emails and work things outside of my designated work periods though which is great. Also the ability to hold meetings with Clubs online has been fantastic for both us and them, and something that I think will remain following a return to workplaces. I have though missed the informal interactions with staff throughout the day, as I feel a lot gets resolved and new ideas get discussed in this format.
Whilst certainly very challenging during the home schooling period, I can see significant benefits to my work and personal life as a result of the forced changes from the pandemic, and will be looking to maintain many of these moving forward.

kim.f 6 months ago

The lock down restrictions have made me more aware of, and forced me to investigate, resources within walking distance of home such as local food and service retail, parks and open spaces.
It's also highlighted to me the goods and services that I'm comfortable (or prefer) buying online such as clothing and homewares.
It has highlighted the lack of productivity in the time usually taken up with commuting and the additional work I can achieve in this time while working remotely.
It has resulted in a tighter bond between myself and my neighbours, offering support to each other, doing little favours such as ensuring someone is there to receive packages, mind a pet or let a tradie on site.
Finally, as restrictions have eased, I've seen a welcome imagination and flexibility come to the use of footpath, open space and private commercial space with car spaces being transformed into outdoor beer gardens and adjacent food businesses combining their footpath seating. This has been a great collaboration between businesses and state and local governments.

Ray Tiernan 6 months ago

The pandemic forced me to draw my focus in and as a result I've discovered more in my 5km radius - walking tracks on my doorstep, public art, nature, gardens and architecture. I've been noticing the little things more. We've also tried out local businesses which we may not have done if we'd been able to go further afield - cafes, restaurants, etc. The local community noticeboard on Facebook was always full of people asking for advice on where they could get certain things within the local area which provided a wealth of knowledge.
My husband and I were lucky to have secure full time jobs while others lost work. We actually saved more money during the pandemic as we weren't buying petrol, going out etc. We made additional payments on loans instead which has put us in a better financial position.
I've loved working from home - it feels more relaxed and gives me more time in my day. I had to learn to put boundaries in initially as it's easy to keep working beyond expected hours because it's all just there. Online meetings have been a great way to keep in touch, particularly daily 10min check-ins to keep tearoom type connections with colleagues going. Online meetings/conferences/seminars have meant more time in my day (no travel time to factor in), and I've been able to take part in events and activities that wouldn't have been possible otherwise (travel, cost, other commitments). I've certainly saved money by working from home - no petrol, no buying lunch, no need to buy new work clothes/shoes. I would love to split my time between WFH and being in the office going forward. I've learnt that I can work from home successfully. And I've worked more paperless which is a win for the environment (not to mention one less car on the road each day).
I still prefer to do shopping for food and groceries in person, put just about everything else I've purchased online - between the 5 people in my house there is a delivery to our door every day! I just need to be patient with delivery times... We also embraced home delivery for our weekly take-away night (something we didn't do before - I think we weighed up the delivery fee and decided our time and risk to health by going out was more important than a few extra dollars).
Outings and entertainment have become a lot more insular. Going for a drive (within allowed limits) and getting a takeaway to eat by the beach, going for a walk, watching a movie or series on Netflix together, meeting up with family for dinner (now that restaurants are open). In the past we would have been going to the theatre, concerts etc., or planning larger get togethers with friends - all things that aren't possible yet. Would love to have more opportunities to do such things locally rather than travelling further into the city. I took a number of photos while going for a daily walk - just simple things that caught my attention - a flower, a beautiful view, majestic tree, a local street view, artwork that people created in the neighbourhood. The difference in the photos I was taking on my phone at the beginning of the year compared to the last 6 months is quite stark. It demonstrates how much my world contracted.
I was challenged with a sense of loneliness during the pandemic though. Despite all the ways to connect, I rarely did it. Perhaps it was part of my world shrinking and knowing that everyone is going through challenging times for various reasons. My family live in regional Victoria so the idea that I couldn't see them was difficult. Family became more important than ever.
Overall, I think the pandemic has made me realise the important things in life - family, having a safe home, secure work, being grateful, appreciating the little things. I feel quite content. I think it has also reinforced a mindset that my husband and I have adopted over the last 10 years or so. There is no right time to do things - don't wait until a perceived 'perfect' time. Take the opportunity when you can because you never know what might happen in the future.

Shelley G 6 months ago

Physical - Exercise and being outdoor has kept me fit and sane. I use the local parks and beach at least 6 times a week which likely to continue at half of the frequency once work is done from home and from the office. I envisage that working from home will be about 2 to 3 times a week.

Societal - Pandemic has shown how the community can be so divided, there are Victorians who support the government's decision re lockdown and therefore do their best to comply, to make a difference by sharing and caring and sending positive messages out for the walkers, but also the opposing group who undermines the decision, or being vocal and visual at their disapproval of the government. One thing for sure though, there are plenty more dogs!!!

Financial - I am finding that saving has been great, if you retain your work, level of income and resist the online shopping temptation! Car expense has been replaced by utilities and internet data costs instead. But the main savings is from eating out. Though this is quickly depleted once the restrictions is lifted.

Emotional - I am far more aware of my emotions and people I have spoken to are now more open-minded to embrace counselling or psychotherapy which reflects the mental and emotional challenges experienced during lockdown. Addressing the mental health issues should be a priority for the government.

Familial - Covid has brought meaning to families and friends. It certainly gives me clarity of what is important in life and make the time for it. I am making far more frequent and routine calls of checking in with families and friends than I ever did.

Professional - working from home will be here to stay. I think might be 2-3 times from home. so adjustment to leadership style and management/performance by outcome will be truly tested. On the plus side, physical distance and or disabilities which traditionally maybe deemed a deterrent to employment has now been removed.

Yenni Lim 6 months ago

- Our homes have become so important as everything else was shut during lockdown. It's made people reassess their home environment. Space for socialising, home office, outside area for kids to play and for adults to chill has become so vital and valued.
- Local friendships and connections have become so much more important. Those friendships are stronger than usual, bound by the struggle everyone was going through this year.
- Realisation that change can happen to us so quickly. What does that mean for things like climate change? it makes me feel that there's hope for large scale action quickly.
- More anxiety in general. Children are anxious about germs, washing hands and worried more generally. So much has changed, and when kids ask why the answer is always the same 'because of the virus'.
- Focus on the outdoors lifestyle and a greater appreciation for it. Parks, beaches, bushland retreats in city areas, this was what kept us going doing lockdown. People valuing regional living and living away from busy cities. Working remotely, people can live anywhere.
- Re-focussed priorities around what we really need. A coffee or dinner with a friend, not large elaborate parties or overseas trips.
- Innovation will spring out of this hard year. People want to buy local, manufacture locally, for Australia to be self reliant and sufficient. A shift away from globalisation in general.
- Gender changes and rebalancing. With people working from home there's the opportunity for the division of unpaid labour to be more equally shared among men and women, and more time for women to participate more fully in the workforce.

Sara D 6 months ago

Have you used your area differently?

Shopped more local due to 5km rule. Ongoing not likely to retain this practice.

How you get around?

Drove car a lot less. Walked around neighbourhood. Will go back to driving more distances again.

How you shop and access services?

No significant change other than buying a few more items online.

How you work? Do you work?

Working from home all the time has positives and challenges. A balance between the two moving forward is preferred. Reducing the commute time is good for everyone's mental health, less pollution and traffic on the roads.

How you use your time for 'play'?

Connecting more online is tiring due to increased screen time taking a tool on the eyes. Forced to think more innovatively around ways to play around the home. More difficult for people living in small units compared to big houses when confined to your home.

How you keep in contact and connect with others?

All online. Will likely continue some online moving forward but will go back to in person once safe to do so.

What brings you joy?

No change other than appreciating what you can do to make your home more liveable and homely.

What has challenged you?

Enjoy the simple things. Patience as we rely more on internet and the importance of a reliable fast connection for work, leisure time.

Anonymous 6 months ago

As a person who chose to pursue urban planning in the hope of making us more connected, it’s been upsetting to see how COVID-19 has forced us to be physically separated. Yet during our isolation I was able to reflect on the research we studied at University, which has been strongly contending for decades that we need a shift in the way we build cities. That is, we transition from privileging the private domain of a few (think private car) to prioritising sharing resources democratically, equitably, fairly and sustainably (think sharing road space for all users e.g. cyclists, disabled). COVID-19 has highlighted this in practical ways that we can all relate to, such as some of us having beautiful multi use parks, beaches within 5km and others limited to poorly maintained footpaths and single use open spaces (e.g. cricket/football oval). However, whilst the arguments within the planning field are fixated on how to remedy these issues and also where to compromise private vs public needs, I have been mostly inspired by the actions and sentiments of Melbournians. There have been people who have donated toilet paper rolls in my apartment building, shared online tutorials of yoga for us novices and put on a mask, stayed home and given up their most treasured resource - time with loved ones - for the greater good. If ever there is reason to be optimistic for the capacity of our society to respond to a challenge and do great things, this is one of them!

Todd C 6 months ago